National Geographic : 1967 Jan
thickly settled resort of Vifia del Mar. Then we headed inland to inspect a majestic palm forest at Ocoa, a site proposed for park status because of the dramatic appearance of the rare palms in a setting of rugged beauty. "You should see this grove in the snow!" said Dr. Mufioz. "Few palms in the world live in such a cool climate as these palmas de co quitos-'palms of little coconuts.' Some may be 500 years old. Of course, we can't be sure; palms don't have growth rings." Yet, as ever, a forest's greatest threat is man unrestrained. Exploiters have cut this palm to make a syrup from its sap, and whole forests have vanished. "We are now preparing a new forest law," said Dr. Mufioz. "And it should help our for est problems. After all, timber is one of our major industries, and forests cover 26 percent of Chile's land surface." Dr. Mufioz showed us a remarkably varied countryside. But the view I remember best lay along an unpretentious country road deep ly shaded by sycamores. An irrigation ditch flowed beside the trees, and beyond it stretched an emerald pasture. The whole scene gave such a fine and forthright feel of pastoral life that we stopped to enjoy it. A little girl led a cow past us, headed home for milking. A wagon rattled by. Then two huasos, those famous cowboys of Chile, trot ted up, greeted us, and let us examine their saddles, padded thick as mattresses with woolly sheepskins. They finally rode off to rope a colt in the neighboring field. We would see grander views in this nation of great scen ery, but none with greater charm. Next morning, in fact, we sampled the grandest of that scenery. We left Santiago, temporarily, flying south toward Chile's bit ter end. Our trip that day covered 2,000 miles within Chile-a reminder that, although nar row, it is still larger than any European coun try west of Russia. As we watched, archipelagic KODACHROME BY (EOHE t. MUbLLT U N.U.J . "We sailed amongst many unknown desolate islands," wrote Charles Darwin as he threaded Tierra del Fuego's Beagle Channel, named for his ship. More than a century later the authors retraced the English naturalist's wake. Cormorants and splashing sea lions on Seal Island (left)-a sight that must also have delighted Darwin-gave them "an intimate view of nature, remarkably close and detailed." Magellanic penguins peer from a dead-end ledge. Nesting by the thousands on Isla Magdalena in the Strait of Magellan, these flightless birds honeycomb the rocky soil with shallow burrows.