Friends of Cochamó is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to protecting and conserving the natural and cultural resources of southern Chile’s Cochamó Valley.

The Cochamó Valley is one of the most spectacular natural areas in the world. Rare and endemic species such as the Darwin Frog live there. Ancient groves of 3000 year old Alerce trees tower above the forest floor. The waters are clean, clear, and potable. Enormous granite monoliths 1000 meters tall provide incredible recreational opportunities, as well as home for the majestic Andean Condor.

And yet, in spite of all this, the land has no official protection. It is neither National Park, nor Wildlife Refuge, nor Unesco World Heritage site. It is a collection of mostly private lands. And while the majority of the landowners in the area work hard to protect and conserve this beautiful valley, there is only so much they can do.

In 2009, the Cochamó river, which flows right through the heart of the Cochamó valley, was in trouble. Thanks to the efforts of local advocates (a few of whom are on our board of directors), the river was protected through presidential decree as a Zona de Interes Turistico. This decree canceled no less than 25 solicitations for nonconsumptive water rights (i.e., dams). Only seven years later, a major hydro project by Mediterráneo S.A. was in the works on the Río Manso, just a few miles south of the Cochamó Valley. It too was blocked when it failed it’s Environmental Impact Study. Meanwhile, Roberto Hagemann (a primary Mediterráneo stakeholder) and his associates are buying up mining rights throughout the entire region. This is the same Hagemann who spent the past decade procuring development rights to a 100,000-hectare parcel of land called Fundo Puchegüin, which stretches all the way from the Reloncaví fjord to the Argentine border, and encompasses the popular climbing and trekking destinations, Trinidad, El Anfiteatro, and El Monstruo valleys.

As if that isn’t enough, there’s also the impact of increased tourism threatening Cochamó. Local land owners have their hands full with litter, human excrement, and collateral duties such as trail work, search and rescue, and even (on rare occasions) law enforcement. Cochamó has all the problems and challenges of a National Park, but very little of the same government-provided infrastructure.

At Friends of Cochamó, our goal is to help local land owners to continue protecting this valley through sustainable tourism. We take a multi-tier approach to protecting the valuable resources of the Cochamó Valley, including fundraising, stewardship projects, and outreach & education.

This video was produced for our sister organization, La Organización de Turismo, Propietarios y Amigos del Valle de Cochamó, by Daniel Pastene (who sits on both of our boards). It shows what we do, and why we’re doing it.

Help Us Care for the Cochamó Valley

Board of Directors

Our board of directors comes from Chile, Argentina, and the United States, and has more than 50 seasons of combined experience in Cochamó.

  • JB Haab
    JB Haab

    JB is a long-time visitor to Valle Cochamó. He is a Program Director of the Front Range Climbing Stewards at his home in Colorado, and has brought his passion and knowledge of trailwork, stewardship and conservation to Cochamó for each winter for the past decade. He is an ardent climber, and has established some popular routes in Cochamó.

  • Chris Kalman
    Chris Kalman

    Chris is a writer, climber, and conservationist. He has made six trips to Cochamó valley, where he has established a handful of popular climbing routes. He has written about Cochamó for Patagonia’s catalogue, as well as Mountain Life, Alpinist, and Rock and Ice Magazines. He lives with his partner, Megan Kelly, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

  • Megan Kelly
    Megan Kelly

    Megan has spent three seasons in Cochamó. She has climbed and hiked there extensively and has been an organizer and participant in community events. In 2017 she completed CSU’s top-ranked Global, Social & Sustainable Enterprise MBA. Today she works for a conservation organization in Flagstaff, Arizona where she resides with her partner, Chris Kalman.

  • Daniel Pastene
    Daniel Pastene

    Daniel is a talented videographer, musician, and photographer. He has spent many seasons in Cochamó, and has worked in Camping La Junta as a campground host. He also lived in Cochamó town where he worked as a music teacher. His film, El Mono de Cochamó, won the award for Best Film at the 2016 Santiago Mountain Film Festival.

  • Tatiana Sandoval
    Tatiana Sandoval

    Tatiana was born and raised in Cochamó. Her and her brother, Favián, are cofounders of Southern Trips, which provides horsepacking support throughout Cochamó. Tati helps organize all the arrieros (horse-packers) in the area, and is also the president of our sister organization, the Chilean-based Agrupación de Turismo del Valle Cochamó

  • Daniel Seeliger
    Daniel Seeliger

    Daniel is one of Cochamó’s most prolific climbers, trail builders, and advocates. He is a founder and board member of both Refugio Cochamó, as well as our sister organization, the Agrupación de Turismo del Valle Cochamó. Daniel is from the US, but now lives in Cochamó, and Lago Puelo, Argentina, with his wife, Silvina, and their son Zen.

  • Nahir Vera
    Nahir Vera

    Nahir is from Argentina, and has worked for many seasons at Camping La Junta. She is a passionate climber, political activist, and a contributor to her local radio station in her home in El Bolsón, Argentina. Nahir is a tireless and outspoken advocate for social and environmental justice. She has spent five summers in Cochamó and counting.

  • Silvina Verdun
    Silvina Verdun

    Silvina first visited Cochamó in 2000 on a climbing trip with her husband Daniel Seeliger. Since then, her and Daniel have founded Refugio Cochamó and Camping La Junta. Silvi is an expert in permaculture and composting toilets, and is a founder and board member of our sister organization, the Chilean-based Agrupación de Turismo del Valle Cochamó.