FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Forest Bathing in Chile

by Aoife O’Riordan

Apr 28, 2023

© Martin Schneiter | Dreamstime.com

Daily

Already known for its natural beauty, Chile invites travelers to go beyond simply witnessing its miles of forests and wildlife. Travelers can now take part in forest bathing, a new approach to experiencing Chile’s natural beauty.

Originating in Japan, forest bathing promotes health by nurturing a bond with nature and, more specifically, forests. Also known as nature bathing in Chile, the experience requires bathers to be barefoot, known as grounding, which allows a person to be more in touch with the surrounding landscape and forest floor and ties back to the indigenous people of Chile’s reverence of Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and the ukulele Mapu.

With 105 protected natural areas, Chile offers a plethora of options to experience forest bathing. The country is home to 46 national parks, 46 national reserves and 18 national monuments. When entering a park, ask a ranger which zones are best for a forest bathing experience.

Research shows forests and particular trees enhance mental and physical health. Certain trees expel phytoncides, antimicrobial organism compounds found in plants that help plants fight disease. When people breathe in phytoncides, they increase the activity and number of a white blood cell type known to kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in the body. These compounds also lower stress hormones and anxiety symptoms, as well as stabilize blood pressure and heart rate.

While forest bathing, be mindful many trees are centuries old and require protection. So, while you may feel so in tune with nature you might want to hug a tree, Chilean parks urge travelers to refrain from such activity in order to protect them.

Other important tips to remember: Be sure to have reference points as you make your way into a forest to avoid getting lost; even though forest bathing encourages you to disconnect, keep your phone nearby just in case; and try to put your camera, watch or any other item normally used during the day away as you connect with nature.

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