Prince Charles will visit Colombia in October of this year, announced Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday.
President Santos announced the British heir apparent’s anticipated visit during an official ceremony Tuesday in which he signed an international treaty to protect the marshlands of the Estrella Fluvial de Inirida River, a 700,000-acre site in Colombia’s eastern Guainia state.
During his stay, Prince Charles intends to visit the Chiribiquete National Park, announced President Santos, according to Colombia’s Caracol Radio.
Comprising nearly 7 million acres of land following expansion efforts last year that nearly doubled its total territory, the Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia’s largest, is roughly the size of Belgium.
Chiribiquete, which spans parts of two southern Colombian states, Guaviare and Caqueta, is considered one of the most important centers of cultural heritage, ecology and biodiversity on the planet.
Four known indigenous tribes, believed to be among the oldest still existant on the continent, live on the parkland, and in the new addition alone, there are an estimated 41 different species of reptiles, 49 amphibians, 145 birds, 209 butterflies and at least 13 species of mammals under threat of extinction.
The park was originally placed under government protection in the early 1990s, when a vast series of perfectly preserved cliff paintings dating as far back as 18,000 BC was discovered. Environmentalists and archaeologists have been studying the region ever since, and have been pushing for years to expand protections on an area they say contains the most complicated river network in the Amazon, the longest cultural tradition in all of South America and some of the more unique ecological micro-systems and climates found on the planet.
The park, they say, is also vital to regional and global life, as it serves as a filter for a significant portion of Colombia’s fresh water and produces an immense amount of the planet’s oxygen.
President Santos did not mention whether Prince Charles’ visit will carry any diplomatic mission, or will consist solely of tourism.