When I had already zoomed past Puerto Montt (the jumping off point to Chiloé) I knew I had to get my tush back there and have a taste of this collection of islands nestled beside mainland Chile.
Dear reader, I implore you: If you find yourself in Chiloé, don’t be a chump and stay only four days like I did. Silly, silly Erin. This is not nearly enough time to stare at blue coves, eat fresh seafood and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk without any particular destination in mind, but always with your mouth agape.
Here’s Chiloé in pictures.
Palofitos (houses on stilts) line the shores of Chiloé’s capital, Castro. Sadly, the expensive upkeep of such homes (owners of Queenslanders back in Australia will loudly concur) means that they are no longer the preferred form of housing – and many have been left to rot.
Cemeteries fascinate me a little bit. I’d like to say that it’s for spiritual sorts of reasons, perhaps some deep thinking being done there…but no. While strolling through them, my brain is rattling therearedeadbodiesallaroundyou!! at me in quite a childlike manner. While that’s happening, I also like to imagine that I’m being followed by ghoulies – and then promptly stop doing so, in case any decide to take me up on the idea.
In the 17th Century, a bunch of possibly quite mad, nomadic Jesuits made Chiloé their home and went about town building churches all over the freakin’ place…and leaving them to be cared for by lay people. Currently, there are 60 churches in total, famous for their distinct wooden architecture using these wooden slats below…
Many houses too are made in the same style. Occasionally, insanely enormous black birds (jotas) roost on the tops of the church spires. The chilotes are a suspicious sort of folk and will delight in telling you that one or two jotas are welcome, but that if you see three, it’s head down, bum up and get the hell out. Local folklore says that three jotas atop a church mean that someone in the village will soon die…so best it’s not you.
Dalcahue – a short taxi ride away from Castro – is a busy little fishing village home to bustling locals – and when I was there, a lot, lot, LOT of very horny stray dogs. (Seriously, staying out of the fray was decidedly awkward at times.)
Here you’ll find famous chilote woolen products as well as fabulous snacks – mostly fried and fried again – to take with you on your journey to Achao, the biggest village on the next island over.
After letting your heart rate reach dangerous levels from the rapid consumption of your Dalcalhue fried goods, you’ll all but feel it slowing as you wander through Achao…
Water and light are constantly on show. Here the main island’s National Park, spontaneous puddles from that week’s downfall created a perfect sunny day’s mirror.
At the edge of the Park, the Pacific makes its presence known.
While scrubby grassland is only a few minutes walk away.
- Chiloé is an archipelago located off the coast of Chile near Puerto Montt and home to a fiercely proud local people whose livelihood was (and is) firmly based in fishing. The islands are incredibly rich in folklore and are very often associated with stories of wonderful and terrifying creatures. Supersticion is well and truly alive. Many perfectly reasonable people who’ve visited the island have come away with one or two stories of unexplainable events.
- If infinite beaches lined by woods are your thing, Chiloé is your land. Camping is allowed in the National Park near Cucao, though new refuges are available too for a little bit more comfort.
- Do be prepared to be dunked several times in heavy, unrelenting rains. Raincoats are a must. Probably some ‘tractive gumboots too.
- Buses leave for Castro regularly from Puerto Montt, costing less than USD$10.
- Sweet lord, enjoy…this place is the definition of beautiful on steroids.