Chiloé is Chile’s most desired island for vacation. It is not a place to go for swimming and “beaching” like Chile’s Easter Island (although I see kid swimming in the 14°C cold water), but it sure is a beautiful island with lots of possibilities on the island itself and the surrounding islands. Mostly green nature to watch, two National Parks partly along the southwest and west coast with great hiking possibilities (not as tough hiking as in Torres del Paine National Park) as well as offers for horseback riding, Golf, Kayak, whale watching, Pinguin island and so on. The island lies just an about 50km Ferry ride away to the south of Puerto Montt, which is civilized area reachable by car/train/plane. From north to south the island is a bit less than 200km long, probably around 50km wide and consist of green hills, lots of farming, lots of (vacation) homes with big lots, a couple of towns, the capitol Castro (around 18000 inhabitants) and the one paved highway #5 (besides that only sand/stone streets. The people here are very friendly, relaxed and mostly live of fishing (especially all the (ugly) salmon farms and the mussle farms) and the industry and tourism around it.
A specialty on this island are the houses on piles. The first inhabitants were all fishermen and did not want to build houses on the land. In order to build over water they needed high piles since the tide has a couple of metres here. The wooden constructions have become typical for Chiloé and so today they still, even on land, often build houses on piles. That’s what I have understood talking to people here, but maybe I did not get it right. Fact is all the houses at the waters and near the waters are on piles and many inland as well.
Another unique architecture here are the wooden churches. The whole church including the interior is made out of wood – in the design of stone. Except for the windows, they are made out of glass. Unbelievably beautiful. Here: Iglesia San Francisco, World Heritage. By the way: there was a voting on the colour of the church. They say it was a long process. I wonder why...
AND: the german to be found.
Some more impressions on the island:
We’re tied to the pier in the marina Quinched, about 10km away from Castro. Due to the road situation you need 30Min. for those 10km (less than 7miles!). This place here is very peace-and beautiful. Like a park with picnic area on the hill, a little café open tues-sun from 4-8pm. The facilities are good and in local wooden design. They even have a washing machine here which you can use for $4/load, which is the cheapest washing we ever had on this whole trip.
All pictutres of Chiloé can be found here: http://sailing.smichah.de/#48.0
Jens, our last crew member, left at 1pm today. Marcus and I finished cleaning up Alita, tomorrow we’re gonna head out again. Destination: short stop in Valdivia and then race up to Valparaíso to do all the work on the boat. In two weeks we’re supposed to head out to the great big Pacific Ocean, with one or two new crew members anxious to set sails.
Chiloé is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Chile and nearby anyway – as well as the Hotel with the Thermal pools in Bahía Dorita.