Chiloé IslandSouthern Chile, off-shore from the northern Patagonian regions of Los Lagos and Aysén.
The best time to visit is during the summer (December to March).
Chiloé is famous for myths and legends with roots in its native Mapuche population. The island was Christianized by Spanish conquerors (you can visit 16 World Heritage wooden churches on east cost of the main island and neighbouring islands). Christianity and European folklore mixed with Mapuche myths gave rise to a mythology of sea and forest creatures and warlocks.
A dancing, fair-haired beauty similar to the German Lorelei is called Pincoya. It is said that if she dances towards the coast, the sea will bring a lot of fish. A ghost ship carrying the souls of wrecked sailors, similar to the Flying Dutchman, is called Caleuche. Fiura and Trauco stalk on forests, seeking for young people to seduce, despite its ghastly aspect. A very pitiful figure is the Invunche; as a baby his orifices, including his eyes, were closed and one leg was sewn to his back by warlocks of Recta Provincia ("Righteous Province", a witchcraft society) so that he walks on one leg.
Towns were always built on the coast due to the island being covered in dense forest, the roads usually being in bad shape because of the amount of rain, and most of the food coming from the sea. This meant that almost all commerce was transported by boat or lanchon, a small two masted vessel, and created the conditions for all the smaller protected islands to also be inhabited.
By ferryFrom the east and south, Navimag and Naviera Austral offer weekly connections from Chaitén, Puerto Chacabuco, and other ports along the coast. Check their websites for current schedules and pricing.
By planeThe fastest way to get to Puerto Montt is by airplane, but you may also continue to Chiloé by plane or car. The non-stop flight between Santiago and Puerto Montt lasts approximately 1hr 40 min and there are at least four flights per day; to Chiloé itself, there are only four flights per week, although a private charter may be arranged.
By busIt takes 14 hours to travel between Santiago and Ancud, the northestmost town in Chiloé, by bus. A good level of service and comfort can be found on buses which provide semi-bed and bed seats. From Puerto Montt numerous buses can also be found to all cities in Chiloé. Bus tickets usually include the short ferry trip.
By carSantiago to Puerto Montt by car takes approximately 12 hours, taking Route 5 (Spanish: Ruta 5) south to Puerto Montt, then head southeast toward Pargua. At Pargua, visitors board the ferry which crosses the Canal de Chacao to Chiloé. The ferry ride lasts around 25 minutes.
By busThe local bus system is effective. Knowing some Spanish would help a lot to get around with ease.
By thumbHitchhiking is fairly easy compared to the rest of the country. However, you might need several rides before reaching you destinations, because many people just travel short distances between their home and the next supermarket.
- The churches of Chiloé, 16 of which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list
- The Church in Castro, Dalcahue and Quinchao
- The small fishing villages in San Juan
- Wool products in Castro and Dalcahue
- See the fort in Ancud and learn the history of Chiloé, the last bastion of Spanish influence in the Southern Countries.
- Walk through the Tepual in Cucao.
- Find razorclams in the beach in Cucao.
- Charter a yacht to go to the smaller islands.
Hiking and trekking
- Chiloé National Park is popular with great trails along the coast.
Sendero de ChileBesides the trail along the coast from Rio Chepu to Chiloé National Park, this is another nice, easy to medium difficulty, and inexpensive (no boat required) trail between and which goes along the rough and picturesque coast at its lower 1/3. It involves at least one river crossing were you need to take of your shoes. To use the trail with GPS consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd and MAPS.ME use.
Don't miss the empanadas in the cocinerias in Dalcahue's market.