Chiloé

The Magical Island

Isla Grande de Chiloé, a 250 km long and 50 km wide rectangle, is the first island to come into view as you cross the Chacao Channel by ferry. The archipelago of Chiloé is composed of 30 islands, each of which offers visitors views of rolling hills and villages filled with brightly colored wooden houses. One of the first things that you will notice is the genuine charm of its people, the Chilotes –descendents of Spanish colonizers and the Huilliche people-, who are renowned for their hospitality. The colorful houses on stilts, or palafitos, have become one of the classic images of Chiloé, as have its 18th and 19th century wooden churches, 16 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Ancud, Castro and Quellón are the most important cities of the area, as well as the up and coming Rilan Peninsula, north of Castro. These are just a few starting points from which to explore the beautiful landscape and discover the delicious cuisine of the area, with all its mythology and local festivals.

One of the best ways to discover the culture of Chiloé is by kayak or to take a ferry to Quinchao, Lemuy, San Pedro and the Chauques Islands, where you can attend local celebrations and listen to traditional myths and legends.

Though the cultural aspects of Chiloé definitely seem to take center stage, the area’s natural bounty is impossible to miss. The sea and forest converge in a wild and solitary landscape on Isla Grande de Chiloé, which is home to a national park located in the western part of the island and Tantauco Park to the south. Visitors can spot Chilote foxes, hundreds of birds species and humpback whales on their way to Patagonia. Tantauco Park also boasts an impressive network of hiking trails that wind through larch, myrtle and cypress trees.

 

Featured Destinations

a Ancud b Castro
cQuellón d Chonchi-Cucao
e Dalcahue

 

Getting There

en avion
By Air
There are daily flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt (1 hour 40 minutes). Shuttles run between El Tepual airport and Ancud and Castro, which are located 82km from one another.
bus
By Bus
From Santiago to Castro (17 hours). If you’re in Puerto Montt, take a bus that crosses the Chacao Channel by ferry to Castro (4 hours). From there, you can travel to other locations on the island.
en auto
By Car
From Santiago, take Route 5 South to Puerto Montt (1205 km), then drive southeast towards Pargua (65 km), where you can catch the ferry that crosses the Chacao Channel (35 minutes). Ferries run from around 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily. Ancud is 33 km from Chacao, and Castro is 82 km from Ancud.

 

Activities that we recommend

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Tips

Timing Your Visit  Curanto  Penguin Watching
Summer (December through March) is the best time to visit Chiloé, as the temperate climate allows for easy island-hopping by barge or boat. Try to time your visit to coincide with the area’s most popular religious celebration, the Nazarene Procession in Caguach (January), or Castro’s Folk Festival (February). Every visitor should try curanto, Chiloé’s most distinctive dish. Authentic versions feature lots of local seafood and meat wrapped in big nalca (Chilean rhubarb) leaves and steamed over hot stones underground. This dish is served with chapaleles and milcaos, homemade potato-based breads. If you are lucky enough to visit Chiloé between September and April, you can take a tour around the nearby islets to watch Humboldt and Magellanic penguins play and nest.

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