Chiloe, one of the iconic places for tourism in Sothern Chile, this Province is part of the Tenth Region of Los Lagos, formed by the main island "Isla Grande de Chiloe" and countless smaller islands. Fishing, agriculture and livestock are the main activities, however the wealth of landscapes inserted in an unique geographic setting, its rich folklore and mythology along with its exquisite cuisine based on the abundance of seafood and livestock make tourism an activity that expands every day. The population of the archipelago reaches approximately 170,000 people, the capital is Castro, other important towns are Ancud (the former capital), Quellon, Dalcahue, Chonchi, Achao, Queilen, Quemchi, Cucao.
The climate ranges from temperate-cold to temperate-rainy, with abundant rainfall which varies from 1300 mm. to 2300 mm. per year depending on factors such as height. The arrival to the island so far is usually via ferry sailing from Puerto Montt through Canal de Chacao (Chacao Channel), for the next years is projected the construction of the largest suspension bridge in South America, which will link the island to mainland Chile.
|One of the traditional churches of Chiloe Island |
Places to visit in Chiloe Archipelago
Chiloe Island is a great tourist attraction and Chacao is the gate and starting point of the route. Located on the North end of the main island, this village founded in 1567 as a fortress by the Spanish, is the first place you see when arriving by ferry from Puerto Montt after a crossing that takes about 35 minutes.
City of Ancud
|Ancud, Chiloe Archipelago|
|A typical view in Chiloe|
City of Castro
Capital of the Province of Chiloe, Region de Los Lagos (Region of Lakes), located 1214 km. south of Santiago, on the East coast of the Isla Grande de Chiloe. The population, according to the 2012 census was of 43,460 people. The third oldest city in Chile, founded in 1567, has a beautiful typical architecture and an impressive natural beauty in its surroundings. Among the major urban attractions in Castro are the Palafitos, picturesque houses located on the banks of the Gamboa River and Canal Lemuy. The Palafitos are built on long stilts mounted on the seabed, when the Ocean rises, the houses seem to float. San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco), National Monument since 1976 and World Heritage Site since 2000. The main Catholic Temple of Chiloe is located next to the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) of Castro, highlighting the height of its towers of 42 meters, its colors and everything inside. Founded by the Jesuits in 1567, it was adopted by the Franciscans when the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish Empire in 1767. The current structure is from 1906, designed by the Italian Eduardo Provasoli, and built by local carpenters. Another must-see place to visit in the capital of Chiloe is the Museo de Arte Moderno or MAM Chiloe, created in 1989, a gallery and cultural center dedicated to Contemporary Art. The design of the structure has earned important awards as it combines the traditional local architecture with new lines. It is located in the Municipal Park of Castro, about 4 km. from the downtown. During the low season (April to October) it stays closed.
Iglesias de Chiloe (Churches of Chiloe)
|San Francisco Church, Castro |
Something that characterizes the Island are the typical Churches (Iglesias de Chiloe), 16 of them considered a National Historic Monument and from 2000 World Heritage Sites for the UNESCO. These constructions are very resistant to moisture caused by continuous rains, made of native wood and shingles. Its style is the result of the fusion of ideas inspired by old European Churches adapted to the technique of the carpenters of the island and the means which were available at that time, as of the 18th. century, although there is evidence of the presence of some of them in documents dating from the early 17th. century. Some of the existing churches are from that period, in some cases is the reconstruction or remodeling of the original one, collapsed either by fires or natural disasters such as earthquakes.
The most representative Catholic Temples of about 60 existing on the island are: Jesus Nazareno de Caguach, in Caguach Island; Santa Maria de Loreto, in Achao; Nuestra Señora de Gracia de Villa Quinchao, in Quinchao Island; Nuestra Señora de Gracia, in Nercon; Nuestra Señora del Rosario, in Chelin Island; Jesus Nazareno de Aldachildo, in Lemuy Island; Natividad de Maria de Ichuac, in Lemuy Island; Nuestra Señora del Rosario, in Chochi; San Antonio de Colo, in Quemchi; San Francisco de Castro, in Castro; Santa Maria, in Rilan; Santiago Apostol, in Detif; Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio, in Tenaun; San Juan Bautista, in San Juan; Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, in Dalcahue; San Antonio de Vilupulli, in Vilupulli. The evangelization of Chiloe began to gather strenght in the early 17th. century when the Jesuit Order established a system of itinerant Missions that went over the island and after the expulsion of the Jesuits from America, the Franciscan Order continued the evangelization work.
Palafitos de Chiloe
One feature that draws the attention in the architecture of Chiloe, especially in Castro, is the presence of the Palafitos, a special type of houses mounted on luma wood stilts that are at the seashore. At first, the Palafitos were houses built by the fishermen who wanted to live near the shore to fish when the tide went out, and although the years have passed, the dwellings are still standing keeping their structures, even today some of them have evolved into shops, hotels or restaurants. Year after year these buildings attract thousands of tourists, and were considered by the English newspaper "The Telegraph" as one of the must-see tourist attractions in Chile.
Town and Commune of Quemchi
Located on the East coast of the "Isla Grande de Chiloe", famous for its gentle landscapes and for being the birthplace of the famous novelist of the 20th century and Chilean National Prize for Literature, Francisco Coloane. Coloane called this locality "La Tierra de los Mil Paisajes" (The Land of a Thousand Landscapes). The population of the commune nowadays reaches approximately 20,000 inhabitants, dedicated mainly to fishing and agriculture. Among the attractions of Quemchi can be highlighted: the Church of the village of "Colo", declared a National Monument and a World Heritage Site, at the side of the school; Quicavi, a small village surrounded by beautiful beaches which has been recognized as a land of sorcerers, abundant in the mythology of Chiloe; the small lake Lago Popetan, one of the most beautiful landscapes of the area, 8 km. of Quemchi, suitable for sport fishing and water sports, as well as many other interesting places.
Lemuy, located 36 km. South of the city of Castro, is the third largest and one of the most important islands of the Chiloe Archipelago, standing out for its 3 churches declared World Heritage Sites: Ichuac, Aldachildo and Detif, and for the spectacular natural landscapes which can be enjoyed from several overlooks. The main lodges are in the central forests, where there are different activities of hiking, trekking and from its quiet beaches boat rides to the surrounding islands. The main town of Lemuy is Puqueldon, of 5,000 inhabitants founded in 1885.
Town and Commune of Dalcahue
|Another of Chiloe's centuries-old churches |
Parque Nacional Chiloe
Created in 1982, with 43,057 hectares, Chiloe National Park is located on the West coast of the Isla Grande de Chiloe (Greater Island of Chiloe). It has two main sectors which are Chepu in the commune of Ancud and Abtao, part of the communes of Castro, Chonchi and Dalcahue. The major attractions of the park are concentrated in the indigenous locality of Chanquin, near Cucao Lake where the coastal dunes are several kilometers long; the mouth of Abtao River, a beautiful landscape and very rich from the point of view of the biodiversity; the small rocky islet of Metalqui with its colony of Sea Lions; Huelde Lake, easily accessible because it is connected to a path; Cole-Cole, an area adjacent to Chiloe National Park which initially was part of the protected area, however sections of the park were given to indigenous communities. Cole Cole has a beach suitable for fishing, hiking and horseback riding.
|Image: parquetantauco.cl |
Tantauco Natural Park is open all year round, access is possible by sea in the area of Inio at the Southern end of Chiloe and by land through the area covered by Yaldad and Chaiguaco lakes. Tantauco Park can be visited for one or more days staying at Inio or Chaiguata campsites, kayaking at the Chaiguata Lake or Inio River, trekking through its different paths, you can also practice sport fishing and whale watching in the zone of Caleta Zorra, visit archaeological sites in the area of Inio and watching wildlife throughout the park.