"I Grew My Boobs in China" and " Backpacks and Bra Straps"
26 year old Canadian, Dutch resident travelling to every country in the world (111 so far) to become the first Canadian female to visit them all. Bestselling travel AUTHOR and founder of popular #TRLT Twitter chat.
Back on our own again we flew to Puerto Montt and immediately jumped on a bus to Castro, the main city on the island of Chiloe. Although Chiloe is only separated from the mainland by a 2km wide channel, culturally and historically it is a world apart and is known for its unique lifestyle, architecture, cuisine, mythology and even language. We gave ourselves 5 days to take a look.
Chiloe, and especially Castro, has become quite popular on the tourist circuit, especially domestically, but somehow it still manages to preserve its calm and simple charms. I’d agree with others when they describe the island like a step back into a time more rural and down to earth. The countryside is very pastoral, dotted with small farming villages inland and fishing communities along the coast. A walk through any of them (they are easy to get to with a surprisingly good public transit system) is a stroll past simple wooden homes, small markets and family-size fishing boats. I don’t think anything is done on an industrial or large commercial scale here really other than fish farming. Most restaurants and accommodation seemed to be family run mom and pop shops as well. Our airbnb hosts were very hospitable and the seafood is excellent, combined with some very good potatoes. The world’s most common non-Andean potato strains originate from Chiloe so you know they are going to make them well. I can’t eat the shellfish but the salmon was delicious and the servings were huge 🙂
Chiloe’s most famous architectural style is that of its churches. There are around 70 on the island but 16 have been chosen for designation as world heritage sites. In a general and crude sense they look like large wooden barns with (usually) a single central steeple over the front and usually painted in some interesting colour combos. Almost every building on the island is made of wood and covered with shingles. It makes everything look scaly. Some coastal areas (especially around Castro) also have palafitos, traditional fisherman houses on stilts over the water. From Castro we made short trips to the villages of Chonchi and Vilipulli to check out their churches and seafood.
Castro’s church is much larger and different than the others on the island
Castro church interior is all wood
Palafitos in Castro
Typical scaly building – Chonchi
Great views everywhere
We also visited the wild west coast and Chiloe National Park for a couple of short hikes in the unique rainforest of short trees and ferns or along the shoreline sand dunes marveling at the oddity of cows grazing along the sand.
Chiloe National Park
The west coast at Chiloe National Park
After a few nights we moved to the northern part of Chiloe and stayed in Ancud. It is quieter but still very nice. Chiloe is infamous for its rain but we had great weather the whole time and were able to enjoy strolls along the waterfront and summer weekend activities in the main plaza. Wind was a constant presence and after temperatures in the 30’s in Santiago, it was shocking to our systems dropping down to the mid teens. The highlight of Ancud was a short trip out to see a small penguin colony on a cluster on islands just offshore. I guess it is actually 2 colonies as there are both Magellanic and Humboldt penguins to be seen. It was just a quick 30 min boat ride around the little islets but it was cheap and they were easy to see. We will see many more soon so we just thought of it as a little appetizer of things to come.
San Antonio fort, Ancud
The penguin colonies are on those little islands
How they load the boats without our feet getting wet.
From Ancud we made our way back to Puerto Montt for a night before a new adventure began.