Our next destination was the Isla Chiloé. It’s a short one-hour drive from Puerto Montt to Pargua, followed by a ferry ride across the Chacao Channel.
Chiloé is the second largest island in Chile (after Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego) and there are many interesting places to explore. Our plan was to spend about one week on the island.
The first night we stayed in a nice cabin directly at a beach near Ancud.
In Aucar you can find a spectacular long wooden bridge that leads to the Isla de las Almas. It reminded me of the wooden bridges in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
Isla Chiloé is famous for its wooden churches. They are made of local timber using wood shingles. Since 2000 they are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of the largest wooden churches is the Iglesia San Juan Bautista, located between Aucar and Dalcahue.
Our next stop was in Dalcahue, a nice fishing village with an arts and crafts market at the harbor.
The largest (and most interesting) city on Isla Chiloé is Castro.
The colorful Palafitos (wooden stilt houses) are the highlight of Castro.
We even stayed two nights in a Palafito in the Gamboa area. It felt a bit like being Bilbo Baggins in his Hobbit house.
From the Palafitos in the Gamboa area, you can often watch Kingfisher birds on the power lines (the bird images were shot by Linnéa).
The other three nights in Castro we stayed at the Casa Puente. It was clearly the most spectacular cabin on our trip so far. It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and even a wooden suspension bridge through the living room.
It’s located about 3 km from and slightly above Castro. From the terrace, you have a nice view of the surroundings.
The cabin has everything you need for an enjoyable stay and Francisca, the owner, helps you with any questions or problems you have. If you could share the costs across a larger group the price of the cabin is even low for what it offers (around 125€ per night depending on the season).
In addition, if you stay at the cabin you have access to a small, but lovely private nature reserve, the Parque Tronadores.
Parque Nacional Chiloé
On a day trip from Castro, we traveled to the Parque Nacional Chiloé. It’s a one-hour drive from Castro to Conchi. In the last section, the road follows the lovely Lago Huillinco.
In the national park, there are a couple of different trails to choose from. We did the Sendero El Tepual, Sendero Ranita Darwin, Sendero Infantil, Sendero Los Quiles and Sendero Dunas de Cucao.
If you want to do only one trail choose the Sendero El Tepual. It was clearly our favorite one.
On the southern end of the Isla Chiloé, you can find Quellón.
It’s a relatively large city. It’s also considered the southern end of the Panamerican Highway. The Hito Cero sculpture (km 0 milestone) at the end of the Ruta 5 is a bit disappointing.
From Quellón you could take a ferry to Chaitén to reach the Carretera Austral, but then you would miss Hornopiren and the Pumalin National Park.
Quellón is also the gateway to the fabulous Parque Tantauco. But this will be a separate blog post.