The guide books were definitely right in describing Chiloé as a “raw place, truly off the beaten track”.
I had read a little bit about Chiloé before going there and was enchanted by this mysterious island, rich with culture, traditions, myths, old wooden churches and its UNESCO listed “palafitos”, wooden houses built on stilts, some are up to 200 years old! Chiloé was the last area in Chile to be influenced by Europeans and has a real peaceful charm about it. Being the last frontier before Patagonian, the people have their own unique culture and food. I ended up spending three nights on Chiloé, easily one of the most inspiring places on my trip so far.
The first town I visited was Castro, about four hours by bus and ferry from the closet mainland town, Puerto Montt. Castro is most famous for it’s beautiful palafitos. During high tide, the water comes right up to their balconies, making you think they are deserted boats.
After spending the first day exploring Castro, I decided to do a day trip to the nearby fishing town of Dalcahue. Just off from DaIcahue is another little island named Isla Quinchao. I had previously seen a picture of a little church on Quinacho, making it the only place I really wanted to explore on Chiloé Island.
What I didn’t realise was just how difficult it would be to get to this place.
We headed to the town of Dalcahue first, taking the opportunity to buy woven items made of wool, a necessity for both this region and Patagonia, which I was heading to next. The main square has a hidden food market that could easily be mistaken for an old fisherman’s shed. Inside is an incredibly large range of authentic Chilean dishes. The choices were endless! I decided on a meat Cazuela for about US$4, consisting of lamb shanks, vegetables and as much coriander as I wanted. If you come to the south of Chile Cazuela is a must – Just make sure you pile on the coriander and lime for added experience!
Next came the Isla de Quinchao which is accessed by a free ferry.
First stop on the isle was Iglesia Santa Maria de Achao. This is Chiloés oldest church and made completely of wood, including wooden pegs instead of nails.
With only 5 hours until the last bus of the day, I started my quest to find my perfect little church. I quickly came to realised there were no taxi’s or buses here. The church was also a 2.5 hour walk away in the opposite direction to where I had to get the last bus off the island.
Devastated, I made the decision to venture on my first hitch hiking experience, this turned out to be one of the best decisions and one of the highlights of my trip.
Thankfully, I was with a group of four on a safe little island, so there was to be no horror stories. It was a thrilling experience searching for other tourist or locals heading to the southern, deserted part of the island. I got to meet some really interesting and funny people along the way.
Eventually after six different vehicles and a little bit of a hike, we made it to Quinchao and back in one piece and was definitely a much better people after the experience. It was a beautiful part of the island. It seemed to be almost stuck in time, surrounded by flowers, sheep and ocean views making it a truly inspiring experience.
On my third day, I made my way to the quiet, weathered town of Ancud. This is a great place for kayaking, day treks or boat rides to the local penguin colonies. I was very lucky to have experienced perfect weather here,ensuring perfect sunsets and crisp, clear nights.
I could have done all of these adventures with an expensive organised tour, but Im so glad with the amount of fun I ended up having by finding my own way around here!
About Hannah: Hannah has spent the last seven years living, working and studying in Sydney, Australia where she worked professionally in the corporate event industry. She is a recent full-time traveller deciding to quit the rat race and explore the world. She hopes to inspire people to live their dreams as she lives out her on. Only new to the writing game she hopes to captivate people with the lessons learnt and the stories gained from the travellers road. You can read more about her travels and experiences on the road on her personal blog “Blue Marble Adventures”