Chiloe, one of the most emblematic places for tourism in Southern Chile, this Province is part of the Tenth Region of Los Lagos, formed by the main island called "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.
The mythology of the islands is very rich, among the most widespread stories is the legend of "El Caleuche", a ghost ship that appears only at night and sails the seas of Chiloe, crewed by very powerful warlocks and in the very dark nights it glows brightly because it sails fully illuminated, it also has the ability to navigate underwater. The melodies and dances of the big parties that take place on board attract the sailors of nearby ships who join El Caleuche's crew. Another task of the ghost ship is to pick up those who have died drowned. Also a common legend is that of "El Trauco", a deformed man, his body resembles a tree trunk, very short, inhabits the forests of the region, using a cone-shaped hat, carrying a small wooden baton or ax, is a very strong man of very lustful instincts. Another mythological character is "La Pincoya", a young woman of great beauty, she has an entirely human aspect, of long, blonde hair and represents the temperament of seas and beaches. It is said that she appears from the depths of the sea half naked, wearing only some seaweed. When a shipwreck occurs, she appears to give relief and when she dances facing the sea means that fish and seafood abound, but if she dances with her face toward the beach, suggests that fish and shellfish are scarce. There are also many other characters that enrich the abundant mythology of Chiloe like "El Camahueto", "El Imbunche", "El Chivato de la Cueva", "La Fiura", "El Basilisco", etc., each with a story that is passed from generation to generation. Here is a list of places to visit in Chiloe:
|One of the typical churches of Chiloe Island - Photo: senderosnativos.com|
Places to visit in Chiloe Archipelago
Chiloe Island is a great tourist attraction and Chacao is usually the starting point of the route. Located on the North end of the main island, this village is the first place you see when arriving by ferry from Puerto Montt after a crossing that takes about 35 minutes.
Ancud (City of Ancud)
|Ancud, Chiloé Archipelago, photo: chiloeweb.com|
City of Castro
Iglesias de Chiloe (Churches of Chiloe)
|San Francisco Church, Castro, photo: iglesiasdechiloe.cl|
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. century.
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. These colorful houses built partly on the sea, originally belonged to fishermen but today some of them have evolved into shops and even hotels or restaurants.
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.
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.