Robinson Crusoe Island and Juan Fernandez Archipelago
Robinson Crusoe Island and Juan Fernandez Archipelago
of great hidden treasures, one of them might have been buried in 1714 by the Spanish Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echeverria which would consist of 800 barrels of gold valued at US$ 10,000 million, a hundred chests of silver, a golden rose with emeralds and gemstones, treasure that is still being sought today. There are also stories of past wars. In 1915, during the World War I, the German cruiser SMS Dresden was dynamited by its own crew in Cumberland Bay, after being hidden for months in the Quintupeu fjord, Chilean Patagonia, and being chased and attacked by the British vessels HMS Kent, HMS Glasgow and HMS Orama. Today, more than one hundred years after the events, the Dresden is at a depth of 78 meters and 500 meters from the beach of Cumberland Bay and of the nine German sailors killed in combat seven rest in the cemetery of the island in a tomb in charge of the Chilean Navy, very visited by tourists. In 2006, 91 years after the sinking, the bell of the Dresden could be rescued and sent on loan to Germany, where it was displayed at the Military Historical Museum of the city of Dresden.
In February 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake shook Central and Southern Continental Chile, the earthquake itself was not felt in the islands but triggered a tsunami with waves up to 15 meters height which caused severe material damage and death. After the disaster, Robinson Crusoe has slowly been returning to normal in all areas, one of them tourism because apart from its natural surroundings, it offers a unique setting for snorkeling, taste traditional spiny lobster or enjoy the sunsets. Despite having great attractions, the tourist traffic in Robinson Crusoe and adjacent islands is still modest. Few Chileans dare to reach this so remote, unknown but wonderful place on Earth. For the remoteness of its location and many other reasons (no magazines or local newspapers, common mobile phones do not work either), the English newspaper The Independent chose the Archipelago as one of the top six islands of South America to disconnect from the World. Here is a list of places to visit and activities in Robinson Crusoe Island.
El Mirador de Selkirk (Selkirk's Lookout)
|A view from Alexander Selkirk's lookout|
A tour through the main attractions of the island, must undoubtedly include a visit to the "Mirador de Selkirk" (Selkirk's Lookout). This is located at Cerro Portezuelo, 565 mts. above sea level, a point that dominates much of the geography of Robinson Crusoe. This was the place which the marooned sailor often climbed to scan the horizon if a ship that might rescue him was approaching. Fate and his eagerness to survive allowed him to endure this condition of almost four and a half years of isolation. Selkirk was close to a state of barbarism when on January 31, 1709 arrived on the island another English expedition, commanded by Captain Woodes Rogers, who finally took him back to London. There, Selkirk's story began spreading everywhere reaching the ears of Daniel Defoe, who immortalized the experience of the Scottish sailor through his work published in 1719, the novel also captures the adventures lived by the Spanish Pedro Serrano, who in turn suffered a similar experience in a Caribbean island. Robinson Crusoe is considered the first English novel. At the site there are two commemorative plaques of the adventure of Selkirk, one left by the officials of the British vessel Topaze and other left by a direct descendant of the Scottish pirate.
Artillery fire on the Dresden Cruiser
On March 14, 1915 During the World War I, the German cruiser Dresden was chased, attacked and sunk by a fleet of the Royal Navy in Bahia Cumberland, Robinson Crusoe Island. Some of the artillery shells missed their target and remained embedded in the slopes of the surrounding cliffs of Cumberland bay. These shots came from the HMS Kent and HMS Glasgow. Also there was damage to the village of San Juan Bautista, so once completed the brief battle, the Commander of the Glasgow compensated the affected civilians. Until today, the impacts remain intact in the vicinity of San Juan Bautista and you can see and touch the shells that 100 years ago sank the Dresden.
Cemetery of the Island
In this small graveyard located at the northern end of the town you can also visit the tombs of some sailors of the SMS Dresden, German warship of the First World War and of Baron Alfred von Rodt. The Swiss settler Alfred von Rodt, known as Baron Rodt, was a visionary pioneer, shipping entrepreneur and businessman who died in 1905 and could not see all his projects completed but had the merit of having started a work of extraordinary importance for the archipelago, trying to promote the colonization and economic development of Juan Fernandez Islands.
La Cueva de Los Patriotas (Patriots' Cave)
Located in Bahia Cumberland, in the proximity of Fuerte Santa Barbara, "La Cueva de Los Patriotas" are some caves made in the rocks surrounding Cumberland Bay, set of excavations dating from the eighteenth century during the colonial period, reign of Viceroy Jose Antonio Manso de Velasco. At the beginning, the caves were used to house prisoners convicted by the Audiencia of Santiago and Quito. After the defeat experienced by the patriot forces in the Battle of Rancagua in 1814, different authorities were banished to the island, who made use of the excavations for shelter from inclement weather. Many of the deportees were voluntarily followed by sons and daughters, besides some of their servants. During the twentieth century it was also used to exile political prisoners.
Diving and Snorkeling in Robinson Crusoe
Juan Fernandez National Park
Fuerte Santa Barbara
A must which will also be rewarded with an excellent view of Cumberland Bay and the coastal area of the town of San Juan Bautista. It is a partial reconstruction of an ancient stronghold with its original cannons which in the past constituted the main defense of the island of Mas a Tierra (today Robinson Crusoe). It was built by the Spanish Crown in 1749 as a protection against pirates and privateers, its walls were made of stone, complemented with 16 cannons belonging to 6 batteries of heavy artillery of the time. The reconstruction dates back to 1974, conducted by a multidisciplinary team from the University of Chile and declared a Historical Monument in 1979.
Plazoleta and Cerro El Yunque
Plazoleta El Yunque is a quiet forest clearing, with picnic area, water and bathrooms, located at the foot of Mount El Yunque, the island's highest peak, where you can find ruins of the house of Hugo Weber, a crew member of the German battleship "Dresden", sunk here during the First World War. Weber asked for the concession of this place and lived here for more than twelve years, being later known as "The German Robinson". El Yunque (The Anvil) is one of the places of greatest endemic (native) vegetation near the town, accessible through a trekking path, marked and self-guided, which introduces visitors to the endemic forest, where a great diversity of flora can be seen. This place has a special feature, its exclusive relationship with the Picaflor Rojo de Juan Fernandez (Juan Fernandez Red Hummingbird). This is the most characteristic species of the archipelago, it is a native Hummingbird so called due to red plumage of the male, while the female is green. Its current population is estimated at no more than 400 birds, which is considered endangered. The place has a trekking trail, full of surprises and beautiful views. This trail leads to the foot of the highest peak of the island, Cerro El Yunque with a height of 915 m. This is the most wooded area of the island since here there is a native forest of Pangue, Canelos and Naranjillos. Few people have had the opportunity to climb to the summit of Cerro El Yunque and this is because this hill, World Biosphere Reserve, has a unique ecosystem in the World and requires maximum protection, therefore only authorized by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) activities are allowed.
Punta de Isla
The longest trek that can be performed throughout the island is to Punta de Isla, on the West end of Robinson Crusoe, a total of 15 km. starting from the town of San Juan Bautista, another way to make the journey is to embark on to Bahia El Padre and then start the trek back to the village. This route is one of the stretches of "El Sendero de Chile" (Chile's National Trail) in Juan Fernandez Islands. The trek normally starts from the village to "El Mirador de Selkirk" (Selkirk's Lookout), then go down to the area of Villagra where there is a refuge of CONAF (National Forest Corporation), fitted out for camping. Here you can make a stop on the route and go down to Ramplones, an ideal place to enjoy the sea from a lesser-known side of the island, fishing or taking a sea bath in natural rock pools, there is a colony of Sea Lions and a variety of fish, this section must be done with certified guides. The trek continues along a path in good condition that runs along much of the NW slope of the Isla Robinson Crusoe to the area of Punta de Isla, on the way you will see a gradual change in the landscape, with various changes in the hues of the land, species flora and fauna and islets in the sea. Before arriving in Punta de Isla, in the field of Tierras Blancas, there is a large colony of Fur Seals. Once in the area of Punta de Isla, you can appreciate a diversity of elements that make it very attractive for visitors such as Playa El Arenal, created at the mercy of the prevailing winds and surrounded by cliffs and Sea Lions, also El Puente, Las Cuatrocientas, Bahia del Padre, the Aerodrome, and Santa Clara Island, uninhabited, the smallest of the archipelago of Juan Fernandez, here CONAF Protected Reserve can be visited only with prior authorization.
Bahia del Padre
Puerto Ingles and Puerto Frances
Puerto Ingles is an area close to San Juan Bautista, about fifteen minutes by boat from Cumberland Bay, made up of a plain at the bottom of a ravine surrounded by hills, with the Cerro Alto, of 600 mts. to the left. In this place which is accessible by sea, there is a series of features that make it a tourist attraction. In Puerto Ingles have been excavations in search of the great treasure of Robinson Crusoe, supposedly buried here. One of the projects is conducted by the American historian and entrepreneur Bernard Kaiser, which since 1999 has unsuccesfully tried to find the treasure, of which it is said to be composed of 846 barrels of ingots and pieces of Inca gold, worth around 10,000 millions of dollars. Also in this place it is located the so-called Cave of Robinson Crusoe, which corresponds to a rock grotto, where is supposed the sailor Alexander Selkirk established his place of operations during his stay on the island.
From Bahia Cumberland and to the opposite side of Puerto Ingles, is situated Puerto Frances, where once French pirates landed on the island. There are two ways to make this tour, the first one is by boat, a 20 minutes voyage sailing from the village to Puerto Frances, from there you have to climb on foot or horseback to the base of Cerro La Piña (La Piña Mount) to fully appreciate the stunning views. The alternative is to make the entire trek on foot or horseback from San Juan Bautista. This land route runs along the coast, over mountains with steep falls to the sea, crossing Cerro Centinela (Centinela Mount) and passing through red and orange color lands. After four hours you reach Puerto Frances. From there you visit "El Rebaje de la Piña", lookout with a spectacular view of the highest cliffs of Robinson Crusoe, overlooking in the distance the island of Santa Clara and the South coast of Robinson Crusoe.
How to get to Robinson Crusoe
There are 2 airlines operating flights throughout the year to Archipelago Juan Fernandez, ATA and Lassa, Aerocardal offers high season air travels. These flights depend on weather conditions, when adverse climatic conditions are present, these are cancelled for safety. The flight from Tobalaba Airfield in Santiago to the island lasts about 2 hours. Airlines operating flights to Robinson Crusoe are:
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* AEROLINEAS LASSA
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Mobile Phone: (56-9) 96803113
By sea, from the port of Valparaiso the voyage takes about 40 hours, usually performed in the last week of each month with M/V Antonio belonging to Transmarko Co.
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