Teds Travels – Mystery, tradition, and culture: Chiloe Island
Chiloe is the largest island in Chile, you can find it at the start of what is generally called the Lakes district of Chile and Argentina. We can transport your clients to the island by bus and ferry. First, there is a bus ride of about an hour from Puerto Montt to the straits of Pargua. Here, buses drive onto the ferry to cross across the Chacao channel for about 30 minutes to arrive in the island.
The main towns are Ancud and Castro which is the capital. Lots of small villages (farming and fishing) are scattered around the island which is 250km long. A great place for a fly drive experience. The island is populated by both Spanish early settlers and the indigenous Mapuche – these combination makes it a place full of culture and strong traditions.
It is a beautiful island with rolling hills, forests, farmland, beautiful fishing villages like Chonchi and Achao who have weekend artisan markets and wooden churches. Yes, there are flight to Castro from Puerto Montt, but they need to be book in advance.
Due to its insolate location, the island has developed its own unique character enriched with myths and legends. Early settlers-built churches out of wood and no nails, today these churches are protected by UNESCO and are one of the highlights of the island. They were built by the Jesuits who used local native people skills and tradition to build these iconic churches.
This unique architecture and wooden structures found all over the island has influenced one of my favourite hotels: Tierra Chiloe, a boutique hotel of 24 rooms. Is the place I would recommend for your VIP clients. It was built from local wood and clad in the traditional way of the island in shingles. From the outside it looks like a copy of some of the local fishing village structures. Positioned on a small peninsula overlooking the bay, you have one of the greatest views of the water, the country side and village thanks to the panoramic windows. It is a stunning structure, that it looks different from every angle, staying here is an experience in itself! I particularly love Chilean architects who design properties that blend into the local environment, samples can be found not just in Chiloe, but also in Atacama Desert, the lakes district, wine area, and Patagonia.
Staying here is a great base to launch into the various and variety of day trips, from bird watching, gentle walks along cliffs and villages, artisans’ markets, water ways, museums, National parks, bike riding, horseback riding and kayak trips or just do your own thing at your own pace. When your clients return at the end of the day, they can enjoy great food, wine and the spa.
Fly drive clients can continue travelling south by catching a ferry at the south end of the island back to the main land to the town of Chaiten and continue to Balmaceda and further south to the Marble caves…another great place!
Ted Dziadkiewicz is Director and Founder of Contours Travel, Australia’s longest running tour operator to Latin America. He has been more than 100 times to Latin America over the past 40 years and visited over 20 countries. If you want to know more visit www.contourstravel.com.au