Chiloé is a mix of rolling green hills and blue waters on the eastern side, and a rocky coastline pounded by the mighty Pacific Ocean to the west. Scattered smaller islands emerge from the Sea of Chiloé between the island and the mainland, completing this beautiful Northern Patagonian archipelago.
The unique landscape defines the livelihoods of Chilotes and also shelters a fascinating array of flora and fauna. The island is the second largest in South America, cut off from the mainland by the Chacao Canal.
Shaped by the meeting of the land with the sea, the culture of the people here includes innovative architectural techniques, delicious cuisine and mythology rooted in a mix of pre-Columbian religion and legends introduced by European immigrants from long ago.
Make sure to combine your adventure trip to Chiloé with a complementary night at the Lake District. With a 4-night all-inclusive stay at Tierra Chiloé, we are including a night in Puerto Varas, staying at the Awa boutique hotel absolutely FREE:
The beating heart of Chiloé lies in the island’s principal city of Castro. Its unique stilt houses, traditional churches and authentic craft markets make it the perfect start to your Chiloé adventure. This 16th century former stronghold of Chilean governance is shrouded in history and cultural influences.
We begin with a visit to the colorful Mercado Yumbel, a vibrant market full of local produce, freshly caught fish and rustic woven wares. From Yumbel, walk down to admire the town’s iconic stilt houses. The streets of the bay will lead you to Castro’s central church of San Francisco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and nod towards the town’s 500-year old roots. No exploration would be complete without visiting the shipyards and carpentry school, an integral part of the island’s economy and cultural heritage.
After lunch at the hotel, spend the afternoon either unwinding in the Uma Spa or discover the lodge grounds, orchards and gardens and the seashore before planning tomorrow’s activities with our guides.
The smaller, surrounding islands and islets of Chiloé are a treasure trove of wildlife, cultural heritage and scenery simply waiting to be discovered. Mechuque, in the Chauque Isles, is one of the loveliest. Boarding our boat – the Williche – a windswept 45-minute voyage will take you to the Chauques archipelago, a maze of interconnecting waterways and landmasses, with the town of Mechuque as our first stop.
In the afternoon kayak through the serene canals of Chauques or walk up to the Mechuque viewpoint, before returning to Tierra Chiloé.
The journey to the starting point of this hike takes you along the scenic shores of Huillinco Lake until you arrive at the beach of Cucao. There is a short drive south along the coast before the walk starts. At the beginning, the going is easy, through low-hanging trees stunted by the wind. You’ll continue through hilly terrain in the open, accompanied by native seabirds. You eventually arrive at the cliffs, where the coastal trail overlooks the ocean.
The “Muelle de las Almas” or Pier of Souls is perched above the sea, leading nowhere. Crafted by a local artist and sculptor, Chumono, the pier plays homage to the legend of the boatman Tempilcahue who takes the souls of the dead to their final resting place in the afterlife.
We have a picnic lunch here and climb a nearby cliff to view the the resident sea lion colony below. Following the hike back to the van, we return to the hotel by the same lakeside road.
Our day begins by boarding the ferry to Quinchao and heading toward Achao, the island capital. After a walk along its bay and a visitit to its historic church, we will meet Sandra Naiman -a charming Williche woman, who will tell us about her organic orchard, the work of local farmers and their famous crops of native potato and giant garlic.
After a delicious lunch, we will head to Curaco de Vélez with its more than 100-year-old houses whose colorful shingles continue to delight. We will then travel by land to Dalcahue, to which artisans travel every weekend from the farthest islands to sell their weavings, baskets and woodwork at the age-old traditional market.
Before taking your transfer back to the airport, why not spend your last moments at Tierra Chiloé making the most of Uma Spa, enjoying a self-guided walk or taking the time for last photo opportunities around the peninsula.