From vibrant Valparaiso to colourful Castro.
After a few days in the port city, it was time to visit the countryside, and so we headed south to the Chilean Archipelago Isla Grande de Chiloé.
We flew to Puerto Montt, and the next morning travelling by bus we made our way to the largest city on the island. From the bus window the vistas looked familiar; rolling green hills, small family farms, and roadside eateries with Coca-Cola signs. A couple of hours after leaving, complete with a ferry ride across the Chacao Channel to Chiloé, we arrived in Castro, the capital of Chiloé.
Pictured below is the joyful palafitos; wooden stilt houses the island is famous for. We found the best view was looking west of town from high above the bay.
And early in the morning, from the shoreline.
A walk around Casto gave us many sights like these craftsmen building traditional wooden boats.
Spanish Jesuits arrived on Chiloé in the 17th century, leaving behind a legacy of historic Churches entirely constructed of wood. At least 150 once stood on the island. Today, due to local heritage conservation efforts, approximately 70 churches can be seen dotting the many villages. This one in the centre of town can’t be missed.
The island is fortunate to have an ample supply of lumber, reflected in the unique wood-shingled style homes and buildings.
While in Castro, make sure to visit the fish market, a perfect place to pick up some fresh seafood for dinner if you are cooking at the hostel as we did. Then take a stroll along the waterfront where inquisitive sea lions poke their heads above the surface checking out the action on the beach.
And shorebirds like this large sandpiper probing for marine worms.
When the tide is out, you’ll find small boats that are high and dry waiting for the water to rise again.
From Castro, we did a day trip to nearby Achao where the oldest of Chiloe’s churches still stands, dating back to 1740 and boasting the original decorative interior. It overlooks the central Plaza de Armas.
A walk around Achao reveals the character of this unique village.
Our visit was brief, and in retrospect, we should have rented a car during our stay. Touring by bus is too limiting to easily explore the many towns, coastal areas, and the Chiloé National Park that this little-known Chilean island has to offer. Chiloé, a gem to be discovered.