Chiloe Island… a trip into the past

We spent 4 days traveling on an island on the West side of Chile called Chiloe.  To get there was a simple 30 minute ferry crossing.  The water seems to be a part of the highway, at least according to our GPS.  We were on what we call I5, then the GPS suddenly said “Turn left and drive onto Ferry”.  We turned left, and there was a ferry, so we drove on.  As soon as the car started we felt the enormous rumble of a propeller under us as the ferry pulled away from the ramp.  And when the ride was over the GPS said continue on I5.


The island seems like a throwback to the past. This could be due to its relative isolation from the rest of the country. You get the feeling that they have always been able to do things their own way and have not been interfered with or perhaps even supported by the Chilean government.  It’s known for:

  • Churches it has preserved.  They are Catholic churches but due to the shortage of concrete, stone, and steel on the island, the churches are all made from wood, almost entirely without steel nails or bolts. They are being restored and painted in amazing colors.
  • Palafitos. These are houses built on stilts in the town of Castro where the tidal changes range up to 7 meters.  These neighborhoods feel much like the Sausalito house boat neighborhood, though the houses are not floating.  They are also painted in bright,  interesting colors. Almost every one is being rejuvenated by entrepreneurial hostel and restaurant owners.  We stayed in hostel created in one of these Palafitos.

Palofitos. We stayed in the brown one with the circle on the porch

Our favorite part of Chiloe20131215_163438 was the beach at Chiloe National Park.  It’s huge, empty, and populated by a herd of horses.  The ground fog gave everything a very surreal feel.

On the west coast of the island there is a place where Magellenic and Humbolt penguins hang out together, which is supposedly rare.  Well maybe.  We took a boat tour of the islands and enjoyed seeing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthese funny creatures hanging out on the rocks. They weren’t very active; they seemed to know their job was to pose for our pictures.  The tour group had a very imaginative way of getting us out onto the boat so we would not get wet in the surf.

Other favorite photos from Chiloe.

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