ACTIVITIES IN CHILOé
It is said that Chiloe is a magical place, and that all who visit come back. Whether for its unique landscapes that mix the lush nature of the Valdivian forest with white sandy beaches and beautiful sunsets, or its rich mythology legends and stories that have been passed from generation to generation, the Big Island has many attractions to visit and enjoy.
The first town worth visiting is Ancud, at the northern end of Chiloe. This port has several historic remnants of Spanish forts, which were built to protect the island from attacks by pirates and privateers. Several of them can still be seen on the Costanera Salvador Allende, which also allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the bay of Ancud.
This zone has a large craft fair, where you can see and buy another on of the unique attractions of Chiloé: its crafts. Its sheep wool fabrics dyed with natural fibers is highlighter along with their woodcarvings works, works in leather and various objects made of seashells, all with the stamp of magic and legend that characterizes the island.
Continuing south, we find the most important city of the island, Castro. It is a dynamic port where cruises around the world arrive, where there is a great amount of commerce, an attractive craft fair, folk festivals, and restaurants serving typical chilote flavors: curanto, seafood, fish and preparations made on the basis of the most abundant food on the island: the potato.
The milcao, a kind of fried bread made with grated potatoes, and chapalele, which has a similar processing but cooked, are an essential part of the cuisine of Chiloé and can also be served in the Mercado de Castro, which also sell cheese and jams made from natural ingredients of the area and can see the different shapes and colors of the chilota potatoes. All these flavors can be enjoyed in the Castro Costumbrista Festival, held every year in February.
One of the elements that make the island of Chiloé unique are its churches. There are more than 150 in the entire archipelago, several considered National Monuments of Chile, and 16 which are World Heritage Sites of the UNESCO. In Castro we can find one, the Church of San Francisco de Castro, located in the Plaza de Armas and is known for its colorful façade, with its high towers with stained glass and its wooden interior.
Castro is also highlighted by the presence of houses built on palafittes, which can still be seen in the areas of Gamboa and Pedro Montt.
From Castro it is possible to move to the Island of Quinchao where the town of Achao located with its famous church Santa Maria de Loreto de Achao belonging to one of the 16 churches considered Heritage Sites. From here you can reach Curaco Velez, another beautiful area with panoramic views, a craft fair and chilota architecture with tiles made in larch.
Close to this area is the town of Dalcahue, with a beautiful church, museum and library, plus a colorful craft fair where you can buy souvenirs of the island. In the surroundings you can visit natural areas such as the Tocoihue Waterfall.
60 kilometers from Castro is the Chiloé National Park, which offers more than 40,000 acres of native forest, trails, camping areas, beaches, lakes, rivers and natural areas ideal for outdoor activities. You can access Cucao where the start of the tours in the park begin.
10 kilometers away from Castro to the northeast, you can also see the Rilán peninsula, famous for its traditions, such as custom celebrations. It is a wetland area, ideal for the observation of flora and fauna, especially Putemún and Puyao.
Because of the beauty of the place several boutique hotels have been installed as well as rural lodgings, where you can do many countryside activities.
En Rilán también se ubica otra de las iglesias emblemáticas de Chiloé: Santa María de Rilán, exponente de la arquitectura chilota, al igual que muchas casas del sector.
From Castro you can also take a boat tour that takes you to small surrounding islands such as Chelín and Quehui, where you can learn about traditional chilota life with rural activities and excursions, horseback riding, sailing, etc..
To the east of the Big Island are the beaches of Queilén and Lelbun, found in the beautiful zone of the Gulf of Corcovado. Other attractions of the area are the Estero Paildad, Acui Island, the Refugio para Navegantes (Shelter for the Sailors), the Pio Pio Lagoon and the Tranqui Island.
To the south of Chiloé you can tour the Tantauco Park, which is accessed through Quellón, the last resort of the island, which also is in the kilometer 0 of the Carretera Panamericana (Panamericana Highway). The entrance to Tantauco Park is found next to Chaiguata Lake and offers hiking trails, camping areas and the ability to fully enter into the lush and magical nature of the island.