Chiloé – Castro
Castro, 87km south of Ancud, is the capital of Chiloé and the third oldest city in Chile, after Santiago and La Serena. On the Plaza de Armas is the San Francisco Church, which was constructed out of wood by local craftsmen in around 1910. Visit the port, artisan fair, and be sure to check out the “palafitos” or wooden houses built on stilts above the water. The Museo Regional contains artefacts from the aboriginal tribes that inhabitated the island before the arrival of the Spanish.
Twenty km northeast of Castro, Dalcahue is an important artisan centre. Browse through handcrafts and the local market, and don’t miss the Sunday “Feria de Dalcahue” artisan fair. From Dalcahue you can take a boat to Quinchao Island where you can visit the Santa Maria de Loreto Church, the oldest on the archipelago.
Chiloé National Park runs along the western coast. Cooler and wetter than the eastern coast, this park is an ecosystem that includes dunes, Valdivian temperate rain forests, swamps and peat bogs. Take a traditional or mountain bike tour or go camping and trek on your own for a few days.
Twenty five km southwest of Castro you can visit Chonchi, “the town of the three floors” because it was built on a hill.
Tantauco Park, in the south of the island, is a 118,000 ha nature reserve renowed for its almost untouched rainforest with challenging treks that last 3, 5 or 11 days. Camping and refuges are available.