Castro – Chile (Chiloé Island)
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.
PALAFITO HOSTEL – Budget & Flashpacker Category
The famous Palafitos de Gamboa waterfront is speckled with traditional houses on stilts called “palafitos”. One of these charming little bungalows is home to Palafito Hostel, located just 10 minutes from the Plaza de Armas. The antique outside doesn’t prepare you for the absolutely stunning and completely renovated interior.
Inside are 8 rooms, private and dormitory, each with private bathrooms. Two of the double-bed rooms have balconies with spectacular views to the Gamboa River. The kitchen is well equipped for any culinary endeavor and the common areas will keep you well entertained with books and board games.
Ask the friendly staff about fishing, horseback riding and all the excursions available.
PALAFITO WAIWEN – Budget & Flashpacker Category
Palafito Waiwen Hostel is a magnificent stilt house located in the renowned “barrio Gamboa” on the banks of the Gamboa River’s estuary and a 10 min walk from the centre.
The hostel is gorgeous, with an impressive interior design and décor. You’ll really enjoy the view from the terrace, the spacious living room and the very well equipped kitchen. Watch the changing of the tides and the seabirds fly by here.
All Waiwen’s rooms include towels and they all have ensuite bathrooms, including the two 4-bed dorms with lockers. You can also choose from the pretty private rooms (doubles & matrimonial) or you could pamper yourself by staying in the hostel’s showpiece, the luxury suite with seaside balcony.
It’s a very personalised service at Waiwen, where you will be well looked after by the owners themselves as well as their helpful bilingual staff. Owners and staff like to bond with their guests during the hostel’s varied breakfast (inclusive) and optional dinners & BBQ’s that are often organised. Kayak & bike rental at the hostel!
HOSPEDAJE EL MOLO – Budget Category
Hospedaje El Molo, with its welcoming owner María, is an excellent option for travellers who cannot afford to stay in a ‘palafito’ (stilt house).
You can choose from one of the 15 lovely rooms, all with shared bathroom and towels and brekkie included. A kitchen is at your disposal and you can enjoy your meal in the indoor dining room or on the spacious terrace with amazing views of the bay, a perfect place to hang out and chitchat or to read a book.
Hospedaje el Molo is easy to reach: take Calle Sotomayor in the direction of the water, go down the steps and you’ll see the white and blue facade on your right hand side. It’s just 1.5 blocks from the bus terminal, 2.5 blocks from Castro’s main square, and one block from the big mall and supermarket.
Open all year, English also spoken.
Hospedaje El Molo
SIEMPRE VERDE TURISMO – Tours & Activities
Siempre Verde Turismo is a small operator, so you’re not just a number here. Their personalised service, accessible rates and their commitment to small groups means that their travellers’ reviews are superb!
Cultural tours, treks, boat tours (Nov-Mar), wildlife spotting, bird watching, mountain bike tours & rental, sea kayaking… everything is possible here!
Chiloé Island doesn’t hold any secrets for José, the young and enthusiastic owner, and his English-speaking guides. Email or call them, or head to their trendy office in downtown Castro, and get ready for a top experience with Siempre Verde Turismo.
Payments possible via Paypal also.