After a wonderful week spent in Pucon and Puerto Varas, we hopped on a boat and headed to the nearby island of Chiloe. I’d really been looking forward to this part of the trip because Chiloe is not just any old island. Stepping foot on Chiloe is a bit like stepping in a time machine and heading back in time a hundred years or so. It’s an island made up primarily of tiny fishing villages, sprawling farms, family owned eateries, and lots and lots of sheep. You won’t find any modern cities or luxury hotels on the island, but you will find friendly people living simply off unspoiled land that has been passed down through families for hundreds of years.
Oh and you’ll find more hand crafted wooden churches than you can shake a stick at. Seriously, Chiloe is famous for its unique collection of wooden churches.
We decided to rent a car in order to see as much of the island as possible. This idea was both good and bad. We did get to see some remote parts of the island that would not have been practical to visit without a car (although not impossible, as Chiloe has one of the most thorough bus systems I have ever seen.), but because we had a car we had to stop every time we passed a wooden church so I could snap a picture which meant we were stopping pretty much every 5 minutes, much to Tom’s chagrin. Still I would recommend renting a car for at least one day, especially if you want to visit some of the more remote churches on the Island like the church in Calen or San Juan.
The bus is great if you just want to see some of the more major churches, but on the bus you can’t make your fiance stop every five minutes to take pictures of all the churches you will pass on the side of the road on your way to the major churches, and really who wouldn’t want to annoy their traveling partner just a tiny bit?!? Rent the car in Castro (the largest city on the Island) at Sulfa Sur. It’s really the only car rental service on the island. There is also a great little tourist information center in Castro located in the park across the street from Castro’s giant wooden cathedral. You can’t miss the cathedral, you can see its wooden spires from almost anywhere in Castro. We spent a few days “chasing churches” which took us to pretty much every corner of the island.
Including Quellon, the southernmost city on the island, where we enjoyed this view of the bay and the mainland beyond from a shipyard
and where we saw this awesome turquoise church
We also visited the national park where we walked along a stretch of untouched beach as far as the eye could see
We also ran across this adorable little church near the beach
and followed a friend’s recommendation to eat at a restaurant/hostel just outside the park called Parador Darwin, and boy are we glad we did! The food was great, but what really made it special was the collection of homemade spreads they served you with bread while you waited for your meal. I know, not usually the thing that people rave about at a restaurant, but when the spread includes homemade olive tapenade, herbed goat cheese, onions pickled in red wine vinegar, ahi salsa, garlicky cucumbers, and jam, who can blame me?!? It’s all served up in simple mussel shells with homemade crusty bread.
A few other places we visited included Delcahue
where we got on a ferry and crossed the channel to a small island and the city of Curaco de Velez where I enjoyed the biggest oyster I’ve ever seen.
Further along the island we stopped in a town called Quinchao where we walked the shoreline
and visited this beautiful church
Wooden on the outside and on the inside, that’s some craftsmanship!
Several other churches we saw included
This last church was in a tiny village called Calen. Many of the churches that we came across were not open, but I really wanted to try and get inside of this one. Being in the town felt like we’d gone back in time
We went to the one room schoolhouse and asked if we could get inside the church. A few of the children ran off to the house of the woman who held the key to the church. A few minutes later a tiny, ancient woman came walking down the dirt road to let us into her church. It was such a strange and wonderful feeling being in such a unique and rare place. Plus the little old lady let me climb up into the belltower
We stayed in a hostel in Castro in the Palofito (stilt house) section.
Our Hostel was called Palafito Sur and it was wonderful, in fact it was our favorite hostel of the entire trip. It was brand new, super clean, and in a great location. Plus it’s painted in fun colors!
There are great big windows in the front that offer a beautiful view of the canal.
I would highly recommend this hostel. The walls are super thin, but it’s super clean and comfortable and the views and location totally make up for it!
All in all our time on Chiloe was really relaxing and even enlightening. In a world that seems to be moving a hundred miles a minute and is always looking for the next newest thing, it was incredibly refreshing to find a place that is still pure and seemingly untouched by time. Next up on our trip south is Torres Del Paine, the highlight of our trip! Stay tuned!