Day 16 – Puerto Varas and Chiloe

Early start this morning – had to be across the plaza to catch our tour bus to the island of Chiloe at 8am.

We booked through a tour company since it was a long way and the buses were a bit infrequent – we weren’t sure we could see everything we wanted to if we did it on our own. It cost about 56,000 pesos all up (around AU$133) – which is a lot, but it was a very long day and included a ferry crossing and several toll roads (but no food was included!).

We did a quick tour of some local hotels picking up extra passengers, and then drove to Puerto Montt – one more passenger to pick up there. Then it was on to Pargua to catch the ferry across to Chiloe. There were quite a few small Ro-Ro ferries (Roll-on Roll-off) doing the run between Chiloe and the mainland – quite a bit of vehicular traffic.

Chiloe is around 200km long and 50km wide and is the third largest island in South America. The Pan-American highway forms the main highway down the centre of the island. This highway run the entire length of the Americas from Alaska to the bottom of Chiloe island (although some claim the highway goes as far as Ushuaia, but that is an alternative routing via Buenos Aires and the east coast of Argentina). According to our guide, there are only three breaks in the highway – in Alaska, the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, and the Canal de Chacao between the mainland and Chiloe island.

We landed at Chacao after around 30 minutes on the ferry – where we saw seals swimming around the ferry and off in the distance some black necked white swans (very unusual looking), then drove through Ancud and down to Dalcahue (about an hour from the ferry) where we visited the Dalcahue Church and the local markets (cheap and nasty, but very popular with the locals – selling regular stuff rather than tourist trinkets).

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Dalcahue Church, Chiloe

Dalcahue Church, Chiloe

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Dalcahue, Chiloe - Chile

Dalcahue, Chiloe - Chile

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Next we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant near Castro – funnily enough the locals on the tour went elsewhere … possibly to a local restaurant which has a set menu, while we got to eat at the “safe” western restaurant. It was quite pricey – but not too bad … I had some steak and some really nice chunky chips while Leanne had an Abalone cake (basically a stew) which she said was quite tasty.

We stopped on the way into town at the stilt houses built by local fishermen on the waterfront (quite large tides around the island), and then continued to some local markets which were full of wonderful knitted clothes and carved wooden items and toys.

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Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Open air butcher shop, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Open air butcher shop, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Markets in Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

The highlight of the day (for me at least) was the Castro Church at the main square in Castro – an amazing wooden structure with high arched ceilings. The colours and structure of the building was amazing. Apparently the original church burned down, and was rebuilt in 1912.

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Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

[table3]

[table1]

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Castro Church, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Palafitos - Houses on Stilts, Castro, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Then we drove an hour back to Ancud at the northern end of the island where we visited an old Spanish fort from 1770, complete with canons still in place. We stopped in briefly at the Museum of Chiloe and then had a quick look at Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840.

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Spanish Fort built in 1770, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Spanish Fort built in 1770, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Catedral S.Carlos de Ancud, built in 1840, Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Finally we headed back to Chacao and the ferry back to the mainland. Another hour drive to Puerto Montt and then finally back to Puerto Varas – we arrived just on 8pm, a 12 hour day and very tiring.

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Black Necked Swans, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

Black Necked Swans, Isla de Chiloe, Chile

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Seals, Canal Chacao, Chile

Seals, Canal Chacao, Chile

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Imperial Cormorant, Canal Chacao, Chile

Imperial Cormorant, Canal Chacao, Chile

After cleaning up a bit, we headed out for dinner at a cafe nearby, BLT and toasted sandwiches – quite nice actually. While eating, we enjoyed the music from the festival (the main marquee was just outside the cafe).

Chiloe - Map View

Chiloe - Map View

Chiloe - Satellite View

Chiloe - Satellite View

We returned to the hostel and did some packing and eventually sat around the dining table with the other guests. Leanne went to have a shower while I did some work on the computer when the power went out – put an early stop to the festivities out in the plaza! Fortunately pretty much everyone at the hostel had torches – one of the guests found some small candles in the kitchen which we put on the table and sat around in the dim light talking and listening to one of the guests (a Chilean musician here for the festival) playing guitar and singing (in Spanish!) – he was very good.

Blackout in Puerto Varas - Hostel Casa Margouya

Blackout in Puerto Varas - Hostel Casa Margouya

Leanne got good use out of the little head mounted torch we had bought – managed to have a shower (the gas hot water system still worked), but we gave up trying to do much more packing, and I didn’t have enough battery to get the work done I had planned on doing.

Leanne wearing quick drying towel and headlamp for dark showers

Leanne wearing quick drying towel and headlamp for dark showers

We all went out as a group to look at the stars in the dark out on the pier in the lake … unfortunately there were still a lot of cars on the road with headlights on and a few buildings (like the Casino) must have had backup generators – so there was still quite a bit of light around. Still, it was a lot quieter in town than usual – quite nice really.

We all went to bed just after midnight – not much else to do with the power out!

Tweets from today

heading to Chiloe for the day
3rd February, 2008 8:10 AM from txt
out looking at the milky way during a blackout in puerto varas
4th February, 2008 12:05 AM from txt
 

7 Responses to “Day 16 – Puerto Varas and Chiloe”

  1. Trevor says:

    Wonderful photos Simon. Thanks for including some bird shots. The one with the Swans shows several birds in the background – one appears to be a Black-headed Gull and there seems to be some sort of Oystercatcher on the rocks.

  2. Mum says:

    I loved the photos of the textiles. Thanks for showing them

  3. [...] I am enjoying my son’s blog. Sim’ and his wife are currently travelling Chile and Argentina. As internet connections [...]

  4. [...] Simon is constantly on the look out for birds and animals to photograph – and to tell me all about what he has been seeing. Some of these photos he has posted as a part of his blog here. [...]

  5. [...] Day 16 – Puerto Varas and Chiloe [...]

  6. Emilie says:

    I would love to do one day trip from Puerto Varas to Chiloe, just like you did, which will include a visit to Castro. I’ve researched all over the internet and cannot find a tour company that does this trip. Can you remember yours and let me know? Thanks,
    Emilie

    • Simon says:

      Hi Emilie, we just went to one of the local tour operators when we were there – there are several in Puerto Varas, I seem to remember there being a good one near the Casino next to the town square (but that was 5 years ago).

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