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Parque Nacional Chiloé
Parque Nacional Chiloé Review
The 430-square-km (166-square-mi) Parque Nacional Chiloé hugs Isla Grande's sparsely populated Pacific coast. The park's two sectors differ dramatically in terms of landscape and access. Heavily forested with evergreens, Sector Anay, to the south, is most easily entered from the coastal village of Cucao. A road heads west to the park from the Pan-American Highway at Notuco, just south of Chonchi. Sector Anay is popular among backpackers, who hike the short Tepual Trail, which begins at the Chanquín Visitor Center, 1 km (½ mi) north of the park entrance. El Tepual Trail is a wooden path that winds through a rare, intact forest of tepu trees (Tepualia stipularis), whose large, twisted trunks are visible above and below your walking path. Along the path as well are signs explaining the significance of the forest and what it holds.
The longer Dunas Trail also begins there and leads through the forest to the beach dunes near Cacao. Hiking through the park will give you the best chance of seeing the Chiloé fox, native to Isla Grande; more reclusive is the pudú, a miniature deer found throughout southern Chile. Some 3 km (2 mi) north of the Cucao entrance is a Huilliche community on the shore of Lago Huelde. Unobtrusive visitors are welcome.
One of Chile's best beaches is 1½-km- (1-mi-) long Cucao Beach, at the southern end of the park. Dunes extend all along this unusually wide beach. Camping is permitted.
Accessible only during the drier months of January through March, the northern Sector Chepu of Chiloé National Park is primarily wetlands created by the tidal wave that rocked the island in 1960. The sector now shelters a large bird population (most notably penguins) as well as a sea-lion colony. Reaching this portion of the park is difficult—take a gravel road turnoff at Coipomó, about 20 km (12 mi) south of Ancud on the Pan-American Highway, to Chepu on the Pacific coast. From there, it's about a 90-minute hike to the park's northern border.
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