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Chiloe in January - need input!

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Hi – Have been doing a lot of reading here and on other resources for a 3-week trip to Chile in January 2018. At the moment I’m working on the Chiloe portion of the trip and need advice. Some of my main questions are below but appreciate any and all words of wisdom!

What to know about us: We are in our 40s, in relatively good shape, experienced travelers, speak some Spanish. Appreciate culture, good food, scenery, unusual experiences and meeting locals. A great meal with a pisco and/or good wine is probably all the nightlife we’ll need since we hope to take full advantage of our days. Not interested in the high end all-inclusives, looking for something mid-range, particularly if it’s only a one night stay.

Our current plan: Fly into Puerto Montt, rent a car and spend 4 nights on Chiloe. Arrive Chiloe on a Monday evening and returning to PM on Friday. Because of our arrival time on the island (8p), assuming we will stay in Ancud on Monday evening. Would like to spend at least 1 night in Castro.

Questions:
• Would you suggest picking one place as a home base and driving around the island, or picking up and moving from night to night? (Could be one night in Ancud and then move to Castro as a base… or any combination.) Any specific hotel suggestions? I love looking at the Palafito hotels in Castro… It looks like we could easily leave Castro in morning - spend day at Parque Nacional - and return to Castro in evening. Is this approach reasonable?

• Recommendation for a clean, safe, quiet hotel on night 1 in Ancud for weary travelers?

• Are there any activities that you recommend that would require advance booking? (Such as horseback riding / kayaking / visiting penguin colony)

• DEFINITELY want to enjoy Curanto (preferably pit-baked) at least once on the trip. Any recommendations? I’ve read that Sunday is the traditional day for Curanto and we won’t be there on a Sunday – any truth to this?

• Other favorite restaurants?

• Are there car rental companies you recommend or suggest avoiding?

Thank you in advance!

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