Steeped in magic, shrouded in mist, the 41-island archipelago of Chiloé is that proverbial world apart, isolated not so much by distance from the mainland as by the quirks of history. It’s also fast becoming one of Chile’s favorite travel destinations. Chiloé is packed with fascinating nature, from wild beaches to thick, temperate forests. Opportunities abound for trekking, horseback riding, kayaking, bird-watching, whale-watching, and more. Much of the island's 200,000 residents are descendants of blended colonial and indigenous cultures with fascinating traditions in farming, fishing, and devout Catholicism, not to mention finely crafted woolen sweaters, rich seafood stews, unique wooden churches, and palafito, or houses poised on stilts.Originally inhabited by the indig… Read More
Isolated from the rest of the continent, islanders had little interest in or awareness of the revolutionary fervor sweeping Latin America in the early 19th century. In fact, the mainland Spaniards recruited the Chilote to help put down rebellions in the region. When things got too hot in Santiago, the Spanish governor took refuge on the island, just as his predecessors had done two centuries earlier. Finally defeated, the Spaniards abandoned Chiloé in 1826, surrendering their last outpost in South America, and the island soon joined the new nation of Chile.
Nowadays, the isolation is more psychological than physical. Chiloé is just more than 2 km (1 mile) from the mainland at its nearest point, and dozens of buses and frequent ferries every day make the half-hour crossing between Chiloé and Pargua, near Puerto Montt in the Lake District on the mainland. As well, a modern airport was inaugurated in Castro in 2013. In recent years, the island’s tourism offerings have taken a giant leap forward with several luxury hotels and sophisticated gourmet restaurants opening in the Castro area and the massive private park Tantauco drawing droves of trekkers near Quellón. Today, Chiloé is embracing the world while firmly preserving its cultural past.