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Chiloe Island

Why visit Chiloe Island?

The fifth largest island in South America, Chiloe has wonderful hilly scenery – as high as 800m – stunning national parks and fascinating birdlife and marine life. Blue whales visit the northern coastline from January to April, dolphins are frequently seen and Humboldt and Magellan penguins have colonies here. It’s a rather mysterious place, renowned for the myths and legends, but it’s also very friendly. The main town of Castro is known for the brightly painted wooden houses that sit on stilts over the water, and the island’s architectural treasures include 150 historic wooden churches, 16 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Reasons to visit Chiloe Island include:

  • Explore the town of Castro, with its seafood restaurants, 17th century churches, craft shops and market, ‘palafitos’ – painted stilt houses – and contemporary art museum. 
  • Visit Chonchi, known for its World Heritage Site church, lovely old wooden buildings on the bay, and museums – including the Museum of the Chilote Accordion.  Watch locals digging for razor clams or try a taste of licor de oro, made with lemons, saffron and milk.  
  • Traditional foods – the local speciality is curanto, seafood cooked on hot stones placed on the ground, and the oysters here are famously good. 
  • Go trekking in the evergreen forests, horse riding through the countryside or sea kayaking. 
  • Visit the Magellan and Humboldt penguin colonies on the Islets of Puñihuil, and watch out for cormorants, sea otters and whales. 
  • Visit the crafts market in Ancud and shop for woollen jumpers, ponchos and blankets – the island is famed for them – and wander round Ancud’s waterfront. 
  • Learn about the region’s history from the textile and archaeological exhibits in the Regional Museum of Ancud and enjoy the views from the ruins of San Antonio Fort. 
  • From December to February watch out for the Fiestas Costumbritsas, local folklore festivals. 
  • Spend a Sunday morning at the Feria Artesanal Dalcahue, a colourful craftsmarket to which local artisans flock to sell their wares.

When to go to Chiloe Island

Chiloe is a year-round destination, but summer - December to March - is the sunniest time and also the time when the best cultural festivals happen. It is one of the rainiest places on earth but this remote, enchanting place has plenty of sunshine as well, and the mist and fog only add to the unique atmosphere.

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Chiloe Island accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT -4 hours

Flight time:

There are direct flights from London Heathrow to Santiago, which operate 4 times a week and take 14 hours 40 minutes. The Chilean airline, LATAM, flies via Madrid.

Language: The official language is Spanish. but other local languages are also spoken. English is spoken quite widely.

Visas:

Visas are not currently required for British passport holders staying for up to 90 days, who are issued with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo-Tourist Card’ on arrival. You must retain this and present it to immigration on departure.

Health:

Generally none is compulsory but we recommend the following: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, tetanus, rabies and polio. There is no malaria in Chile. A yellow fever certificate is required if you are coming from an infected area.

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