Our first Chilean road led us to the island of Chiloé of the Los Lagos area (equivalent to the Lake District of Argentina) that quickly became one of my favourite places in this trip. It was quite a strange coincidence that we happened to come here on a rainy weekend, the only rainy days interrupting a sunny period. Arriving there however, I found the island utterly charming and poetic in the bad weather.

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Lemuy island on a bad weather day

Chiloé archipelago

Apart from the main island there are more than 40 small islets dotted around, all hilly and curvy. The winding roads on the hilly landscape run through lush forests with wildly curving arrayan trees (typical of this part of Chile), grazing lands with cows and tiny villages of faded colourful, wooden houses. The rainy, misty weather gave a mystical feel especially to the coastal areas where rock and forest drops into the Pacific Ocean – I marvelled at this view during our hitch on Lemuy islet from the higher seat of a road work truck.

The other islands that we visited are quite similar: small villages scattered around the land, an artisanal market and a small, wooden church in the centre – typical architecture from the island.

Tip! Many of the churches are closed outside of mass times but the key can often be obtained from a next door shop, just ask!


Castro, the capital of the island of Chiloé

We stayed in Castro which is the biggest (still cute and small) town, in the middle of the main island – a strategically well located town to explore the area. The places that we visited are the popular Quinchao and the smaller and further Lemuy island, the Chiloé National Park and Puñihuil where Magellan and Humboldt penguins breed from spring till autumn. The national park is at a wetland area which encompasses dense rainforest (tepual), swamps, peat bogs and coastal dunes. It’s a unique place where the vegetation of a freshwater lake and salty ocean meets. There’s a possibility to go for a 2-day hike in the National Park with camping but not having a tent and warm enough clothes, we opted for a day trip with shorter hikes on boardwalk. Still, the tepual forest gave a magical feeling, like a scene from The Lord of the Rings. Entrance to the National Park was 4000 CLP per person (foreigners).

Our best multi-day hikes in Patagonia post features the 2-day hike in Chiloé National Park


Hitchhiking at the Chiloé island

Another great thing, we managed to hitchhike on the whole of Chiloé island. Cars stopped sometimes instantly when we stuck out our finger. Locals (called Chilotes) are very nice, but their accent and speed of talking sometimes made the conversation impossible for me.

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Magellan penguins in Puñihuil

Off the beaten track

The island of Chiloé is not such a high profile destination compared to the southern part of Patagonia but still, based on locals’ stories and by the number of accommodation we’ve seen available, it’s a summer hit for holiday makers. Luckily we were there at spring time, before the crowds arrived. Although the area is small, we had the feeling that we could spend a month there easily, exploring the beautiful nature around.

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Palafitos, pillar houses, in Castro

Getting to Chiloé

Chiloé is situated in the north of Chilean Patagonia, in the Los Lagos region. The nearest airport is Puerto Montt, which is also a big transportation hub from where there are direct buses to Castro. So if you are already in Chile, a more sustainable traveling option is taking a bus – a long-distance night or day bus – to Puerto Montt, and changing there towards Castro.

Read how to plan a trip to Patagonia in our post

Have you ever seen penguins, or whales? Which wild animal have you seen that impressed you most? Tell us your anecdote in the comments!


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Who am I?

Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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  1. Je trouve ce blog si intéressant, plein de conseils, riche en découvertes et photos, que je me suis permise de l’annoncer dans un Forum de Voyage dont je suis membre depuis de longues années: EXPAT.com
    Accepteriez vous d’afficher leur logo à l’aide de ce lien ? merci…

  2. Beautiful photos. I’d love to see more animals in their natural habitat. So far the British isles have given us many fond memories of seal and beautiful wild birds but perhaps not quite the same league! Hehe. X

    1. I wish we had seen more wild animals but we’re really not keen on ‘wildlife tours’ where we don’t know how animals are treated. A free and happy animal is the best sight, even in Kingston-upon-Hull 🙂 Thanks for your visit Lizzie!

    1. South America is (still) a wildlife haven. Whales and penguins can be spotted in different parts of Chile, but also in Ecuador, in Colombia, in Argentina on the Atlantic. Those are all places where you can seek (and find) Wonderful 🙂 Thanks for popping by!

  3. This is just right on my alley! The pic of stilt houses reminded me of the gypsy houses in Malaysia and the Philippines. The poetic landscape and the rich fauna is surely something not to missed. Thanks for sharing 😉

    1. Oh, it’s our pleasure to share this part of the world that we liked so much. One of our favourite places in Chile, and maybe throughout South America! In fact, the thought crossed my mind to buy land there – if only it didn’t rain so much… Thanks for your visit!

  4. The island of Chiloe was already on the list of places I want to visit in Chile, now your post finished to convince me!

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