Chiloé is the largest island in the Chiloé archipelago located south of the Chilean Lake District. Here, one can kayak through forests, ride horses across shell-scattered beaches and spot penguins and whales off the coast (weather permitting) all in one trip. The Chilean island’s local culture is as vibrant as the wildlife; you can’t miss the colourful palafitos (houses on stilts) in the capital city of Castro and local delicacy, curanto (freshly caught shellfish, meat and potato dumplings) has to be dug out from a foxhole that acts as a natural pressure cooker. Darwin must have had a field day when he explored this biodiverse island; it’s home to one of Chile’s most diverse range of flora and numerous breeds of rare animals, including Darwin's fox, monito del montes (little mountain monkeys), pudú deer, Colocolo cats, black-necked swans and the Chiloé horse, mampato.
When to go
Chiloé’s climate is as varied as its culture: even in the summer months, from December to March, expect rain, fog and 20-degree heat in the same day. The isle sings and dances in February with Festival Costumbrista Chilote in Castro.
PlanesFour times a week, the Chilean airline Latam runs a direct, two-hour flight from Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport to Chiloé’s only airport, Mocopulli Airport in Castro. There are direct flights to Santiago from the US and Australia, but flights from Europe, Africa or Asia stop at least once enroute.
AutomobilesWith so many sites all over the isalnd, hiring a car in Castro will give you complete freedom to explore the island, but be warned, petrol stations are few and far between here and parking can be problematic in smaller towns.