When the early-morning fog shrouds misty-eyed and misunderstood Chiloé, it's immediately apparent something different this way comes. Isla Grande de Chiloé is South America's fifth-largest island and is home to a fiercely independent, seafaring people.
Immediately apparent are changes in architecture and cuisine: tejuelas, the famous Chilote (of Chiloé) wood shingles; palafitos (houses mounted on stilts along the water's edge); the iconic wooden churches (16 of which are Unesco World Heritage sites); and the renowned meat, potato and seafood stew, curanto. A closer look reveals a rich spiritual culture that is based on a distinctive mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest gnomes.
All of the above is weaved among landscapes that are wet, windswept and lush, with undulating hills, wild and remote national parks, and dense forests, giving Chiloé a distinct flavor unique in South America.
- Unesco-listed Wooden Churches Genuflecting in awe at the interiors of Chiloé's unconventional houses of worship, especially in Achao.
- Muelle de las Almas Trekking across Chiloé's cinematic landscape to the mythological Dock of Souls.
- Chepu Waking up with the sun on a dawn kayak trip through a misty sunken forest.
- Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñihuil Spying Magellanic and Humboldt penguins in the wild.
- Parque Nacional Chiloé Hiking along Chiloé's raging and wild west coast.
- Isla Mechuque Wandering the picturesque roads of an idyllic mini-island microcosm of Chiloé.
- Peninsula de Rilán Sleeping in remote luxury on this picturesque peninsula.
- Parque Tantauco Losing yourself on a hut-to-hut trek through untamed Valdivian temperate rainforest.
- Curanto Tearing into a bowl of Chiloé's most traditional dish, a motley stew cooked in a hole in the ground in Ancud or Quemchi.
When to Go
Feb The clearest skies of the year in Chiloé, but you’ll still need a poncho.
Sep–Mar Magellanic and Humboldt penguins breed in Monumento Natural Islotes de Puñihuil.
Dec–May Best time of year to catch endangered blue whales off Chiloé’s northwest coast.