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ExperienceChile.Org - Chiloe Island

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Chiloe Island
Experiencechile.org can arrange self-drive itineraries on Chiloe Island or private transfers to and from the Island as well as guided excursions during your stay. We can also arrange bird-watching, excursions to see marine life and a few days in a private park in the heart of the natural wilderness.
The island of Chiloe is the largest island of the Chiloe Archipelago, located in the far south of Chile close to Puerto Montt, with its northern tip, separated from the Chilean mainland by only a few kilometres, by the Chacao Strait. The sea separating the Island from mainland Chile on its eastern shore is divided into two sectors north and south. The northern sector is called the Golfo de Ancud , and the southern sector is called the Golfo de Corcovado. Like the rest of Chile, all along its western coast is the Pacific Ocean.
The Island measures 190km north to south and has an average width of 65km, covering 8,394km² (3,241sq mi). The eastern and northern sectors are very rural with a landscape very much like that of western England (think Cornwall and Devon), including small fishing villages with natural harbours that border the tidal inlets. There are a handful of coastal villages and towns on the eastern coast such as Quellon in the south east (from where ferries go to Chaiten on the mainland), Dalcahue and Chonchi. The main city, Castro, which is the capital, is located about half way down its eastern side, protected from the sea by islands and a peninsula, and the other town of significance is in the north called Ancud. The area north-west of Ancud is excellent from where to see a great diversity of marine fauna such as: dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, penguins and whales.
Chiloe is steeped in history. Charles Darwin spent some time here exploring and discovering new species of flora and fauna previously unknown to Western man when his ship, The Beagle, ventured this way in 1839. Today a Darwin research institute on the Island continues to study flora and fauna and there is the Chiloe National Park, a large area of forest bordering the Pacific, preserving the natural flora as it has always been.
The Island is known for its many wooden churches built by the Jesuits using wood cut into flat tiles to decorate and cover the outer walls and roofs. The way of life is also slow and somewhat "frozen" in time, especially in the rural parts where it is common to see Oxon-drawn carts laden with seaweed - harvested and then dried for export to Japan.
Access to the island is by short ferry crossing from Pargua on the mainland (57km south-west from Puerto Montt) to Chacao on Chiloe, and takes about one hour often accompanied by dolphins and sea otters swimming by.
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