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Jamie Swan in Chile

What country/countries did you visit?

Chile

When?

March 2022

How did you get there?

I flew to Madrid and then to Santiago with Iberia

Whereabouts did you go?

I stayed 1 night in Santiago before flying to Chiloé Island in Patagonia for 4 nights and then back to Santiago for a final night

Had you been before?

I’ve been to Chile several times but not to Chiloé Island.

Which was your favourite:

Hotel: OCIO hotel, Chiloé – Amazing views over the bay of Castro and great rooms in a traditional, yet modern, Patagonian style.

Excursion: The Chiloé National Park on the untouched west coast of the island was fantastic, it really emphasises how remote Chiloé is. Despite only seeing a small corner we hiked through stunning Valdivian rainforest with almost no one else around.

What was your most memorable moment?

A pod of dolphins swimming alongside our boat whilst sailing across the bay - they took us completely by surprise!

Were there any surprises along the way?

How different and quirky Chiloé is in comparison to other places in Chile, even the lake district which is only a boat ride away on the mainland. The island is deeply traditional, rich in folklore and rural charm. I was also surprised to learn that Chiloé is the only location where both Humboldt and Megellanic penguins cohabitate.

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?

Although you can visit the island as a day trip, it’s worth spending a bit of time there, I’d recommend at least 1 night ideally 2. It’s a long way to go for the day and there’s too much to squeeze in, such as the famous wooden churches, colourful wooden houses on stilts, the national parks and just being able to soak up the unique culture away from other day-trippers.

Is there anything indispensible to pack or prepare for?

As with anywhere in that part of Chile, a waterproof jacket

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?

The famous local dish is a curanto – a dish of meat, seafood and vegetables cooked together in a hole in the ground on hot stones. And if you’re a fan of oysters and mussels, the Bay of Caulin is the place to head.

Sum up your trip in a sentence?

I thought Chiloé was going to be a continuation of the lake district region so it was wonderful to find different landscapes of never-ending verdant hills and dramatic coastal scenery as well as a unique culture.

Expert comment:

“Chiloé Island is understated but it’s well worth visiting. The island’s unique culture and untouched landscapes are very different to anywhere else in what is an already amazingly varied country. Here you’ll find the finest examples of Patagonian culture, home to no fewer than 16 brightly painted Unesco World Heritage churches and if, like us, you’re lucky, you may spot dolphins, penguins and flamingos.”

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