Chiloé – Ancud, Pingüinos de Puñihuil, Castro, Achao, Dalcahue and Cucau (Muelle des las Almas)

I woke up feeling really tired* after two weeks of nonstop travel. This is the first day where I hadn’t planned how to get to my next destination, Ancud on Chiloé, which is a huge island with some UNESCO heritage churches and plazas. The people I’ve met on my travels have said it’s worth visiting but all I wanted to do today was not move or think, I had decided to camp at the next destination to check my gear and I wasn’t excited about the prospect. Before I knew it I was on a bus to Ancud, which included a short ferry trip. On the way there I kept falling asleep and was desperate not to miss my stop. I had a 2km walk to the hotel, I’ve started carrying my bags to save a little on costs and also get in some exercise, as I’m going to have to carry everything for 78miles in a month so I need the practice.

I arrived at what appeared to be a deserted hotel, overlooking the sea at the top of a cliff. There was plenty of camping and each parch was surrounded by bushes.

The first challenge was paying as the receptionist did not speak any English and I was having trouble explaining that I didn’t have anything less than a $20000 peso note. Still tired* I managed to mitigate by asking for the bathroom and when I returned the manager changed my money.

I picked a spot with plenty of shade and after several attempts pitched the tent. Did some washing, yes those are my pants drying and collapsed. I went to town to buy food and accidentally brought raspberry flavoured water so deal with that for the next 24 hours.

Pingüineras de Puñihuil

I decided to stay in Ancud because there is another colony of penguins close by but very little information on how to get there. I’m going to take a little time to relay my experience in case it helps anyone. I found this tourist information website that is in Spanish but it says the busses leave from Colo Colo at 12:00 and 13:00 and return at 16:20 and 17:20. I went to the Calle around 11:30 and found a large bus garage. After asking a lot of people and getting the same answers in Spanish, I deduced, well really after so much pointing it became painfully obvious, that the bus hadn’t yet arrived. It did leave at 12:00. When you get to the beach the road literally ends and cars have to drive up the beach.

The boat tours leave every 15 minutes. I went to an operator where the boat left in the next half hour and was joined by four Chillians and two Israelíes, all pensioners. There were other boats that left with many more people and all were much younger. But still I’m now in the grey vote so it suited me fine. We were given around a 40 minute tour of the islands and I snapped these.

Thinking that the bus was not until 4:20 and I’d have to wait a long time I headed to read my book. There were a lot of busses on the beach and again I harassed people with my crap Spanish. I was directed to an orange, red and white bus which was run by Mar Brava, which is a company that was supposed to run busses but I couldn’t find out where from or the times. It left around 14:30 that wasn’t the advertised time and I tried to ride it as long as I could to find the destination but I was asked if I wanted to get off in centro so I did. I’m not sure if this is helpful but if you can get to the beach there are definitely busses back.

That night I took the guidebooks recommendation to try Curanto, an island delicacy. I went to Kurantón around 8:30 and there was one other customer. They took my order and promptly closed sending away a party of four. The shellfish was delicious and you should try if you come to the island-you might be better off finding somewhere in Castro or another town, personally if I were to do it again I’d give Ancud a miss-which is the advice I ignored.

Castro

The next day I headed to Castro and the walk to the bus station was much easier when I wasn’t so tired*. I stayed at Palafito Hostel which is famous for being, well a Palafito.

I ran into two American girls I’d met at a previous hostel and they told me I should visit Museo de Arte Moderno Chiloé, so i did.

Museo de Arte Moderno Chiloé

The next morning I headed off on the number 2 bus, you can catch it from the streets not the bus station and there is a stop on the corner of the main plaza. It’s a local bus and winds it’s way through the houses. Get off at the last stop and walk into the park, as you get inside there are a number of buildings that looks like private property. It’s one of those, this one to be exact:

The art is fairy interesting but the building is well worth seeing. It’s free but give a donation as it’s only fair.

Achao

I then headed to Achao which is another ferry ride, free if you are a passenger and you can get a bus all the way from Castro terminal. This is the site of the most famous Church on the island. I won’t go into too many details but Chiloé is famous for having sixteen of this style of churches and this is the oldest. It’s a little seaside town but most things were closed. I assumed that this was due to me being here just out of season, imagine a British seaside town two weeks into September, but was told it was because it’s a Sunday and Chillians chill on Sundays. Either way I’ll leave it to you to decide when to visit.

I then headed back on the ferry to Dalcahue which has another of the churches.

It also has a lot of artesanal products if that is your thing, but I was more interested in food and headed to blah. Inside is a bustling market with lots of old ladies cooking tasty food. You pick a place pull up a stool and order. I had my first empanadas which were delicious.

Muelle De Las Alma

On my final day I wanted to go to the National Park but the receptionist said I should go to Muelle De Las Almas, which is a beautiful lookout point over the Pacific Ocean just outside Cucao. Go to the central terminal and busses leave every 30mins, and they meet with the busses that take you along a gravel road to the destination. It’s then a short 2k walk and I saw a lot of wildlife on the way.

It’s been a great few days relaxing and now time to head to Coyhaique and start the hiking. If anything to work of the calories in this burger and ice cream I’ve just consumed!

*hungover

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