Friday, December 19, 2014

Isla Grande de Chiloe .... a glimpse at historic Chile


Isla Grande de Chiloe, or Chiloe for short, is a favorite Chilean island of mine, for to disappear in for a week or more, to eat at seafood restaurants and drink vino, and just enjoy myself for awhile at little cost. The island measures some 180 km long and 50 kms wide and is only a short ferry trip from Puerto Montt, the capital of the Chilean Lake District.


Fuerte San Antonio guards the town of Ancud (pop 25,000) a northern fishing port and Chiloe's largest town. The fortress was built by the Spanish and was their last Chilean outpost, until their final defeat in 1826. Other major towns are Castro (central) and Quellon the southern fishing and ferry port, all located on the relatively sheltered eastern side of the island.


(click on fotos to enlarge)
Churches on the island are of distinctive design and built of wood with wood shingle cladding. Likewise houses are wooden with shingles and a corrugated iron roof.

Market day at Dalcahue, a small fishing village near Castro.

The main commercial activities of the island are fishing, salmon farming, tourism and transport. At Ancud you must visit the fishing fleet when it's in port and look in at the fish processing plant adjacent to the wharf. Salmon and shellfish farming is done in the sheltered shallow inlets of the east coast out from Castro. The island of Chiloe is used as a convenient transport route to the fiordland part of Chile because the mainland route is too mountainous. Buses and trucks go from Puerto Montt to Ancud, thence south thru Castro to the ferry terminal at Quellon. The ferries (transbordadores) go south to Puerto Chacabuco to service the Aisen Region including Coihaique. The ferry also goes eastward to the main land to the port of Chaiten, which was wiped out by a volcanic eruption in 2008.

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