- POPULATION 160,000
- SIZE 3,241 square miles
Chiloe, it’s often said, is an island whose character was inherited from surrounding seas rather than from the Chilean mainland: be it through the fishermen who set out on foggy mornings to bring home a catch to make curanto (seafood and meat steam-cooked over hot rocks) or the Magellanic and Humboldt penguins that squint out to sea from the western coast. A blustery, green land that looks not unlike Wales, Chiloe’s architecture looks like nothing else in South America, with its villages of palafitos (stilt houses, pictured) and World
Heritage-listed churches, built wholly from timber, which creaks sonorously in the Pacific wind. Among them are the extroverted church of San Francisco de Castro, painted in a curious colour scheme of mustard yellow and purple, and the rather more sober 18th-century Santa Maria de Loreto, held together by wooden pegs.
- GETTING THERE – From Singapore, fly Air France to Chile’s Santiago via Paris. From Kuala Lumpur, fly Malaysia Airlines via Sydney, Australia. LAN flies onwards to Chiloe’s Castro airport (from US$270; lan.com). Chiloe is also an hour’s drive from Puerto Montt followed by a short ferry crossing.