But back to Chiloe, Chile. This was our next stop. And it was a spectacular day!
Thirteen of us went out to the National Park for a hike with a company called Chilespots Travel.
A view of Castro, the city on Chiloe. Castro is the 3rd oldest city in Chile. Its inhabitants are descendants of the Spanish and Moche cultures. Chiloe is known for its over 200 types of potatoes that are grown here, as well as elephant garlic. It rains a LOT here - over 100 inches per year. My kind of place!!
The National Park is located about an hour's drive from the city of Castro, where our ship tendered in to, from the little bay where it was anchored. The park was created in 1984, and is about 165 square miles. One border is on the Pacific Ocean, the other is a lake called Cucao. Much of it is a rainforest, and there are a number of endemic flora that can be found in South America. One is a tree called Arrayan. It is a VERY COOL tree, both literally and figuratively! It's a type of a myrtle tree, and its bark is smooth, red and cold to the touch. Cold like an ice cube!!
Our drive out to the Park was pleasant and quite picturesque, as we passed by Lago Huillinco and then Lago Cucao before reaching the main entrance to the park. There are a number of trails and a nice visitor center there. Our trail hike took about 90 minutes. We listened for birds, saw a woodpecker, and passed by lots of interesting trees, sponges and flowers.
We passed by the first lake early enough in the morning that the fog had not quite lifted.
After we finished at the park, we went back to the little town of Cucao and had a nice lunch of empanadas, salmon, potatoes and wine. Then we visited a local cemetery. The cemeteries are kind of unique to this area in that they build little houses around the graves. When people die here, the family must sit at the burial site for 3 days. The houses are built to keep the families out of the rain, among other reasons.
Following lunch, we went back towards Castro and visited one UNESCO world heritage church, one of 16 UNESCO churches in this area, the church of Conchi. All of these churches are made entirely of wood.
Finally, we visited the stilt houses, called palafito. We even got to go inside one of them, which was a real treat. Back in the day, fisherman lived here, but today, many of them have been sold and then converted into hostels.
The outside of the church in Conchi
Travel quote: "Once you have traveled, the Voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the Journey." Pat Conroy
Stay tuned for more Pig Tales!!