Good evening everyone!
2 days back into the Santiago life, it is time to shut the Chiloe chapter, so here comes the last post of this travel diary…
After a nice evening and amazing night sleep at Globertrotters hostel in Castro, I was all energized and determined to fit in a lot for the day. After having some breakfast and packing my stuff to leave it at the hostel, I headed to the municipal/rural (not sure how to call it) bus terminal, destination: Cucao, a village located on the West coast of the island serving as the main access points to Chiloe National park.
The day was sunny and the hour drive from Cucao was so beautiful: I could see the snowy peaks of the Andes mountain located more than 100 km away! There were also beautiful bays, glistening in the sun and some lush forests.
The bus dropped me off at the park entrance, but I had a very specific idea in mind. As some may have gathered from my gravatar pic, I love horseriding and after having read an article about a family renting horses for an excursion in Cucao, I was determined to do the same. I enquired at the actual park and was told I couldn’t ride inside, so I walked back to “town” a little, looking for horses.
In the distance, I saw a garage door with something written on it… And there it was: “Horse Excursions” written in black spray paint. After meeting the owners, they pointed me towards the old cemetary of Cucao while they went to fetch some horses. A few minutes later I was on a little brown horse and left with the father of the family. He said that due to previous heavy rains, it was a little too dangerous to go alone.
I am really happy because today I got to do something I had wanted to do for a very long time: gallop on the beach. It was amazing, the marine air brushing my face and the feeling of liberty as we raced along were just unique. I wish I had some records to share but I was so dazzled I couldn’t remember to film or photograph this… It’s engraved in my memory though and that’s the most important!
The horseriding lasted for a little more than 1h30.
The only downside was that I didn’t enquire about the price until I was already on the horse and I’m pretty sure my guide took the opportunity to make some extra cash off me. Fullfilling my dreams turned out to be pricier than I thought – but no regrets!
After the excursion, I strolled around the village for a bit and then got onto the next bus back to Castro. I was planning to stop over at the Chonchi church to try my luck again, but surprinsingly the bus didn’t take quite the same route as it did on the way to Cucao… On the other hand, it did pass by Nercón, a little town about 5 km from Castro, where another UNESCO church stands! It was shut when I got there, but there was a number on the door and the lady who picked up my call got here to open it up for me in less than 5 minutes.
The Church of Nercón was, as all the churches I saw in Chiloe, beautiful, especially inside. You could even climb up inside the 25m high tower and walk between the roof and the frame, which provided interesting insight on how it was built.
Once I was done visiting, I simply hopped on a bus to Castro to pick up my stuff from the hostel. Then, not really knowing what to do seen as my plane didn’t leave Puerto Montt until late, I went to the town feria to buy some Chilotan staples: garlic and purple potatoes. It was pretty much shutting down by that time, but I still found what I wanted!
For the last time, I went to the bus station and bought my ticket for Puerto Montt on the 7:15PM bus. I was really lucky – apparently this was the last seat, and all the other companies were fully booked. Maybe book ahead if you end up going, especially if you have a plane to catch 😉
I slept through quite a lot of it as I was trying to fit in as much sleep as I could before starting work at 9AM the next morning. The rest of the day was honestly dull: I got to Puerto Montt and was forced to take an Uber to the airport as there doesn’t seem to be any buses past 10PM. I got there at 11PM, with pretty much nothing to do since the wifi wasn’t working… By 5 AM, I finally reached my bed in Santiago, barely fitting in 3 hours of sleep before getting back to real life!
Cost break down for the day:
- One night stay at Globertrotters: CLP 10000
- Bus to Cucao: CLP 2000
- Horse Excursion: CLP 30000
- Bus Cucao to Nercón: CLP 2000
- Bus Nercón – Castro: CLP 350
- Garlic and Potatoes from the feria: CLP 3000
- Slice of cake for lunch: CLP 1000
- Bus Castro – Puerto Montt: CLP 6000
- Uber to Puerto Montt airport: CLP 8969
Total for the day: CLP 63319 – £73 – $96 (Excluding the horse riding: £38 – $50)
My whole itinerary:
- Chiloe is a magical place and I would honestly recommend it to anyone. It is probably better to visit in the summer in terms of weather and activities available, but despite going in the middle of winter, I managed to keep my days full and could’ve honestly stayed a few days more.
- Overall, people in Chiloe have been very nice and welcoming to me. No one was shocked or worried about the fact that I was travelling alone and I felt safe at all times. I would definitely say this is a good place to go for a solo traveller: the activities and places to see there are perfect for that sort of “retreat”, and there is not many adventure sports or nightlife available any ways which I think might have been the things I would’ve felt I was missing company for.
- In terms of budget, Chiloe is also a great option. I found it more affordable than anywhere else I’ve visited in Chile – probably because it isn’t on most tourists’ itineraries.
- Going around was all very fluid and the distance are very easy to cover compared to most of Chile, making it a great option for a “public transport” sort of road trip. If you are on a tighter schedule or want to visit all of the UNESCO classified churches, maybe renting a car would be smart though.
- Overall, I didn’t suffer from the “solo” part of the trip at all, it allowed me to travel at my own pace and to do whatever I wanted – including splurging on my horseriding excursion, which I would’ve probably felt guilty roping anyone into.
- My one regret was not visiting more churches. I managed to go inside of 4 only: Dalcahue, Achao, Castro, Nercón and saw Chonchi only from the outside. There are a total of 16 UNESCO churches in Chiloe and more than a 100 wooden churches on the island overall… I am particularly upset I didn’t go to the Quinchao one, which I have read beautiful reviews of. I guess I’ll just have to go again and this time focus on completing the “Route of the Churches”!
I hope you have enjoyed this travel diary series. I know I enjoyed writing it and exploring Chiloe this way. In fact, I’m already considering taking another solo trip on the next bank holiday weekend coming up! The destination I have in mind in Valle del Elqui… Have you been there? I have plenty of article ideas in mind, so don’t hesitate to give the blog a follow to keep up with my adventures xx