Tierra Chiloé Hotel & Spa: About the Destination

Located in Chiloé Island, Chile

The lodge is situated on Chiloé Island, the largest isle in the Chiloé archipelago and the second largest in all of Chile. Found in the northern reaches of Patagonia, the islands are distinguished by their rolling coastlines and their unique culture, descended from the indigenous Mapuche and the Spanish Jesuits. Varied ecosystems—rivers and beaches, lakes and lagoons, fjords and coves—set the stage for a rich biodiversity that includes endemic species like Darwin’s fox, identified by the famed naturalist when he visited these isles during his 19th-century explorations.

Places of Interest

Castro

Founded in 1567, Castro is Chile’s third oldest city and the capital of Chiloé Island. The town’s waterfront is lined with the traditional stilted palafitos houses characteristic of the archipelago, while a bustling town center holds attractions like a market, wood-shingled stores, museums, and the World Heritage-listed Church of San Francisco.

Quinchao Island

Situated in the Dalcahue channel between Chiloé Island and the Chilean mainland, Quinchao is replete with traditional wooden architecture, including one of the oldest Jesuit churches in the archipelago. The island is a short ferry ride from the town of Dalcahue and offers spectacular Andean views on sunny days.

Chiloé National Park

Chiloé National Park covers more than 100,000 acres of Chiloé Island, stretching along the Pacific coastline and through wetlands and old-growth rain forest and evergreens. The reserve is laced with numerous hiking trails, lined with deserted beaches, and teeming with marine, terrestrial, and avian wildlife.

Chilean Lake District

Many travelers come to Chiloé by way of the Chilean Lake District, a stunning region of gem-colored lakes framed by snow-capped volcanoes. The city of Puerto Montt, which sits at the district’s southern edge, is about a one-hour-drive from the Chiloé Island ferry.

Wildlife and Natural History

With the crashing Pacific to the west, tranquil waterways to the east, and inland forests and hills intersected by wetlands and rivers, Chiloé’s varied topography invites diverse wildlife. Marine mammals like dolphins, sea lions, and southern right whales swim just off the coast, while Magellanic and Humboldt penguins colonize secluded shorelines. Deep within Chiloé’s old-growth forests are rare mammals, including Darwin’s fox and pudú, the world’s smallest species of deer; and migratory birds like godwits and red-legged cormorants nest on the isles each summer.

People and Culture

Early inhabitants of Chiloé included the Williches and Chonos—two branches of the greater Mapuche of Chile and Argentina. The Spanish claimed the archipelago for the crown in the mid-16th century, and Jesuit evangelists arrived in 1608 to begin constructing the isles’ now iconic wooden churches, a movement continued by the Franciscans into the 1800s. In the face of missionary efforts, local folklore persisted, and ancient myths and legends are still passed down through the generations today.

The modern-day Chilote have maintained their ancestors’ predilection for living off the land and sea. Locals build their own fishing boats, catch and grow their food, weave baskets and textiles, and knit and dye their own clothing—a lifestyle almost completely defined by the geography and natural bounty of the islands.

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