Choloe’ Island

 The ferry to the island

The ferry to the island

Chiloe' Island is the second largest Island in South American.  It is a 2 hour bus ride from Puerto Varas and only accessible by ferry.  The town we stayed in,  Castro is located in the center of this Long Island and was an additional 2 hours on the bus.

We got our tickets in advance for Choloe’ Island with the intent to see penguins, historic wood churches, and the national park along the coastline. We chose to take a bus then check the tour situation and decide if we should rent a car. I enjoyed driving on Easter Island, but I was not all that keen on driving on the highways of Chile. After arriving at the bus station we  dragged our stuff to the hostel. Surprise! Great hostel with the best internet and fanciest  bathroom we had experienced. The host was very helpful, albeit we had to use google translate, because my Spanish speaking  is bad.

 Castro town square church  

Castro town square church  

We went to a recognized tour operator to check on activities. After hearing his ideas & prices we decided renting a car and going it alone would be beneficial. Our host contacted his rental agent who delivered a Chevy with stick the next morning. We paid only $58 US for 24 hours.

 The gravel rode to the site

The gravel rode to the site

 Frank in the Chevy

Frank in the Chevy

I drove, Janet navigated, and we were off to the west coast of the island to the national park and a famous out of the way place called the Dock of Souls. It was a fun drive with winding roads, down shifting, up shifting, a little traffic. How fast is 100 km any way ? That was the limit the dealer imposed.

 View of the Pacific Ocean

View of the Pacific Ocean

 

When we got to Pacific Ocean on the other side of the island the roadway went gravel. Here is where most buses stop and allow the hikers to hit the trail, but this is a 4 hour trek to and 4 hours back. With the car we could travel the kilometers needed to get close the real trailhead. The drive ran close along the coast of a lake similar to a Great Lake of Michigan, with sand, but also some grass for the numerous horses and cows that grazed along the roadside. At times, especially near the trailhead, the road got really potholed and coarse. 

 The ticket office  

The ticket office  

We reached a point where the car was bottoming out too much. We decided to park the car at the side of the road just round the corner and trek to our destination, an artist impression of Dante’s “Dock of Souls”. This site is actually next to the National Park on private property so we had to stop and pay the property owner $1500 per person. He gave us a receipt and we were off and running. We had to show our receipt at several access points, all was good. The trek was very inspiring with views of beautiful green mountains and valleys. As we rose in elevation that is where the the rocky waterfront became visible, with high cliffs, crashing waves, and tiny islands, more like spires, piercing the turbulent water. Finally, as we came over the last hill, we saw the Bridge of Souls that was positioned in such a way that the vision was like a zero edge pool into the lake. It really was the best location with natural beauty galore.

 The path to the site with a arrow marking the way

The path to the site with a arrow marking the way

 Janet on the hike  

Janet on the hike  

Frank actually walked thIs gang plank, just to say he did. After a brief lunch sitting on the cliff, we headed back down the trail. To our surprise, 3 pieces of heavy construction road graders were now working on the road, only 3 hours too late for us. We reached our car and sat discussing our next trip. It was clear we had started a parking lot where others had decided not to wreck their cars. Another traveler startled us when she knocked on the car window for information. We opined you could get a little further up the road, but not to the the designated parking area due to the road work. They tried and came back before we left as did several other vehicles.

 

 

 

 Frank on the Dock of Souls   

Frank on the Dock of Souls

 

As we rose in elevation that is where the the rocky waterfront became visible, with high cliffs, crashing waves, and tiny islands, more like spires, piercing the turbulent water. Finally, as we came over the last hill, we saw the Dock of Souls that was positioned in such a way that the vision was like a zero edge pool into the lake. It really was the best location with natural beauty galore.


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The tour guide told us that it was nesting time for the penguins off shore of Chiloe' Island, so most of the 4000 penguins could not be viewed. We decided instead to take a earlier bus and traded our tickets. We got back to one of our favorite towns that just happened to be having a waterfront fair. There as much activity in the streets and there was even a parade of young people participating in a theatric play wearing tree and animal costume. It was all fun to watch and reminded me of those similar fun events back in good ole’ Livonia.

 One of the many wooden churches

One of the many wooden churches

The next morning we are off to Argentina and another border crossing.

 Traditional fish stew

Traditional fish stew

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