THE BIG ISLAND OF CHILOE
TWO WEEK TRIP
From Puerto Montt to Quemchi 2 days
This an alternative to the famous Carretera Austral ¨. you can even connect one route to the other , but I will show you ahead on how to do It.
Start this trip by taking a bus from Santiago to Puerto Montt , this is a one thousand km that you can do overnight sleeping comfortably on a bus. Buses in Chile are fantastic ¡¡ they can compared to a first class train , they have lots of space and you can even ask for ¨salon cama¨ that’s right ¡ you can just layed down and enjoy the trip. Some buses even have plasma tv on every seat. If this is your option a semi bed can run for between $25.000 clp and $44.000 clp on super class each way (I don't think they include meals) ,you might be asked to pay extra for your bike , I would say an average price will be $8.000 CLP. (All of this prices are average on middle season , and prices fluctuate based on demand)
From Puerto Montt to Pargua is a 80 km ride by a highway and the beginning of your adventure. Stop at the restaurant called ¨La posada del huaso Bohle¨ for a good meal for $5.000 clp. Then you will be ready to hit the next 60 kms.
The ferry boat will charge $2.000 for you and your bike.
Ones the ferry boat gets you to Chacao , this will be your starting point in Chiloe. You should find some nice hostels and camping , during the season lots of locals will open up their house for guests , you the price is between $4.000 to $6.000 for camping and $6.000 to $9.000 for a room.
Highway 5 has way too much traffic so the best alternative is to take a left( West or East?) towards the coastal road. This route is less crowded especially during the high season . On the coastal road you will be riding on gravel roads most of the time. In Chacao make sure you to buy your food for the nexts 80 kms because the small markets only sell items such as fin cookies and coca cola.
The scenery this route is fantastic and is called the church route but seems like it sbould be called the “ light house” route . Here you will be passing Manao,Linao and later on Lliuco , this definitely a great place to overnight camp and is free.
How to get to this free camp site? Easy… the last down hill before getting to town on you left side there is a small street where you will see the blue church right out side you will see a bunch of lambs , wish keep the town grass nice and short , so here is your camp site , you will be right in front of the beach and….. I forgot to tell you right between 2 cementaries
What is next? Well…. Lots of up hill , you will be riding towards Quemchi , here you have the option to stop by Huite and then Tubildad where you can check the Canal de Caucahue and from here the road will take you to the beautiful town of Quemchi.
This is a great place to stay for a couple of days -this is because you will be tired ones you get here and super tired on the way to Dalcahue.
There are lots of alternatives the best ones that I saw where:
-Hospedaje Chiloe , Pedro Montt 241 , rooms are very clean and the price is right $8.000 mrs Christina , the owner is a great and real Chiloe woman , meals are good too $5.000 average price.
Right across the street is a bakery store , be careful with the dog¡¡ she is super nice and will ask you for a bread , check her out because you will count about 2 kgs per hour that she makes begging , jejejej
Another great tip is:
Camping La Casona , here you can have the alternative to stay in a room with more people or camping in the back yard , it’s cheaper than any other place and as far as I saw was pretty clean too.you can ask any one where it is , Quemchi is small but really nice . don't miss visiting Aucar Island from the navigating souls and the local library which is fantastic.
Make sure you find out other adventures you can go for , because there are lots of ferry boats going to Isla Caucahue here you can see the two light houses , Faro Morro Lobos and faro Punta Quinterquen.
After some good rest … lets get back on the road , our next great mission will be Dalcahue , to get there there are two options:
the short one is the direct road that takes you from right from Aucar its basically a direct mountain road , if its high (summer) season and you want to take Dalcahue.
Quemchi to Dalcahue , between 1 and 2 days even 3 and more.
If you are short on time, take the short road w-199 . This road starts right off Aucar , and is a gravel road with some up hill (if you made up to here , you can make , don’t be scare) . This short cut will take you to the encounter? with the road coming from Tenaun , once you get there make a right turn and just follow that 37 km road to Dalcahue , this is totally a piece of cake.
Now if you have a lot of time you want and a lot of energy you can take the long road going throug Montemar to Choen and from there to Cahutahue and then to Colo or visit the light houses at Quilcavi to Tenaun , Calen and San Juan . make sure really know how much time you have because you can easily spend months if you visit every place, in Chiloe . Many times if you are taking the main route and you decide to go down and visit side roads , you can go in 7 km and 7 km back , you visit 3 or 4 places that can be 1 day , that is if you go really fast.
If you did the long road , you will want to spend some comfortable time here. For sure you will get the feeling that your are finally in a city compared to the small towns that you have being riding through. Walking along the ocean shore you will see the classic like picture that Chiloe represents , showing the people , the boats and basically what Chiloe is.
When we got to Dalcahue we stay at:
Lufkumen Hostal. Ramon Freire 121
We payed around $9.000 clp based on double plus $3.000 for breakfast.
This place is pretty nice and safe, the doors are always locked and you can only open It if you have the keys or if the doors are opened from inside.
I strongly suggest to cross to the island right in front, that is Achao island here you will find a great place to visit with sandy beaches , a fantastic church, great food too , you can't missed on this one .about 40 km of a beautiful ride all the way to Quinchao and even Chequian. Just pick your bike cross on the ferry , this will be around $2.000 per bike and maybe even less.
Dalcahue to Castro
This a paved road with some traffic and as soon as you get to Castro you will definitely get that big city feeling ¡ Castro has grown way too much , sometimes you will be there and you will see familiar places that will suggest Viña del Mar or even Santiago during summer is way too crowded with a lot backpackers begging for money , the good thing is that if you go on the low season to will see the real true Chiloe locals that are something else.
You make it yourself , up to this point you are a spaghetti expert ¡ if you want to treat yourself get away from those fancy like pubs in central Castro and find el Mercado , why? Jejeej I was at this nice place and I saw lots of people asking for a ceviche de salmon (raw salmon with lemon) and this people got served a piece of salmon the half size of a match box ¡¡ so avoid this fancy stuff , you are a traveller and as bike traveller you need to eat , so get yourself real food.
Starting the second week
At this point you will have three options:
-1st continue the trip back taking highway 5 , being the most important place , the beautiful city of Ancud , where you can also continue from Ancud towards the pacific ocean , following the road by the golf of Quetalmahue.
-2nd from Castro , go to Chonchi (20km) and from there take the road towards Cucao(37 km) following the road by Lago huillinco . Ones you get to Cucao , you can spend time at the beach. This is place is just amazing, words can't describe the beauty.
-3rd move fast on highway 5 and get to Quellon (92 km) if you are on the mood , the weather is good and if don’t have wind against you , maybe you can do this route in one day. Quellon has turned from a small village to a big city so if nature is your option maybe not so fun here , but you have the wonderful option to cross to the continent and come down to Puerto Montt taking the famous Carretera Austral.
From Quellon going to Carretera Austral
Taking the ferry boat from Quellon to Chaiten (5 hrs , make sure you see their itineraries , so you don't get stranded)
Riding up from Chaiten to Puerto Montt thru the Carretera Austral is a unique experience and a great accomplishment, make sure you are in shape and that you have enough time on Carretera Austral the road is basically gravel the ride will be tough , so be prepare and make sure your itinerary will let you ride 50 km average , this is base on a 6 to 7 hour ride . Carretera Austral is not cheap so be prepare to pay around u$20 for a meal and around u$10 for camping.
Most of the time you be camping on this route , weather can change any minute , so be prepare for rains
First day: Chaiten – Caleta GonzaloFrom
Chaiten towards Puerto Montt you will need about a week . If you didn't supply yourself in Quellon is your time to do it in Chaiten , remember that dry foods are light to bring and there is plenty of water.
The first you will go for a long pedaling towards Caleta Gonzalo , where you will find one of the greatest camping sites . This road is mostly gravel and lots of uphill but don't let this discourage you, as you are the main actor in your adventure!
Do your best to start pedaling early because is a easy 7 hour ride and you mission is to get to your camp site early. If any reason you are running late, there is another campsite half way, so don't sweat.
If you made it to Caleta Gonzalo don't miss to eat for free food¡¡ yes , that’s right . free¡¡ just go to the beach during low tide and pick up some “choritos”(baby Mussel) .just boil them and make them with rice or pasta.
Caleta Gonzalo -Hornopiren
The second day is basically a ferry boat day! Early morning , you will take the ferry boat , between Fiordo Largo and Leptepu and from here another ferryboat from Leptepu to Hornopiren.
Hornopiren is ok, you will kind of a town feels like , restaurants will over charge you , so be wise and look for deals! also keep your eyes open for private home owners campsites , there are lots of them and cheap too(no more than 8 dollars).
Third and fourth day
This route you will have the option to make it thru the mountains or if you feel strong and you have a extra day or two , take the coastal road.
From Hornopiren to Contao , you will have 55 km of gravel and like everywhere you go on Carretera Austral just amazing scenery , be prepare to have food for the rest of the day because there is nowhere to buy anything and consider camping at the end of the day.
If you have some extra time,take pictures on the coastal road , which you will take the turn towards Hualaihue. Forget about asking t people the distance between one point to another , because you will get crazy answers like “noooo, that’s a two day trip” or “ noo , jejejej , it will take you a month to get to…”just take the attitude to just pedal and enjoy the ride.
The road is tough , gravel and sometime even worst loose gravel ¡ anyway , a big difference between the straight road and the coastal road is that you be passing by several small villages , where boat carpenters and sea man live , you have more chances to meets the locals , to take great pictures and to find lots of campsites too.
So after you took your time visiting places like : Lleguiman , Chauchill, Queten, Rolecha , Aulen and Contao , where both roads meet up again.
Ones you get to Puelche , you will be taking another ferryboat towards Las Arenas.
Las Arenas - Puerto Montt
Here you will have your last ride of 46 km of nice paved road . If you are tired , there is a great hostel near Metri called Amadeus , this place is owned by a Austrian woman that will make you feel home!!
And finally , you will be getting to Puerto Montt.