After getting in a bit of a tizz about how we were going to travel Chile we finally made a decision. The ferry options were both too expensive and as we've managed to travel completely overland throughout South America so far we didn't want to fly to our next destination. We decided on a 30 hour coach ride to Puerto Montt from Punta Arenas, unfortunately we'd be skipping the Carratera Austral completely as the coach travels up through Argentina.
Thirty hours on a coach sounds hellish but as we've done several very long overnight journeys it wasn't anything we're not used to now. If you are planning to travel South America on a budget then be prepared for mammoth lengths of time on buses, and download lots of podcasts to listen to.
We arrived in a very hot Puerto Montt laden with bags and no place to stay. The city was a little rough around the edges, it's primarily a stopover for travellers as there aren't too many sights to see. Wandering around in heat we haven't felt in weeks with our rucksacks was a struggle but we managed to find a cheap place to stay on the main street. Once in the room I noticed stains on the sheets, a dank smell and how shabby the walls and furniture were. We logged onto the wifi and I had recieved a message from my mum, her uncle had passed away. I immediately began to well up, it's so hard being away from home in times like these, all I wanted was to be home and give my mum a hug.
The next day we caught a bus to Ancud on Isla Grande de Chiloé, thankfully it was a quick couple of hours away. The hostel was just across the road from the station, we checked in and it was a dream. Beautiful wooden floorboards, a clean and equipped kitchen with free tea and coffee and fresh fruit. Upstairs featured a terrace overlooking the water and a comfy lounge area. Our bunk beds were huge and wonderfully comfy, we'd gone from one accomodation extreme to the other. After chatting with the guy on reception about buying local and supporting small we went shopping and bought everything we needed from the little independent stores in town. We popped into Retro Cafe for a late lunch and were served massive portions, a 'man vs food' style vegetarian burrito for me and potato wedges and toppings for Craig. Chiloé is famous for its wooden churches and so we visited a museum inside a church. In the evening we watched the sunset from the terrace.
Now, I don't want to go on about it but the breakfast in the hostel was amazing and we were telling people about it for days. When you're backpacking on a budget all that really matters is a clean and comfy place to stay, good wifi for keeping in touch and a delicious breakfast. It really is the simplest of things that make us happy. We spent the day wandering around Ancud, visiting the fort and local beach before retiring to the hostel terrace for an evening chatting with other travellers.
Unfortuately we couldn't justify another night at the wonderful hostel so we moved on to Castro a town further down the island. We checked in and went out in search of the famous palafitos which are the houses on stilts over the waters edge. We waited till high tide and then did a little boat trip to take a few photographs.
The next day we donned shorts and t-shirts for a first time in a long while and set off for Chiloé's national park. We went for a walk along the boardwalks and enjoyed a leisurely pace, the sun was shining and it felt very peaceful.
We decided to visit one of the smaller islands and so the following day we caught a local bus to Achao where we wandered along the sea front and saw one of the oldest wooden churches. We got chatting to a Canadian couple on a year long adventure in the evening. Gordon and Ginette gave us some helpful tips on places we should see in the north. In the morning before we left Craig and Gordon woke just before sunrise to capture photographs of the harbour and palafitos. I enjoyed the extra hours of sleep.
Next stop: Chile's Lake District.
🎥 Chile - Up's and Down's:
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