Exploring Chile – Chiloe

We only gave ourselves 2 days on the beautiful island of Chiloe which may have been an error as it is so peaceful and beautiful we could have spent a week there just chilling! But we hadn’t given ourselves that time so after a quick wander round Ancud and a fresh fish dinner we settled down to sleep as we were up at 5am the next morning for a sea lion, penguin and whale spotting trip.

We had to travel to the west side of the island to an area called Punihuil where there are sea lion colonies and penguin colonies protected by eco tourism companies so are the best to do the trips with.

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We met up with the rest of the people on our tour, all German and got our first taste of Brexit angst….no one talked to us for the rest of the tour once we said we were from the UK. But our tour guide was great and really animated about the wildlife we would see. We were all hoping to see whales but knew that was down to luck. We set off and we only in the boat for 15mins before 3 dolphins popped up alongside the boat, they did a majestic leap each then off they went, too quick for photos but enough to just enjoy the sight.

Then we arrived at the sea lion colony. Incredible. 25,000 sea lions on the island at the last count. The beaches we covered in sea lions. The big boys with their harem of girls and babies around them growling at the next big boy who was surrounded by his ladies too. We learnt that once the male challenges another male and takes the women, the loser male is banished for a while and the new male kills all the babies and starts again making more.

The males were very impressive with their size and actions and were always on the look out to protect their girls. The girls and older babies were playing in the sea and all the little faces kept popping up to observe us as much as we observed them. Amazing views! We saw 4 different beaches on the island and the noise and smell was incredible. 100’s of sea lions on each beach and amazing sights.

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Here is a video showing just one part of the beach, there were so many sea lions.

Then we headed off to the penguin island and saw loads of penguins. Mostly Magellan penguins but a few Humboldts wandering around for good measure. We saw the babies learning to swim and the adults moulting on the shore before they can all set off for the next 6 months at sea before they come back to land to mate, moult and teach their babies to swim.

There were also some other types of birds:

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Unfortunately it was too cloudy for whale spotting but we had a pretty amazing experience regardless.

We got back at midday and as we were leaving the next morning for Puerto Varas I decided to hop on a bus to Castro the island’s capital just to have a quick look at the history, main cathedral, town square and a bit more of the scenery. I wasn’t disappointed. The town was beautiful and the buildings were amazing. It’s full of artists selling homemade clothes, toys, pictures, chocolates, jams and loads more.

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I wandered round the bay, had an ice cream then headed back to Ancud to get the bus early the next day.

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