What is so surprising about driving around the island is the stunning views across the Golfo de Ancud, over to the mainland and beyond towards Argentina, where the towering snow-capped Andes almost reach down to the sea and snowy volcanoes loom large. This has to be one of Chile’s narrowest points as here the Argentine border runs through the Andes almost to the Chilean coast. Chile is one of the narrowest countries on earth with an average width of some 175km or so (64km at its narrowest) and 4,270km from tip to toe, with the ever-present Andes running down the entire spine of the country from Bolivia and Peru in the north to the southern-most towns on earth of Ushuaia (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (in Chile).
The rolling green hills of Chiloé are really quite lovely and so reminiscent of say Kangaroo Valley in NSW or anywhere in Tassie! Aside from driving on the right-hand side of the road, you really could forget you’re on the other side of the world. Then, out of the blue (literally) loom the ever-present Andes and their snowy caps, running all the way down on the other side of the gulf, made even more thrilling by the aforementioned volcanoes, all of them alive and well apparently. This is also earthquake central where the world’s largest ever was recorded nearby at 9.6 magnitude in 1960. No rumblings since we’ve been here but the Tsunami siren is regularly tested in towns and hamlets all over Chiloé and alarmingly (for us) used as the midday bell.
It’s our last day in this enchanting and mystical island. We hit the road at first light in the morning for an 8-hour drive (including ferry link) north towards Pućon in the Chilean Lake District, where our next cabin awaits in the foothills of the Andes beneath Volcan Villarica, one of Chile’s most active, and whose current status is described as ‘restless’. On a scale of 5 (5 being eruption), it’s at 2 and has resumed its ‘Strombolian’ activity after a pause of 5 weeks, presumably for the Christmas break, how thoughtful. For those interested, here’s the live link to activity so if you see anything untoward, think of us beneath it.