Chiloé National Park is a park on the western coast of in Chile.
It encompasses an area of 430.57 km² (166 sq mi) divided into two main sectors: the smallest, called Chepu, is in the commune of Ancud, whereas the rest, called Anay, is in the communes of Dalcahue, Castro and Chonchi. The greater portion of the Park is in the foothills of Chilean Coastal Range, known as the Cordillera del Piuchén. It includes zones of dunes, Valdivian temperate rain forests, swamps, and peat bogs. A small portion, Metalqui, is an islet with an area of 0.5 km² (0.19 sq mi).
The predominant vegetation is that of the Valdivian forest, a dense forest formed by perennial trees, shrubs and climbing plants. The rainforests are made up of evergreen southern beech (Nothofagus), and some native conifers, including the magnificent alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides). Extensive bogs and swamps are found in the hills. The Chilean rhubarb is also very common.
The feature that made the island of Chiloe and the Gulf of Corcovado world-famous is the presence of local population of pygmy blue whales (The Cetacean Conservation Center carries out the Blue Whale Project). There are only 4 or more known forging grounds of them and blue whales in Southern Hemisphere including Chiloe region. In this area, it is notable that whales often enter into narrow fiords either to feed or rest. This area is also an important habitats for other whale species such as humpbacks, finbacks, seis, and possibly for critically endangered, only around 30 animals-remaining Peru/Chilean stock of southern right whales as well. Whales can also be observed close to shore in southern side of the island, such as near Caleta Zorra.
The climate is wet and temperate, with average annual temperatures of 11 °C (52 °F) and abundant precipitation distributed uniformly throughout the year, varying according to the altitude. On the Pacific coast over 3,000 mm (120 in) fall annually, while in the higher elevations of the Piuchén, nearly 5,000 mm (200 in) fall, and on the rainshadowed eastern slopes, as little as 2,500 mm (98 in) in annual precipitation is measured.
- There is a bus that arrives here from Castro that makes several trips a day.
- Another way to get in is to take a boat from 1 Chepu (25,000 pesos for the whole boat) to the start of the trail on the other side of the river and hiking south from here. You will have to agree with the ferry operator on a return time. For bus times to/from Chepu see Chiloé Island#By bus 2.
Fees and permits
- You can rent a horse from people that live within or near the park.
- Hike along the coast.
- 1 Penguin colony. The best and probably least touristy place to see penguins.
- Also, this place is home to some of the Valdivian temperate rain forest.
Cole Cole Trek
An apparently popular hike in the park is the trek to Cole Cole. The map and guardaparques will tell you that there is a "sendero" ("trail") to Cole Cole; however this is very misleading as there is no real trail, cars may travel most of the route, and there are people, dogs, and livestock living nearly throughout (in short, it more closely resembles a random stretch of coastline than a national park). Nothing is marked but the route is shown below (GPS coordinates in WGS84) Alternatively, consult OpenStreetMap, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd and MAPS.ME use.:
- Starting at the park administration where the bus lets you off, get to the beach. Probably the best way is to take the signed Conaf trail immediately from the administration. You can also walk up (north) on the road through town. About a kilometre after the bridge you can get to the beach on your left, or you can cut across cross-country anytime after the bridge.
- Follow the beach for about 7 km until you come to a river (río Deñal). Just beyond the mouth of the river there is a road that goes over a hill, and a sign that says "Indigenous community", "Refugio Cole Cole", etc., with icons showing hiking, camping, etc. This is the only indication along the route that your are going the right way.
You can ford the river near the mouth at approximately 3 S 42 32.306´ W 74 09.196´ (there may be a harmless but barking dog on the other side); there is also a bridge at approximately S 42 32.650´ W 74 08.986´, but it may be more difficult to get to the road over the hill from here.
- The road goes over the hill and down to the beach, follow until you cannot follow the beach further, you will see a road to the right which leads to a field (watch out for dogs, probably harmless). Across the field is a family´s house with a couple of picnic tables in the yard at 4 S 42 31.762´, W 74 10.149´. You can pay to camp. The señora can give you water, which may well be the only non-salty water on the trek. There also may be workers travelling to Cucao who can give you a ride back in a car.
- At the fence to this house is a horse trail to the left which climbs over the mountain. Follow the horse trail roughly following powerlines up the mountain. At one point a trail splits to the right to go to a house 100 metres away; stay left and in 50 metres you will cross a wooden gate (5 S 42 31.157´ W 74 10.625´).
- The trail continues roughly following powerlines, and descending a bit you arrive at an open grassy area at 6 S 42 30.918´ W 74 11.152´. You can see a houses a couple hundred meters to your left and the beach in the distance to your right (coordinates). This beach is Cole Cole.
- You have at least two options to get to 7 Cole Cole, probably neither is the official "trail":
- Most direct: follow the road/trail downhill to your right roughly toward the beach. Soon after take a smaller trail to your left. You will arrive at a grassy area at sea level where there may be cows grazing, where you can easily get to the beach to your left, crossing a small creek.
- You can also walk past the house to your left up the hill. When you reach the top of the hill turn left and follow the small trails down to the beach. There are nice views from here but it may be a sheep/horse grazing area.
- Once on the beach the refugio Cole Cole is jut a few hundred metres up (don´t be fooled by the crummy shack, the refugio consists of several apparently new buildings). There are also campsites near the refugio. Water from the river is a bit salty.
Even if the guardaparques say it's free to camp a man may come up on horse in the evening or morning to collect money from you.
As of 2008, the trail to Anay is in disuse and extremely difficult or dangerous to take (lots of bushwhacking and lots of downed trees to hit your head on). However there are still wooden bridge and trail improvements so it is possible to follow the trail. In this state it would probably take 2½ hours to walk the 5 km to Anay. According to guardaparques there is no refugio at Anay.
There are some cabins or you can camp.
Very nice lodging place at a local farmer's house with friendly family. Situated in Cucao. See their page: Hostal la Pincoya
You can camp in designated areas or in the land of residents who will charge you to camp.
This southern part of the park is best for hiking along the shore. No decent maps are provided by the National Park Servjce, so you must hike along the shore. Beautiful, although you got to watch out for rains and storms, which though rare in the summer do occur.