The next stop on my tour of Chiloé island is the small village of Cucao, about 25 miles north of Quellón and on the west coast of the island. This view is from my room at Hostal Palafito Cucao, situated on the bank the Cucao river and looking east at Cucao Lake.
There is excellent cazuela de vacuno (beef and vegetable soup) in the green house across the Cucao River.
The Cucao National Park is a favorite destination for many Chilean and foreign visitors. Many come for the day, and others come to camp or stay in one of the many lodgings available. The above view is the national park trail to the dunes and beach.
The lookout over dunes and beach. This white sand beach is 15 miles long! Charles Darwin stopped by here in the Beagle in 1835. From his journal of January 24:
“The district of Cucao is the only inhabited part on the whole West coast of Chiloé. It contains about thirty or forty Indians, who are scattered along four or five miles of the shore, and without a single Spanish resident. — They are very much secluded from the rest of Chiloé & have scarcely any sort of commerce, excepting sometimes a little oil which they get from seal blubber. They are pretty well dressed in clothes of their own manufacture, & they have plenty to eat.”
Dunes and beach looking north to Huentemó
Parrots feeding in a tree in the national park.
A short walk inland takes visitors to the tepual, a swampy area covered mostly in tepu trees (tepualia stipularia). A sturdy boardwalk winds through the tepual and many signs help to explain this unique ecosystem.
View of Cucao Lake from a lookout in the tepual.
On another day, Patricio (Pato) is my guide to the dunes. I always prefer four sturdy legs under me, rather then my questionable two.
Pato takes me into the hills above the beach and park. This is looking south toward Pirulil.
View of Lake Huelde
Our return to Cucao after about three hours on the trail. In another hour I will take a bus north to the town of Castro, capital of Chiloé.