Its majestic landscapes and myths make Chiloé a mysterious island, a place that delights me every time I go. Before traveling, I did some research about the island’s history, looked at photos and tried to find out what people thought of the place, of course leaving room to be surprised and improvise if necessary. When I read about Chepu it was hard to resist the temptation, so I just decided to go there, despite the fact that I had never heard of it, not even from my workmates.
From Ancud I took the Ruta 5 heading south and got carried away by the beauty of the road, the good music, and the knowledge of how lucky I was to be discovering something new in a world that is more connected, and thus, more predictable than ever. After a 30-minute drive a small sign guided me to the entrance of Chiloé National Park, the last dry area of the last glacial period. This natural depository has attracted hundreds of ecologists, botanists, scientists, and documentary makers from all over the planet. Most of what the world has heard of this place has been revealed by these people and by eco-friendly tourists that have become part of a small tribe that spreads the word, helps with resources, and supports the work of Amory and Fernando, the ones in charge of protecting this place and showing it to its visitors.
The past and present of Fernando, Amory, and Chepu Adventures, their house and enterprise, are deeply connected to this beautiful plot of land. This is why the best way to experience the mystique, nature and history of this place is through their own narrations. Their stories are inspiring and will amaze you, because their determination and consequence are values you cannot find easily these days. Twelve years ago, after some great changes in their professional lives, they decided to leave the cruel capitalist system behind and challenge themselves moving here. The idea was to start living a “real life” as they define their experience, following principles like love for the environment and nature, and respect for the families that inhabited the land before them. They sold everything they had and set up this place eight years ago, starting from scratch. After clearing up the land they saw for the very first time what they had in front of them: a stunning flooded forest surrounded by two arms of a river, a unique habitat for a large number of birds, small mammals, and numerous other species. This breathtaking view is just one of the features that make visitors appreciate, admire, and fall in love with this place.
Chepu Adventure’s two shared dorms and six ecolodges have a total capacity of twenty people. Amory and Fernando prefer receiving a small amount of people so as to have more time to get to know them and give them a better attention. The common areas are simple but functional and invite people to interact and share. The owners are amazingly warm and attentive to details. Their main objective is to be 100% self-sustainable and to reduce their carbon print to zero, as they have been doing with important investments. Two of their six cabins are today 100% sustainable, and I’m not talking about entrepreneurial social responsibility or other subjects which are often marketed and disguised, nor about reusing your towels to save energy, as many hotels are now promoting. This is pure and honest ecological awareness: to create the electricity with a windmill, to heat water with solar panels, to recycle everything, to drink rain water and only use what is strictly necessary so as to reduce the energetic expense to a minimum.
These are some of the reasons why people from all over the world cross the ocean to spend a few nights at Chepu Adventures, which is also one of the best kayaking, trekking, photography, and wildlife watching destinations in the country. There is shared desire between the owners and visitors to give back to mother earth what she has given us, thus changing the sad custom of not taking care of our dear planet, and there’s no better way of doing so than to do it here, at the world’s end.
It is obvious that Chiloé has many more accommodation options, and maybe a conventional tourist may feel a bit uncomfortable or limited by certain aspects of the stay, such as the lack of a restaurant (though I must acknowledge Amory’s great culinary abilities), room service, nightlife or the relative distance to Castro, the closest city. But all these do not really matter. Chepu is a place for special people and it must remain like that.
Like the saying goes “a prophet is without honor in his own country”, and maybe this is why many years could pass before us Chileans start to appreciate the natural patrimony that Fernando and Amory keep with so much love and care. Meanwhile, I hope that these lines motivate a few people to come and discover our country, a goal for which GoChile will keep on working endlessly.