Twenty-three kilometres south of Castro lies the attractive working town of CHONCHI. Founded in 1767, the town thrived on timber exports and was home to the wood baron Ciriaco Alvarez, who earned the name El Rey de Ciprés (The Cypress King) by stripping the archipelago of almost all of its native forest. The most sheltered harbour on the island is lined with beautiful old wooden buildings, structures that have hardly changed since the eighteenth century, though the Mercado Municipal, which juts over the bay, is a new addition.
Calle Centenario, Chonchi’s steeply curving main street, leads down to a beach strewn with flotsam and jetsam, where you can see local women digging for razor clams at low tide. In February the town comes alive during the Semana Verano Chonchi – a folkloric festival featuring dancing, music, art and rodeo skills. Chonchi is also the home of the golden licor de oro, the potent concoction combining saffron, vanilla, milk, lemons, cloves, cinnamon and other ingredients to storm your palate.