Off the beaten track – Robinson Crusoe island

Not all parts of Chile are getting closer to autumn, Cox & Kings recommends the Juan Fernández Islands as a destination with a temperate year-round climate. The islands are probably most famous as the place where marooned sailor Alexander Selkirk (better known as ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and the inspiration for Defoe's novel) was cast away in 1704 for four years. The beautiful archipelago is made up of three islands, Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara. The islands were originally discovered by chance in 1574 by the Spanish sailor Juan Fernández, when he deviated from his planned route while sailing from Peru to Valparaíso and came across the stunning collection of islands, 400 miles off the coast of Chile.

The archipelago was a passing place for explorers and adventurers and a hiding place for pirates and treasures. Today, you can see the cave where the 'real' Robinson Crusoe lived and the look-out point where he searched for ships every day until he was finally rescued in 1709. Robinson Crusoe Island has a population of only slightly more than 600 and is a beautiful nature sanctuary, so much so that it was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1977. There is plenty to explore on the island, including 1,000-metre-high mountain ranges, valleys, ravines, pastures, beaches and bays. Playa Arenal is one of the island's only sandy beaches and is a lovely place to relax surrounded by crystal-clear waters.

Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile What is more, the island is far from being a well-travelled tourist destination, with visitors usually arriving by a two-hour plane journey from Santiago in Chile. Despite the remoteness, today’s visitors won’t be living the basic life Crusoe did. Crusoe Island Lodge, for instance, has 15 luxurious double rooms, all with sea views and private terraces. The island also offers a wonderful array of fresh food, as well as snorkelling to rival some of the world’s very best underwater spots. Robinson Crusoe Island is a true paradise for lovers of the great outdoors, who can climb the many hiking trails, visit fur seal colonies or search for the elusive Juan Fernández ‘fire crown’ hummingbird. In fact, the Juan Fernández islands are home to one of the most endemic ecosystems in the world, including many rare and island-specific plants and animals. More than 60% of the native plant species on the island are not found anywhere else on earth.

For those seeking an off-the-beaten track destination with stunning scenery and plenty to do, Robinson Crusoe Island should certainly be taken into consideration. Contact any of Cox & Kings’ Latin America experts for more details and information on visiting the Juan Fernández islands.

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