The 45 Places to Go in 2012
Just off the west coast of Chile, where the land starts to look as if it had been broken apart by a jackhammer, Chiloé Island — known for its stilt houses, Unesco-anointed churches , nature preserves, unusual wildlife and raw natural beauty — is getting a facelift. Until recently, the 3,200-square-mile island was mainly a respite for locals. But President Sebastián Piñera has plans to share the island with the rest of the world.
The Chilean government has started pouring billions of pesos into the island’s infrastructure and the results are already evident: new paved roads, a new ferry terminal and the soon-to-open Mocopulli Airport in the town of Castro, which will offer direct flights to Santiago. The Chilean power company Ecopower has plans to build a 56-turbine wind farm, which is expected to produce three times the island’s power needs. Once construction begins, however, the island could lose many of its migratory birds, penguins and endangered blue whales, environmental groups have cautioned. In other words, the time to go is now.