Juan Fernandez archipelago, Chile
Juan Fernandez is a small archipelago, which is located approximately 600 kilometers west of the coast of Chile (South American continent) in the waters of the South Pacific. The islands are of volcanic origin. This is evident and visible from far away because of the steep slopes and wonderful gorges, between which never seems to show sunlight. Furthermore, volcanic soil nourishes dense vegetation and as a result of this it is quite lush and thick in the lower northern parts of the largest island of Robinson.
Juan Fernandez archipelago falls into an area threatened by tidal waves, called tsunamis because of the high seismic activity of the Andean region, which is located not far from the islands on the west coast of mainland South America.
This archipelago could stay far away from the eyes of the world if it was not known for something interesting with which to attract the attention of people from across the planet.
This archipelago consists of three different-sized island – the island of Robinson Crusoe, the island of Santa Clara and the quite remote from them island of Alejandro Selkirk.
The Book of Daniel Defoe tells how Robinson Crusoe undergone shipwreck and falls on the first one – the homonymous Island of Robinson Crusoe, named in his honour.
In the story he remained here whole 28 years. Its survival has become a mission for which he has struggled day after day, trying to build his life away from home and civilization.
The reality is quite different. It is believed that the book was inspired by the sailor Alexander Selkirk. It falls on the island in 1704 and remained here more than four years in complete isolation.
Archipelago Juan Fernandez may not be exactly what tourists expect to see when they come here. Millions of people have read the book Robinson Crusoe, but in the minds of everyone emerges a much more romantic and strongly unrealistic idea.
Robinson Crusoe is a byword for a man who spends his life on a tropical paradise island, detached from the world, undisturbed by the noise, chaos and dynamics of civilization.
The reality is quite different and less romantic. Among the subtropics of the South Pacific from the cool waters of the ocean rise three islands, which are really beautiful but their beauty is quite different from that what one would imagine.
The nature is raw and rough. While in the novel Robinson falls on a tropical island in the southern Caribbean Sea, actually Alexander Selkirk falls in a very different place.
On the island of Crusoe there are no actually coconut palms and white sandy beaches and Robinson hadn’t enjoyed 365 days of beautiful weather in the year.
There are a lot of bare volcanic rocks, many of which are too high to be climbed. In the higher areas almost do not grow vegetation. Robinson Crusoe Island is a place of extraordinary contrasts.
Unlike the bare mountain peaks and rocks at the foot of volcanic mountains in the north of the island there are lush and shady forests that are home to a wide variety of plants and animals that you can find only here.
The greatest is the diversity of endemics among birds and plants. The waters surrounding this archipelago are extremely rich on fish. On the islands you can see a kind of hummingbird that can not be seen elsewhere in the world.
Known as a red hummingbird, this little creature eats nectar from the flowers of plants that thrive here.
As the archipelago was declared as a national park and biosphere reserve, there are very few people to live here and these are mainly people who are preoccupied by the park, welcoming tourists and research.
Furthermore, small population is concentrated mainly in the north of the island of Crusoe. The other two islands are almost uninhabited. On the entire archipelago live less than 700 people.
Over 600 of them live in the village of San Juan Bautista, located on the north coast of the island of Robinson. Alejandro Selkirk is the second largest and most distant from the other islands.
It lies about 160 km from the Island of Robinson. Its name comes from the real name of the fictional character Robinson Crusoe. There prevail the grassy plant and very few shrub or tree species.
Its population numbers only a few people who live in a small fishing village on the shores of the ocean. Santa Clara is the driest and most barren of the three islands.
It is situated just over a mile southwest of the island of Robinson. Here is dominated by bare rock and vegetation similar to the island of Alejandro Selkirk is predominantly grassy.
The highest point of the archipelago is located in the southern island of Robinson. The peak Cerro El Yunque rises steeply to a height of 916 meters. If you visit this archipelago you do not miss to explore the island of Robinson by boat.
This is a unique experience that really worth. The island is surrounded on all sides with picturesque coves and cliffs. On the islands of Juan Fernandez, in particular, Robinson you will find unexpected opportunities for rest and recreation.
Here usually there are not huge crowds of tourists, but only small groups of visitors seeking solitude. The environment is strikingly clean and saved.
There are no expensive shops, exciting shopping centers and hundreds of other entertainment options, but there are natural beauty and delicious fresh seafood caught by the cool, clear waters of the archipelago.
At this point one can open his senses fully and enjoy to great opportunities for eco-tourism. You may be wondering how you can reach to the islands of Juan Fernandez.
By air plane you could fly to the island of Robinson both from Santiago and Valparaiso. The flight duration is between 1 and 2 hours.
The airport on the island of Robinson Crusoe is situated in the southwest part of the island. The remaining two islands – Santa Clara and Alejandro Selkirk are almost uninhabited and remain much more isolated and inaccessible.
The climate of archipelago Juan Fernandez is cool, but still relatively mild subtropical. Most likely, in no matter which part of the year you come here, you will find partly cloudy weather, but the chances of rain, however, depend on the season.
Over the ocean often form a thick mist because of the combination of cold ocean water and strong sun shining. The mountain peaks of the island are often covered by clouds.
Here the summer season lasts from November to May with temperature varying from 18 to 22°C. Winter lasts from April to October with temperatures of about 15 – 17°C. Nights throughout the year are cool.
Temperatures range from 9 to around 16-17°C. There are no transitional seasons such as spring and autumn and the differences between the seasons are mainly if the weather is sunny and dry or rainy and humid.
But of course these temperatures are average. Sometimes in summer the temperatures can reach even 30 – 35°C, although the ocean does not allow this to happen very often.
The same goes for the winter months. While standard temperatures run about 15 – 17°C sometimes happens to fall and to 5°C.
Relatively low for these latitudes, temperatures are maintained by the cool waters of the cold Peruvian current, which passes in this part of the Pacific. As the islands have very small territory, here, unlike mainland Chile, the ocean has a stronger influence.
Like most destinations that have subtropical climate here the rainy season is also in autumn-winter period. The best time of year in which to visit the islands is from December to February.
Then the weather is most enjoyable. Sunny, dry and warm, but without to be too hot and the nature is in its high. Temperatures in the summer of Juan Fernandez are similar to those we have during the summer months in London but quite dry and sunny, which creates a sense of warmer weather.
Thin summer clothing will do a good job, but if you want not to worry about nighttime temperatures will be better if you get a pair of jeans and a thin spring jacket.
However, if you have decided to travel in this part of the world in winter, you have to know that in the period from April to October temperatures are similar to those that can be measured in winter in the Mediterranean.
This means that it is better to prepare some warmer (but not too warm) clothing.