Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Alexander Selkirk: in the Skin of the True Robinson Crusoe

The main island of the Juan Fernández archipelago was home to pirates and treasures. His story was made up of adventures like that of Alexander Selkirk, the abandoned sailor who inspired Dafoe's novel

As soon as it leaves the South American continent behind, the elegant Twin Otter encounters a sky dotted with tiny clouds.

Here and there, drill them.

Six hundred kilometers later, the cloudiness intensifies and covers the Juan Fernández archipelago. It leaves some rough edges uncovered that the pilot recognizes without hesitation.

The track is tight between the clouds and the top of the cliffs of Robinson Crusoe. Despite the strong wind, the pilot gently steers the plane onto the beaten earth.

Landing imminent, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

The plane goes to the Robinson Crusoe elevated runway, starting at the top of a huge cliff.

Wherever he stops the plane, a fluttering flag dispels any doubt that the distance and strangeness of the terrain could raise. We were returning to Chilean soil.

Chilean Flag, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

A Chilean flag marks the Chilean possession of an archipelago located more than 600km off the coast of Chile

The aerodrome is on one side of the island. San Juan Bautista, the town where its XNUMX inhabitants are concentrated, is located in another. The impossibility of completing the journey by land requires a transfer by sea. In addition to being slow, complicated.

The rusty old jeep that connects to the boat refuses to start.

When it is picked up, because it is the only vehicle available, it has to make several round trips, each one more sluggish than the previous one.

Pushing Alexander Selkirk at Pele Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Inhabitants of Robinson Crusoe try to give life to the jeep that connects the aerodrome and Bahia del Padre.

As if that wasn't enough, the swell is strong. Throw the vessel in which we should proceed against the Bahia del Padre jetty.

The agitation generates successive discussions among the crew.

All around, dozens of sea lions swim restlessly. They seem to analyze the frenzy.

When the boat finally sets sail, they follow it for a few hundred meters, as if to ensure the integrity of their territory.

Bahia del Padre, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

An almost closed circular cove of Robinson Crusoe, shared by sea lions and fishermen.

The misadventures were still unfinished. Just five minutes before reaching the destination, the boat comes to a standstill. The crew realizes that it has been losing fuel since it hit one of the pillars of the Bahia del Padre jetty.

In Robinson Crusoe, everything works out.

In three times, out of nowhere, a small boat appears that, with great effort, tows us.

In tow, Alexander Selkirk, at Pele Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Trawler connecting the Baía del Padre and San Juan Bautista is towed by a smaller boat after being damaged by the swell.

The arrival in the village is troubled but apotheotic. Dozens of islanders wave, anxious for reunions with their families, or just excited for the renewal of the people. We started, to unveil a peculiar way of life.

On the pier, the locals fish by line and pull fish after fish from the water. Offshore, tiny boats unload crates of freshly caught lobster.

They thus contribute to the island's main export.

Lobster, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Pescador shows one of the many lobsters caught off the Juan Fernandez archipelago.

Robinson Crusoe sends many tons of these crustaceans to the Chilean mainland every year.

Their shipments have become so important that Lassa – the airline that operates flights to and from Valparaíso and Santiago – reserves half the space on its planes for them.

When we write half, we are referring to the entire side of the cabin.

As we have witnessed, on these occasions the chairs are removed. And the space provided is filled with crates that reek of seafood.

Lobster Space, Alexander Selkirk, at Pele Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Helpers remove chairs from a plane about to take off for the Chilean mainland to have space to transport crates of lobsters.

The sea has always been generous to the locals. It gives them something to do and feeds them. It cancels out the most obvious reasons for getting fed up with Robinson Crusoe's isolation.

600 km off the coast of South America, this is a separation that neither the passing of centuries nor the modernization of Chile have yet managed to resolve.

Robinson Crusoe Island: From Pirates to Treasure Hunter

Once we've settled in, we start exploring the island.

We are accompanied by diving guides and instructors Pedro Niada and Marco Araya Torres, a newly arrived French couple and Toni, an ERASMUS Biology student from Barcelona, ​​who has been on the island for some time.

We set out with the purpose of exploring the rugged coastline and diving with the sea lions, one of the local endemic species, now in full recovery from the systematic killing carried out by hunters from various countries until the beginning of the XNUMXth century.

Fight of Sea Lions, Alexander Selkirk, Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Sea lions struggle across rocky territory at the foot of a huge cliff.

The route to the colonies of the “wolves” (as they are called in Robinson Crusoe) reveals the volcanic splendor of the contrasting scenarios that change depending on the orientation and exposure to the humid Pacific winds.

We also have time for a strategic stop at Baía do Inglês.

There, Pedro Niada introduces us to the story of George Anson, the sailor who named the bay where the pirate town of Cumberland was formed and gave the adjoining valley its name.

Explanations by Pedro Niada, Alexander Selkirk, on Pele Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Guide Pedro Niada explains several clues that seem to confirm the presence of hidden treasures in Robinson Crusoe.

He explains to us that Anson hid a priceless treasure in the bay and that many have tried to unearth it. In vain.

It's even clear that Bernard Keiser, an American millionaire, is still trying. Niada had accompanied Bernard Keiser in several of his working seasons.

With patience and eloquence, like a documentary, the Chilean guide walks the cove and enlightens us on every mark in the rock, every measure and trail left by the pirates with reference to stones with curious shapes, streams or trees.

The narration makes us even more fascinated by the island. And somewhat disappointed that we are in the middle of the semester of restriction on the Kaiser excavations, a restriction imposed by the Chilean government.

Juan Fernández's Lush Archipelago

We left the English Bay. We follow along a coast beaten by the rough sea that only calms down when we come across the sea lions inlet.

Eye Contact, Alexander Selkirk, at Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Visitor and sea lion watch each other face to face.

If a spot quiet enough for diving is detected, we equip ourselves. Soon, we jump into the water.

In three stages, we find ourselves surrounded by frantic cubs and adults who cannot resist curiosity, challenge us and even bite our fins as if trying to understand what species we are.

Due to schedule issues related to flights and the limitations imposed by lobster transport, we don't have the time we wanted to discover the island. Accordingly, after a few trips along the coast, we decided to start exploring it inland, along trails that are almost always steep.

Trilho do Mirador, Alexander Selkirk, on Pele Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Visitor walks down a steep path on the elevated side of Robinson Crusoe.

When we walk through the jagged core of Robinson Crusoe, its fascinating flora, enriched by endemic species, dazzles us. On their own, the landscapes arouse an enormous fascination. But the interest of Robinson Crusoe and his sisters goes far beyond panoramas.

The number of native animal and plant species and the dramatic geology at the base of its ecosystems have long attracted countless scientists to the archipelago.

Hummingbird by Juan Fernandez, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Juan Fernandez's Hummingbird, an increasingly rare endemic bird of the archipelago.

As a cause and consequence, in 1977, the UNESCO declared her a World Biosphere Reserve, representative of the Southeast Polynesian Ocean Region.

The Real Robinson Crusoe

The island's key character Robinson Crusoe arrived much earlier. I was little interested in fauna and flora. Without having almost had time to understand how or why, he started to depend on them. The adventure remained for posterity as one of the most eccentric moments of British corsair navigation.

In the image of the nearby islands – Alexander Selkirk and Santa Clara – Robinson Crusoe was discovered in 1574 by Juan Fernández, a Castilian navigator of a Portuguese family.

Glimpse of the Island, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

A break in a cloud cover reveals a corner of Robinson Crusoe Island.

Shortly thereafter, the archipelago Fernández gave its name became a favorite haven for pirates who attacked the galleons laden with gold and precious stones destined for Cartagena de Indias and other parts of the vast Hispanic empire.

In 1704, he anchored in Cumberland Bay, the “Five Ports“, an English privateer.

It had as Captain William Dampier, an admired mapmaker but considered unfit to lead ships full of rough and quarrelsome men in the most dangerous seas known to date.

William Dampier's Crazy Obsession

Obsessed with plundering the Spanish and Portuguese ships that skirted the west coast of South America, Dampier insisted, against common sense and the will of his sailors, on skirting the dreaded Cape Horn during the Southern Winter, the time of years when the storms there are more frequent and threatening.

Three times he tried the feat. In all of them, the ship was moved far off course and suffered extensive damage. When the crew, already suffering from scurvy, threatened to revolt, the bosun, Scot Alexander Selkirk alerted Dampier.

This one, refused to listen. Instead, he maneuvered the “Cinque Ports” once more south of Cape Horn, always at the mercy of a treacherous sea.

Luck was on the captain's side. Even damaged, the ship there managed to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Dampier then led him to Masatierra (now Robinson Crusoe) so that his men could recover from the crossing.

San Juan Bautista, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

The main village of the Juan Fernández archipelago, sheltered in a south-facing cove, was badly affected by a tsunami generated by the earthquake that struck Chile in 2010.

Alexander Selkirk's Self-dictated Abandonment

Selkirk expected Dampier to order a general repair of the “Five Ports“. Dampier was still anxious and wanted to sail as soon as possible. Convinced that the ship would not withstand any more storms, Boss Selkirk demanded to be left on the island. Fed up with your confrontations. Dampier complied.

Selkirk returned to the boat one last time. He took ashore his mattress, a shotgun, gunpowder and bullets, tobacco, an ax and a knife, a bible, navigational instruments and some books. He thought he would be well prepared for what he estimated was a short wait.

At the decisive moment, as the rowboat pulled away from the coast of Masatierra, Selkirk was still plagued by doubt and ran to the water's edge to call back his companions.

Forced by the captain to ignore him, the rowers continued towards the “Cinque Ports”. Selkirk watched the ship disappear over the horizon.

His solitude would last for four years and four months.

The Desperate Survival of Alexander Selkirk

During this time, it fed on goats that had escaped from other boats and colonized the island. As well as their milk, fruits and vegetables that the Spaniards had planted years before.

The surrounding landscape was, in its way, paradisiacal and fresh water springs proliferated.

Despite benefiting from a relative surviving well-being, Selkirk yearned, from the first minute, for the arrival of a vessel that would save him. He climbed, several times a day, to the highest points of the island where he was looking at the horizon.

Viewpoint Viewpoint, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

One of the panoramas that Alexander Selkirk scrutinized over and over for ships

Months passed without the Pacific bringing him news.

He then tried to settle in with more conditions. He built a log cabin that he lined with goatskins. Later, he moved into a cave.

Wherever he was, Selkirk kept a fire burning outside, hoping that someone would see the smoke.

His long solitude only ended in early 1709 when he saw the “Duke”, the ship that would take him back to Great Britain.

The pilot of this ship was William Dampier, the former captain of the “Cinque Ports” who had voted him to that long and cruel abandonment.

With his return accomplished, Alexander Selkirk's adventure ran to the docks, taverns and inns of old Albion. It included such magical passages as dancing and singing with goats trained under the moonlight.

It became so famous that it inspired Daniel Dafoe to write “The Amazing and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” based on a fictional character and set in the Caribbean.

In the Footsteps of the Abandoned Sailor

As a tribute, in order to take advantage of the tourist potential of the relationship between Alexander Selkirk and Robinson Crusoe, the latter would be adapted as the current name of the island. It was chosen by the inhabitants to replace Masatierra, used, until then, because the island is the closest to the South American continent.

We left the painful path that led to the Selkirk Viewpoint for the end.

On horseback, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Nativo rides down from the Selkirk viewpoint to the coast of San Juan Bautista.

After two kilometers of curves and curves that are always steep, the path goes through authentic tunnels of dense vegetation.

Soon afterward, he reveals to us Selkirk's lookout post, celebrated on the high ridge of the mountain by an explanatory bronze plaque.

Selkirk, In the Skin of Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, Chile

Surname of the sailor who was abandoned on the main island of the Juan Fernández archipelago and inspired Daniel Dafoe's novel.

From there, tired and buffeted by the wind, we admire, with delight, the fascinating beauty of Robinson Crusoe, reinforced by the green slopes of the surrounding hills and by the inhospitable tongue of land that extends to the south of the Tres Puntas.

As far as land was concerned, the view ended at the distant Isla de Santa Clara, the smallest of the Juan Fernández islands.

Santa Clara is the “neighbor” island that Alexander Selkirk is used to contemplating day after day.

Santa Clara Island, Alexander Selkirk, on Skin Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Cloud hovers over the small island of Santa Clara.

Until the passage of the “Duke”, the vessel that rescued him, but that never rescued Robinson Crusoe.

Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
PN Torres del Paine, Chile

The Most Dramatic Patagonia

Nowhere is the southernmost reaches of South America so breathtaking as the Paine Mountains. There, a natural fort of granite colossi surrounded by lakes and glaciers protrudes from the pampa and submits to the whims of meteorology and light.
Boat Trips

For Those Becoming Internet Sick

Hop on and let yourself go on unmissable boat trips like the Philippine archipelago of Bacuit and the frozen sea of ​​the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia.
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Rapa Nui - Easter Island, Chile

Under the Moais Watchful Eye

Rapa Nui was discovered by Europeans on Easter Day 1722. But if the Christian name Easter Island makes sense, the civilization that colonized it by observant moais remains shrouded in mystery.
Atacama Desert, Chile

Life on the Edges of the Atacama Desert

When you least expect it, the driest place in the world reveals new extraterrestrial scenarios on a frontier between the inhospitable and the welcoming, the sterile and the fertile that the natives are used to crossing.
Puerto Natales-Puerto Montt, Chile

Cruise on board a Freighter

After a long begging of backpackers, the Chilean company NAVIMAG decided to admit them on board. Since then, many travelers have explored the Patagonian canals, side by side with containers and livestock.
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

A patch of the Kalahari Desert dries up or is irrigated depending on the region's tectonic whims. In Savuti, lions have become used to depending on themselves and prey on the largest animals in the savannah.
Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
Architecture & Design
Castles and Fortresses

A Defending World: Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
patpong, go go bar, bangkok, one thousand and one nights, thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

One Thousand and One Lost Nights

In 1984, Murray Head sang the nighttime magic and bipolarity of the Thai capital in "One night in bangkok". Several years, coups d'etat, and demonstrations later, Bangkok remains sleepless.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Gothic couple

Matarraña to Alcanar, Spain (España)

A Medieval Spain

Traveling through the lands of Aragon and Valencia, we come across towers and detached battlements of houses that fill the slopes. Mile after kilometer, these visions prove to be as anachronistic as they are fascinating.

4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
View from John Ford Point, Monument Valley, Nacao Navajo, United States
Monument Valley, USA

Indians or Cowboys?

Iconic Western filmmakers like John Ford immortalized what is the largest Indian territory in the United States. Today, in the Navajo Nation, the Navajo also live in the shoes of their old enemies.
Impressions Lijiang Show, Yangshuo, China, Red Enthusiasm
Lijiang e Yangshuo, China

An Impressive China

One of the most respected Asian filmmakers, Zhang Yimou dedicated himself to large outdoor productions and co-authored the media ceremonies of the Beijing OG. But Yimou is also responsible for “Impressions”, a series of no less controversial stagings with stages in emblematic places.
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Zanzibar, African islands, spices, Tanzania, dhow
Zanzibar, Tanzania

The African Spice Islands

Vasco da Gama opened the Indian Ocean to the Portuguese empire. In the XNUMXth century, the Zanzibar archipelago became the largest producer of cloves and the available spices diversified, as did the people who disputed them.
At the end of the afternoon
Ilha de Mozambique, Mozambique  

The Island of Ali Musa Bin Bique. Pardon... of Mozambique

With the arrival of Vasco da Gama in the extreme south-east of Africa, the Portuguese took over an island that had previously been ruled by an Arab emir, who ended up misrepresenting the name. The emir lost his territory and office. Mozambique - the molded name - remains on the resplendent island where it all began and also baptized the nation that Portuguese colonization ended up forming.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Winter White
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Train Kuranda train, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Natural Parks
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
Bolshoi Zayatski Orthodox Church, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.
UNESCO World Heritage
Bolshoi Zayatsky, Russia

Mysterious Russian Babylons

A set of prehistoric spiral labyrinths made of stones decorate Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, part of the Solovetsky archipelago. Devoid of explanations as to when they were erected or what it meant, the inhabitants of these northern reaches of Europe call them vavilons.
Correspondence verification
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Tongatapu, Tonga

The Last Polynesian Monarchy

From New Zealand to Easter Island and Hawaii, no other monarchy has resisted the arrival of European discoverers and modernity. For Tonga, for several decades, the challenge was to resist the monarchy.
Visitors at Talisay Ruins, Negros Island, Philippines
Daily life
Talisay City, Philippines

Monument to a Luso-Philippine Love

At the end of the 11th century, Mariano Lacson, a Filipino farmer, and Maria Braga, a Portuguese woman from Macau, fell in love and got married. During the pregnancy of what would be her 2th child, Maria succumbed to a fall. Destroyed, Mariano built a mansion in his honor. In the midst of World War II, the mansion was set on fire, but the elegant ruins that endured perpetuate their tragic relationship.
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica, public boat
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

The Flooded Costa Rica of Tortuguero

The Caribbean Sea and the basins of several rivers bathe the northeast of the Tica nation, one of the wettest and richest areas in flora and fauna in Central America. Named after the green turtles nest in its black sands, Tortuguero stretches inland for 312 km.2 of stunning aquatic jungle.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.