The Juan Fernández Archipelago
In his classic 1830s seafaring adventure Two Years before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana called Robinson Crusoe’s island “the most romantic spot of earth that my eyes had ever seen.” Dana’s impression was largely thanks to novelist Daniel Defoe, who had placed fiction’s most famous castaway in the Caribbean, but the real-life Crusoe was Alexander Selkirk, a Scotsman marooned more than four years on a tiny but mountainous island—then known as Isla Masatierra—in the Pacific.
In what is now almost entirely national park land, visitors to what is now called Isla Robinson Crusoe, in what is now part of Chile, can hike to Selkirk’s lookout through forests of rare endemic plant species and observe endangered fur seal colonies in local launches. Air transport from Santiago is fairly frequent and there’s an infrequent maritime connection with Valparaíso.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition