Population: 27, 292 (2002 census)
Elevation: 374 feet (114 meters)
Telephone code: 65
Ancud is the first major population center (if youâ€™re arriving in ChiloĂ© from the Puerto Montt area, as most travelers do), and it generally fails to inspire visitors the way that Castro and the rest of the island do.
In fact, with much of its traditional Chilote architecture having been destroyed in a devastating 1960 earthquakeâ€”the strongest ever recorded in history and whose effects on Ancud are copiously documented by a photo exhibit in the highly recommended Museo Regional de Ancudâ€”the islandâ€™s second-largest city lacks the â€śIâ€™m not on the Chilean mainland anymoreâ€ť charm that makes ChiloĂ© a preferred destination for visitors. There are no palafitos hovering above the coastline, nor is there an impossibly charming 17th-century church (Ancudâ€™s church was built inâ€”gaspâ€”1906). Many tourists are content to get their fill of Ancud from the window of a bus to Castro, or another more idyllic setting elsewhere on the island (of which there are many). If you have time to go further or you simply want to see all of ChiloĂ©, youâ€™ll find that Ancud does have redeeming qualities and attractions. The city is a convenient enough base from which at least the basics of ChiloĂ© and its culture (and food) can be enjoyed. For those keen on exploring the local flora and fauna, Ancud is the main gateway to the Pinguinera PuĂ±ihuil, a breeding site for both Humboldt and Magellanic penguins, as well as to the northern access point of ChiloĂ©â€™s national park. Fortunately for travelers, there is no shortage of accommodations in the city, especially toward the budget end of the spectrumâ€”hotels between downtown Ancud and the Fuerte San Antonio have pleasing views of Ancudâ€™s eye-catching coastline. This being ChiloĂ©, culinary life orbits around seafood, and a mean curanto, as well as uncountable other seafood creations, can be had in hefty portions (and reasonable prices) at the cocinerĂas in the town market and elsewhere.