When coming across the Chacao sea channel from mainland Chile, Ancud is the first population centre you will encounter. It is Chiloe’s second city, founded in 1767. On the way to Ancud, shortly after arrival to the Chacao vehicle ramp, on the right, is the Darwin Centre, if that is of interest.
The city is located on a peninsula, although this is not obvious when you are in the centre, but with sea on three sides there are nice views if you can get to higher ground.
The reasons to stay over at Ancud are: to rest, prior to continuing south and onward on your exploration of Chiloe Island; to see the marine life at Puñihuil (located about 25kms west of Ancud) and to appreciate “real Chilote” life. When driving west from Ancud the countryside is rural and there are also some small, tidal inlets where fishing boats are moored, creating a kind of “romantic” scene.
You can use Ancud as your base and venture south to Castro, and the areas of interest close to Castro, however, it is more practical to accommodate yourself in Castro, or in the area closer to Castro, in order to see that part of the island. The drive or transfer time to Castro is about one hour, then you need time to venture out to the places of interest and return of course.
Chiloe Road Distances Between Key Places
- Ancud is 27km west from Cacao (landing point from mainland).
- Dalcahue is 66km south from Ancud.
- Castro is 88km south of Ancud.
Ancud Places of Interest
Puñihul (to see marine life)
This can be a half, or a full day trip depending on if you decide to have lunch at one of the beach-side restaurants and stop off elsewhere on the way here, or on the way back. The route directly west from Ancud will take you to Puñihul, which is about 25km away and requires a turn off left, which is sign-posted, from the main road. Here you can see Magellan and Humbolt Penguins, Otters, Cormorants and Sea Lions among other marine and bird life.
The final sector of the road that leads to the long, sandy beach is narrow and passing through undulating countryside. Upon entering onto the beach in your vehicle (either your own, or in a minivan with driver), you need to cross through a water-covered sector and then you will be on the sandy beach.
Depending on tide, you will board a novel high-rise platform on wheels which is man manoeuvred to the waiting boat. This boat is often waiting in half a metre of sea water and from there you board the long, open air vessel.
From Dalcahue, a village 25km north of Castro, is a ferry that takes visitors to Quinchao Island, where the village of Curaco de Veléz is located. This s a very small, quaint village dating back to 1660 and where the Quinchao Church is located. There is rolling countryside on this island as well as the Achao and Quinchao UNESCO Churches are to be found.
Located a little south of Quemchi, which itself is located on the eastern coast halfway between Ancud in the north and Castro further south, this island is actually connected to the mainland by way of a wooden footbridge. The island is cut off by the tide, thus it is only an island at high tide. On the island is a large botanical garden that contains all of the naïve flowers and trees of Chiloé.