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Visit Chile: Overwhelming nature from north to south
If you love nature, Chile is the ideal travel destination. This long, narrow country is bursting with overwhelming landscapes. With deserts and volcanoes in the north, rugged mountains and glaciers in the south, beautiful wine regions and impressive lakes, when you visit Chile, you’ll find it’s full of natural highlights.
Why visit Chile?
Lunar landscapes in the north
The warm north of Chile is a completely different world to the cold south. You will find rugged moon-like landscapes, coloured mountains and high volcanoes. From the village of San Pedro de Atacama you can visit many beautiful places. For example, discover the red Moon Valley, which is especially impressive at sunset. At sunrise, you should visit the El Tatio geysers, the third largest geyser field in the world. You can also climb volcanoes and visit salt lakes on your trip. When you visit Chile, you can easily combine Northern Chile with Bolivia. The three-day jeep tour on the Altiplano and the salt plains of Uyuni is one of the most beautiful travel experiences in the world.
Wild Patagonia: Glaciers and Mountains
If you visit Chile, you shouldn’t skip the south of the country. Patagonia is a real wilderness, with deserted nature parks, endless glaciers and beautiful lakes. From the village of Puerto Natales you can visit one of the highlights of Chile: the nature park Torres del Paine. You can explore this park in many ways. For example, make the famous W-trekking, a four-day walk along the most beautiful places in the park. Climb to the Torres, walk along glaciers and admire the French Valley. You can also explore the park with a rental car. During your stay in Torres del Paine you can sleep in comfortable lodges or on campsites. Whichever way you want to travel the area, your Patagonia trip is an impressive experience.
The Penguins of Punta Arenas
In the south of Chile lies the town of Punta Arenas. A great place to stroll around, but many come here especially for the penguins. With a boat you can sail to the beautiful island of Magdalena, where you can see more than 55,000 pairs of Magellan penguins. The animals won’t pay you much attention, giving you the chance to watch them extensively. This is an amazing natural phenomenon to experience for your trip to visit Chile.
The Cities and Wine Regions
If you want to make your tailor-made trip to visit Chile even more varied, plan some time in Santiago de Chile. This Chilean capital has lively squares, a large market and you can enjoy delicious food. Visit Valparaiso, a colourful coastal town built on the hills. Another must is the Cajon del Maipo in the foothills of the Andes. This area has glaciers and highland lakes at 3000 metres altitude, taking you far from the bustling city. There are also various wine regions around Santiago that offer a great opportunity to visit some (ecological) wineries and taste the famous Chilean wines.
Drive at your own pace
Do you want to go the adventurous route and discover Chile by car? Renting a car in Chile is very doable, both in the Chilean Patagonia as well as in central Chile. For example, you can pick up your car in Puerto Montt and drive to the volcanoes around the pleasant village of Puerto Varas. The Peres Rosales National Park is also well worth a visit. Then drive through the little-visited Andean lake area in the Aysen region with quiet lakes, forests and glaciers. The Carretera Austral, the route that crosses this region, is beautiful and ideal to explore by rental car. This allows you to enjoy all the natural beauty the country has to offer as you travel at your own pace. A great way to visit Chile!
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Know Before you Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Chile for up to 90 days. Australian nationals, however, do need to pay a reciprocity fee of $117 USD. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Chile. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
There are no particular requirements for if you visit Chile, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
Insider Tip: Chile is one of the few South American countries that isn’t currently threatened by the Zika virus, but always check the latest information for updates.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Chile. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Sockets use the European-style two-pronged (Type C) or Chilean three-pronged (Type L) plugs. Type C plugs are compatible with some Type L sockets.
At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.
When to go
Chile is the world’s longest, narrowest country, covering 38 degrees of latitude. Elevation also spans from sea level to the high peaks of the Andes. As a result, Chile’s climate is varied with temperatures decreasing as you travel southward. Rain typically falls in winter. December-February and the week leading up to Easter (Semana Santa) is high season, when the weather is warm and travelers from neighboring countries flock. Winter (June-August) can be bitterly cold in Patagonia, but a good time to hit the ski slopes. Spring and autumn are generally pleasant, especially in Santiago. Wine harvesting happens around March.
Insider Tip: The only climate not found in Chile is tropical; all others are represented
The national language is Spanish. Here are some useful words to learn:
Hello = Hola
Goodbye = Chao/Ciao (Adios isn’t as commonly used)
Please = Por favor
Thank you = Gracias
Excuse Me = Perdón
Insider Tip: Instead of ¿Como estás? (How are you?), Chileans more commonly use ¿Como estai?
Chile is a mix of Spanish and indigenous cultures, historically secluded from the rest of South America because of the Andes. Their wine is known around the world, and jote is a traditional Chilean drink that mixes red wine with Coca-Cola. The vast majority of the country is Catholic, with a number of holidays revolving around Catholicism. Chileans never want to offend, so they will often say “maybe” or “probably” instead of “no,” even if they know they can’t deliver. As with many Latin cultures, time is more of an art than a science, and it is not considered rude to show up late to social functions.
Insider Tip: There is a right and wrong way to pour wine: never pour with your left hand.
The local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP).
ATMs (cajeros automáticos) are prevalent in all but the most remote areas of the country. Credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants in major cities, but you should always have pesos on hand. In rural areas, larger bills can be difficult to break, so carry some small bills. Foreign currency can also be exchanged at Casas de Cambio (money exchange). US dollars are easiest to exchange, but Australian dollars, Canadian dollars and British pounds are also frequently accepted.
Insider Tip: If bringing US dollars, they should be in good condition and preferably in denominations of less than $100. Some exchange offices won’t accept $100 bills.
- Restaurants – A 10% service charge may be added to your bill. If one isn’t included, leaving 10% is customary. An additional 5% for good service is always appreciated.
- Cabs – Round up the fare.
- Hotels – Tip bellmen 500-1,000 pesos per bag, and housekeeping 1,000 pesos per person per night.
Insider Tip: Taxi drivers may round up the fare for you, not offering any change. Unless you are unhappy with the service, it’s easier to consider it a tip and be on your way.
Due to the varied climate, what you pack will depend on where you go and when. Layers are critical if visiting more than one region. Long shorts are okay for men, but women should avoid shorts all together. Long pants, jeans and dresses are best even at the height of summer.
- Comfortable walking shoes for the cities
- Hiking boots for Patagonia and mountain region
- Skiwear if going to the slopes
- Lightweight sweater or jacket for cool evenings
- Heavier jacket or fleece for higher elevations and the southern region
- Scarf, gloves and hat for cold weather
- Light rain jacket or umbrella
- Sunglasses and hat
- Daypack for trekking
- Swimsuit if visiting beach areas—Chile has a lot of coastline!
- Microfiber towel or sarong for beach-going
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- All prescriptions
Insider Tip: Even in summer, weather in Patagonia can be temperamental, so prepare with layers and a lightweight rain jacket.