Chile is a starkly beautiful, rugged land. On each cardinal point, each region could not be more different and surprising. To the east, the majestic Andes reign in their snow-capped glory, drawing hikers, climbers and outdoorsmen from around the world. To the west, the roaring surf of the Pacific Ocean crashes mercilessly against the rocky shoreline. To the north is the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert: foreboding, mysterious, extreme. To the south, the wilds of Patagonia extend, crowned by the granite sentinels of Torres del Paine, and beyond, the Straits of Magellan.
In between these extremes, Chile is a land of rolling hills, rich green valleys, stately ranches and vineyards. The cities are modern, the hotels and restaurants first-class, and – as one might expect from a nation with so much coastline – the seafood is second-to-none. Chile: escape to the untamed.
Chile’s Cosmopolitan Capital City
One of Latin America’s most vibrant cities, Santiago is a study in contrasts: it is home to colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers, close to not only top-notch ski resorts but sandy beaches as well. It is a traditional, friendly city that takes great pride in its order and lawfulness. As if that weren’t enough, Santiago is located in the heart of Chile’s wine country, and close to the intriguing UNESCO World Heritage city of Valparaiso, birthplace of Chile’s Noble prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda.
Driest Place on Earth
Here desert and sky become one amid a dance of all five senses, amid immense landscapes that defy the imagination. Explore the desert and its magic on horseback, mountain bike or by foot, ending your day with a soak in nearby thermal springs. A visit to the Atacama Desert, a windswept wilderness of inspirational beauty, is a must.
RAPA NUI (EASTER ISLAND)
The mysterious, beautiful Easter Island continues to captivate visitors and puzzle historians: the inscrutable moai (giant carved stone heads) still have secrets to tell. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Rapa Nui is not merely a history class in the middle of the ocean, but a fascinating land of rocky volcanoes, turquoise waters, unique culture and a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and scuba diving.
Nature Lowers Paradise
Towering mountains, ageless glaciers, crisp blue lakes and vast stretches of untamed land: Chilean Patagonia is a paradise for all lovers of the great outdoors. Active explorers will want to try kayaking, mountaineering, fishing, horseback riding, trekking and more, while those looking for a more relaxing time will find first-rate lodging from where to slowly take in the inspirational scenery, as well as great local cuisine.
Located in a rich, sunny coastal valley, warm and naturally dry, the Colchagua Valley is one of Chile’s most important red wine-producing regions. Visitors enjoy the experience of discovering the wine-growing culture that has flourished here over decades, and of course, tasting some of the best reds in the world.
LAKES AND VOLCANOES
Chile’s Most Picturesque Region
A land of blues and greens, of granite greys and windswept whites. The south of Chile is an artist’s palette of colors and an explorer’s dream of wilderness and outdoor pursuits. Here you find excellent infrastructure making for easy exploration from a number of springboard towns – so it only takes a while to get away, to the lakes, to the mountains, to the realm of the condor.
Country Name: Republic of Chile
Area: 292.500 Square Miles (750.000 Square Km.)
Population: 14.025.000 (growth rate: 1.7% annual)
Capital City: Santiago de Chile
Capital Population: 5.000.000
Chile Country Code: (56) Santiago (2) Cell Phones (9)
Language: Spanish prevails throughout the country. Several native languages are also spoken, including Aymara (The Far North and the Altiplano); Mapuche: 9th Region near Temuco) and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Religion: Over 90% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant
Currency: Chilean Peso
Time Zones: Mainland and Juan Fernandez Islands: GMT – 5 (GMT – 4 from
second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March). Easter Island: GMT – 7 (GMT – 6 from second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March).
Measures System: Decimal Metric System. 1 meter equals to 3.3 feet. 1.6 kilometers equals to 1 mile; 1 Kilo equals to 2.2 pounds and 1 liter equals to 0.26 gallons. Temperatures are measured in Celsius Degrees: 0 Celsius equals to 32 Farenheit and 100 C equals to 212 F.
Documentation, Passports and Visas: Tourists require valid Passports for entry to Chile. Nationals of the United States, Canada, most European and Latin American countries do NOT need visas for tourism activities in Chile. For nationalities which DO need visas, please ask us. There is an entrance Reciprocity fee for US nationals $160.00 per person to be paid at the arrival to the airport. This fee can be paid either in cash or credit cards (American Express, Visa & Mastercard).
Electricity: 220V / 50 Hz.
Water: Potable, drinking water is available in most locations throughout Chile, with the exception of remote rural or wilderness areas. However, for sensitive organisms, it is recommended to drink bottled water.
Transportation: Chile is easily accessible by its main International Airport, located in the country’s capital city of Santiago de Chile. Other international, regional and local airports serve the vast extension of territory of the country, including Easter Island, Patagonia and the North. Several sea ports are a popular access means for visitors coming on large cruise ships. A good network of roads provides the facilities for land travel in Chile. The underground metro rail in Santiago and good public bus services in the capital and major cities complement the transportation facilities to move around in Chile.
Communications: Telephone communications for local, national and international calls are widely available at public cabins and booths, as well as hotels (some surcharges may apply) and other tourist venues. Prepaid phone cards are also widely available and can be good money savers. Make sure to use reliable carriers. Cell or mobile phones are extensively used and can be rented by tourists. Internet services are also widely offered at hotels (usually free for guests); Wi-Fi zones at most tourist venues, and the popular and abundant cyber cafes. Chile also offers an efficient and reliable postal service.
Opening Hours: Offices are open 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday. Banks open from 09:00 to 14:00, Monday to Friday.
Currency Exchange, Credit Cards & Banking Facilities: Foreign exchange transactions can be made at banks, exchange houses or authorized hotels, restaurants and clubs. Exchange houses are open daily from 09:00 to 19:00. Visitors are not recommended to be tempted by the premiums offered by street black marketers.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at most tourist locations and facilities. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are most commonly accepted. Do check with your credit or debit card companies for details about acceptability and possible restrictions.
Shopping and Souvenirs: There are several shopping areas and Malls in Santiago and other major cities. Most shops open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 19:00. Shopping Centers and Malls normally open Monday to Sunday, from 11:00 am to 23:00 pm, though some stores may close at 22:00. Malls and shopping centers are closed only on Christmas Day (December 25) and Labor Day (May 1st). Handicrafts in Chile are great bargains and offer a variety of good souvenirs. Local jewelry made of lapis lazuli is one of the most popular and beautiful souvenir options.
Tipping: Tipping, even though customary, is a personal matter, related to your impressions of how you were served. To express your satisfaction, the following international guidelines, per person, can be followed:
$ 10, per day, for guide
$ 5, per day, for driver
On cruises, the suggestion is $ 15 per day, per person, for the entire crew.
Restaurants and bars add 10% to the bill. However, waiters will usually expect a 10% cash tip, in addition.
SAFETY AND HEALTH
Security, Valuables: Santiago and the larger or smaller cities are, in general terms, considered quite safe. As anywhere, normal precautions to be taken are not to venture alone or even in couples into solitary, marginal or poorly illuminated areas; not to accept offers, gifts or unrequested assistance from strangers and not to carry flashy objects such as jewelry, electronic gadgets and others that might tempt thieves. In wild or nature areas, the main hazard is getting lost if walking or hiking alone. The company of a certified and reliable guide, ranger or similar is recommended and, otherwise, to advice the nearest authorities or your lodging place what your exploration plans are. Your valuables are best kept at the hotels and lodgings’ safety boxes. A photocopy of your passport or other photo ID is useful to carry handy with you.
Health and Medical Facilities:
Santiago, the capital, as well as other major cities, do have international-level hospitals and medical facilities. The major hotels offer on-call medical assistance on the main cities and in the most developed tourist centers. Travelers are suggested to seek the advice of their physicians prior to travelling for dietary restrictions; altitude precautions; vaccines, etc. The local tour operator should be informed in advance of dietary restrictions and medical conditions which might require special care.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Climate and weather conditions vary widely according to seasonal factors; regional and ecological characteristics; altitude and other elements. Thus, it is recommended to look for specific advice regarding climate, weather and appropriate clothing, depending to the places you are planning to visit and the time of the year your trip is being planned for. Please ask us for details.
GASTRONOMY AND CUISINE
Chile’s cuisine reflects the country’s topographical variety, and features seafood, beef, fresh fruit and vegetables. Empanadas are large folded savoury pies with a variety of fillings such as “pino" – a mixture of minced beef, onion, egg, raisins and a black olive; humitas are corn tamales; and there are a variety of potato and flour-based breads. Another standard meal is “lomo a lo pobre", literally “poor man’s steak", an enormous slab of beef topped with two fried eggs and buried in chips. The parillada is basically a barbecue with some local ingredients such as sausages. Curanto, one of the nation’s finest dishes, is an all-encompassing, hearty stew of fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, lamb, beef and potato. This may be prepared in a large pan or on hot stones in the ground, covered with large leaves. The latter is especially common around Puerto Montt.
Chilean wines are among the world’s best, gaining an increasing number of accolades in traditional winemaking countries such as France, improving its reputation worldwide and thus the country’s export volume. A pisco sour is a popular drink, especially common as an aperitif. It is a white grape brandy served with lemon juice, egg white and powdered sugar.
VINA DEL MAR
SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
By Alonso de Ercilla (1569)
By Pablo Neruda (1950)
A Companion to Easter Island
By James Grant Peterkin
TRIP PLANNER CHILE
Our custom-designed expeditions include Chile’s main attractions, from the haunting, windswept deserts of the north to the ancient mysteries of Easter Island on the way to the End of the World: breathtaking Patagonia. Along the way, enjoy Chile’s renowned cuisine, including its award-winning wines.