Planning your trip
Chile is a long, narrow strip of land (over 4,300 km or 2,600 mi), nestled between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its population exceeds 17 million and the largest city and capital is Santiago. Chile borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. The Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández and Easter Island. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 sq kms (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica under the Chilean Antarctic Territory.
Spain conquered and colonized the region in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule in the north and center, but failing to conquer the Mapuche people in what is now south-central Chile. Since declaring its independence from Spain in 1818, Chile has grown to what is now considered a safe and stable developing nation.
When coming to Chile its useful to take into account some information that will ensure a safe and pleasant visit.▪ As in any big city, in Santiago, you should always be attentive with your bags and suitcases to avoid petty theft. Although this is a rare occurrence. ▪ Keep copies of important documents, such as your passport. ▪ Avoid walking alone at night in peripheral locations. ▪ Avoid carrying flashy valuable item, such as large cameras, that attract attention in cities. ▪ When exploring on your own, always carry a map and the address of your accommodation. ▪ If travelling on your own far from the city, take a first aid kit and the names in Spanish of the medications you may need.
ENTERING CHILECitizens of South America, the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia do not need a visa when entering the country as a tourist. However, some countries may need to pay a cash fee (reciprocity tax) upon arrival at the airport in Santiago. Also, remember that Chile has strict rules with regards to entering the country with any animal or plant products. These must be declare at your port of entry before the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG).
LUGAGGE WEIGHT ALLOWANCE FOR DOMESTIC FLIGHTSChecked luggage has a maximum weight allowance of 23 kg and dimensions of up to 158 linear cm (width + height + height). If your luggage weighs more than 23 kg it will be subject to excess baggage charges. The maximum weight as allowed excess is 45 kg. for routes within Chile. Carry-on bag must be a maximum of 55 x 35 x 25 cm, and weigh less than 8 kg.
ELECTRICAL APPLIANCESOutlets in Chile use 220V and all plugs/sockets use the type C/L.
CURRENCYOur currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coin values are 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos. We recommend carrying small bills with you in case you want to buy small items in local shops. Although credit and debit cards are accepted ubiquitously, except in some rural areas.
MONEYATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted at most shops and hotels. Traveler's checks are not widely accepted. Although in Chile some businesses accept dollars or euros, it is quite uncommon and is preferable to exchange your currency to Chilean pesos.
CLIMATEDue to Chile’s unique geography, climates span from the driest desert in the world in the north to hyperhumid rainforests in the south. Here we provide a brief overview of what you might expect in each area of the country and the appropriate clothing needed to be comfortable.
NORTHERN CHILEChile’s Norte Grande (“Great North”) is generally warm and dry. Close to the coast, average temperatures are warm and comfortable, ranging from 20˚ – 25˚C (68˚ – 77˚F). Days may occasionally start out cloudy, but sun and warm weather usually prevails. Further inland, in the desert, weather conditions become more intense. During the day, temperatures may range well above +30˚C (+90˚), and at night can drop below -0˚C (30˚F). In the highlands (the “altiplano”), in places such as Putre or San Pedro de Atacama, temperatures are pleasant during the day, but sometime windy, and is generally cold at night.
CLOTHING FOR NORTHERN CHILEDuring the daytime, a light pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt should be fine, although a good insulation layer for evenings is recommended. A good UV sun cream is also indispensable, as solar radiation is high in the desert. Sun hat, sun glasses, lip balm, sandals, comfortable shoes.
CENTRAL CHILEIn this area the climate is what many would consider ideal: Mediterranean, with warm summer days and pleasant nights, providing perfect conditions for farming and, in particular, the production of the renowned Chilean wines. On the coast, in summer the average temperature is low 20s˚C (70s˚F). Mornings are often misty, clearing away towards noon. Further inland, temperatures rise and light clothing and sunblock are recommended. Summer temperatures in Santiago, the capital city, are often over 30˚C (86˚F) during the day, but drop at night to around 15˚C (59˚F).
CLOTHING FOR CENTRAL CHILEFor days on the coast, light pants and long- or short-sleeved shirts is good. We also recommend a light sweater or windbreaker for brisk morning with a marine breeze. For days in the mountain, take comfortable, layered clothing such as fleeces, t-shirts, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Its generally sunny, but it may be a bit windy high up. Sun hat, lip balm, a good UV sun cream and sun glasses.
PATAGONIAThe southern tip of Chile is also the southern tip of the planet. Two or three centuries ago, the indigenous inhabitants of Patagonia covered their bodies with sea lion fat and guanaco furs to survive the extreme climate. The rain, cold and wind can be a bit of shocker. In midwinter, the cities of Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, the latter being the southernmost city in the world, are completely covered in snow. However, warm and sunny days are not unheard-of, especially in summer. Torres del Paine is a must-see destination and offers a more benign climate, with temperatures rising as high as 25˚C (77˚F) in summer. Thermal layers are still recommended, however, as the weather is highly variable. Sunblock is important throughout Patagonia, as UV radiation is also high here.
CLOTHING FOR PATAGONIAEven in the summer, a Patagonia packing list has to cover all four seasons. Summer weather in Patagonia can range from warm to cold and windy to rainy – sometimes all in the same day. In a climate of fluctuating and extreme temperatures like Patagonia, always dress in layers. Wearing several layers of clothing is the best way to stay warm in chilly weather, and it will also give you necessary flexibility in a changing climate. Start with a base layer of ski underwear, then go for leggings, trousers, fleece insulating layers, and/or down jackets, and rain jacket, building up as necessary.