Spotlight on: Chile
Stretching for more than 4300 km along the west coast of South America, Chile boasts some of South America’s most incredible landscapes: gleaming glaciers, bubbling geysers, stunning alpine lakes and vast rock-strewn deserts. The country’s unique cultural heritage can be seen in the mysterious statues of Easter Island, the grand colonial plazas of Santiago and the thriving indigenous communities of the Andean foothills.
One of Latin America’s most striking cities, Santiago enjoys a prime location at the base of the spectacular Andes. The Chilean capital is renowned for its superb museums, fine restaurants and lively nightlife, while the surrounding area boasts world-class trekking and skiing.
The vast Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth, full of eerie rock formations, steaming mud pools and shimmering salt flats.
Located close to the Argentinean border, the Chilean Lakes District is an area of immense natural beauty. A cruise through this region reveals vivid glacial lakes, snowcapped volcanoes, thundering waterfalls and quaint alpine villages.
Chile has been producing high-quality wine for more than 400 years. Experience this timeless tradition at the vineyards of the Colchagua Valley.
Chile is known as the paise de poetas, or ‘country of poets’. One of its most-famous wordsmiths was Pablo Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. A glimpse into his life can be seen at his former home in Valparaiso.
Located 3600 km off the coast of Chile, remote Easter Island is best known for its moai – monumental stone statues scattered along the shoreline; white sand beaches; fascinating caves; and excellent snorkelling and diving.
The prize jewel in Chilean Patagonia’s crown, Torres del Paine National Park is one of South America’s finest natural reserves, dominated by jagged towers of granite, rich forests, spectacular glaciers and stunning turquoise lakes.
NEED TO KNOW
Santiago’s international airport is Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL). It is approximately 20 minutes from the city depending on traffic. Pre-booking arrival transfers is recommended.
- Most locals can speak some English – more likely in large cities like Santiago. It’s useful to carry a phrase book.
- Ask before taking photographs of people, especially in tourist areas as you may be asked for money afterwards.
- Meal times are quite different to Australia. Lunch is normally served 1-4pm and dinner starts from 8pm, but it is customary to eat around 9-10pm.
- Some cities and attractions, such as the Atacama Desert, are at high altitudes and altitude sickness can affect some people until they become acclimatised.
Almost 90% of Chileans are Roman Catholic.
Chilean Peso (CLP) is the official currency. US dollars are widely accepted.
No visa is currently required for holders of Australian or New Zealand passports. Australian passport holders are required to pay a US$61 reciprocity fee on entry into Chile which allows multiple entries for up to 90 days.
Safety & Security
Chile is considered to be one of the safest South American countries for travellers, however in large tourist centres like Santiago, tourists need to be wary of pickpockets and bag snatchers.
Tipping is optional, but it is common to tip service providers and anyone who goes out of their way to help.
When to go
Due to its length, Chile features a variety of climates. All of Chile’s cities experience their warmest weather between October and April and the coldest from May to September.
Chile Tourism – http://chile.travel
Following the recent earthquake in Chile, Chilean tourism authorities advise that major tourism destinations, including the southern part of the country into the Patagonia region, are operating normally. The capital, Santiago, and surrounding areas, including Valparaíso and wine regions, were not affected.