Horseback riding in Chile

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Equestrian tours in Chile

Chile Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide


Preposterously narrow and almost comically long at 4,300km (2,670 miles), Chile’s outline on a map instantly inspires thoughts of a fantastical, quirky country. Luckily, visitors to this incredibly diverse land will not be disappointed.

Very distinct from its neighbors, Chile may begin at the belly of South America, but geographically is quite isolated, which is why it has managed to maintain a rich, colorful culture not mimicked anywhere else in the Americas. The formidable and jaw-dropping Andes make up a rather intimidating barrier of ice, rock and snow that cut the country off from Argentina to the east and Bolivia to the north. The expansive and daunting Atacama Desert (the driest in the world) separates it from Peru to the north, and adding to the feeling of isolation is none less than Antarctica to the south. To the west, outside of a few tiny islands dotted throughout the Pacific, there is nothing but thousands of miles of water separating Chile from Australasia.

Whether you fancy pedaling or road-tripping the relentless gravel of the Carretera Austral, want to try your hand at climbing in Torres del Paine National Park, or surf the brutal, expert-only waves of Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu where waves consistently reach 6m (20ft), Chile is more than deserving of its current rank as one of the best spots in the world for adventure tourism.

It’s not only for adrenaline-seeking athletes though. Lovers of the night sky can try to find their place in the galaxy – the world’s most impressive observatories are at your disposal in the Atacama desert. Music lovers will enjoy the native Andean music, historians and avid readers can explore the homes of notables such as Chilean-born literary heavyweight Pablo Neruda, budding anthropologists can busy themselves with getting to know the very vibrant Mapuche Indian culture, and foodies will be in heaven – think seafood as fresh as it comes, empanadas as comfort food, and slow-grilled barbecued lamb, all washed down by a hearty dose of the national drink, pisco.


Passport Required?









Other EU


Visa Required?









Other EU


Return Ticket Required?









Other EU




Passport valid for at least six months required by nationals referred to in the chart above.

Passport Note

Passports issued to children must contain a photo and state the nationality.


Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days except nationals of Greece for up to 60 days.
Transit passengers continuing their journey on the same or first connecting aircraft provided holding required travel documents for onward destination and not leaving the airport transit lounge.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Visa Note

1. Nationals from Australia (US$117) and US nationals and Canadian nationals no longer need to pay a reciprocal tax.
Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.
Visa applicants must provide an invitation letter or hotel booking and show sufficient funds.




Chilean Peso (CLP; symbol CH$) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of CH$20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of CH$500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.

Currency Exchange

Foreign exchange transactions can be conducted through commercial banks, casas de cambio, or authorised shops, restaurants, hotels and clubs. Visitors should not be tempted by the premiums of 10 to 15% over the official rate offered by black marketeers. Casas de cambio are open daily 0900-1900.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Credit/debit cards (Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard and sometimes American Express) are widely accepted in towns and cities, where Redbanc ATMs are also largely available.

Traveller's Cheques

The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile, making it possible to exchange money and traveller's cheques at any casa de cambio at market-driven exchange rates. There may be some difficulty exchanging traveller's cheques outside major towns. Traveller's cheques in US Dollars offer a better exchange rate.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1400.

Exchange Rate Indicators


Jun 2016











Special Precautions



Hepatitis A










Yellow Fever


Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.


Food and Drink

Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other Risks

Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended.

Health Care

Health insurance is essential. Emergency services can be dialled free (tel: (2) 131 for an ambulance), but for medical emergencies, private services may deliver more modern equipment and a faster response. HELP (tel: (2) 631 0310) is an ambulance service for some of Santiago's private hospitals. Clínicas (private hospitals) can be contacted directly in the case of a medical emergency.


Getting There

Getting There by Air

Chile's main airline LAN (, connects both Europe and the US with Chile. British Airways ( also flies to Santiago via Sao Paulo in Brazil (the second leg is operated by LAN), Air France flies from London via Paris (, and Air Canada arrives from London via Toronto (

Approximate Flight Times

From Miami to Santiago is 8 hours 30 minutes and from Madrid is 13 hours 45 minutes.

Main Airports

Santiago (SCL) (Arturo Merino Benitez) (website: The airport is 21km (11 miles) northwest of Santiago (journey time – 30 minutes). To/from the airport: Bus services to the city centre operate from 0530 to 2400 every day. Metro services operate to Los Héroes, Central, Universidad de Santiago, Las Rejas and Pajaritos stations. Taxis to the city are also available; official taxis are blue and have documentation. Facilities: Bar, ATM, bureaux de change, restaurants, shops, car hire, post office and tourist office.

Air Passes

The oneworld Visit South America Pass ( is valid within Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile (except Easter Island), Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Participating airlines are American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), LAN (LA), Qatar Airways (QR), TAM (KK) and their affiliates. The pass must be bought outside South America in the country of residence. It allows unlimited travel to over 60 destinations. You can take as many flights as you like, but a you must book a minimum of three flights.

Departure Tax


Getting There by Water

Shipping lines such as Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica (CCNI) ( and Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV) (from New York and European ports) ( operate in Chile. The country's biggest port is San Antonio.

Cruise ships:

Several towns on the coast are now regular stops in cruise company itineraries. Princess ( and Norwegian Cruise Line ( are both cruise ship lines that make stops in Chile. Valparaíso ( is the most popular stop.

Ferry operators:

Cruce Andino ( runs between Bariloche, Argentina and Puerto Varas, Chile. While not an actual ferry, small boats can be hired by Juana de Arco ( from Lago Puelo, Argentina to make a water crossing, but they drop passengers off at the Chilean border – most travellers continue on by foot.

Getting There by Rail

A sporadic service used to exist between Chile and Bolivia (although it was mostly used for freight). There is talk of reviving that line, although that may be years before it happens

Driving to Chile

Chile shares a northern crossable border with Peru and Bolivia, and Argentina is to the east. There are more than 30 border crossings accessible by road with Argentina, although in winter months many are closed due to snow (remember, the daunting Andes separate the two countries).

The two most commonly used border crossings by road are the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores, also called Cristo Redentor, a breathtaking mountain pass in the Andes between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, reaching elevations of 3,200m (10,500ft) and including some intense switchbacks. The other popular crossing is the Pajaritos crossing (also known as Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré) between Villa La Angostura, Argentina and Osorno, Chile.


Ranges from hot and arid in the north to very cold in the far south. The central areas have a mild Mediterranean climate with a wet season (May to August). Beyond Puerto Montt in the south is one of the wettest and stormiest areas in the world.

Required Clothing

Lightweight, natural fabrics. Rainwear for the wet season. More substantial waterproofs are needed in the south.



Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of Chile in the UK

Telephone: (020) 7222 2361. Website: Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1730.

Embassy of the Republic of Chile in the USA

1732 Massachussets Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Tel: (202) 785 1746.

British Embassy in Chile

Telephone: (2) 2370 4100. Website: Opening times: Mon-Thurs 0900-1300 and 1400-1730.

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