Horseback riding in Chile

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Equestrian tours in Chile

Chile Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

A narrow slither of land wedged between the Pacific and the Andes, Chile stands as a nation apart in South America- both literally and figuratively. The mountains cut the country off from Argentina and Bolivia to the east, while the expansive Atacama Desert separates it from Peru to the north. And to the south, beyond the country's infamous Cape Horn headland, lies nothing but ocean and Antarctica. But far from being a curse, this isolation has created a very special destination indeed.

Whether you fancy road-tripping the endless Carretera Austral, climbing the peaks of Torres del Paine National Park, or surfing the brutal waves of Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu, Chile is deserving of its reputation as one of the world's best destinations for adventure tourism. It's not just for thrill-seekers though. From its incredible night skies and Mapuche Indian heritage to its vibrant arts scene and vertiginous vineyards, this is a country that caters for travelers or all hues. The Chileans themselves, meanwhile, tend to be warm and open, so absorbing what the country has to offer is generally a joy.

The country hasn't always had it easy, of course, and the tribulations of the Pinochet era can be explored in the dynamic capital, Santiago. The city's buzzing boulevards and arty neighborhoods feel a million miles away from Chile's more famous attractions, and this in itself tells you how broad the country's offering is- this is a land that not only includes vast swathes of Patagonian wilderness and the glacier-threaded waterways of Tierra del Fuego, but also incorporates the remote, statue-studded landmass of Easter Island.

Whether you're seeking solitude as a leisurely backpacker or taking on the big sites in unbridled luxury, consider yourself warned- once you've experienced the myriad attractions Chile has to offer, you may find other destinations fall somewhat short.

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No/1

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

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

Visas

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 must pay a US$117 reciprocal tax at the airport. US national and Canadian nationals no longer have 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.

 

Money

Currency

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, although the latter is no longer in circulation.

Currency Exchange

Foreign exchange transactions can be conducted through commercial banks, casas de cambio, or authorised shops, restaurants, hotels and clubs. Casas de cambio are open daily 0900-1900. Ask to be given smaller denomination bills as these are easier to spend, and you may run into trouble trying to get change from larger notes.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted- Diners Club and American Express slightly less so- in towns and cities, where ATMs are also largely available. Outside of the larger, more tourist-centered towns, currency exchange can be tricky. Credit/ debit cards (Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard, and sometimes American Express) are all widely accepted in town and cities, where ATMs (also known as redbancs) 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. However, exchanging traveler's cheques in Chile has been reported to be problematic.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1400.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

March 2018

£1.00=

CH$841.97

$1.00=

CH$602.26

€1.00=

CH$746.92

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

No

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Sometimes

Typhoid

Sometimes

Yellow Fever

No

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

Standards of hygiene are generally reasonable in Chile, and should not cause visitors any undue concern. Tap water in the cities is fine to drink but it does have a high mineral content and may taste different to what you're used to. Bottled water is easily available should you prefer to stick to that. When it comes to eating out, use common sense- only eat food that has been freshly cooked and looks to have been prepared in hygienic conditions.

Other Risks

Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. When traveling to rural parts of Chile, care should be taken to avoid the hantavirus, a potentially fatal condition that is spread by rodents. In particular, avoid resting near grasses or haystacks, don't leave food sources lying around and make sure rustic cabins are well aired out and free from any sign of rodents.

Health Care

Getting access to quality medical care in Chile is possible in the larger cities such as Valparaiso and Santiago. Travelers are advised to take out comprehensive health insurance before traveling. Emergency services can be dialed fee- call 131 for an ambulance. For medical emergencies, private services may deliver more modern equipment and a faster response. Clinicas (private hospitals) can be contacted directly in the case of a medical emergency. If bringing medication, then make sure to have a signed note from the doctor stating medical conditions.
 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

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

Approximate Flight Times

From London- 17 hours (including stopover); New York- 10 hours 30 minutes.

At the airport upon arrival in Chile, visitors are issued a tarjeta de turismo (tourist card) by the immigration authorities. Travelers must retain this document and present it to immigration upon leaving the country.

Main Airports

Santiago (SCL) (Arturo Merino Benitez) (website: www.aeropuertosantiago.cl). 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 (www.oneworld.com) 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

None.

Getting There by Water

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

Ferry operators:

Cruce Andino (www.cruceandino.cl) runs between Bariloche, Argentina and Puerto Varas, Chile. While not an actual ferry, small boats can be hired by Juana de Arco (www.interpatagonia.com/juanadearco) 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.

Climate

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.

 

Contacts

Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of Chile in the UK

Telephone: (020) 7222 2361. Website: http://www.chileabroad.gov.cl/reino-unido/en/ Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1730.

Embassy of the Republic of Chile in the USA

1732 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Tel: (202) 785 1746.
Website: www.chile-usa.org 

British Embassy in Chile

Telephone: (2) 2370 4100. Website: http://www.chile-usa.org Opening times: Mon-Thurs 0900-1300 and 1400-1730.

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