Passport: entry is generally straightforward as long as passport is valid for at least six months beyond arrival date.
Customs Regulations: no restrictions on import and export of local and foreign currency. Duty-free allowances include purchases of up to US$500. Travelers leaving the duty-free Regions I and XII are subject to internal customs inspections; there are heavy fines for fruit, dairy, spices, nuts, meat and organic products. X-ray machines are used at major international border crossings, such as Los Libertadores (the crossing from Mendoza, Argentina) and Pajaritos (the crossing from Bariloche, Argentina).
Visas: generally not required for stays of up to 90 days. Australian citizens must pay a 'reciprocity fee' when arriving by air.
Tourist Cards: on arrival, visitors will be handed a 90-day tourist card in the form of a receipt with bar code that will be asked upon leaving the country. It's possible to renew a tourist card for 90 more days. Many visitors prefer a quick dash across the Argentine border and back.
Electricity: the electricity current operates on 220V, 50Hz; plugs are C / L type.
Time: for most of the year Chile is 4 hours behind GMT, but from mid-December to late March, because of daylight-saving time (summer time), the difference is 3 hours. The exact date of the changeover varies from year to year. Note that Southern Patagonia uses the summer time for the entire year and Easter Island is 2 hours behind Santiago.
Internet Access: most regions have excellent internet connections; it is typical for hotels, hostels and coffee shops to have Wi-Fi. Much of Patagonia lags behind in this area, though free public Wi-Fi is available in some communities on the plaza.
Mobile Phones: foreign travelers with unlocked cell phones can only use a Chilean SIM card after registering their own device in Chile. Local SIM cards are cheap and widely available, for use with unlocked GSM 850/1900 phones. There's 3G or 4G access in urban centers. Cell-phone numbers have nine digits, starting with 9. If calling cell-to-landline, use the landline's area code. Cell phones have a 'caller pays' format. Calls between cell and landlines are expensive and quickly eat up prepaid card amounts. Purchase a new SIM card from a Chilean operator such as Entel or Movistar. Then purchase phone credit from the same carrier in kiosks, pharmacies or supermarket check-outs. In Patagonia, Entel has much better coverage than other companies. There's reception in most inhabited areas, with the poorest reception in the middle of the Atacama Desert and parts of Patagonia.
Money: ATMs are widely available, except along the Carretera Austral. Credit cards are accepted at higher-end hotels, some restaurants and shops. Traveler's checks are not widely accepted.
ATMs: Chile's many ATMs, known as Redbanc, are the easiest and most convenient way to access funds. Transaction fees can be high. Most machines have instructions in Spanish and English. Choose the option “tarjeta extranjera” (foreign card) before starting the transaction. Throughout Patagonia, many small villages only have one bank. Those crossing overland from El Chaltén, Argentina to Villa O'Higgins should bring plenty of Chilean pesos, as the nearest reliable banks are in Coyhaique.
Cash: some banks and “casas de cambio” (exchange houses) will exchange cash, usually US$ dollars only. More costly purchases -such as tours and hotel bills- can sometimes be paid in US$ cash.
Credit Cards: plastic (especially Visa and MasterCard) is welcome in most established businesses; however, many businesses will charge up to 6% extra to cover the charge they have to pay for the transaction. Credit cards can also be useful to show 'sufficient funds' before entering another South American country.
Currency: the Chilean unit of currency is the peso (CH$). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coin values are 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos, although one-peso coins are fast disappearing, and even fives and 10s are uncommon. It’s important to carry small bills; it also can be difficult to change large bills in rural areas.
Tipping: it's customary to tip 10% of the bill in restaurants (the bill may include it under 'servicio'). Taxis Drivers do not require tips.
Taxes & Refunds: a 19% value-added tax known as the impuesto de valor agregado (IVA) is levied on all goods and services. When using US dollars or a foreign credit card to pay for lodgings or tour packages no IVA, or tax, is charged.
Opening Hours: Hours given are generally for high season; in many provincial cities and towns, restaurants and services are closed on Sunday and tourist offices close in low season.
Banks 9am–2pm weekdays, sometimes 10am–1pm Saturday
Government offices & businesses 9am–6pm weekdays
Museums often close Monday
Restaurants Noon–11pm, many close 4–7pm
Shops 10am–8pm, some close 1–3pm
The longest and thinnest country in the world runs from the Andes to the Pacific. As well as sharing borders with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. Chile also has territories in Polynesia and Antarctica, making it a tri-continental nation. From the high Andean plateau to the untouched southern territories at the end of the world, Chile invites to live adventures in the middle of the world’s driest desert, in the unique rainy temperate forest of South America, in front of millennial glaciers or under the watchful eye of the Andes in the middle of the buzz of modern cities like its capital, Santiago. These cultural and climatic contrasts have left an imprint on the identity of the country and its people. Warm, energetic, approachable and kind, Chileans share the love for their land, which invites you to build relationships beyond boundaries, to live unique experiences and to discover Chile.
Population: 18,1 millions.
Capital city: Santiago.
People: 95% European descent and Mestizo, 5% Indian.
Language: Spanish and a handful of native languages, including Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui.
Religion: 89% roman catholic, 10% protestant, less than 1% jewish.
Departure from your hotel. We will visit the Pukará de Quitor fort located 2 kilometers north of San Pedro de Atacama. This fort dates from the 12th century and was built by the Atacameños to defend themselves from other peoples who lived in South America. It stands out for its steep terraces up to 80 meters high and its pre-Inca construction has walls organized in the form of circular or square terraces with privileged views of the valley of the Cordillera de la Sal. Then, we will visit the village of Tulor, the most sedentary archaeological site. ancient site in the north of Chile with more than 3,000 years of existence that is made up of 22 circular sites and other constructions made with mud blocks. Later we will visit Ayllu de Coyo where we will appreciate the beautiful flora and fauna of the north of this country. Return to your hotel.
To the south of San Pedro de Atacama we will find Toconao, our first stop, this village was built with stone Liparita, we will visit its square full of history with its bell tower constructed in 1750 of adobe and wood of cactus and the Church of San Lucas, both national monuments. In the Valley of Jere we will see the real wealth of the Toconares, a cannon that due to its microclimate and the waters that come down from the mountains, it enjoys fertility and turns the sector into one of the most green places of the desert, we will see orchards of fruit trees and varied flora. Finally will visit the Soncor sector of the great Salt Flat of Atacama, National Reserve de los Flamencos at Laguna Chaxa we shall enjoy the varied species of birds and the color of flamingos, the deep blue sky of Atacama, the heights of the andean volcanoes and the sunset will give us the farewell.
Departure from your hotel in San Pedro. The first stop will be in the town of Toconao, one of the most picturesque in the region, where you can appreciate an original architecture in liparite stone, with its old church from 1744, declared National Monument in 1951. You will be able to take a walk and meet the locals who work in fine woolen handicrafts. Next we will visit the "Salar de Atacama", which is part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. Here you will enjoy spectacularly beautiful scenery where you will find a lagoon (Laguna Chaxa) divided into several bodies of water, where salt crusts are especially abundant and where communities of 3 types of flamingos are found: the James, the Andean and the Chilean. We will pass through the town of Socaire, where we will see its old church, before visiting the beautiful "Lagunas Altiplanicas", Miscanti and Miñiques, which are located at 4,500 m.a.s.l. Within spectacular landscapes, you will be able to appreciate varied shades of color in the mountains, as well as the unique flora and fauna, which are found only in these protected areas. The altitude allows you to be very close to mountains and volcanoes, some of which are sacred and have inspired beautiful legends of the Atacama Desert. After a stop for lunch in Socaire, return to your hotel in San Pedro.
Departure from your hotel. We will travel 13 kilometers west of the town of San Pedro de Atacama until we reach Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). This place, which belongs to the Los Flamencos National Reserve, was declared a nature sanctuary due to its diverse rock formations composed of minerals and sands, which have been shaped by the wind as the Tres Maria and the amphitheater, natural formations that transform this valley into a unique place in the world. It is located in the Cordillera de la Sal and on the edge of the Salar de Atacama. It is a surprising geological spectacle of great beauty located at 2,550 m.a.s.l. We end the tour at the "Mirador de Kari", contemplating the beautiful panoramic views that change color as the sun goes down, passing through various pastel, pink and purple colors. Undoubtedly, the Moon Valley is a place of incomparable beauty visited by hundreds of travellers, and photography lovers, year after year. Return to your hotel.
Early morning departure from your hotel. We will travel around 43 miles to the El Tatio geothermal field, which in the "Kunza" language means "the grandfather who cries". We will arrive before dawn to enjoy the contrasts between the sunlight and the vapors that emerge from the earth. The geysers are located in the Andean mountain range at more than 4,300 m.a.s.l. (13,000 feet) and are the largest geothermal field in South America and the third largest in the world, with their "vents" of steam that can reach a height of 50 meters (164 feet) due to the heating of magma caused by mountain waters flowing through cracks in the earth's crust. After watching the sunrise, we will enjoy a local breakfast and have free time to explore the area. Return to your hotel.