Chile – Travel Deals WorldWide

Chile

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Chile

The land of poets and diverse landscapes

From the ice in the Antarctic to the desert in the north, Chile is a land of fascinating and amazing extremes. Explore natural landscapes, relax on picture-perfect beaches, hike through mountain ranges, visit world-famous vineyards and spot penguins along the coast. Chile is the ideal destination for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Overview

Chile lies on the western side of South America stretching over 2,900 miles (4,700 km) from its border with Peru in the north to the southern tip at Cape Horn, just 400 miles from Antarctica. Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is also part of Chile together with the Juan Fernandez Archipelago and a number of small volcanic islands in the South Pacific. Chile also shares Tierra del Fuego with Argentina.

As a result of its extreme length, the country experiences a wide variety of climates and topography. This has given rise to one of its best-loved exports, Chilean red wine.

The capital, Santiago, is a thriving cosmopolitan city, located in the Maipo Valley and surrounded by the Andes; it is fast becoming one of the most popular cities in South America.

Top Cities Santiago de Chile (capital), Puente Alto, Antofagasta, Vina del Mar, La Serena, Valparaiso Languages Chilean Spanish. English is widely understood in tourist areas. Currency Chilean Peso Time Zone There are three timezones in Chile. GMT-3 hours is used in continental Chile from September to April and GMT-4 hours is used from April to September. Easter Island operates on GMT-5 hours from September to April and GMT-6 hours from April to September. The Magallanes Region remains on GMT-3 hours all year round. Drinks Imported beer: £3.10/$4.00 Domestic beer: £2.60/$3.30 Water: £0.80/$1.00

Meals Inexpensive restaurant: £5.90/$7.40 Meal for 2, mid-range, 3-course: £35.80/$45.00 Hostels A hostel room will cost from approximately £17.50/$22.00 Hotels An average 3-star hotel will cost £50.00/$63.00 and a 5-star hotel around £145.00/$182.50 Tipping A gratuity of at least 10% should be given in restaurants and if the bill includes 10% service charge, then leave 5% for the server. If you buy food at a grocery store, then tip the person bagging up the items 500 pesos (£0.50/$0.60). You should tip your tour guide £5.00-£15.00/$6.30-$18.90 per day. In taxis, you are not expected to tip but in many cases, they will not give change. It is therefore polite to round up and tell them to keep the change as it has very little value in Chile.

Taxi Santiago has numerous taxis that are metered for shorter rides; some longer rides have flat fares. The average fare price is around £1.05/$1.30 per km. Do ensure the meter has been turned on before the journey starts as some drivers will take advantage of tourists. There is also a shared taxi system available which costs around £1.50-£2.00/$1.90-$2.50 a ride. In Santiago, these taxis are black with a sign indicating the route but in other cities, they may be yellow without a sign. Public transport For long-distance journeys, there are still some rail routes but most people either take long-distance buses or internal flights. The buses are comfortable and offer flexible departures and routes. There are different classes that determine the facilities: the basic pullman, the semi-cama and the salon cama at the top end with fully reclining seats. Prices are around £1.55/$2.00 per hour of travel for standard travel and up to around £6.00/$7.50 for luxury travel. Buses are a cheap and convenient way of getting around, particularly in Santiago where they continue to operate after the metro shuts. Each suburb has a colour-coded bus and a letter accompanying the route number to make it easier to understand the routes and locations. Most stops are located near the metro stations, making connections easier. There is also a system called “Transantiago’ which uses a contact-free card that you preload and use on both the bus and metro system. Each two-hour fare with unlimited travel costs £0.65/$0.80. Flying is the fastest way to travel across the country, but fares can be high so look out for special offers. The main airline is LAN and this is the only airline that flies to Easter Island. In addition, there are air taxis but these will only fly with a minimum number of passengers and are subject to weather conditions. Highlights Most visitors will start in Santiago, which is the capital and home to 40% of the population. Here you can visit museums, theatres, galleries or just watch the hustle and bustle, wander the parks and even ski and visit the beach on the same day! If visiting on a Sunday, make use of the hop-on, hop-off cultural circuit bus tour which passes all the main attractions. Just outside of the city, visitors will find the world-famous vineyards. Valparaiso is often referred to as the cultural capital of Chile and it does possess something of a dilapidated, bohemian feel with its colourful homes and steep hills, endless staircases and funicular railways. Don’t miss Vina del Mar in February, when the music festival takes place. Visit La Serena, the oldest city in Chile and capital of its region in the north. Explore the beaches and colonial architecture or discover the local markets; it also makes a good base for visiting the region’s vineyards. The north of Chile is home to the Atacama Desert with majestic dunes and lunar landscapes which give it the name of Valle de la Luna. One of the most stunning areas in Chile is the Lake District where snow-capped volcanoes meet seemingly bottomless lakes. About 600 miles in length, this region of outstanding beauty is usually reached via a flight into Puerto Montt. Patagonia in the south offers visitors views of huge glaciers in the Torres del Paine national park, stunning lakes and towering peaks. Don’t miss the Grey Glacier which is 30 meters high and 6 km wide! For penguin-watching, Punta Arenas is host to the largest colony in the region on Magdalena Island. The best time to see them here is September to October. However, penguins can also be seen in many other coastal areas such as Tierra del Fuego. Take a flight to Easter Island (Rapa Nui): hidden away in the Pacific Ocean, this fascinating island combines Chile with Polynesia. Famed for its Moai statues, it also offers the visitor plenty of outdoor activities, sandy beaches and unspoiled countryside.

Interesting Facts

Chile is often referred to as the “land of poets” due to the fact that poetry is highly valued here and Chilean poets have twice won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Although there are different theories as to the origin of the name “Chile”, the most common one is that it comes from the indigenous Mapuche word meaning “where the land ends”.

The average width of Chile is just 110 miles; it is 217 miles at its widest point at Autofagasta and a mere 9.6 miles at Puerto Natales. It is the longest and most narrow country in the world.

The Atacama is the highest and driest desert in the world. There are some areas in the desert that have never recorded any rainfall.

The southern Andes are home to the world’s highest volcano and world’s highest lake (Ojos de Salado) – shared between Chile and Argentina.

There are approximately 3,000 volcanoes in Chile and 36 of them are still active.

The national bird is the condor and the national animal is the huemul (a type of deer).

Chileans are the second-largest consumers of bread in the world after Germany.

The Gran Torre in Santiago is the tallest building in South America.

The largest earthquake ever recorded at 9.5 on the Richter scale took place in 1960 near Valdivia. All buildings are constructed to withstand tremors.

The world’s oldest mummies were discovered in the Camarones Valley, thought to date back to 5050 BC.

Chile has a government-supported UFO research organisation because there have been so many reported sightings over the last 20 years!