Planning Your Trip to Chile

Does Chile have any visa requirements or is there anything I need to do ahead of time to get into the country?

United States and Canadian citizens do not need a visa and do not have to pay a reciprocity fee in order to enter Chile. You should ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your trip dates, and you may also be required to show “proof of onward travel” before boarding your inbound flight (your return flight information fulfills this requirement). For minors traveling without their parent or guardian, you may be required to show additional documents. For more information, please visit the State Department website.

What immunizations and shots do I need to travel to Chile?

Chile does not have any vaccination requirements beyond being up to date on your routine vaccinations. Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations are also recommended, although not required. It is not in a malaria or yellow fever zone; however, it is recommended that travelers bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination history. Zika is not currently present in Chile.

It is a good idea to visit a travel clinic 4-8 weeks prior to any international travel. For more information, you can also visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

How do I get money and pay for things while in Chile?

The most economical way to get money while traveling in Chile is generally to use local ATMs. They distribute local Chilean pesos and use the most current exchange rate, though many ATMs do charge a small fee for foreign cards (usually $3-7 USD). Your bank may also charge an international ATM fee (usually $5 USD or under), so we recommend calling your bank before you travel. Some ATMs also have transaction withdrawal limits, so if you will need a large sum plan ahead (you are able to make multiple transactions, however any transaction fees will be assessed each time). If you prefer to arrive with Chilean pesos in hand, many banks and credit unions offer foreign currency ordering services for their account holders for a fee.

Occasionally during the high season ATMs will run out of cash, so bring U.S. dollars as backup funds for tipping, souvenirs, or meals not included in your itinerary. We recommend having $100 USD in small denominations as backup funds. You can change these to pesos at Casas de Cambio or money exchange offices. Also, bring at least one ATM/debit card and at least one credit card if you can. Credit cards are often accepted at restaurants and large shops. Problems with ATMs, such as machines that do not accept your card, are common. If you have any questions or encounter any issues, please ask your guide or hotel reception staff for assistance. Cabs and businesses marketing to tourists may accept U.S. dollars, but, generally speaking, U.S. dollars are not widely preferred.

How much should I tip while on my trip?

The recommendation for private guides is between $10-20 USD per full day of private guiding per person, and $3-5 USD for private drivers per full day per person. If the tour is a half day, approximately half of these amounts are recommended. For large groups or group excursions it is appropriate to tip guides approximately $5-10 USD per person per full day. This is a general guideline and it is Knowmad’s hope that you use it only as a framework and tip based on the level of service you feel you receive and what you feel comfortable with. Tipping recommendations are in USD because exchange rates fluctuate frequently, however in Chile the local currency (Pesos) is preferred when tipping. Large bills can be difficult to break in most of the country, so hang on to small bills and change for tips.

Tipping for services in Chile is customary: 10% in restaurants reflects very good service; spare change or small sums are customary for cab drivers and porters. Please note that for included meals tips are not pre-paid as they are at the discretion of the travelers.

Lodges have varying tipping guidelines based on their structure and service level, and will provide their own specific recommendations. Explora, Patagonia Camp and Awasi recommend tipping $30-50 USD per traveler per day, which is shared amongst all lodge staff. Awasi also suggests $20-30 USD per traveler per day for private guides. Tierra and Alto Atacama recommend tipping $25-35 per traveler per day. At Hacienda Vira Vira, they recommend tipping approximately $30-40 USD per traveler per day, to be shared amongst all lodge staff and guides.

If you are going on a Torres del Paine trekking expedition, approximately $20 is recommended per traveler per day for your private guide (in larger groups, closer to $10 is sufficient). Additionally, on your trek we suggest approximately $5 per traveler for your separate kayaking guide and a few dollars per traveler per day for any porters. For horseback riding in the Cochamó Valley, a tip of approximately $25-50 USD per traveler for the entirety of the expedition is suggested. The Australis cruise recommends tipping approximately $12-15 USD per passenger per day. Again, please tip based on the service you feel you receive and what you feel comfortable with, and don’t hesitate to ask your Knowmad Adventures Operations Specialist if you have additional questions about your specific lodge, cruise, or itinerary.

Is trip insurance included and should I purchase trip insurance?

Trip insurance is not included in your trip cost. Knowmad highly recommends insuring your trip, as the unforeseeable is just that, unforeseeable. A few days after confirming your trip, you will receive an email from our recommended travel insurance provider, Travel Guard, with a pre-built quote. The policy will be built corresponding with your trip dates, total cost including estimated international and regional airfare, and your personal information. Should you choose to purchase this recommended policy, simply click the blue “Review my travel insurance quote >” link, review the coverage, and enter payment information.

Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity in Chile?

In Chile you will need a plug adapter to make any charger or appliance fit the “C” style socket. The plugs are two-pronged, wider set and have round prongs (see example on right). 220 is the accepted voltage in Chile. Many higher-end electronics like cameras and phone chargers will accept this voltage, while hairdryers and curlers of 110 volts will likely fry. If your electronics do not accept 220 volts, you will need a converter. Knowmad recommends checking the labels on your electronic devices to see which ones will be compatible before you travel.

Can I drink the water in Chile?

We recommend drinking bottled water. The water in Chile is good and most locals drink from the tap, however the water has a high mineral content and may cause upset stomachs for those not accustomed to it. Additionally, in the Atacama it is not recommended to drink the water from the tap unless your lodge has told you they treat the water. In Torres del Paine National Park, although guides may say that a stream is safe to drink from while hiking, due to increased travel in the park, we recommend only drinking bottled water.

Is it safe to travel in Chile?

Chile is considered a safe country, however on occasion petty crime does occur. Travelers should take the same precautions that they would in any unfamiliar city. Be aware of your surroundings, travel with a companion (especially at night), and stay in populated, well-lit areas. To help reduce the chance of petty theft, keep a close eye on your belongings especially in airports, crowded tourist sites, and busy markets. Do not use loosely hanging bags or purses (bags that zip are recommended), avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry or watches, and when in crowds move backpacks and purses to the front of your body. Carry only the money you’ll need each day, and keep the rest in the safety deposit box in your hotel room. Keep your passport and other valuables in the safety deposit box.

Santiago & Central Chile

Central Chile has a Mediterranean climate similar to the middle parts of California, with warm days and cool nights. However, the seasons are opposite those in North America and Europe. Expect daytime temperatures between 70-90 ̊F November – March, and between 45-65 ̊F other times in the year. Coastal breezes keep temperatures slightly cooler in Valparaíso and the Casablanca wine valley.

Patagonia

The summer season in Patagonia (November – March) has daytime temperatures typically in the 50s and 60s °F. However, Patagonia’s weather can be highly unpredictable, and it can rain at any time of year as well as be extremely windy. Temperatures in Patagonia can drop to near freezing at night. Northern Patagonia (Puerto Varas, Chiloé) is similar to Southern Patagonia but a bit warmer and wetter. Springtime in Patagonia (September – November) is a little cooler than summer with temperatures typically in the 40s and 50s °F with slightly milder winds. Similarly, fall months (March – May) are a little cooler than summer, typically in the 40s and 50s °F as well.

Atacama & The North

Weather throughout the north is like most other high-elevation desert regions. Daytime temperatures average 77-86 ̊F in the summer (December – February) and 64-77 ̊F in the winter (June – August). Temperatures fluctuate greatly, depending on the sun. Mornings and evenings can have lows averaging 50 ̊F in the summer and dropping below freezing in the winter.

Easter Island

A marine subtropical climate, temperatures in winter (June – August) range between 60-75 ̊F, and hover in the mid- 80s ̊F the rest of the year. There is often a persistent breeze and it can become quite windy at times. It can downpour quickly, though usually briefly, any time of year.

Beyond open eyes, an open mind, and your sense of adventure, here are some guidelines for packing for your trip. Weather varies dramatically between regions and elevations and can change quickly, so layerable clothing is recommended. Chile is generally a casual country. Shorts are not as common as they are in the United States, however they are acceptable in most settings. For all trips to Chile we suggest the following items:

  • Passport and photocopies of passport
  • Immunization record
  • Health insurance card
  • Airline flight information
  • Debit/ATM card
  • Credit card (we recommend more than one if possible)
  • Cash (at least $100 USD in smaller denominations)
  • Sun protection: hat with brim, sunglasses, waterproof sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), lip balm with sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Electrolyte powder packets (Pedialyte or Emergen-C Replenisher) for dehydration
  • Rain jacket or rain poncho
  • Lightweight activewear
  • Jeans and/or trousers
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts, polo shirts, or other lightweight short-sleeved shirts
  • Long-sleeved lightweight shirts
  • A few nice trousers and tops
  • Jacket, sweater, or warm fleece
  • Socks and underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing suit and cover-up
  • Comfortable walking or hiking shoes with good ankle support
  • Shoes for leisure activities
  • Camera, memory cards or film, and charger or batteries
  • Watch/battery-operated alarm
  • Other desired electronics and chargers
  • Converter & adapter, or converter/ adapter combination
  • Personal first aid kit (Neosporin, band-aids, Immodium, aspirin, etc.)
  • Toiletries in small bottles
  • Facial tissues
  • Personal medications with prescription information
  • Small backpack
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Plastic bag or dry bag (for dirty items or protection from water)
  • Guide book such as Frommer’s, Fodor’s or Lonely Planet
  • Envelopes for tipping
  • Book, journal, and pen

Footwear

Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support or hiking shoes are sufficient for most travelers and are less bulky than hiking boots, therefore we recommend them for most itineraries. For hiking-intensive itineraries, hiking boots are also great but not a necessity. We do not recommend buying a new pair of hiking boots or shoes immediately prior to your trip, as they will not be broken in and can result in painful blisters. A change of shoes intended for leisure activities is also recommended. Note: If you are ice hiking in Torres del Paine National Park you are responsible for bringing your own traditional hiking boots or sturdy hiking shoes for this activity.

Patagonia

The recommended outfit for a day in Patagonia is layerable, non-cotton clothing designed for hiking and athletics, with an outer layer jacket and pants that are windproof and waterproof. We also recommend bringing along a neck warmer/gator and socks designed for hiking. The wind can be brisk in Patagonia, so bring a light down jacket or fleece, as well as gloves and a hat. If you will be trekking, we recommend a rain poncho in addition to a rain jacket, as it also can cover your daypack. Ideal bottoms to pack include a base layer (which many days you won’t use, depending on the forecast), comfortable athletic or hiking pants, and rain or wind pants. For your top, you should pack a base layer, an insulating layer (ideally fleece or light down), and a rain or wind layer. With these three layers, you will be well prepared.

Kayaking

Required gear such as a lifejacket, a wetsuit, and a dry bag will be provided. For this activity, we recommend wearing a long-sleeved non-cotton shirt, and lightweight quick-drying pants. If it is a cool day don’t forget a windbreaker, and if you like having gloves for paddling you should pack your own.

Biking

Required gear such as helmets will be provided. For this activity, we recommend wearing tighter fitting pants or shorts, layers on top, your raincoat just in case, and sunglasses.

Rafting

A wetsuit, splash jacket, and helmet will be provided. You will need to wear your swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel, along with a complete set of clothes to change into afterward. Don’t forget sunscreen as well.

Horseback Riding

For this activity, wear jeans or thicker pants and comfortable athletic shoes. It is also nice to bring a fleece or sweater that is a full-zip or button-down, as it can be difficult to pull a sweater over your head while on a horse! We also recommend bringing a hat for the sun, sunscreen, lip balm, and a water bottle.

Cochamo Valley Riding Expedition

Wear your base long underwear layers, your fleece mid-layer top, pants, hiking or tennis shoes, and rain jacket. Tuck your gloves in a pocket. Poncho, rubber boots, and helmet are provided. Pack your extra insulating/mid layers, 2 extra shirts, one comfortable pair of pants for relaxing at the mountain lodge, hiking pants, hiking/tennis shoes, socks, underwear, camera, toiletries, and basic first aid kit. Also, pack an extra set of long underwear for pajamas or in case the ones you’re wearing get wet. A dry bag tied behind your saddle will carry all these items.

Airline Baggage Policy

Please check with your carrier and refer to your ticket booking details for information on baggage restrictions and fees, as your fare category may determine your baggage allowance. Most flights within Chile will be on LATAM airlines. LATAM Plus Fares include one piece of checked luggage, while Promo and Light Fares do not include checked baggage (bags can be checked for a fee). LATAM checked baggage must not exceed 50 lbs. If you are flying on Sky Airlines, please refer to your ticket booking details to review what’s included, as checked baggage can have an additional cost. Overweight baggage may be subject to additional fees.

Knowing a lot about a country before you visit can enrich your travels, help you meet and relate more to local people, and have a deeper appreciation for historical and cultural sites. To learn more about Chile’s history, culture, and people we recommend consulting travel guide books, online websites, and travel blogs.

Further Reading

  • DEEP DOWN DARK by Héctor Tobar tells the collective story of the 33 miners involved in the 2010 mine collapse, and how the event has changed their lives.
  • MY INVENTED COUNTRY by Isabel Allende explores how the Chilean and American 9/11 events have affected the popular author’s life.
  • THE STATUES THAT WALKED by Terry Hunt is a highly informative history chronicling the accomplishments of the people’s of Easter Island.
  • TRAVELS IN A THIN COUNTRY by Sara Wheeler is the travelogue of one British woman as she travels the length of Chile.
  • BY NIGHT IN CHILE by Roberto Bolaño is the fictional, winding deathbed confession of a Jesuit priest presented as one, long stream of consciousness.
  • BONE AND DREAM by Lake Sagaris is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, showcasing the way of survival and preservation in the world’s driest desert.
  • THUNDER SHAMAN by Ana Mariella Bacigalupo recounts the author’s experiences with a thunder shaman of the Mapuche culture in southern Chile
  • HIDALGO: THE DESERT DIARIES by Elly & Nathan Foote is the true story of a couple who crossed the Atacama desert on horseback.
  • EASTER ISLAND by Jennifer Vanderbes is a historical-fiction romance, where stories of two women in two different eras take place within the mysteries of the island.

Helpful Spanish

PHRASES

  • Buenos Dias (BWEH-nohs DEE-ahs) – Good morning, Good day
  • Buenas Tardes (BWEH-nahs TAR-dehs) – Good afternoon
  • Buenas Noches (BWEH-nahs NOH-chehs) – Good evening
  • Por favor (POHR fah-VOHR) – Please
  • Gracias (GRAH-syahs) – Thanks
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta esta? (KWAHN-toh KWEHS-tah EHSS-tah) – How much does this cost?
  • ¿Dónde está ____? (DOHN-deh ehss-TAH ___) – Where is ____?
  • ¿Habla inglés? (AH-blahs een-GLEHS) – Do you speak English?
  • ¿Qué recomienda? (KEH reh-coh-mee-EHN-dah) – What do you recommend?
  • Soy alérgico/a a ____ (soy ah-LEHR-hee-coh/-cah ah____) – I’m allergic to ___

 

AT THE TABLE

  • la carta (lah KAHR-tah) – the menu
  • la cuenta (lah KWEHN-tah) – the check
  • agua (AH-gwa) – water
  • café (kah-FEH) – coffee
  • cerveza (sehr-VAY-sah) – beer
  • vino (VEE-noh) – wine
  • pescado y marisco (pehs-KAH-doh ee mah-REES-kohs) – fish and seafood
  • pollo (POH-yoh) – chicken
  • carne (KAHR-nay) – meat
  • vegetariano/a (veh-heh-tah-RYAH-noh/-nah) – vegetarian
  • sin gluten (seen GLOO-tehn) – gluten-free

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Have a question that you can’t find an answer to on our site? Or if you’d simply like to ask a real, live person your questions instead of browsing through these FAQ sections, we are more than happy to help. Just give us a call at 612-315-2894 or email travel@knowmadadventures.com.