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BEFORE LEAVING

Visa
Nationals of the following countries do not require a visa when entering as a tourist
for a stay of up to 90 days:
Antigua and Barbuda, Netherlands Antilles, Australia, Barbados, Bulgaria, The Bahamas, Canada, Croatia, Israel, Iceland, Jamaica, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, North Korea, South Korea, Saint Lucia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Mauritius, Norway, New Zealand, San Marino, Suriname, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, United States, South Africa.
Greece and Indonesia just for 60 days and Malaysia, Singapore just for 30 days. Nationals of Australia and Canada entering Chile for touristic purposes will be charged a processing fee payable on arrival and in cash only. For nationals of CA, the fee is US$55; for nationals of AU, the fee is US$34

Passport
Must be valid for at least six months after your arrival to Chile

Embassies & Consulates
Australia:
44 Market Street, Level 20, Sydney, NSW (02) 9299 2533 / (02) 9299 2862
Canada:
50 O’Connor Street Suite 1413 Ottawa Ontario / (613) 235 4402, 235 9940
New Zaeland:
19 Bolton Street Wellington (04) 471 62 70
UK :
12 Devonshire Street London (20) 7580 6392 / Consulate (20) 7580 1023
USA:
1732 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC (202) 785-1746

Time zones
The difference in time zones:
Chile is 3 to 5 hours behind UK, depending on the season and occasionally on the implementation of the summer hours. Normally, the difference is of 5 hours during the northern hemisphere’s summer and 3 hours during the winter. To be more explicit, when you (in UK) prepare to sleep, we are about to have “5 o’clock tee” or “once” in Spanish (tea with bread, jam, avocado, etc.). Regarding North America, we are 3 hours in advance of California and Vancouver while we share the same time with New York or Montreal…and more than half day behind Sydney, 17 hours behind Auckland…
Business Hours:
Banks are open from 9:00 to 14:00 hrs.
Travel Agencies from 9:00 to 18:00 hrs.

Driving Licence
Driving licence + international licence. This last one isn’t valid but might be requested if you rent a car.

Vaccines and Drugs
Chilean authorities don’t demand any vaccine. The travellers that usually come to South America perceive Chile as a clean country, with a healthy gastronomy, and lacking the typical diseases of tropical countries. Another advantage Chile has is the absence of poisonous and dangerous animals.
Pharmacology (depending on the kind of journey you are preparing and specially if you practice self-guided travel) :
A toiletries bag with bathroom items and your usual medication
Suntan cream with a high sun protection factor, moisturizing cream, balsam for lips
Hydro Clonazone or micropur tablets or equivalent water purifiers.
Moisturized tissue (the kind used with babies) for hand and face hygiene
A small roll of elastoplast + tricosteril (for blisters)
a neutral collyrium – aspirins
Mild antidiarrheal agent like “lacteol” or “diarsed”
A nasal dryness ointment like “Balsamorhinol” with almond oil
An anti-mosquitoes spray or repellent cream (except in winter)

Clothes
Depending on the kind of journey you are preparing and specially if you practice self-guided travel.
Priorities: Cap, sunglasses, good walking shoes and swimsuit for the Spa’s and beaches. If you forget the rest, when you get here you’ll find beautiful wool jerseys woven by warm southern hands

Clothes for the moderate altitude stages (2500 – 3500 mts.):
Lightweight trousers, shorts, T-shirts, lightweight long-sleeved shirts, cap, bathing suit.

Clothes for high altitude stages (3900 – 4300 mts.):
Windbreaker (Gore Tex type), polar fleece, jerseys, strong trousers, cap, gloves, wool socks, a pair of walking shoes and a pair of travel or soft shoes for the night.

Baggage and accessories:
A light sports bag, better than a suitcase, a small backpack for your daily belongings, a water carrier, a flashlight (front lighting preferably) with spare batteries and bulb, a pair of sunglasses, a knife (Swiss army type), binoculars

For photographers:
A UV filter, a waterproof bag for protecting the equipment from sand and dust (the airtight re-sealable bags for food are an excellent protection)


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IN CHILE

Currency
The Chilean Peso (clp $).
1dollar (US) = $ 685 clp
1 euro (€) = $ 765 clp
(may 2016)

Usually everything is paid in pesos, but if you can’t, dollars are accepted but at a higher rate than market rate. In the case of hotels, if you pay in dollars, you won’t pay the tax (VAT is 18%)
Downtown “Santiago”, specially on “Agustinas” street, you’ll find many “Casas de Cambio” (currency exchange offices) that open from 9:00 to 17:00 hrs. They close on Saturdays, after noon.
To draw cash from the “Cajeros Automáticos” (cash machine) is very easy. Credit cards like MasterCard and Visa are accepted just about everywhere. American express cards don’t have the same breadth of coverage. We recommend you take US dollars. It’s not always so easy to change euros in the smaller cities. Keep a reserve fund to cover food and drinks not covered by our tours.

Lodging
(Under construction, here we’ll suggest the lodgings that have been top valued by our clients)

NORTE GRANDE (UPPER NORTH)
San Pedro Atacama
Planeta Atacama Lodge
Hostal Elim

NORTE CHICO (LOWER NORTH)
Valle del Elqui
Cabañas Chañar Blanco en Paihuano

CENTRO (CENTRAL CHILE)
Santiago
⋆⋆⋆ Hotel Vegas
⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆ Santiago Park Plaza

Valparaíso
⋆⋆⋆ Hotel Casa Thomas Somerscales

SUR- REGION DE LOS LAGOS (SOUTHERN CHILE – LAKES REGION)

ISLA DE CHILOÉ (ISLAND OF “CHILOE”)
Turismo Rural Ancud
Familia Dimter Maldonado: Móvil (09)6247393 / (09)6437046

PATAGONIA

Dinning Places
(Under construction, here we’ll suggest the places that have been top valued by our clients)

NORTE GRANDE (UPPER NORTH)

NORTE CHICO (LOWER NORTH)

CENTRO (CENTRAL CHILE)
Santiago
La Chimenea Principe De Gales 90 Tel (02) 26970131
La Piojera Aivallú 1030 Tel (02)6981682
Cantina El Hoyo San Vicente # 375 Tel (02) 26890339
Marisquería Tongoy Calle Bulnes Tel (02) 26971144
Las Tejas San Diego 236 Tel (02) 26990245
El Rincón de los Canallas San Diego 379-B Tel (02) 26991309

Valparaíso
Caleta El Membrillo (en día soleado y en terraza) Altamirano 1567 Tel (032) 2287072
Bar El Zinzano Plaza Anibal Pinto 1182 Tel (032) 2213043
J Cruz Pasaje Condel 1466 Tel (032) 2250319
La Colombina Pasaje Apolo 91-77 Paseo Yugoslavo 15 Cero Alegre
Bar Ingles Cochrane 851 Tel (032) 2214625

SUR- REGION DE LOS LAGOS (SOUTHERN CHILE – LAKES REGION)

ISLA DE CHILOE (ISLAND OF “CHILOE”)
Turismo Rural Ancud
Familia Dimter Maldonado: Mobile phone (09)6247393 / (09)6437046

PATAGONIA

Tourism information centres

NORTE GRANDE (UPPER NORTH)
Arica
Casa del Turismo. Calle (street) San Marcos 101 Tel: (058) 2252024

Iquique
Calle (street) Anibal Pinto 436 Tel: (057) 2419241(Sernatur)

San Pedro Atacama
Calle Toconao (no number, in front of the square) Tel: (055) 2851420

NORTE CHICO (LOWER NORTH)
La Serena
Plaza de Armas Tel (051) 2225199, calle Arturo Prat 451 Tel (051) 2206631
Arturo Prat 451 Tel: (051) 2206631

Coquimbo
Las Heras 220 Tel (051) 232-5577 / (051) 231-3971

Vicuña
In the Municipality: San Martín Tel (051) 2275 Tel: (051) 241-1359 / 1255

Ovalle
Vicuña Mackenna 441 Tel (053) 262-0955 / 0168

CENTRO (CENTRAL CHILE)
Santiago
Av. Providencia 1550 Tel (02) 2731 83 10 / (02) 2731 83 13

Valparaíso
Depto. Turismo Municipalidad: Condell 1494 Tel (032) 22939979
Oficina de Turismo: Muelle Prat Tel (032) 22939489

SOUTHERN CHILE (SUR- REGION DE LOS LAGOS)
Pucon
Brasil y Caupolicán Tel (045) 244-1671
O’Higgins y Palguín Tel (045) 244-3338

Valdivia
Av. Arturo Prat 555 Tel (063) 221-3596

Puerto Montt
Antonio Varas Tel (065) 226-1700
Av. Xª Región P. 2º Tel (065) 225-4580

Puerto Varas
Casa del turista: Piedra Plen S/Nº Tel (065) 223-7956
Secretaria Turismo: San Francisco 441 Tel (065) 232-1330 / (065) 223-2437
San José esq. Santa Rosa Tel (065) 233-8542

ISLA DE CHILOE (ISLAND OF “CHILOE”)
Ancud
Libertad 665 Tel: (065) 262-2800 / (065) 262-2665

Castro

PATAGONIA
Coyhaique
Bulnes 35 Tel (067) 223-1752

Chile chico
O’higgins 3333 Tel (067) 241-1359

Puerto Natales
Bulnes 285 Tel (061) 2614808 / (061) 261-4809

Punta Arenas

Porvenir

Holidays
Chile celebrates its independence, some military victories and a considerable number of religious festivities

January 1st. – New Year
March or April (movable) – Good Friday
May 1st. – International Worker’s Day
May 21st. – “Día de las Glorias Navales”: anniversary of the “Combate Naval de Iquique”, an episode during the war between Chile and Perú-Bolivia called the “Guerra del Pacífico”, in 1879.
June 29th – Saint Peter and Saint Paul
July 16th. – The day of the “Virgen del Carmen” (virgin Carmen)
August 15th. – “Asunción de la Virgen” (the virgin’s ascenct)
September 18th. – Independence day – a national festivity:
This date refers to the first government (“Junta de Gobierno”), in 1810, after the governor appointed by Madrid, Spain, during the colonial period, resigned. After some time, Spain recovered the government for a few more years. The authentic independence would be declared on the 12th February 1818 by O’Higgins, head of the “partido reformador” (reforming party). The following 5th February, the Spanish armies would be defeated by the Chilean independence supporter’s army, once and for all, at “Maipú”. None of these dates could be declared as national festivity, because Chile was, at that time, immersed in a civil war. The conservative southerners maintained their loyalty to Spain. Perú, which held the Spanish colonial administrative centre that governed Chile, also declared its independence in 1821. Chile’s independence would only be recognized by Spain in 1844.
September 19th. – “Día de las Glorias del Ejercito” (day that recalls the army’s laurels)
October 12th. – The day America was discovered, the “Día de la Raza” (Columbus Day), celebrates the day Christopher Columbus discovered America. This day is celebrated all over the Hispanic world, except by the Amerindians (Mapuches in Chile), for whom it’s a day for mourning.
November 1st. – “Día de Todos los Santos” (All Saints day)
December 8th. – “Día de la Inmaculada Concepción” (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
December 25th. – Christmas.

Transport
The network of highways is of good quality. By contrast, the railroad lines from “Santiago” to “Temuco”, a city 680 kms. south, aren’t altogether usable.
The main highway is the Pan-American, that extends across Chile from “Arica” to “Puerto Montt”. Other routes, crosscutting the main highway, are in excellent condition and connect Chile with neighbouring countries. At the city of Puerto Montt begins the “Carretera Austral” (southern highway), which, eventually, will join this city with “Punta Arenas”, Capital of the “Magallanes” region and the Chilean Antarctic. At present, part of the journey must be done through Argentine territory.
The city of Santiago has a subway network made up of five lines. The airline LAN offers domestic and international flights.
On the other hand, Sky Airlines, only covers domestic flights.

Climate
As Chile extends for about 4.300 kms. from north to south, the territory shows very different and extreme climates: while in the “Atacama” desert the heat is scorching, in the southern parts of the country, with a polar climate, it can be very cold.
Before seeing the detailed climate map, some comprehensive points that are valid for all the country:
As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, its seasons are the opposite to the northern hemisphere seasons: its winter is in July and August, and summer in January and February.
In addition to the length of the country, there are two elements that have a special impact on the climate: the cold Humboldt current along the Pacific Ocean coast. It has the effect of cushioning the temperatures along the coast, and most of the year, it produces a dense coastal mist, the “Camanchaca”. On their turn, the mountain ranges cause climatic variations inland, that can be quite extreme. In the Santiago region, on the same day, one can bathe in the Pacific and ski in the Andes…

Roughly we can name five climate zones:
THE “NORTE GRANDE” (the upper north), from “Chañaral” to “Arica”: the coast has a temperate climate. Even still, “Arica” is called the “city of the everlasting spring”. The immense “Atacama” desert is one of the driest places in the world. However, from December through March, the “Norte Grande” receives the “invierno boliviano”, a phenomenon that transforms the climate, producing heavy rainfalls over the “Altiplano” (high plateau that crosses the border to neighbouring Bolivia) and sometimes including hail and snow.

THE “NORTE CHICO” (lower north), from “Chañaral” to the river “Aconcagua”, its a desert-like region. Rains are scarce in this zone and it represents a transition between the northern deserts and the rainy areas in the south.

THE “CENTRO” (central Chile), the territory around “Santiago” and “Valparaiso” enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers, and rainy moderate winters. The average daytime temperature is 28ºC in January/February and 10ºC in July/August.

THE “SUR Y LA REGION DE LOS LAGOS” (southern Chile – Lakes region)
has a temperate rainy climate. Lots of rain all year through, except summer. “Chiloé”, the biggest Chilean island is famous for its climate: Only 60 days of Sun, all year long!

THE “PATAGONIA” (the Patagonia) and the islands of “Tierra del Fuego”. From “Chiloé” to the “Cabo de Hornos” (Cape Horn) the area is characterized by a cold and rainy climate (except for “Punta Arenas” that is less rainy), with gusts of wind of extreme violence, most of the year.

The “Niño” phenomenon
Also called “El Niño Jesús” as it usually appears around Christmas, this phenomenon takes place, in average, every five years (1982; 1986; 1991; 1997 and 2002 were the last ones) producing rainfalls and storms. Throughout the Chilean coast, the ocean’s surface water temperature can rise 5ºC. This enormous mass of warm water can get to represent a size double that of the USA.

See more
Weather today

Gastronomy
Even if lately our gastronomy has evolved and is scaling up, we can’t yet talk about an authentic Chilean gastronomy. The influence of the Spanish traditions is quite deep at our table, and even capable of displacing, on occasions, the ubiquity of the Pacific’s treasures, the great variety of delicious fish and shellfish. However, the indisputable “king” of all dishes is the “asado” or “parrillada”, a combination of different meat types, “pollo” (chicken), “chorizo” (spicy pork sausage), “salchichas” (sausages), “prietas” (morcilla sausages), “interiores” (innards), “ubre” (udder) – and others – cooked over embers, and always accompanied by the “empanada”, the “queen” in this case; is something you can’t miss, as if it were the all champions cup final, on the telly.
Our “national dish” is the “Cazuela”: a kind of broth with legumes and potatoes, served on occasions as an entrée.
Another well known national dish is the “bifé a lo pobre”: a beef steak, accompanied by a mound of potato chips and fried onion, and crowned ….. with two eggs fried in oil.
The “Curanto”, a ritual, a banquet, a culinary delight from the south of Chile (see “Chiloé” Island): An abundant dish based on fish, shellfish, chicken, pig, lamb, beef and potatoes.
The “humitas”: a purée made of corn grains wrapped up with corn leaves and steamed.
The “porotos granados”, prepared with beans, pumpkin, corn and onion.
Before the seventies, a popular saying was “es más chileno que los porotos” (it/he is more chilean than beans).
The “ajiaco”: soup with grilled meat.
The “empanadas”: a sort of “envelope” made with a thin dough, filled with salty fillings and baked or fried. The traditional “empanada de pino” is filled with a mixture of chopped or ground beef, onion, olives, hard-boiled egg and raisins. They are also made with cheese and shellfish fillings.
The “pastel de choclo”: a similar dish to the Hachis Parmentier, but instead of the potatoes it consists of a sort of polenta and its filling is prepared with a variety of meat (beef, chicken) raisins and onion.
The “Caldillo de Congrio”, taste it at a good table and you will understand the devotion Pablo Neruda professed.
Two really excellent native fish:
The “Congrio” (Red cusk-eel) that has nothing to do with the European Conger, and the “Corvina”, a type of croacker.
The “Róbalo” (patagonian blenny) is a fish found throughout the chilean coast. You can also find Hake and Anchovies.
Salmon and Trout are, at present, the most important fish one can find in Chilean rivers.
Shellfish:
There is an abundance of “ostiones” (Scallops), “locos” (a gastropod similar to the abalone ), “erizos” (sea urchins), “langostinos” (prawns), “machas” (a bivalve similar to a clam) “cholgas” (Mussels), “choros” (a kind of giant Mussels), “camarones” (Shrimps) y “ostras” (Oysters).
Some seaweed: “cochayuyo” (Kelp), “luche” (sea lettuce), “ulte” (the stem of kelp).
Bread: the “Marraqueta” and the “Hallulla”, non-leavened bread. On Christmas time it’s usual to find the “Pan de Pascua”, a kind of Christmas cake with crystallised fruit.
The “mote con huesillo” is our favourite soft drink. A refreshing drink, prepared with peeled and cooked wheat (“mote”) and dried peaches (“huesillo”), that can be found everywhere during the summer. It’s better not to buy it on the street.
Chilean wines have an excellent reputation.
An excellent aperitif, that you can’t miss tasting, is the “Pisco Sour”. A cocktail of grape “aguardiente” or “Pisco”, green lemon, egg white and icing sugar, that should be served very cold.

Geographic Location
Chile has borders with Perú towards the north, with Bolivia and Argentine towards the east, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and with the South Pole towards the south.
The Chilean territory is located at the south-west of South America and it extends from Latitude 18ºS to Latitude 56ºS. There is no other country so long and narrow, with an average width of only 180 kms. Its geography is complicated and very diverse. Amidst the north it’s surrounded by the “Atacama” desert – the most arid in the world -; to the west it’s besieged by the Pacific Ocean; to the east it’s enclosed by the Andes Mountain Range, with altitudes around 7.000 mts., and to the south the “Mar de Drake” (Drake Passage) and the Antarctic ice cap.

Area
The continental and insular areas add 756.626 Km² The Antarctic territory on its own adds to 1.250.000 Km², giving a total of 2.006.626 Km²

Population
According to the last census (year 2002), the population adds up to 15.116.435 inhabitants; with a density of 19.3 inhabitants per sq. km. And the average age of the population is 26.5 years.

Language
The official language is Spanish. The descendants of the indigenous people occasionally use their own language: the “Aymara” in the north use the “Quechua”; the “Mapuches”, down south, use the “Mapudungún”; and in Easter Island the “Rapa nui” is very common.

Religion
According to the census, 76.7% of the inhabitants are catholic; 13.25% are protestant; 5.8% are atheist.

Main Cities
Santiago is the Capital and has 5.257.937 inhabitants, “Concepción” (800.000 inhabitants), “Antofagasta” (225.316 inhabitants), “Temuco” (210.587 inhabitants), “Valparaíso” (the country’s most important port, located 120 kms west of “Santiago”) and “Viña del Mar” together (566.992 inhabitants). and “Puerto Montt” (110.139 inhabitants).

Government/Administrative divisions
Chile’s administration is divided in 15 regions and 50 provinces. These are further divided in 341 municipalities. Each region is administered by an “Intendente” appointed by the President. The same is applicable to the “Gobernadores” in charge of the provinces.
The “Alcaldes” and “Consejales” (Mayor and municipal counsellors) are chosen by universal suffrage. The state is separated in three branches: the “ejecutivo”, “legislativo” and “judicial”. The first one is leaded by the President, who is elected by direct vote every four years. The legislative branch is formed by the “Senado”, with 48 members and the “Cámara de Diputados” that holds 120 representatives.

Government Website: http://www.chileangovernment.cl/

Other Information
Gross Domestic Product: $62.793.468,82 (in pesos 2007)
GDP per capita: US$ 8.875 (2006)
illiteracy: 4.3% (2002)
Number of Public Libraries: 299 (year 2000)
Number of Museums: There are about 100 museums, 26 of these are state managed through the “Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Museos” (DIBAM). There is also, important museums managed by universities, foundations, and municipalities.
Number of radio broadcast stations: AM- 172; FM-967 (throughout the country, year 2000)
Number of television broadcast stations: 11(including regional stations)
Number of national newspapers: 25, of these 16 are regional.


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