Planning Your Trip to Chile

What’s the best time to travel to Chile?

This depends entirely on what region(s) you would like to focus on. The summer season is November through March. During these months Central Chile will be hot and dry, in Patagonia temperatures will be mild and comfortable with less precipitation than other times of year. Traditionally, the best time to travel to Patagonia is considered to be November through March.

During the winter months (May-September) Central Chile is still very nice to visit, as its Mediterranean climate makes it quite mild. Northern Patagonia is quite rainy and Southern Patagonia is cold and could have snow, although during these times there are very few visitors and deals are available, so if you don’t mind the cold it’s a great time to visit.

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

Upon arrival you will be granted a 90-day tourist visa. There is no reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens traveling to Chile. Regarding visas, there are no other pre-departure actions needed other than ensuring your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond the dates of travel.

Is it safe to travel in Chile?

Chile is considered a very safe country. Most statistics reflect that there is less violent crime in Chile than in many U.S. and European cities, however petty crime and, on occasion, more serious crimes do occur. It is best not to be out alone at night and to stay in populated well-lit areas. Keep a close eye on your personal belongings. Do not to use loosely hanging bags or purses, and we encourage women to use purses that zip.

Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information.

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. 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) to show immunization history. Ultimately it is a good idea to visit a travel clinic 4-8 weeks prior to any international travel.

How far in advance should I book?

You can book at any time. Generally the earlier the better as, during the warmer weather season especially, some of our favorite hotels fill up and regional airfare costs increase. We recommend trying to have your trip booked at least two months out, however we have arranged trips leaving in less than a week. If you’re a last-minute traveler to Chile and especially Patagonia during the high season you may need to be flexible about accommodation choices.

It is worth noting that airlines in Chile require a passport number to book flights so it is important you have a valid passport when booking.

What type of vehicles are used?

Unless otherwise noted, you will travel in a clean, comfortable newer private vans or vehicles for smaller groups.

What kind of planes are used for internal flights?

Almost all flights within Chile are on mid-sized jets such as 727s with a capacity of around 100 people.

Is trip insurance included and should I purchase trip insurance?

Trip insurance is not included in your trip cost. Knowmad highly encourages purchasing insurance as the unforeseeable is just that, unforeseeable. Shortly registering for your trip your Trip Specialist will send you a link to a pre-built policy for Travel Guard Gold that corresponds with your trip, trip cost including estimated international and regional air, and your age. Simply click the orange ‘Review My Policy’ link, review the coverage, and enter payment info to purchase.

What’s the best way to get money and pay for things while in Chile?

For many people, the most economical way to get money while traveling in Chile is to use local ATMs. They distribute local Chilean pesos, use the most current exchange rate, and don’t charge a percentage. However the ATM will charge an international ATM fee (usually $5 USD or under), but many banks have programs where they will refund the charges. Bring two cash cards if you can. Credit cards are often accepted at nice restaurants and shops. Cabs and markets may accept U.S. dollars, but we recommend only having greenbacks as backup funds.

It is best to bring at least a hundred U.S. dollars in newer condition. You can also order local currency, the Chilean Peso, from your bank for a fee.

Do I need a converter/adapter for my camera and other electronics in Chile?

To charge things in Chile you’ll need a plug adapter (Chile’s plugs are two pronged, wider set and have round prongs) to make the appliance fit the socket. A converter is also a good idea to convert the voltage to 220 volts. Many higher-end electronics like cameras and phone chargers will accept 220 volts without damage, while cheaper hairdryers and curlers of 110 volts will likely fry without a converter. If you can, bring extra batteries and avoid having to charge things.

Can I drink the water in Chile?

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 to those not accustomed to it. So we recommend you stick to bottled water for drinking.

What time zone is Chile in?

Chile is four hours behind GMT most of the year They do not observe daylight-savings time so during April through October Chile is on CST. During the US Daylight Savings time (~April- October), Chile is on the same time as EST. From mid-December to late-March, they have their own daylight savings time in Chile, 3 hours behind GMT. Easter Island is two hours behind Santiago.

Can I use my U.S. or European cell phone while traveling in Chile?

Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information, although we recommend leaving the phone at home if possible.

What is the best way to communicate with people back home while in Chile?

Email is the cheapest and fastest way to communicate while traveling in Chile. Most hotels will have public computers with access to email, and most towns also have internet cafes you may use for a small fee. If you wish to communicate by phone and your cell phone will not work, our guides can offer assistance to travelers wishing to purchase a pre-paid international phone card.

How much should I budget for a Chile trip beyond the tour fee and international airfare?

There is no clear answer for this as it all comes down to your own habits and choices, but here are some general guidelines:

Meals/beverages not included in trip price $20 – $25 USD per day
Tips, depending on activities and length of trip $40 – $150 USD

How much should I tip while on my trip?

The recommendation for private guides is between $10-20 USD per full day of guiding per person and $3-5 USD for private drivers per full day per person. This is simply a guideline and it is Knowmad’s hope that you use it only as a framework and tip appropriate to the level of service you feel you received. Tipping in South America is seen as a bonus: 10% in restaurants reflects very good service; spare change or small sums are customary for cab drivers and porters.

Beyond open eyes, mind and your sense of adventure it’s entirely up to you, but here are some guidelines to help. Chile is generally a casual country. Weather varies dramatically from region to region and can change quickly in many places; so layerable, versatile clothes are a plus. Shorts are not as common in Chile, however they are acceptable in most settings. Below you’ll find the weather outlined from region to region, and before you depart we’ll send you a detailed, location specific, pack list in your trip information packet.

What to pack for Patagonia trips? What’s the weather like in Patagonia?

The dry summer season is November through March, but it can rain any time of year and can also get windy. Layerable, non-cotton clothing designed for hiking and athletics with a rain shell is the recommended outfit for a day in the Patagonia. Daytime temperatures during this season are typically in the 50s and 60s  F (10-16 C). Northern Patagonia is similar to Southern Patagonia but a bit warmer and wetter. If visiting Patagonia, a rain layer is an especially good idea.

What should I pack for central Chile travel and what’s the weather like?

Central Chile has a Mediterranean climate similar to the middle parts of California, however the seasons are opposite those in North America and Europe. Expect daytime temps between 70-90 F (21-32 C) between November and March, and between 45-65 F (7-18 C) other times in the year factoring in coastal breezes if in Valparaiso, Vina del Mar or Casablanca Valley.

Packing for Easter Island

A marine subtropical climate, temps in winter (Jun-Aug) range between 60 and 75 F (16-24 C), and hover in the mid-80s (29 C) the rest of the year. A persistent light breeze makes it very comfortable. It can downpour quickly and briefly anytime of year. A swimsuit, rain layer, layerable clothing and comfortable shoes are important items.

What’s the weather like and what should I pack for the Atacama Desert and Northern Chile?

Although the weather is hot throughout the north like most desert regions, San Pedro de Atacama and some other popular destinations are at extremely high elevations. Temps fluctuate greatly and mornings and evenings can be decidedly cool, therefore plenty of layers is once again the rule of thumb, and don’t forget your sunscreen.

What to pack for kayaking trips in Chile?

Wetsuits and required gear will be provided as well as a dry bag for your camera and any day items like sunscreen and glasses. We recommend using shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and layerable synthetic clothing,

What should I pack for biking in Chile?

Helmet and gloves are supplied. We recommend tighter fitting pants or shorts for the bottom half, a warmer layer like a fleece or raincoat in case, sunglasses, sunscreen and camera.

What to pack for horseback expeditions to the Cochamo Valley?

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

What shoes and footwear should I use for hiking in Patagonia and other Chile trips?

For hiking intensive itineraries hiking boots are fine, however not a necessity. Comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support are sufficient for most people and are less bulky, therefor we recommend them for most itineraries. A change of shoes intended for leisure activities is recommended.

Other helpful items (these depend on your specific itinerary but are items you should consider):

  • Passport and photocopies of passport
  • Vaccination certificate
  • Health insurance card
  • International airline tickets (regional flights purchased by Knowmad are e-tickets which you will not receive physical tickets for)
  • Credit cards
  • Cash (at least $100 in newer condition, varying bills)
  • Book, journal, and pen
  • Hat for sun
  • Hat for warmth
  • Swimsuit
  • Hiking/tennis shoes
  • Large plastic bag (for dirty shoes)
  • Day pack
  • Headlamp (useful for some trips)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Basic first aid kit (Neosporin, band-aids, Imodium, aspirin, etc.)
  • Toiletries in small bottles
  • Necessary medications
  • Watch/battery operated alarm
  • Camera; extra batteries and memory cards
  • Guidebook such as Frommer’s, Fodor’s or Lonely Planet

Knowing a lot about a country before you travel there can enrich your travels and help you meet and relate to more local people. To learn more about the country we recommend consulting guidebooks such as Frommer’s, which has sections on history, politics, etc. In addition to our own, there are many websites as well with information on Chile.

Suggested reading for traveling to Chile

  • THE MYSTERY OF EASTER ISLAND by Katherine Routledge
  • VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE by Charles Darwin
  • TRAVELS IN A THIN COUNTRY Sara Wheeler
  • MY INVENTED COUNTRY by Isabel Allende
  • MOTORCYCLE DIARIES by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Easy and helpful Spanish phrases for your trip to Chile

GENERAL

  • Buenos Dias (bway-nos dee-ahs) – Good morning, Good day
  • Buenas Tardes (bway-nahs tar-dehs) – Good afternoon
  • Buenas Noches (bway-nehs no-chehs) – Good evening
  • por favor (por fah-vohr) – Please
  • gracias (grahs-see-ahs) – Thanks
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta esta? How much does this cost?

AT THE TABLE

  • la carta (Kahr-ta) – the menu
  • un vaso (VAH-soh) – glass
  • un tenedor (teh-neh-DOHR) – fork
  • un cuchillo (koo CHEE yoh) – knife
  • una servilleta (sehr-vee-YEH-tah) – napkin
  • una chuchara (koo-CHAH-rah) – spoon

BEVERAGES

  • cerveza (cehr – veh-seh) – beer
  • vino (VEE-no) – wine
  • bebida (beh-bee-dah) – drink
  • agua (aug-gwa) – water
  • café (kah-FEH) – coffee

FOOD

  • queso (KAY-so) – cheese
  • pescado y marisco (pehs-KAH-doh ee mah-REES-kohs) – fish and seafood
  • pollo (POH-yoh) – chicken
  • carne (KAHR-neh) – meat

Did You Find What You're Looking For?

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.