Chile is a South American country occupying a long strip of land between the Andes in the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. This country of extremes has more than 6,000 km of Pacific Ocean coastline, the Atacama Desert, 1000 year old glaciers, forests, lakes and extraordinary volcanoes. Santiago, its capital, with its air of modernity, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. Even though Chile is internationally known for its excellent red wine, there’s also a strong beer culture too, which is just another great reason to visit.
CHILE TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Valley of the Moon
Valle de la Luna, aka Valley of the Moon, is a valley in Los Flamencos National Reserve, in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chile due to its dramatic, moonlike landscape of rugged mountains and peculiar rock formations. Bike trails lead to the valley from the nearby town of San Pedro de Atacama where you can also take a Moon Valley & Death Valley Tour.
Cajon del Maipo
The snow-capped mountains of Cajon Del Maipo are southeast of Santiago and the perfect weekend city break for Santiaguinos. Visit this dramatic gorge to camp, hike, climb, cycle, raft and ski. It’s home to El Morado Natural Monument, with trails to the San Francisco Glacier and Laguna Morales. There’s also the Baños Morales thermal springs nearby. While here, don’t miss the towns dotted about the Gorge such as San José de Maipo with its adobe houses.
Hike Pumalin Park
One of the largest and most diverse conservation efforts in South America, Pumalín Park lies in Chile’s Palena Province, south of the city of Puerto Montt. The trails of Pumalin Sur are well marked and mostly well maintained so it isn’t necessary to have a guide. There is however, a lot of diverse bird and plant life so if you really want to make the most of your hike a guide is recommended. Opposite the park is the Pumalin Project which is a group of organic farms restored with the help of local people.
Tour El Tatio
El Tatio is a geyser field located in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile at 4,320 meters above sea level. This is the third-largest geyser field in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. El Tatio is ringed by volcanoes and fed by over 80 gurgling geysers and a hundred gassy fumaroles. Rise before dawn and enjoy the show as the sun rises with the craters of El Tatio as the main attraction. The best time to visit these geysers is early morning for the most incredible views.
Stone Moai of Easter Island
Everyone has seen the iconic images of the stone Moai of Easter Island. Besides its remoteness, Easter Island is famous for these massive stone sculptures also known as “Moais”. Using basalt stone picks, the Easter Island Moai were carved from the solidified volcanic ash of Rano Raraku volcano, by the people of Rapa Nui between 1250 and 1500. The largest of these is “El Gigante” located near the Rano Raraku Quarry, which stands 72 feet tall.
Read more: Top 10 incredible things to do in Chile
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CHILE TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Curicó Grape Harvest Festival
The Grape Harvest Festival revolves around wine and is celebrated in the city of Curicó, Chile. During the four days of festivities, visitors enjoy sampling the valley’s finest wines, handicraft exhibits, Creole cuisine, culture, and entertainment for the entire family.
Fiesta de La Tirana
This is an annual festival held in the sleepy town of La Tirana in the Tarapacá Region of northern Chile. Every year in the second week of July, more than 200,000 people gather to celebrate Chile’s most popular festival: The Fiesta de la Tirana in honor of the Virgen del Carmen.
Fiesta de La Virgen de Andacollo
This festival celebrates Chile’s abundant natural resource which is Copper. In their local language Quechua the word “Anda” is called copper and “Coya” is called monarch; therefore Virgen de Andacollo is called the Queen of Copper. The Fiesta de La Virgen de Andacollo is held every year from 24th to 26th December and is as popular with Chilean locals as it is with tourists.
Language: The official language of Chile is Spanish and the variant spoken here is referred to as Chilean Spanish. A very small percentage of the population might speak English but the vast majority of Chileans do not.
Currency: Chilean Peso.
Visa: U.S, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and most residents of the EU traveling to Chile for recreation, tourism, business, or academic conferences do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Chile. A Tourist Card will be issued for a stay of up to 90 days. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Chile is required (which depends on the country you are from) and how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Chile the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Chile, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 and 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Chile: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN CHILE
Some traditional dishes that you must try while in Chile are listed below.
Empanadas: In Chile, the most traditional empanada filling is called “pino,” which is a seasoned mixture of ground beef, onions, raisins and black olives and are topped with hard-boiled eggs.
Humitas: Humitas are the Tamales of Chile! This Native South American dish from pre-Hispanic times is a traditional food in Chile. A mixture of ground corn, onions, basil and ground paprika is stuffed in a corn husk and tied with a thread. These are then cooked to perfection either by boiling or steaming.
Pastel de Choclo: Chilean Pastel de choclo is a beef and corn casserole that is a very traditional and popular dish in Chile. Usually eaten during the summer months in Chile, it is like a version of Shepherd’s pie but with corn pudding on top.
Completos: The completo is a Chilean hot dog that is usually served with ingredients such as chopped tomatoes, avocados, mayonnaise, sauerkraut, Chilean chili, green sauce and cheese. Make sure you’re hungry because the size can be double that of an American hot dog.
Ceviche: Ceviche is a popular dish in Chile and made of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and served with cumin, cilantro, sautéed garlic, and olive oil.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHILE
Chile is a generally very affordable destination to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Chile is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Chile affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Chile will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Chile can cost less than $30.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Santiago, Puente Alto and Antofagasta. Whatever month you choose to visit Chile, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Chile is a very popular destination with backpackers, vacationers and business travelers alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Chile. However, if you are backpacking in Chile or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Chile very affordable and is also a great way to meet new Chile travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHILE
Chile is such a long and geographically diverse country that it is difficult to pin down the best time to visit; The best time to visit Chile depends on the region you are planning to explore. For visitors heading to Patagonia in the south of Chile, October to March are the warmest and most accessible months. However Santiago, the Central Valleys and the Atacama Desert are great year-round destinations but are at their best in the summer when they’re less busy. The seasons in Chile are as follows: Summer (December to February), Autumn (March to May), Winter (June to August) and Spring (September to November).
CHILE TRAVEL BUDGET
Chile is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Chile really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $50 to $80 per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $80 to $150 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least $250 plus per day.
IS CHILE SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Street crime and scams are common in Chile, especially in Santiago, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, Iquique and Calama. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city especially on public transport, public beaches and around festive periods. Take extra care to ensure that food and drink is never left unattended. Based on my own travel experiences in South America I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance and I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your trip to Chile.
CHILE VISA CHECKER
CHILE FLIGHT DEALS
CHILE TOURS & ACTIVITIES
CHILE PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Chile, like most other places in South America, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Chile.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
Packing for a trip to Chile, like most places in South America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season. Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Chile include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.