1. When is the best time to go to Chile?
Travelers should be prepared for unpredictable weather at any time of year. Most travelers consider the summer months, December to February, to be the best time to visit southern Chile as these months boast the warmest temperatures. However, winds are also the strongest during these months. The shoulder season, October/November and March/April, typically has slightly lower temperatures, but also less wind and fewer travelers so this can also be a good time to visit. Travelers do not generally visit southern Chile during the winter months of May-September as most trails are closed and waterways are iced over. Travelers visiting northern Chile, such as the Atacama Desert or Easter Island, can travel year round.
2. What are the accommodations like?
In Chile, we have selected a variety of charming accommodations ranging from remote hiking lodges to comfortable city hotels with all of the modern conveniences. In general, we use small, family-run accommodations that are locally owned and characteristic of each area instead of luxury chain resorts. For more information, check out our Chile lodging
3. Are meals included?
Most meals are included on our Chile excursions as you will often be traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. On the few afternoons/ evenings when you are in a larger city with a variety of restaurants to choose from, meals are not included. Your hotel staff can recommend some great restaurant options and will also provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
4. What are the tour leaders like?
All of our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and Spanish. They are from the local areas where they guide and are among the very best guides available in each region. Our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
5. What type of transportation is used?
Our Chile tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans, comfortable tourist buses, ferries, flights, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
6. What type of food is typical of Chile?
Chile's cuisine is as varied as its climate including seafood, beef, fresh fruits and vegetables, tamales, empanadas, sandwiches, and casseroles. With its long coastline, Chile's seafood is among the world's best. Fish is often fried but will be steamed or grilled upon request. Ethnic foods are also becoming increasingly popular, especially in Santiago.
7. What types of planes are used for internal flights?
Most internal flights use 727s or similar size jet planes with a capacity of 80-120 passengers.
8. What is the climate like?
Chile has a land mass smaller than any other South American republic except Ecuador, but its long coastline allows it to host every imaginable climatic zone. In the north is one of the driest deserts in the world - some parts have never recorded even trace amounts of precipitation! Moving south you'll encounter an agricultural valley the size of California, and then a province of mountain lakes and volcanoes - the famous Lake District. Further south are the wilds of Patagonia, a landscape of fjords, islands, glaciers.
In the Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego areas, the weather year-round is highly unpredictable. Temperatures in summer, December - February, average 52°F (11°C). Dampness and wind chill can make it feel cooler so be prepared by having a number of layers and good waterproof gear with you. In the shoulder season months - November and March - you are likely to find the winds not as strong as they are during the peak of summer. For more weather information in other regions, check out Chile Weather
9. Are these trips suitable for kids?
Yes and no. Many of our Chile tours including the Mare Australis cruise, Easter Island, and Atacama Desert are great choices for families with school-aged children who have an interest in nature, history, and culture. Our more adventurous multi-day treks and whitewater rafting tours are recommended only for kids age 12 and above. Our Family Travel Page
has some helpful hints for making the most of your family vacation. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential! To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families- please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
10. What is the typical age range for these tours?
Our Chile tours tend to attract all ages. The more adventurous whitewater rafting and trekking tours tend to attract a slightly younger group (mostly 20s-40s), while our sightseeing tours attract a slightly older group (40s-70s). However, no one should feel limited by these standard trends. We've had active 75 year old travelers do great on our trekking trips and 20-30 year olds who love our sightseeing tours. Expect a wide range of ages and ask your trip coordinator if you are curious about the demographics for a particular departure.
11. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
, some are. Although solo travelers are welcome on any of our tours, some of our Chile trips do not have scheduled departures. These tours tend to attract couples and families so single travelers may feel out of place. Our Futaleufu Wild Whitewater, and Pure Patagonia tours are great choices for solo travelers - attracting varied groups and offering reasonable single traveler rates. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
12. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.
13. How can I arrange internal flights?
LANChile can arrange the internal flights that you will need. You can book these flights directly on their web-site at: www.lan.com
. If you are arriving into South America with LAN, you may want to take advantage of The Visit South America Airpass, valid for travel within Chile. Travelers can purchase coupons good for one flight each (one way) for approximately $90 per coupon ($269 per coupon for Easter Island). Or as with your international flights, we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in South America flights.
14. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. Taxis are usually less expensive, though some travelers prefer the convenience of having someone waiting for them at the airport when they arrive, especially after an exhausting flight. Please let us know your preference!
15. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary in Latin America to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, though some travelers report that ~$2-$10/ day for your guide and ~$1-$3/ day for your driver is common. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
16. Are there any discounts available?
Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
17. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Chile tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Mare Australis cruises (especially holiday departures) often fill up 6 months in advance or more. We recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that you book your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. That said, we are often able to accommodate last minute travelers (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice tour may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can recommend some other similar options that would be equally interesting. Many lodges will not hold spaces less than 30 days before departure so for last minute bookings, you may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces.
18. Are tour dates flexible?
YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed on-line. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as lodges/ hotels are available.
19. Can I extend or change my stay?
Check out our Chile Extensions
for ideas. Extra days can also be arranged in Santiago, Easter Island, or other areas if desired. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
20. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list specific to your tour after you book. A water/windproof jacket, fleece, and sun protection are recommended for all Chile tours. Patagonia experiences an amazing variety of climates; snow and wet weather are common. Fast-drying clothes that can be layered work best for these areas.
21. How safe is Chile?
According to the US State Department, the potential for terrorism is relatively low in Chile as is the rate of crime against travelers. That said visitors should take the same security precautions that they would in any major city in the world. Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information at: travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html
22. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is safe to drink in most parts of the country. To be sure, ask your tour leader or the hotel/ restaurant staff. Bottled water is readily available as well if desired.
23. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
Many restaurants, markets, and other service providers readily accept US dollars and these are easier to exchange than other foreign currencies or traveler's checks. The local currency is the peso. Check out a Currency Converter like, www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
, for the latest exchange rates.
24. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Most travelers bring a small amount of US cash with them and withdraw from ATMs as they need it along they way. ATMs are readily available in the larger towns and cities. Travelers can withdraw US dollars or local currency at fair exchange rates. Traveler's checks are fine, but they can be more difficult to exchange and you will usually receive a poorer rate or be charged an additional fee. Credit cards are accepted only in the larger restaurants and stores. Although it is helpful to bring a credit card along for emergencies, don't count on using it for most purchases.
25. Can I use my cell phone?
Check with your cell phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information.
26. Do I need a visa/passport?
Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Citizens from Canada, Australia, and most Western European countries do not need a visa, but a visa reciprocity fee is required, payable in U.S. Dollars or by credit card. This fee is due upon arrival to the international airport in Santiago, Chile:
Travelers from other nationalities should check with the Chilean Embassy for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
27. What immunizations are recommended/ required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Chile. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site at www.cdc.gov
28. What time zone is Chile?
Talk about confusing! Chile is four hours behind GMT most of the year. 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.
29. Do I need a converter/ adapter for the electricity?
Chile uses 220 volt, 50 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are typically the two round prong type found in the US.
30. Is travel insurance recommended?
We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.