Chile

Chile stretches 4,300km from the driest desert in the world to massive glacial fields. Filling up the heart are volcanoes, geysers, beaches, lakes, rivers, steppe and countless islands. Chile has managed to maintain a rich, colourful culture not mimicked anywhere else in the Americas. Desolate moonscapes and pink flamingo-filled lagoons fill Chile’s northern deserts, and fertile vineyards dominate the Central Valley. Walk through the untamed rainforests of the Lake District or head down south to the mighty glaciers and peaks of storied Patagonia.

When to Visit

The Lakes District and Torres del Paine are best explored during the summer months from December through March. The Atacama Desert can be enjoyed year-round, with sizzling summer days and frosty cold nights at high altitudes. Easter Island is cooler and quieter outside of summer, but March is an optimum time to explore its attractions.

Highlights

SANTIAGO Santiago basks in one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world. A mighty circle of mountains, from the snow-capped Andes to the east to the smaller coastal range to the west, frame the city.

VALPARAISO Valparaiso is a ramshackle city of multi-coloured mansions and houses balanced precariously on steep hills overlooking a historic port. Valparaiso has a citywide system of elevators that help you get around the city’s hilly and often impassable terrain.

LAKE DISTRICT Chile’s Lake District is famous for its spectacular natural scenery of deep blue mountain lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and ancient forests. One of the most rewarding journeys is crossing the crystalline lakes between Puerto Varas and Bariloche.

EASTER ISLAND One of the most isolated places on earth, Easter Island is famous for its majestic moais, the hundreds of monolithic stone figures that dot the island. Each statue had distinctive features and its own name.

PATAGONIA Patagonia lies tucked away at the southernmost tip of the Americas. The region includes the vastness of the Ice Field and the splendour of mountains like Torres del Paine, Cuernos del Paine and Cerro Castillo.

TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK Torres del Paine is probably the world’s most spectacular national park and a popular hiking destination. The National Park encompasses mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Shopping

Chile is a modern country linked to a wide variety of international markets, providing for a broad and varied assortment of international "modern" goods available in its malls and shops, without forgetting its past or its culture. In most places you will therefore be able to find "artesanias" as well as local markets selling handmade local products, ranging from the world renowned alpaca sweaters and jumpers to beautifully made silver and Lapis Lazuli jewellery all with a destinct Andean style, for very reasonable prices. In contrast to many other places these handmade products are primarily meant for the local market and widely used by the Chileans themselves rather then beeing mass produced "tourist quality" souvenirs and good buys can often be found in the most unlikely places.

Tipping

Tipping is common at restaurants and bars, 10% of the total bill is the usual tip, sometimes tip is included or suggested in the total bill, but it depends entirely if the customer is satisfied with the service granted, and they must say the tipping amount or percentage when paying the bill. Taxi drivers are not tipped although if heavy luggage and good service are given, tips are often given. Performers at traffic lights are tipped low amounts, windshield wipers are not tipped. Hotel room service is not tipped, but cleaning service is left a generous tip when leaving.

Getting around

Travelling in Chile is easy, comfortable and, compared with Europe or North America, inexpensive. Most Chileans travel by bus, and it’s such a reliable, affordable option that you’ll probably do likewise. However, internal flights are handy for covering long distances in a hurry. The country has a good road network, and driving is a quick, relatively stress-free way of getting around. Chile’s rail network has fallen into decline and only limited services are available. South of Puerto Montt, ferry services provide a slow but scenic way of travelling as far as Puerto Natales.

Language

Spanish (official), Mapudungun.

Customs

Chilean etiquette does not differ very much from that of Western societies. Although Chileans are in general less formal than other Latin Americans, they definitively follow certain rules in social gatherings. During formal occasions people shake hands in a restrained way, while good  friends may shake hands and embrace.

Chilean women normally salute acquaintances (both male and female) with one kiss on the right cheek. Chileans commonly use the formal "you" (usted) to address persons, independently of the interlocutor's social status. Also parents-in-law are respectfully addressed with usted and with  don or doña before their Christian name. The informal "you" (tú) is largely used between people who know each other very well and among youngsters, but it is avoided when one speaks to an elder. Chileans are generally quite punctual for their business appointments.

When invited into a home for dinner, however, it is expected that the guest will not show up before some twenty minutes after the agreed time. Chileans are quite restrained in public spaces and restaurants and it is particularly bad form to talk too loudly. Waiters are called "señor" and are addressed in formal "you" form. It is also considered imprudent to talk about the authoritarian past, Pinochet, the armed forces, and the like in social gatherings, as Chileans are quite divided on these sensitive subjects.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Chile. Vaccination against Hepatitis B should be considered by frequent or long stay travellers. Vaccination against Typhoid should be considered particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene. Cholera is reported in Chile, but immunisation is usually not recommended. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important than vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Chile should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug: European Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem Plug: USA Special Tip: Some areas of Chile also use the three pinned Italian plug socket, but this is very uncommon. Source: Korjo Travel Products. Please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au for further information on this matter.

Communications

Country Code for Chile: +56 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: Ambulance - 131 Fire - 132 Police - 133 These services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Spanish speaker to call the emergency services.

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