Fun Facts From Globus Tours
- Chile is the primary wintertime source of fresh grapes to the US and Canada (over 95%)
- There are over 200 volcanoes in Chile of which 50 are active
- Chile is the second largest producer of salmon in the world
- Chile’s coastline is 2,700 miles long though only 110 miles wide
It’s a skinny sliver of land that can be traversed from east to west within the span of an 8-hour work day yet stretches nearly 3,000 miles from top to bottom. An enclave hedged by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountain Range, Chile enjoys perhaps the most unique location in South America. Even more remarkable are the diverse landscapes within this sliver of land – beaches with rocky cliffs, nooks of warm sand, islands and coves, undulating solitary desert, modern city life, glacial fjords, towering mountain terrain, natural hot springs, wine vineyards, and vast ocean. If you visit Chile, you will want to spread out and allow yourself time to see the modern and ancient city of Santiago the serene Colchagua Valley, and the bottom tip of the world in Patagonian territory. Chile is a country of mystery, pride, culture, and adventure. In addition to the scenery, the people, traditions, and flavors of Chile are among some of the most impressive in South America. There is a distinct European influence blended with the indigenous peoples – creating unique opportunities for shopping, music, architecture, and history. But the food and wine here are known to be some of the most colorful and flavorful on the continent. Additionally, its extensive coastline provides seafood unlike any in the world! Going to relax, hike, shop, eat well, sightsee, cruise, and play? Chile might be one of the best spots in South America to do it all.
More towards the center of the country, high-rise modernization contrasts starkly with classic architecture. Beautiful cathedrals, historical sites, vibrant night life, local food variety, and constant movement are found in Santiago, Chile. This remarkable city has become a major hub of economic growth, turning it into one of Latin America’s most modern metropolitan areas. You could easily fill a few days with all of the landmarks, museums, markets, cathedrals, and places to dine. To get a scope of just how vast and incredible Santiago is, maybe take a funicular up the side of the mountain for day or night time views of the city. The main cathedrals to see, some of the most beautiful in all of South America, are the Church of San Francisco and the Cathedral of Santiago in the Plaza de Armas. If you want to get in some authentic shopping while in Chile, this is the place to do it. While there are modern shopping hubs throughout the city, if you want to take something local home with you, check out the Los Dominicos market – that’s the place to find the goods from the heart of Chile. And if you have time, there are wineries just outside the city that showcase some of the most impressive wine in South America.
Santa Cruz and Colchagua Valley
Just south of Santiago is the quaint village of Santa Cruz, featuring beautifully constructed colonial architecture, and the perfect base to explore the world-renowned Colchagua Valley. A tree-lined central plaza located in the heart of the village is lined with the Colchagua Museum, town hall, the grand Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, and a 19th-century white-stucco church. As you leave Santa Cruz and enter Colchagua Valley to the east and west, hausas (Chilean cowboys) can be seen under wide-brimmed, flat-topped chupalla hats at work tending fields. Known as the Napa Valley of Chile, Colchagua Valley is home to Chile’s most highly regarded wineries including Viña Santa Cruz, Casa Lapostolle, and Viña Viu Manet, producing some of the finest varieties of red wine in the world. The valley, which is lined with coastal hills to the west and the Andes on the east, provides cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean and generous sunlight, trapping the daytime heat and creating a Mediterranean climate ideal for agriculture and the cultivation of grapes. Be sure to sample the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Carmenere as you take in the stunning landscape under the warm Chilean sun.
Descend deeper into Chile, down to the Patagonia region, to the “End of the World” – a place where glaciers calve into the ocean, the Strait of Magellan carries you through a water channel between the whole of South America and its trailing tip of land, Cape Horn, where you are gripped by an almost eerie sensation that you may drop off the map, yet rocky and mountainous scenery keep you safely in the clutches of the world. Thousands of islets, rocky cliffs, and endless waters mingle with exceptional wildlife, forested areas, waterfalls, and activity. Horseback riding, kayaking, hiking and visiting local people are some of the most anticipated ways to see Patagonia. As you sail around, you can catch glimpses of penguins, wild horses, and elephant seals. With the Andes Mountains as a backdrop the view of glaciers, dazzling white and electric blue, dominating the cliffs is a spectacle beyond anything in the world. Most of the territory in the Patagonia is a protected wildness area, roughly the size of Britain – but with a population that leaves less than one inhabitant per 2km, you’ll have an overwhelming sensation that it’s you, your friends, and the world alone. Patagonia was discovered over 500 years ago and it is just as spectacular today as it was to the very first explorer.
The remoteness of the Chilean Fjords can be overwhelming so it’s good to get into the cities to hobnob with locals and enjoy some of the traditions of Southern Chile. Some of the highlights here are Punta Arenas, Puerto Varas, and Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales sits slightly inland near the northern tip of Patagonia and serves as the gateway to some of the most incredible scenery in Chile – Torres del Paine National Park. Glaciers sit mightily along the water, snow-capped mountains reflect pristine images in the lakes and strange towering rock formations look like they have been pinched off by a giant hand pulling upward to the sky. Aside from the scenery, pumas, foxes, swans, and guanacos roam freely adding life to the landscape. And just when you think you have seen it all, Puerto Natales offers up a rainforest, unspoiled and mystical in the clouds. Puerto Varas is an unexpected destination in southern Chile – a distinct German influence thrives in the architecture and food while the massive white peaks of Mt. Calbuca and Mt. Tronador watch over the city just beyond the gorgeous Lago Llanquihue. Yet again, another picture of the impressive variety you find in Chile.
And if you love the waters of southern Chile, a flight out to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, will have you surrounded by them. This is the most remote, inhabited island in the world; found deep in the Pacific Ocean, it is home to hundreds of carved statues from volcanic tuff called Moai. It is unclear when the island was originally settled as there was no written history until the missionaries arrived in the 1860s. However, it is believed that the first settlers arrived to a lush tropical paradise between 700 and 1100 AD from Polynesia. Today, the island is a desolate, treeless place whose resources were decimated by overpopulation and obsession with moai building. As you walk around these strange structures, learn of the many theories on the islands’ tumultuous past and why archaeologists think these moais were erected in the first place. Most of them are in different stages of construction and a great many were abandoned when an imperfection was found in the stone. They sit in both neat rows against the skyline and rest at awkward angles against the hills, as if they were plopped randomly from the sky. While you’re there you can check out the paintings in lava tube caves where many of the clans people lived. See Rano Raraku, the quarry where 95% of the moai were carved, Rano Kau Volcano, the ceremonial village of Orongo, and restored Ahu Tongariki where 15 moai stand in a row. Rapa Nui is an open-air museum filled with an unprecedented collection of archeological sites found isolated from the world in its remote location. It is also known for its impressively active ocean – said to be some of the clearest and most exciting waters for diving and a surfer’s dream.
It’s the tip of the world – teeming with craggy mountains, mirrored lakes, glaciers, unique wildlife, friendly locals, arid deserts, vineyards, and modern cities. It covers part of Patagonia, one of the greatest points of intrigue in the world. It is scattered with culture, embraced by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, laden with history, and screaming with adventure. Chile does not allow its size to determine its influence in South America. Though it sits on the bitter edge, it is at the pulsating heart of this great continent and an experience of a lifetime.
VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
A visa for your visit to Chile is not necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to Chile.
All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.
If you are entering Chile at the Santiago International Airport, please note that there is a one-time Reciprocity fee of US$95 for Australian citizens that is additional and must be paid to the immigration official at the airport. Australian passengers will need to pay this fee before going through passport control. Payment is accepted by credit card, cash, or traveler’s check. Price may differ for citizens of other nations. This fee is not collected for US or Canadian citizens.
The country code for Chile is 56. When calling to Chile from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in Chile are 7-9 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 56 ## #### ###
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean peso.
- Banknote denominations: $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000
- Coin denominations: $1, $5, $10, $50, $100, $500
Most retailers tend to round the prices to the nearest 10 pesos. Smaller denominations will come in handy. The US dollar is not widely accepted in Chile.
For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at Globusjourneys.com/Currency.
Credit cards are accepted in Chile, and you should have no problems using them in larger shops and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card. Be prepared to show your passport when making a credit card transaction. Traveler’s checks are extremely difficult to exchange in Chile. Their use is not recommended.
- Mon. – Fri.: 9 am – 2 pm
- Sat. – Sun.: Closed
BUDGETING AND SHOPPING
The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.
- The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US$1.25.
- An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US$7.
- Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US$40.
In open street markets, try not to touch items unless you are interested in purchasing them. If you would like to take photos, please ask permission. Most vendors are happy to have their picture taken with the item you have just purchased. If you are being confronted by vendors, smile, say nothing and then shake your hand low to say no. This Save is polite and they understand. For many people, saying “No” means I want it at a lower price and they will follow you in attempt to bargain.
In many areas of South America, bargaining for purchases is normal. First, ask for a price. Offer an amount slightly below what you wish to pay. It is important to be polite and smile while bargaining. In most cases, bargaining will not save you a lot of money. Keep different value bills folded and separated in different pockets, that way you can pull out the exact money you need, and sometimes this can close the deal. Opening a wallet or purse to pull a roll of bills out can lead to negotiation problems. Always finish the transaction with Thank You and a smile.
For restaurant services, a tip is expected. At some restaurants a service charge, or tip, is already included. If not, a good tip is 10%. For a taxi, round up the fare as tip. If providing a cash tip, it is recommended to give pesos of $10 or higher as $1 and $5 pesos are not considered much in Chile. Tip hotel staff $1,000 pesos for room service or bar service.
ELECTRICITY AND ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Voltage for outlets is 220V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Therefore, you will need a converter for your travels. Adapters will be necessary to adapt your plug into the outlet, but these may not convert the voltage, so both devices are necessary. Chile uses a round, 2- prong plug that looks like:
Chile has a variety of weather ranging from dry desert in the north (the Atacama) to rainy climate in the south. To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Chile.
To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.
Pastel de choclo: corn casserole filled with ground beef, onions, chicken, raisins, hardboiled egg, olives, and topped with sugar and butter. Empanada de pino: a baked pie filled with ground beef, onion, raisins, a piece of boiled egg and a black olive. Empanada de queso: a deep-fried pastry filled with cheese. In restaurants, always ask if they have menus in English, as many establishments will. Drinking Water Bottled water is how many people drink water even at home. Never ask for tap water for many reasons. Ice is rarely used as well.
Bottled water is how many people drink water even at home. Never ask for tap water for many reasons. Ice is rarely used as well.
CUSTOMS AND CULTURE
Greeting and Interaction
- The best way to address people when you do not know their name is to simply use “Señor” (male) or “Señora” (female).
- It’s normal to introduce yourself with a polite greeting of “buenos días/tardes” (good morning/ afternoon or evening).
- Greeting customs in South America also incorporate a lot of personal contact. Women will generally greet other women by kissing once on each cheek, right to left. Men will also kiss women on the cheeks when greeting them, but handshaking is reserved for between two men.
- People here have a tendency to stand relatively close to each other when they are talking. Although you might find that this is perhaps a little too close for your liking, you should just accept
Ladies should always travel with tissue. If public restrooms have toilet paper, it is sometimes rationed. Hand sanitizers are recommended to bring with you as some bathrooms may not have hot water and soap. In some public restrooms you are required to pay a small fee.
FEW WORDS OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
¡Hola! Hi!, ¡Buenos Dias! Good morning!, ¡Buenas Noches! Good evening!, Me llamo _______. My name is _______., ¿Cómo se llama usted? What is your name?, Mucho gusto. Pleased to meet you., ¿Cómo está usted? How are you?, Bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? Fine, thanks. And you?, Mas o menos So-so, ¡Hasta luego! See you later!, Adiós. Good-bye., Por favor. Please., Vivo en ________I live in _____________, (Muchas) gracias. (Muy amable.) (Many) thanks. (Very kind.), De nada. You’re welcome., Lo siento. I’m sorry., ¿Me permite? May I?, Disculpe. Excuse me. (To get someone’s attention.), Con permiso. Excuse me. (For leaving or passing through.), Perdón. Excuse me. (For sneezing, arriving late, etc.), ¡Salud! Gesundheit! (When someone sneezes.) Cheers! (For toasting with drinks.), ¿Me pasa _______ por favor? Could you please pass me _______?, Sí. Yes., No. No., Gracias Thank you, No entiendoI don’t understand, No hablo español I don’t speak Spanish,¿Habla inglés? Do you speak English?, ¿Dónde está el baño? Where is the bathroom?, Está cerca? Is it near?, Está lejos? Is it far?, Siga recto. Go straight ahead., Gire a la derecha. Turn right., Gire a la izquierda. Turn left., Nescito esto. I would like this., Una mesa para dos, por favor. A table for two, please., La carta, por favor. The menu, please., La lista de vinos, por favor. The wine list, please., primer plato appetizers, plato principal main course, postre dessert, Quisiera algo para beber. I would like something to drink., Un vaso de agua, por favor. A glass of water, please., Una Cerveza. Beer, Una Copa de vino tinto/blanco Glass of red/white wine, La cuenta, por favor. The check, please., Incluye la propina? Is the tip included?, Desayuno Breakfast., Comida lunch, Cena dinner, ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy the meal!, ¡Salud! To your health!, Está riquísima! It’s delicious!, Plato. plate, Tenedor. fork, Cuchillo. knife, Cuchara. spoon, Servilleta. napkin, Hielo. ice, Sal. salt, Pimiento. pepper, Azúcar. sugar, Sopa. soup, Ensalada. salad, Pan. bread, Mantequilla. butter, Pollo. Chicken, Carne. Beef, Cerdo. Pork, Quisiera la carne poco cocida. I like my steak rare., Quisiera la carne a medio cocer. I like my steak medium., Quisiera la carne bien cocida. I like my steak well done.
Cero. Zero, Uno. 1, Dos. 2, Tres. 3, Cuatro. 4, Cinco. 5, Seis. 6, Siete. 7, Ocho. 8, Nueve. 9, Diez. 10, Once. 11, Doce. 12, Trece 13, Catorce 14, Quince 15, Dieciseis 16, Diecisiete. 17, Dieciocho. 18, Diecinueve. 19, Veinte. 20, Cien. 100, Mil. 1000.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE COUNTRY INFORMATION
Additional country-specific information for US citizens can be found on the US Government’s website www.travel.state.gov. Here, you can find the most up-to-date information about destination descriptions, passports/visas, safety and security, transportation, travel local laws, alerts/warnings, vaccinations, and more. For citizens of other nations, we recommend you consult your local consulate for travel information, regulations, and requirements.