land of great geographic and cultural diversity, Chile offers its visitors
the opportunity to see the beauty of nature expressed in a variety of
awe-inspiring forms. From the arid Atacama Desert bordered by the eternally
snow-capped Andes to the lush deciduous forests of the lake region and
the massive glaciers of Patagonia, breathtaking panoramas abound. The
friendly natives of this impressive country whether from the bustling
metropolis of Santiago or from the tranquil environment of Easter Island
are eagerly waiting to share with you the many treasures their country
has to offer.
your trip more enjoyable, we offer the following traveling tips.
The seasons in Chile are the exact reverse of those we have in the
United States, i.e. our winter coincides with Chile's summer. One important
exception to this rule, however, is in the Chilean highlands or "Altiplano"
located in the Northern Atacama Desert region. The coldest weather or
winter in this area occurs between December and March with the rest of
the seasons following the same pattern as in the U.S.
A valid passport and a $61 reciprocity fee is required for U.S. citizens.
Others should contact the Chilean consulate for document requirements.
The reciprocity fee must be paid in CASH (no exceptions)
& Exchange Rates
The currency of Chile is the Peso although U.S. Dollars are accepted as
payment in most shops in major cities and in some restaurants. Two exchange
rates exist in Chile, the official and the parallel, with the latter being
about 10% higher than the first. Banks and hotels will exchange Pesos
for dollars at the official rate while some travel agencies and exchange
houses pay the parallel rate. Ask the local tour guide for the current
rates upon arrival in Santiago. All credit card purchases will be charged
at the official rate of exchange, and the rate of exchange for traveler's
checks is generally slightly lower than that for actual currency.
Medications for stomach upset, colds, etc. are readily available but the
traveler may want to bring their own from home.
The current in Chile is 220 volts and the electrical outlets require a
connector with 2 small round prongs. Although some major hotels also have
outlets with 110 volts and others have adapters for use, we find it much
more convenient to bring our own.
We suggest that while touring or shopping you leave your passport and
the bulk of your money in the hotel safe; only take with you the money
you intend to spend or exchange at that particular time. It is also helpful
to take a copy of the picture page of your passport to carry in your wallet
because it is sometimes needed to exchange traveler's checks. This copy
can also be useful in the event your passport is lost or stolen.
Climate and Clothing
The climatic variations from region to region are considerable and will
be discussed as four areas - the Northern, Central and Southern regions
and Easter Island. Please refer to the suggestions for the areas in which
you intend to travel.
Chile - The Atacama Desert
As a general rule days are warm to hot throughout the year. Nights are
mild in the summer and cold in the winter. Cool to cold temperatures should
be expected at higher elevations such as El Tatio at 13,950 feet throughout
the year both during the day and at night. Although the Northern region
of Chile is predominantly characterized as having a desert climate, some
areas receive occasional rains and can be cloudy during the winter months
(December to March).
Casual clothes are appropriate for both day and evening attire. Dress
in layers for tours to higher elevations; you will need a sweater and
windbreaker in the summer and a heavier jacket in the winter. Important
items to take along throughout the year are a bathing suit, shorts, sunglasses,
suntan lotion, sunscreen, lip protection (for sun and wind) and a hat
with a rim or visor.
Chile - Santiago, Viña Del Mar, Ski Areas
The most important tourist centers of Central Chile are Santiago, the
nearby ski areas of Farrellones, Colorado, Valle Nevado and Portillo,
and the seaside resort of Viña del Mar. While Santiago and the
ski areas experience all four seasons with temperatures and rainfall amounts
fluctuating in accordance with the time of year, Viña del Mar boasts
a year round Mediterranean climate. In Viña del Mar, the average
winter temperature is 59F while the average in the summer is 68F. Day
and night temperatures generally vary by about 10 degrees. November through
April are the dry months; May through October there is a chance of rain.
In Santiago and in the ski areas it rains or snows (higher elevations)
periodically in the fall and winter (March through September). Summers
are hot and dry, 80 to 85F by day, with milder evenings.
Casual clothes, jeans or slacks, are appropriate for sightseeing in and
around Santiago by day. Dinner attire is appropriate for evenings. Sweaters
and jackets are necessary in the winter months and a small umbrella will
also come in handy. Daytime dress is less formal in Viña del Mar
especially in the summer months, but some nightspots such as the casino
require men to wear dinner jackets. Ski clothes, sweaters and jeans are
appropriate for the ski areas. We also suggest a bathing suit for trips
to Viña or a dip in one of many thermal springs.
Chile - Puerto Montt, The Lake District, Patagonia
The lush forests of the lake districts owe their existence in part to
the abundance of rain and humidity associated with the area. The less
rainy months are January through March. Winters are cool to cold with
average temperature of 52F. Summers days are very pleasant but nights
can be cool. Winters in Patagonia are cold with very strong winds. Summers
are mild with an average temperature of 60 - 65F during days, which offer
20 hours of sunshine.
Dress is casual by day and only slightly more formal in the evenings.
Sweaters and a warm, rainproof jacket are essentials. Determine jacket
weight by season and the distance to be traveled to the South. Dress in
layers as temperatures vary throughout the day. Other important items
include a small umbrella, sunglasses, and sneakers or hiking boots, heavy
socks, sunscreen, lip protection and a bathing suit for relaxing in thermal
Easter Island has a subtropical climate with the lowest temperatures occurring
in July and August when the average is about 65F. February is the hottest
month, and the average is 85F. It rains throughout the year with the largest
concentration of rainfall occurring in May. May through August is the
windy season, and the winds can make the relatively mild temperatures
feel quite chilly.
For your visit to the island, dress casually and pack lightly (there is
a baggage allowance of only 44 lbs per person for travel between the mainland
and the island). You can store the bulk of your luggage in your hotel
in Santiago and take only the things you need in a small suitcase or overnight
bag. Important items not to forget are suntan lotion and lip protection,
camera and lots of film, bathing suit, a light raincoat or rain proof
jacket, shorts, a couple of sweatshirts and light cotton shirts, and a
sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers for hiking around the island.
Special note: Roads and trails get muddy when it rains, so take an old
pair of sneakers and leave your good ones in Santiago.
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