Chilean peso (CLP)
Chile officially named Republic of Chile, is an interesting country located in South America. Chile is a long and narrow country situated between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. Many people visit Chile every year in order to partake in active tourism, taste its world’s famous wine and visit Pablo Neruda’s legendary home.
Bordered by Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and the Pacific Ocean, is home to fantastic landscapes like moon-like deserts, stunning beaches, magical geysers, impressive salt lakes, gorgeous vineyards, as well as spectacular glaciers and fjords. Chile has it all, including some of the most amazing stretches of white water rivers on the planet. Not to mention the 4,270 kilometres (2,653 mi) of its mountains that stretch along the Andes and Pacific.
This contrasting country is unique in so many ways, we suggest nature enthusiasts get ready for a treat!
WHY WE LOVE
Chile is a warm country filled with welcoming and loving people. The food scene is delicious and well on its way to becoming one of South America’s most prized kitchens. Chile is a safe country that appears to be in its own bubble. What we mean by this is, that because Chile is geographically separated from the rest of South America it has formed its own, distinct, way of life. By having natural barriers all around, Chile has managed to maintain its stunning areas. Nature-lovers, get ready because Chile has some of the continent’s most diverse ecosystems and is an incredibly interesting place to explore. Not to mention that diversity is king there. The long country is home to some of the planet’s most stunning natural places to visit that range from the driest desert on earth to the magnificent glaciers, beaches, lakes, and rivers. This is why it should come of no surprise to find that Chile is one of the leading countries fuelling the renewable energy market as it embraces and works towards providing greener energy sources!
This is a country of variety and wild geography. Chile allows traveller to go from hot deserts, to a world made of ice and snow. The Chilean Patagonia has temperatures like the temperate rain forests of British Columbia and Southern Alaska, most of which remains pristine and untouched.
Its extended land in Patagonia is also the kingdom of the traditional gaucho that you can see on his horse, sipping his mate tea or trying to catch a cow with his lasso…
This South American treasure is home to 5 cultural UNESCO World Heritage sites as well the stunning Andes mountains. Visit Chile if you love unforgettable landscapes and views because it is one of the few places in the world where you always have a view of a mountain and or the sea!
So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip and visit Chile. You deserve incredible wine and a huge playground of a country made up of mountains, sea, fjords, salt lakes, volcanoes, vineyards, deserts, rivers, and the mysterious Easter Island!
“He who does not know the Chilean forests, does not know the planet." - Pablo Neruda
Did you know…?
- Chile is home to the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. Some parts of the region have never received a drop of rain.
- The Atacama Desert features, The Gigante de Atacama (Atacama Giant), the largest prehistoric anthropomorphic figure in the world at 390 feet (119 m) high. This ‘giant’ is supposed to have represented a deity for the indigenous people, from A.D. 1000 to 1400.
- Chile is the longest country in the world from north to south, it’s length is 2,653 miles (4,270 km).
- Chile has over 100 wineries making it the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.
- The famous Easter Island located in Oceania was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. This island is known for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people. The island belongs to Chile and most of it is protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
- King penguins can be found in several areas of southern Chile, including the Seno Otway Penguin Colony near Punta Arenas. Humboldt penguins can also be found in the north coast of Chile.
- Chile is home to five cultural UNESCO world heritage sites which include; the Churches of Chiloé, the Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Rapa Nui National Park, and the Sewell Mining Town.
- Chile is one of the few countries on earth that has a government-supported UFO research organization.
- Chile is commonly referred to as ‘país de poetas’ (country of poets) by locals (famous Chilean poets include Pablo Neruda, Isabel Allende and Gabriela Mistral).
- According to a 2016 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization. Chile, Mexico and Brazil are now among the top 10 renewable energy markets in the world.
Chile Travel guide
When to go
The best time to go to Chile differs and depends on where it is you’d like to go.
Travellers heading to Chile’s Patagonia, should consider going from October to March which are the warmest and most accessible months. Year-round destinations include inland areas like Santiago, the Central Valleys and the Atacama Desert. The winter months, June to August, are popular for skiers looking to ski the mountains surrounding Santiago. Fall in April is favoured amongst wine and foliage lovers for this is when the leaves change colour, a spectacular scene in Chile's winelands. Not to mention that the Vendimias wine festival (from late February to early May) is also underway during April, making this month an appealing time for a visit. Please keep in mind that although many hotels close in Patagonia during late fall and winter (April to August) and visitor numbers diminish, this is also the perfect season for wildlife spotting. If you wish to experience Torres del Paine at its wildest, we suggest you consider visiting during these months.
How to get there/around
Chile is very well connected to the world, it has direct connections between North America, the UK, Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, as well as to its neighbouring countries. Although international flights within South America are somewhat expensive you can purchase them as a part of intercontinental travel, or try to find some bargain round-trip fares between Buenos Aires, Lima and or Santiago.
Once you fly into and visit Chile you can start to get your bearings and familiarize yourself with the local travel options. Your city travel options include; Taxi, Uber, bus. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and or not wait for a taxi or bus we suggest you look into Uber Pool or riding in a colectivo, which are taxis that drive a specific route once (ask a local about this one and where to find them). Keep in mind that both of Chile’s major cities, Santiago and Valparaíso, have commuter rail networks. Santiago's modern metrotren line runs from San Fernando through Rancagua, capital of Región VI, to Estación Central, on the Alameda in Santiago. Valparaíso's rail connects Vi?a del Mar and Valparaíso. Santiago also has a superefficient subway called the ‘metro’ which can get you almost anywhere in the city. If you’re looking for transportation outside of the city your options include, flight, buses, or micros (which are cheaper intercity buses).
Bus service is inexpensive and efficient in Chile, not to mention that night buses are quite comfortable. Due to Chile’s vast distances, chances are you’ll have to take a bus at least once.
Renting a car is also an option. Chile’s roads are well kept (for the most part) and their highways are in good shape as well. Hiring a car is also an option, the only downside to this is that you must pay for insurance, which can cost you a pretty penny.
Don’t forget about the trans-Andean railroad, especially if you’re looking to visit other South American countries.
What to see & do
Hike, trek, climb, and sightsee during your visit to Chile’s Patagonia. Visiting Torres del Paine is a must for all nature lovers. Futaleufú is a frontier town also located in Chile’s Patagonia region. This area is known for its beauty and for the growing adventure tourism which includes; Whitewater, fishing, mountain biking, trekking, horse riding, and canyoning. In contrast to the lush Patagonian surroundings we suggest you also head to the desert. Atacama is one of our favourite places. The Atacama Desert is the driest place in the world and is notorious for its unusual and beautiful landscape filled with sandstone canyons, fantastic salt flats, steamy geysers, and out of this world rock formations.
Valparaiso is also on our list of must-visits. Not only is Valparaiso one of the most successful cities in Chile, it also has a spectacular historical area that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. This city is perfect for wandering, strolling, and getting creative; Valparaiso is where you will find inner poet!
Pucón is another town worth visiting. Located in central Chile's Lake District, this region is known for its snow-capped Villarrica volcano and stunning lake. Like many areas in Chile, Pucón is an adventure tourism hub, recognized for its renowned access to hiking trails, water sports, white-water rafting and kayaking as well as skiing and snowboarding. There are also natural hot springs all around the nearby forested valleys.
If you visit Chile you must also visit at least one vineyard. When in the land of the grapes, one must go where the grapes are!
What to pack
Chile is a long country, meaning it’s climate ranges from very hot to very cold. Temperatures rise to the high 27°C (80s°F) in the southern hemisphere, same applies to Santiago during the summer months (1 December to 28 February). Make sure to pack jeans, t-shirts, breathable clothing, breathable footwear, hiking boots, a cap/hat, sweater, activewear, sandals, sneakers, slacks and a pair of nice dress shoes (in case you’re looking to hit the town for a night). Chileans wear jeans and rarely will you see them wearing shorts, despite the heat. Men tend to wear long jeans or trousers whereas women wear knee length dresses or skirts.
Cities in the southern tip of Chile such as Punta Arenas can get temperatures that fall below freezing during the winter, so make sure to pack accordingly. Pack activewear, beanie or buff, a Long Sleeve Shirt, rain jacket, down hoodie and or jacket, wool socks, boots for hiking and for cold, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, dress shoes, and clothing in case you’d like to go somewhere nice and get dressed up.
Where to go
Some travel insights from our experts about Chile
- Buy wine at the supermarkets, we know it’s less sexy and sounds less appealing than buying it from the vineyards but it is also surprisingly less expensive.
- Not all buses stop, even though they see you waiting at the stop, some need to be flagged down. This is done by sticking your arm straight out.
Do: Bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s home, if your host happens to have children try to get something small for them as well. Flower are customary but make sure not to give yellow, purple, and or black flowers as a gift. It is also considered rude to gift someone scissors, knives, or any sort of cutting utensil. This is said to symbolize the ‘severing of a friendship or relationship.
Do: Make direct eye contact with people when you meet them, or when you are having a conversation.
Do: Wait before being seated, before eating, and before drinking. It is best to sit in your assigned seat whether this be in someone’s home or a restaurant. It is also customary to begin eating only once the host has said so or until everyone’s food has arrived. Make sure to wait until a toast has been completed before drinking.
Do: Keep your hands above the table and visible at all times during a meal.
Do: Use utensils when eating. Don’t eat anything with your hands, not even pizza or crisps/ fries.
Don’t: Haggle. Haggling is uncommon and vendors usually stick to their guns even when called out for price discrimination. If you feel you are being charged an inflated price for being a tourist, it’s best to move on and go to a place where the prices are set and on display.
Don’t: Pour wine with your left hand or grab/pour while holding the neck of the bottle. This is a no no!
Don’t: Address someone by their first name until you are invited to do so. It is customary to address someone by using their title before their last name. If you don’t know either just add, ‘Se?or’ (Mr.) or ‘Se?ora’ (Ms.) to their name, unless you are speaking to a child.
Don’t: Criticize any aspect of Chile, even if your Chilean companions make these kinds of remarks.
Don’t: Be offended if someone calls you ‘gringo’. This term is not considered derogatory.
Cuisine delights (3 best dishes)
Pastel de Choclo is a dish that can be considered a corn casserole with meat stuffing or a corn and meat pie. This layered pie is assembled in a deep dish or a clay paila and begins with a bottom layer of chopped beef at the bottom prepared ‘al pino’ (a thick stew of minced or chopped beef, chopped onions and seasoning). The following layers consists of chicken, olives and a hard-boiled egg. All of this is topped with a mixture of ground fresh corn and basil and then baked in the oven.
Empanadas are probably the most well-known food out of these three. They are widely consumed throughout central and south America as well as in the Caribbean. Chilean empanadas are usually baked and can be filled with meat, cheese or mussels. The most traditional empanada is called ‘de pino’ which references the dough’s filling which is a seasoned mixture of ground beef, onions, raisins and black olives and are topped with hard-boiled eggs.
Cazuela means ‘stewpot’ in Spanish. This seems appropriate considering that this dish consists of a homemade stew made with beef, chicken, corn, rice and potatoes. Cazuela de ave (‘bird’ in Spanish) is a favourite amongst Chileans and is the same thick stew but with chicken instead of beef.
CHATTING CORNER – SURVIVAL GUIDE - Spanish
Chileans use the ‘voseo’ (vos form of second person singular pronoun) and tuteo (using tu) forms for the intimate second person singular. Voseo is common in Chile, and the Usted form is common when used for formal and business interactions; it is also used when referring to someone who is held in high regard.
Chilean Spanish is different than Spanish from other counties. Chileans talk fast and tend to leave some words unfinished and or drop "s" if a word ends in this letter.
- Hello – Hola
- How are you? - ?Cómo estás?
- What is your name? - ?Como te llamas?
- My name is …. – Me llamo __
- Where are you from? - ?De donde eres?
- I am from …. – Yo soy de ___
- How much is it? - ?Cuánto cuesta?
- Where is…? - ?Dónde está…?
- Do you speak English? - ?Hablas inglés?
- Thank you - Gracias
- Please – Por favor
- Beautiful – Bello
- Delicious – Delicioso
- Cheers! – ?Salud!
COMMON NON-VERBAL CHILEAN FORMS OF EXPRESSION
A handshake, hug, pat, another shake
Chilean men can be very affectionate! When one male greets another male friend they first go in for a quick handshake which is immediately followed by a hug (one arm below the other guy’s armpit, and the other arm over his shoulder), followed by three pats on the back using both hands, once they release each other from the embrace both men end the salutation with other quick handshake. This type of greeting usually occurs if the pair hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks and or months.
One hand cupped and covering one’s eye
This gesture means, ‘things did not go well’.
One hand straight up and down, touching your forehead in the middle a time or two (as in an axe splitting your head in half)
Chilean code for ‘I have an awful hangover’
Making a ‘V’ over your mouth and or chin with your thumb and index finger
This gesture insinuates that the person speaking or the person mentioned is a liar or someone who likes to ‘stretch’ the truth.