Chile is the long skinny country on the west coast of South America. This wine filled place is home to the driest place on earth, one of the worlds largest swimming pools, lakes, penguins, some awesome street art and is perfect for a motorhome road trip. Chile has many options to keep the adventurous couple, arty couple, beachy couple, and city couple amused. To prove my point here are a handful of places that make perfect couple destinations in Chile.
Chile was a country that really took me by surprise, and I am often asked why? I am not sure what I expected Chile to be like but at the same time, I feel like my expectations were blown out of the water when I visited. Therefore check out this extensive Chile travel guide to witness such a diverse variety of culture, landscapes and wildlife. From north to south it spans a whopping 4,270 km meaning that it is home to one of the driest desert regions in the world as well as glaciers and mountain ranges that look like they’ve just jumped off a polygraph test, meaning Chile has something for everyone. In no particular order, here are 8 reasons to add Chile to your bucket list explaining why we feel you need to get Chile right now.
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Glaciers, Waterfalls, Hummingbirds and Enchanted Forests
Queulat National Park is a small national park located right on the Carretera Austral in Southern Chile; though fairly small in size, it packs a lot of punch. Just a 300m hike will bring you to the Ventisquero Colgante (Hanging Glacier) or, if you prefer, get lost amongst hundreds of hummingbirds in the Enchanted Forest.
Torres Del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine truly is the tourist trap of Chile; located in the Patagonia region (a huge area spanning over one million kilometres in southern Chile and Argentina), it is easy to see how why thousands of people flock to here and in particularly, to this particular national park. There are two main routes that are chosen to explore Torres Del Paine and that is the W Trek (4-5) days and the O Trek (7-10 days). Others also include day hikes such as the French Valley Hike. After a long slog in the mercy of the Chilean wild, nothing quite beats getting up to Las Torres in time for sunrise on your final day to witness the rocks turn a fiery red. P.S; this means we recommend hiking west to east.
Needing more information? Check out this comprehensive guide on Torres Del Paine W Trek.
You Can Hike an Active Volcano
No joke, hike an active volcano! Situated in the small and cosy town of Pucon in the heart of the Los Lagos region of Chile lies the Villarrica Volcano. Prepare for rocks, snow, crampons and ice picks as you ascend your way to the lava filled summit. The journey back down is just as unforgettable; get ready to literally slide down the mountain on a plastic seat through trails dug out in the snow. Cool Runnings anyone?
Chile has its own version of Yosemite
Those who have visited the natural wonder that is Yosemite in Northern California know that it is a maze of towering granite peaks, 1000ft waterfalls and a sanctuary for wildlife. Cochamo Valley is located in the Los Lagos region of Chile close to the Argentinian border and is literally the Yosemite of Chile. The valley, which was once a popular drug smuggling route between Argentina and Chile is home to colourful granite cliffs and lush green forest. It is the perfect place for rock climbers, though there are some pretty awesome hikes there too; think mud, scrambling and hoisting yourself up questionable looking ropes as you ascend to the peak of Cerro Arco Iris.
You can see the closest place on earth to the stars
Not only is the Atacama desert the driest in the world, it is also the closest place on Earth to the stars. The lack of light pollution and its geographical position contribute to making this place one of the best stargazing spots in the world. It is also home to the European Southern Observatory who were responsible for the recent discovery of the TRAPPIST-1f system. Though it’s a few hundred kilometres from San Pedro which is where you will do most of your stargazing.
For those who will travel Chile on a budget, empanadas will be your life. Although, even if you’re not on a budget you need to have these delicious little treats in your life. Empanadas are pastries filled with a variety of different flavours; common options include Napolitana (Ham, Cheese and Tomato), Carne (usually ground red meat) and Pollo (Chicken). Unlucky for us we had our best empanada on Easter Island, which was the first stop on our Chilean adventure, every single one we tried after that just wasn’t the same. But they were still pretty tasty and I definitely gained a few lbs.
El Tatio Geysers
Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve been lucky enough to marvel in the likes of Yellowstone National Park, then the El Tatio Geysers may not be the best geyser field that you will have experienced. However, there is something quite majestic about watching the steam rise from the world’s highest geyser field at sunrise. If you want to avoid the crowds though, head there in the height of the day. You will have the place to yourself and get to swim around a delightfully hot spring with this as your backdrop.
Those famous heads of Easter Island. Though this 24.6 x 12.3 km (at their largest points) blip in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a 5 hour flight from Santiago, it is Chilean owned. Home to the indigenous Rapa Nui people, no one truly knows the reason for these building these fascinating statues that circle the island. Or the reason why many of them have been destroyed. The Rapa Nui people pass on their history/knowledge through storytelling and due to many of the population being killed or taken as slaves back in the 19th century, the stories behind the Moai have got lost in translation. At the quarry, it looks like they left work one day for lunch and never came back. Common theories include that they were there to protect the island, they represented powerful people, they were knocked down by a huge tsunami and that they were pulled down by the Rapa Nui themselves due to conflicts between different tribes. Flights to Easter Island will set you back around $300-400 with Latam, but it is definitely worth it. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
About Lady And The Tramper
Sally and Jay are the travel bloggers behind Lady And The Tramper and have been on the road since November 2013. Working and traveling around the world, they want to inspire others to do the same and experience the world through adventure, hiking and the great outdoors! You will likely find them pitching a tent out in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest.
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Everybody loves a good motorhome, campervan or RV road trip! So why not do a Motorhome Chile road trip? Being Australian we have road tripped Australia and New Zealand without any hassles and loved it. We can happily say it is our favourite way to travel. So when the opportunity came up with Andes Campers to camper travel Chile we jumped at it.
For those who don’t know Chile is a long and is skinny country perfect for a good old road trip. Basically, you can only head north or south because to the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Andes Mountains and the border with Argentina. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to get lost in Chile, but hey we still managed. Stay tuned for that story. So what do you need to know before you embark on your camping motorhome Chile trip and of course what is there to do?
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Interested in other ROAD TRIPS around the world? CHECK OUT:
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– UK Road Trip Tips
– AUSTRALIA – Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip with Great Ocean Road Itinerary
– Comparing the Best Motorhome & Campervan Hire – NEW ZEALAND
– Review of a Maui Campervan – NEW ZEALAND
– Kiwi Campers & Happy Campers NEW ZEALAND
Basically a non-existent way to travel, be prepared for this!
There is so much freedom when you campervan, motorhome or RV Chile because next to no one does it! You can park where ever you like and dispose of black and grey water where ever that may be, which is entirely opposite to New Zealand who has strict laws on campervan waste disposal. Obviously, you need to use some common sense of where to dispose of your waste, but that isn’t the infrastructure like other countries. Therefore, somewhere where the environment is not harmed is crucial.
Caravan and RV parks are also basically non-existent in Chile. Campers will often notice camping signs however these places are often only for people properly camping with a tent. The other option is if you want to pay ridiculous amounts of money to stay in a cabana, also known as a cabin to the Aussies at home, you can.
We did, however, find a couple of places that allowed campervans around various destinations in Chile. They again didn’t have all the infrastructure for campervans, such as power and waste disposal drops but they worked with us to make our stay comfortable. The Pucon Kayak Hostel even ran an extension cord for us so we could, in fact, have power and I must admit it was nice to charge our electronics. Also, the use of a big shower, unlike the small one in the van was a nice luxury.
Get a Campervan With a Toilet and Shower (preferably a 4×4).
Due to the lack of infrastructure within the country of Chile having your own toilet and shower can give you peace of mind and freedom. We have been able to park on and near beaches, in National Parks and around lakes without the worry of needing toilets.
The Wild Camper (a VW Amarok motorhome), from Andes Campers Chile, was perfect as our campervan Chile rental. A near new VW Amarok 4×4 gave us peace of mind on dirt roads, and there can be a lot of them. Even Google maps couldn’t help us sometimes. Roads that looked like major roads and should be bitumen had long sections of dirt. However, we never felt unsafe in the VW Amarok, Wild Camper it tackled the dirt roads that well my partner Jarrad, now wants one.
Within the tray camper was all the facilities we needed. A toilet, shower, fridge, stove, oven, solar panel, table, bed (obviously) and even a heater. We had everything we needed to be off the grid for 18 days.
Please note that petrol stations and truck stops along the major highways quite often will have toilets and showers in case you decide against having a camper with those facilities.
Ruta 5, the Pan-American Highway
The Pan-American Highway runs from Alaska through to the bottom of Argentina with a large portion of the highway travelling through Chile, known as the Ruta 5. A dual lane highway running north to south we used this road extensively if we needed to get somewhere. Also, it was by far the best-maintained road in Chile. We found the roads in towns to be downright terrible at the best of times. However, the highways were pristine. Travelling along Ruta 5 is quick and efficient but do you expect to pay tolls and quite a few at that. Our total of tolls for the trip including Ruta 5 and other highways came to approximately $57000 Chilean Pesos ($115AUD, $87US).
Learn Basic Spanish
I know you would have heard it before but do try and learn some Spanish before attempting to a road trip. We didn’t learn Spanish before arriving in South America and have regretted it ever since. Having now been on the continent for over 80 days we have picked up the bare minimum to get by. However, the more you know, the more comfortable you will feel. You should know that campervan or mobile home in Spanish is casa rodante. Luckily for us though at a petrol station all we needed to say was ‘diesel’ and ‘full’ to be refuelled. In Spanish, diesel is diesel and full is maximo. And speaking of petrol stations here is some etiquette.
Petrol Station Etiquette
In Chile, you are lucky enough to have your petrol pumped for you. For us Aussies, this hasn’t occurred for over 20 years, so it is a bit of sweet treat not to have to get out of your vehicle. We had no issues with refilling with fuel throughout our time in Chile. We were, however, told always to check the meter before they begin to fill your tank with petrol. Apparently, it can occur that there is already fuel on the meter before they even start, obviously then costing you more. However, the entire time we had beautiful petrol guys who always asked us to look at the meter and confirm $0000.00 before we began. Also, be sure to tip the petrol station attendants if they clean your windscreen, however, feel free to say no if you don’t need it cleaned.
Finally, always use reputable petrol stations in Chile. These consist of Copec (our favourite, because you can stay out the back of them for free), Petrobras and Shell. We were told that some smaller petrol stations in small towns might not have decent fuel and therefore should be avoided. Also, it must be noted that especially in the north petrol stations can be few and far between so fill up often, even if you don’t feel you need to. I know I didn’t want to face running out of fuel on the side of a Chilean highway ha ha.
Have a Basic Plan
From the white ice of #Antarctica to beauty that is the #AtacamaDesert in #Chile. I swear both claim to be the driest place on earth ha ha. - We are excited to have teamed up with @andescampers to experience Chile over the next 17 days in this epic camper van. Clearly Jarrad was so excited he had to climb on top. #sponsored
By basic, I mean basic. All we knew was we were picking up the camper in Calama and dropping it off 17 days later in Santiago. We knew we wanted to see the desert but also wanted to travel to the Lake District, south of Santiago. Essentially all campervan rental in Chile will have a limit on kilometres unless you want to pay more. Therefore, we knew we had 4250kms for the 17 days and planned a very basic route within that. Of course, nothing goes to plan, we got lost a few times, and therefore we didn’t make it as far south as we first intended, but that was fine for us because we had an adventure and enjoyed various Chile destinations.
To ensure safety, I would also recommend arriving in a place you want to stay no later than a couple of hours before sunlight fades. Therefore, you can get a feel for the place within the daylight to ensure you feel good and safe. Unfortunately, early in our trip, we didn’t stick to this rule, we got lost, it got dark, and we were unsure where we could park and where was safe to. After driving for an extra hour, we finally pulled up in a quiet place hoping we weren’t on anyone’s property and we were in a safe place. Naturally, nothing went wrong, but that feeling of unease was one I didn’t wish to experience again. Therefore, we were always sure to find a place no later than 6 pm (it was summer, so the sun didn’t set until late).
Are you worried about safety in Chile? Check out these tips.
I have no doubt the campervan, and motorhome industry will grow within Chile over the next few years. It is the perfect place to explore with the extra freedom camper vanning Chile provides. Driving through the ever-changing environment and taking in the spectacular sights of Chile could not be better explored than within a campervan. If you are contemplating taking a trip like this, I have no doubt you will love every minute (unless you get lost like we did but hey will still had an adventure ha ha).
Andes Campers were fantastic for camper rentals in Chile and often have specials. Get yourself a bargain through Motorhome Republic on a camper, whether that be in camper 4×4, or more basic camper and enjoy Chile like the locals.
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Santiago’s Free Walking Tour
In the heart of Santiago, tourists are provided with the opportunity to partake in a free walking tour through some of the streets of Santiago. The tour is highly informative and provides people with the chance to learn more about Chilean history whilst also getting a bit of a feel for the City.
The tour guides are fantastic!! Franco (or as we referred to him James) was a wealth of knowledge and provided great insight to the city and its history. This tour is fantastic for people who are new to the country and are looking for a way to better understand the history of both Chile and its capital. And the best part of all is that it is free. All that the tour guides ask is that you provide a tip at the end of the tour. This tip not only goes to the guides but the printing of maps, the easily recognisable ‘Free Tour’ tee shirts and to help pay the people who organise all of these aspects to the tour.
Now for The Actual Tour
As mentioned above, tour guides are super easy to find. All that needs to be done, is people who are wanting to go on the tour need to meet at Plaza De Armas at about 10:00am. Upon arrival, you need to look for people wearing bright red tee shirts that say ‘Free Tour’ on the back. When you find a guide they will ask which language you prefer to speak (English or Spanish) whilst on the tour. Once this is established and there are other people wanting to be on the tour, your guide will begin.
The tour takes approximately 4 hours and you visit 15 iconic locations around Santiago. Another big positive for this tour is that if you do not to stay on the tour for the full 4 hours, you can leave at any time and tip however much you deem appropriate. So if you wanted to stop and spend more time at the Pre Columbian Art Museum you can do so. However, if you stay on the tour to the completion, there is no reason why you cannot go back and visit the location that you wish to explore at the completion of the tour.
The places that are visited on the tour include:
- Plaza De Armas, Catedral, Municipalidad, Correos (Santiago’s main square, Cathedral, City Hall, Post Office)
- Museo de Arte Pre-Columbino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum)
- Antiguo Congresso (Old Congress Building)
- Palacio La Moneda (The Government House)
- Bolsa de Comercio (Santiago Stock Exhange)
- Teatro Minicipal (The Opera House)
- Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill)
- Barro Lastarria (Lastarria Neighbourhood)
- Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts)
- Parque Forestal (Forestal Park)
- Plaza Italia (Italy Square)
- Barrio Bellavista (Bellavista Neighbourhood)
- Casa Pablo Neruda (Neruda Museum)
- Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristobal Hill)
Again we cannot recommend this tour enough. The guides are fantastic and will provide you with a much greater understanding of both the country of Chile and city of Santiago.
Want to know more about Santiago Chile? Check out Incredible Things To Do In Santiago Chile!
Updated May '19
When something is new, there is always that feeling of excitement with a dash of nervousness. Navigating our first Airbnb experience was no different. An Airbnb in Santiago, Chile is a great option for any traveller and I would highly recommend it. To have those little touches such as a personal airport pick up, Chilean red wine and chocolate left for you is something I love about Airbnb. For these small reasons our Airbnb in Santiago de Chile, is still one of our favourites and made our time in Santiago, Chile fantastic.
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Airbnb Santiago – What to Expect
Navigating Our First Airbnb Experience:
We were starting our 7-month adventure in Santiago and when doing research on finding the nicest place for the least amount of money Airbnb popped up. It was obvious that our first AirBnb in Santiago, Chile was going to give us the best bang for our buck. After spending hours researching apartments (and noticing aspects to look for in an Airbnb), we finally settled on a place in the Lastarria neighbourhood of Santiago, that was hosted by the wonderful Leonor. We were told this district was rich in history and vibrant with restaurants, theatres, museums and bars. Sound’s like a good place to stay, especially in a unique Chile Airbnb.
From the moment we booked I thought it was too good to be true. Communication was excellent, the photos of the apartment were exactly as the apartment looked and for a small fee, our hosts were even going to collect us from the airport. Airbnb, Chile was totally bringing the goods and unique experiences.
SIDE NOTE: I remember saying to my family before leaving that this was either going to be an incredible experience or we weren’t going to make it through our first night. So stupid I know, but if you have met my mother, you would be aware she always jumps to worst case scenario. Anybody else’s mother like that?
After 30 hours of travelling, four flights, swollen ankles and droopy eyes we walked out of Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez Airport also known as Santiago International Airport. On inspecting the many faces and cards, we searched for our names before spotting a lovely couple holding a mobile phone with our profile photo from Airbnb. This was at this moment we finally met Leonor and her husband. Greeted in a traditional Chilean way with a kiss on the cheek we were already in full conversation on the way to the car. Leonor’s husband spoke fluent English, which was helpful considering neither one of us had learnt enough Spanish before this trip.
EXTRA NOTE: I highly recommend learning Spanish prior; it will make your life so much easier.
So began our quick trip into Santiago where we were given tips on things to do in Santiago, things to see in Santiago and day trips from Santiago. Being given such a wealth of local knowledge was great.
Interested in other Airbnb articles? Check out:
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– THAILAND – Private Pool Villas in Phuket
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MANY MORE TO COME….
– Unique Airbnb Rentals – The Coolest Airbnbs
Arrival To The Airbnb Apartment:
On arriving at our quaint apartment the entry was just as the photos depicted. Situated in the heart of an alley full of renowned restaurants, which is a food lovers dream. It was here we were shown around the area before taking the lift to the 5th floor to inspect the apartment. From here I will let the photos do the talking first.
Airbnb Santiago - Photo Story
Airbnb Santiago - What was it Like?
To be frank the photos don’t do it justice. For a first Airbnb experience it certainly made us excited to use the Airbnb platform moving forward.
I can happily state I have now stayed in countless Airbnb’s all over the world and would recommend them every time.
If you are yet to experience Airbnb and want a bargain to begin with? Click here for $55 off your first stay.
With a quaint kitchen and spacious living area with sliding doors to the bedroom this Airbnb was perfect for two jetlagged travellers. A full bathroom with tub and amenities such as shampoo and conditioner was a fantastic extra.
Being jetlagged the fact we could watch telly from the bed was fantastic at 3am when we were wide awake. The unlimited internet and Netflix was a great touch. Not only was this my first Airbnb experience it was also my first Netflix experience, fair to say there is no going back.
If you like music, there was a guitar to play. If you like a drinks there was Chilean red wine. If you like to relax there was a great couch.
The only small downside to this entire Airbnb was that it didn’t have airconditioning but that is common in Santiago, Chile. With fans and windows we were fine during our warm stay.
So Would We Use AirBnb Again?
A resounding YES! The apartment, the experience and the people were all 100% worth it and I can tell you I have already booked and stayed in countless Airbnb’s since. To be honest I wish I had explored this form of accommodation sooner. If you want to check out Leonor’s AirBnb check it out here – Decorated Apartment in Lastarria. Obviously, from this post I would 100% recommend staying in this Airbnb in Santiago, Chile.
Staying in an Airbnb in Santiago? Here are Quick Tips on Santiago
The neighbourhood of Lastarria (Barrio Lastarria) is in the centre of Santiago and is a historical neighbourhood. Full of restaurants, cafes, bars, museums, theatres and cinemas this neighbourhood is full of life. One certainly not to miss when visiting Santiago.
Free Walking Tour
The free walking tour around Santiago is a must. Especially if you are looking to save money for more luxury on your travels because it is free. Mind you they do suggest you tip at the end, which we did because our tour guide was AMAZING.
San Cristóbal Hill
Feel like a hike? Want a view of the glorious city and the mesmerising Andes mountains? Head up San Cristóbal Hill. Hate walking up hills? There is even a cable car that can help you reach the top to take in these glorious views, especially at sunset.
Santa Lucia Hill
Another hill, however, this hill is smaller and in the city centre. A very short walk from the Airbnb in fact and great little outing especially when jetlagged. Interestingly enough this hill used to be a volcano.
Plaza de Armas
The main square of Santiago Chile is the Plaza de Armas. Gorgeous buildings surround this square and it has a great vibe. Simply hanging out in this centre spot of Santiago is great fun. If you are wanting to do the free walking tour, this is where it starts and I suggest getting there early so you can enjoy the square before taking off.
The Mercado Central de Santiago or Central Markets opened in 1872. Full of glorious food this is the place for foodie travellers not to miss.
Close to San Cristóbal Hill I loved the vibe of Bellavista. With artistic flair and great nightlife this is place to certainly wander through and explore. With markets, quirky architecture and cheap bars and restaurants due to it being the University district this place is not to be missed.
Other Airbnb’s with 5 Star Ratings in Santiago Chile:
So Will You Visit Santiago Chile?
There are no excuses not to visit Santiago Chile anymore. With amazingly cheap accommodation options through Airbnb and plenty to do Santiago de Chile really should be on your list of places to visit.
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