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Why You Should Motorhome Chile

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Motorhome Chile - Luxury Travel Hacks

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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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Motorhome Chile

Basically a non-existent way to travel, be prepared for this!

Lake Panguipulli, Campervan Chile - The Traveller's Guide By #ljojlo

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.

Pucon Kayak Hostel, Campervan Chile - The Traveller's Guide By #ljojlo

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). 

VW Amarok 4x4, Campervan Chile - The Traveller's Guide By #ljojlo

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

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.

#sunset, #camper on the #chilean #coast! Could life get any better? 📍Playa Muelle de Pledra, Taltal, #Chile 🇨🇱 @andescampers

A post shared by Traveller's Guide By #ljojlo (@ljojlo_trvlblog) on

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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Motorhome Chile - Luxury Travel Hacks
Everybody loves a good motorhome road trip? So why not motorhome Chile? We can say it is our favourite way to travel. When the opportunity came up to road trip Chile we jumped at it.
Motorhome Chile - The Traveller's Guide By #ljojlo

26 thoughts on “Why You Should Motorhome Chile”

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      No worries :-)! We love road trips too so hopefully others can get out there and explore Chile in this way!

  1. So cool you did a unique way to travel such a gorgeous country! Definitely have 0 Spanish skills, and I really want to work on that before I head to South America! Chile looks great!

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      Please do but if you don’t learn any Spanish you can survive because somehow we did ha ha! I hope you make it there one day.

  2. Kyntra Strickland

    I’ve never been to Chile, but campervanning sounds great! I love the freedom that comes with having your own vehicle and sometimes it’s hard to do that in other countries. This seemed to work out well for y’all though! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Telma | Blank Canvas Voyage

    Lauren …wow those pictures!! It does look so remote! How beautiful!
    May I ask how much (roughly) did you spend during those 17 days travelling in Chile?
    did you get to meet the locals too?

    Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      Umm that is a good question about costs. Approximately I would say $100 on tolls, $500 on fuel, $400 on food and maybe $150 on accommodation when we stayed in caravan parks. So $1150AUD, which we thought was pretty good ?. We certainly did meet locals also.

      1. and the cost of the RV for 17 days would have been? Let’s face it, this is the major cost.
        p.s. you got east/west the wrong way round! ;D

        1. #ljojlo - Lauren

          Hey Paul,

          The cost for the 17 days is a great question. As it was over a year ago I can’t quite remember but I will go back, find out and let you know.

          OMG you are 100% correct they are totally the wrong way round….whoops ha ha. Thanks so much for pointing that out. I will need to change it when I have access to my computer ?.

          Thanks again.

  4. It’s funny, I was thinking when I read the title that I never hear of people camper vanning through Chile – but I guess it’s because they don’t! This sounds sooo cool, I would love to do it someday (but will need to learn some Spanish first).

  5. This is super helpful! I’ll save this for my trip to south america! I totally didnt know that getting a campervan wasn’t a common thing though! I would love to do that 🙂 . Thanks for this post!

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      They are so uncommon I think we only saw 5 on our 17 days journey ha ha. Thank you for commenting ?

  6. Great article about you camper trip in Chile. Very helpful since there are not much resources yet.
    In your article you said you can dump grey and black water basically everywhere. What does it mean? I am worried for example about dumping water with soap in the nature? Did you use any biodegradable soap? I’d really appreciate any tips.
    Thanks in advance! Krissi

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      Hi Krissi,
      Thank you so much for your comment.
      Unfortunately, because Chile is not set up for campervans it indeed means you can dump your black or grey water where ever you want.
      We tried our best to ensure we dumped it in areas they wouldn’t disrupt people or nature.
      We tried to use minimal soap to ensure we weren’t dumping many chemicals however I don’t believe it was biodegradable.
      Please let me know if you have any other questions.
      Thanks 🙂

  7. This looks like an awesome trip!

    My partner and I are thinking of renting with Andes Campers in October. The plan is to drive from Santiago, down the Carretera Austral and to Ushuaia. Do you think 18 days would be enough?

    Also I’d be interested to know how you dealt with the black/grey water based on what you said earlier in the post.

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated!

    1. #ljojlo - Lauren

      Hey Robb,

      I am so excited for you ?! Getting a canpervan in Chile was AMAZING!

      Unfortunately, I can’t help you too much with going down south as we only got as far south as the Lakes District however we did drive from San Pedro de Atacama to the Lakes District and back up to Santiago in 18 days and it was approx 4000ish kms if that helps. In terms of Ushuaia you will likely have to get some paperwork to cross the border but Andes Campers will certainly be able to help you out ?.

      Honestly with the black/grey water we dumped it in places where we believed it would have the least effect on the environment because there we no facilities. This could have changed though because having a camper to see Chile is certainly gaining momentum.

      Please reach out if I can help with anything else and I hope you have an amazing time with Andes Campers if you go with them ?.

      Thanks

  8. Love this great article with useful tips! This sparks nostalgia for Latin America and makes me wanna travel to that part of the world. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Hey guys, we are picking up our camper van on Thursday in Santiago and heading north! We will do a loop into Argentina and back to Santiago. Did you use campsites or pull in somewhere? We’re a little nervous about wild camping as we have our toddlers with us. Any hints very welcome

    1. That is AWESOME! You will love it!! Please keep us in the loop with how you go :-)! Honestly, we pulled in places the majority of the time and especially in the north. We didn’t find many campsites you could pay for at all. The ones we found in town were mainly for cabanas/cabins not for campers, unfortunately, and we did ask at quite a few places. Therefore we just found great places mainly along the coast where we could pull up near the beach. Also, you can stay in the back of COPEC petrol stations for free, which can be great along the highway and if you don’t find any places. Places we did stay along the coast in the north included Tongoy, Taltal, Antofagasta, specifically La Portada. We also stayed on the outskirts of San Pedro de Atacama. As a word of advice, I was told to avoid Calama as it isn’t as safe. I hope that helps but please shout out if you need anything else or flick us an email at lauren@luxurytravelhacks.com :-)!

  10. Fantastic blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you are wanting to take your blog to the next level I would suggest a paid option but it depends on what you are wanting to do with your blog. I hope that helps a little :-)! Please feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.

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