Traveling in Chile

I know I said I’d do a series of posts about traveling in Chile, but it’s been two weeks and I haven’t had a chance to write anything at all. So instead I’ll do a post jenn style — all aboard my train of thought (let’s hope you can follow):

  • Background: I went to Chile with my girlfriend Ruthie for 10 days. We both are experienced travelers (Ruth has been EVERYWHERE) and had 10 days with which to explore. For us the time was the major constraint, so we decided to hit three different places/areas: San Pedro de Atacama (SPDA the desert in the North), Pucon (lake district) and Santiago. We were both super swamped, so things only came together the last two weeks before the trip. Good thing it was low season.
  • Book: We traveled with the Lonely Planet and Fodors. We used the LP more (I had a bigger purse so it was on me most of the time) and because it’s more young person friendly. I spent time looking through all the different books before ordering one — the LP had a publish date of February 2009 so was the most current by far of the different books (normally I lean towards Let’s Go). I didn’t have many problems with it — I found it hard to find information about flights (see next bullet) and also
  • Flights: Chile is long and skinny. You can get around the country by bus, but we were short on time so avoided 10+ hour bus rides followed by crankiness by shelling out some moolah and hopping on internal flights. We thought this would be a piece of cake to organize but were pretty shocked when we searched for flights on the LAN website from Santiago to Calama (near SPDA) and they started coming up at more than the cost of our flight from Toronto to Chile!
    We found Sky Airlines, but were not able to book on the website (you need a Chilean credit card). We emailed about booking and the poor english made me nervous. In the end we found a travel agent in Chile who booked the flights for us.
    If you have more time and flexibility then you might wait until you’re in Chile. Apparently LAN has domestic rates from inside Chile that are cheap (I suppose it’s the North American site that’s marked up?) and you can go to either of their counters to book.
    So in the end we found a travel agent in Chile who booked our flights for us. We did have to pay an agent fee, but our flights were affordable and were what we were willing to pay (both flights came to ~$620 USD).
    FYI: To get to Pucon you can fly to Temuco (1.5 hours away), though there are direct flights to Pucon in the summer. To get to SPDA you fly to Calama (1 hour away).
  • Weather: We were in Chile in the winter — but before ski season started. For Pucon, that meant that a lot of things were “under renovation” including three of the places the book recommended staying at, and one of the restaurants we walked into. It also meant there was too much snow on the volcano to summit it. But while we were in Pucon we barely saw any clouds – sunny and bright blue skies. Chilly at night (and at the Volcano) but totally fine otherwise.
    SPDA is the desert — warm during the day, and cool at night. No rain. Ever. When we went on excursions early in the morning it was FREEZING. Like, wear all of your clothes in your suitcase freezing. But you were seeing cool things so it was worth it.
    Santiago was rainy most of the days we were there. Not cold, but cool. And when we were wet that wasn’t very much fun. I wish I brought my pink rainboots (which would have given me blisters for sure, and then I would have wished I didn’t bring them).
    Yes, I want to go back in the summer. Especially Pucon.
  • SPDA: We ended up organizing ourselves through Cactus Tours. We did the three day Magic Cactus tour which took care of our hotel and the three common tours you do there. It was great — we loved the guide and driver that we had for two of the days. Like, they were the coolest. Recommend them.
    We also did a star tour — AMAZING. It is so much fun and you see such cool things. We even saw Saturn with its rings. And got to take a picture of the moon. So good. Everyone must do it.
    The town is cute and really really laid back. All the restaurants have outdoor seating with big fireplaces. We smelled like smoke pretty much permanently. We had so much fun going to dinner and drinking Pisco sours and wine and talking to people (both locals and travelers). Keep in mind you’re at a high altitude, so the drinks will hit a lot harder (I speak from experience).

Okay, so that is enough to get started. More to come.

2 Responses to “Traveling in Chile”

  1. Marlene Says:

    This makes me want to travel SOOO badly! Sounds amazing, despite a few setbacks.

  2. hi, i'm jenn » Blog Archive » Traveling in Chile | Chile Today Says:

    […] View original post here: hi, i'm jenn » Blog Archive » Traveling in Chile […]

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