Trip to central Chile, Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island

December 2016

° ° °

Chile travel itinerary
| Essential Chile travel guide
| All the photos
| Contacts and Copyright
| Pagina in Italiano


° ° °

  

 

SUGGESTED ITINERARY IN CHILE
(different from most mass-tourism trips)

Where to go in Chile

° ° °

CHILE ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE

WHY GO TO CHILE? WHAT TO SEE IN CHILE?

Due to its wide geographical extension in latitude, covering more than 4000 kilometers from sub-tropical to sub-Antarctic regions, Chile offers an incredible variety of landscapes and ecosystems distributed between sea level and high altitudes, which can fascinate not only fans of extreme landscapes, but also who love to travel in close contact with nature. Northern Chile is known for the Atacama desert, one of the most arid places on Earth, dominated by volcanoes that exceed 4000 meters above sea level, among colored lagoons, geysers and other geological curiosities while, traveling southwards into the lake regions, we meet large and unspoilt forests of Araucaria and Fitzroya trees, a true paradise for botany enthusiasts, where visitors can hike among hundreds and sometimes thousands years old trees. Proceeding further south into Patagonia, we reach the latitudes of the great glaciers nestled among spectacular peaks, deep fjords and labyrinths of endless islands where the true "masters" are penguins and sea lions. Observing Chile also along the longitudinal plane, to the east, along the border with Argentina and Bolivia, the Andes offer the opportunity to explore the highest mountain range in the world after Himalaya, while a look onto Pacific Ocean reveals the tiny island of Robinson Crusoe, a real gem visited only by a few hundred tourists each year, as well as Easter Island, known for its mysterious and huge statues made of volcanic stone.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO CHILE?

Since an holiday to Chile requires many hours spent outside to enjoy nature and beautiful landscapes, you may be wondering which is the best season to visit Chile, which may increase the chances to find good weather. The best season to go to Chile depends on the region that you wish to visit and there is no best time in absolute for the whole country. So let's see in more detail what is the best time to visit Chile, region by region:

  • Best time to visit Atacama (northern Chile): being the driest regions of the planet, there is no real better season to visit northern Chile, as all year round is suitable. It is only necessary to consider that during the austral winter, between June and September, the temperatures at high altitudes could be very cold or extreme, especially at night and early morning, with the rainfall reduced to zero. During the other months of the year, the temperatures are higher (sometimes even too high), but with a few more chances of little rain.

  • Best time to visit Lake District (central Chile): the best season to visit central Chile with its forests of Araucaria and Patagonian cypress, runs from mid-November to April, when temperatures are pleasant, the tracks are in excellent condition without snow, and the sky is clearer. The month of May, is an interesting option to see the forests changing their colors, with the red of Berberis shrubs contrasting with the green of Araucaria (you should only be aware of increasing rain and possibility of fog). In the rest of the year, central Chile's national parks could be covered in snow and some tracks may be closed for safety reasons.

  • Best time to visit Patagonia (southern Chile): because of its latitude, the best season to visit southern Chile, corresponds to the southern summer, approximately from October to March, when temperatures are more pleasant and days are longer (the rainfall is distributed evenly throughout the year and not there is a real dry season).

  • Best time to ski on the Andes: a couple of hours by coach from Santiago del Chile, there are some of the best ski resorts of South America, nested among spectacular peaks that culminate in the 7000 meters of mount Aconcagua. The best season to visit the Andes if you want to ski, is obviously during the austral winter between July and September.

  • Best time to visit Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe island: the best season to visit Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island, is the southern summer, roughly between October and April, when temperatures are more pleasant and the rainfall is lower than the rest of the year.

IS CHILE FINE FOR INDEPENDENT TRAVEL OR IS IT BEST TO JOIN A GROUP?

Chile is a fairly safe country, with good infrastructure and services, which certainly make it possible to organize a trip by yourself, without having to join a group with fixed departures. Throughout the country, it is easy to find hospitality at facilities that vary between family-run business to various hotel chains, while the major car rental companies provide suitable vehicles to cover even the most demanding tracks. The driving style of the Chileans is quite correct and Police checkpoints will not pose any inconvenience, since the authorities are usually very friendly (it is advisable to stipulate a complete insurance with the car rental company covering any kind of damage, and always carry with you the driver license, the passport and car rental contract, keeping copy of everything in a safe and separated place). If you decide to venture on long unpaved tracks, it is best to rent a good 4x4 vehicle, leaving always your travel plan for the day in the hotel, so that someone will not your movements and the expected return time. Since the most remote areas have no mobile phone coverage, you could consider using a satellite phone, especially if you are traveling completely alone. In any case, most places can be visited with group excursions lead by with qualified guides: if for a specific destination you do not feel comfortable going alone, you can consider this option (there are really many outfitters in the Atacama desert and in Patagonia, while in the Lake District it may be more difficult to find guides or fully inclusive day tours). Easter Island is particularly suitable for independent travelers, but in order to have the freedom of movement, renting a car is absolutely essential due to the long distances between the attractions. Instead, for Robinson Crusoe island it is better to buy a package that includes flight, accommodation and a guide for excursions, this can be done easily and quickly for example with Far South Expeditions.

HOW TO GET TO CHILE? HOW TO MOVE AROUND?

Chile's largest airport, where most international flights arrive, is Santiago de Chile (SCL). LAN (or LATAM) airlines provides an excellent network of international and regional flights to connect to your destination, in most cases without having to overnight in Santiago. The main gateways of Atacama desert are Calama, Arica and Iquiqe; for Lake District, Temuco, Puerto Montt, Conception, Valdivia and Osorno are the best options. For southern Chile and Patagonia, the main gateway is instead Punta Arenas and sometimes Puerto Natales. Easter Island can be reached on a 5-hour flight from Santiago (available once or twice per day), while Robinson Crusoe Island is served only by small non-scheduled prop aircraft a few times per week. To travel within the country over long distances, it is certainly advisable to use the plane, while buses are generally used on short and medium distances (however for greater freedom of movement, car hire is particularly recommended).

OTHER USEFUL INFO AND TRAVEL TIPS ABOUT CHILE

The information provided in this travelogue refers to a trip made in 2016 and therefore it is always advisable to check for updated info on other travel blogs.

  • What documents are required to enter Chile? To enter Chile from most countries, a passport is sufficient and no visa is required (but please check carefully with the embassy of the country where you live). Do not loose the stamped immigration card that you will receive entering the country, as it must be returned when you return home.

  • How are the power plugs in Chile? The power plugs in Chile and on Easter Island are of type C (standard "Euro" like Spain and Italy), the standard voltage is 220V and the frequency is 50Hz.

  • Is Wifi available in Chile? The wifi in Chile is widespread and available in almost all the facilities that offer hospitality. On the island of Robinson Crusoe, Easter Island and in some remote areas of the mainland, the connection can be anyway very slow and unreliable.

  • What about food in Chile? The cuisine in Chile is very varied and the products from nature, both from sea and land, are particularly fresh and of good quality. On Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe the fish is particularly fresh and very well prepared. The most popular drink in Chile is Pisco Sour, an alcoholic cocktail with a pleasant flavor of lemon.

  • May I use my smart-phone in Chile? The mobile coverage is good throughout the country, although there is no signal in the most isolated places of the mainland (if you venture far away along unpaved tracks and need to communicate, a satellite phone may be a better bet). To check roaming coverage and costs, just check with your operator.

  • What is the currency of Chile? Any chance of using credit cards? The national currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso, but the major hotels also accept the US dollar (in some conventioned structures, paying the stay in US dollars or credit card and showing the passport with the stamped immigration card, the VAT is not applied). The Euro and some other currency can be changed at the main airports or at exchange offices, with conversion rates generally honest and close to the official exchange rate. Credit cards are widely used in Chile, even in smaller businesses, but it is always a good idea to have cash in case of any problem.


° ° °

CENTRAL CHILE TRAVELOGUE | EASTER ISLAND | ROBINSON CRUSOE

Conguillio National Park Conguillio National Park and its forest of Araucaria and Nothofagus <<-- GO
If you are looking for a place where you can see millennial trees, Conguillio National Park in central Chile, in the region of La Araucania, is the ideal place to admire some of the oldest trees on the planet, where the scenery is dominated by snowy volcanoes peaks providing a backdrop to ancient forests of Araucaria and Nothofagus.
Alerce Costero National Park Alerce Costero National Park and the forest of endangered Fitzroya trees <<-- GO
Alerce Costero National Park, in the central Chilean region of Los Rios, is home to a beautiful forest of Patagonian cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides), locally known as Alerce. This tree is now rather rare and is formally endangered: anyway, in Alerce Costero National Park, it is still possible to observe a specimen that is over 3000 years old.
Araucaria trees in Chile Nahuelbuta National Park of La Araucania region in central Chile <<-- GO
Referred as the main place of origin of Araucaria araucana known as monkey puzzle tree, Nahuelbuta National Park, near the Chilean regions of Bio-Bio, Araucania and Maule, hosts a dense forest of these trees, including some millennial specimens. In the forest there are also Nothofagus trees that reach considerable size, competing with the Araucarias to conquer the sunlight.
Robinson Crusoe Island Robinson Crusoe Island and its endemic flora <<-- GO
Robinson Crusoe Island, in the Pacific Ocean, more than 600 kilometers from the coasts of central Chile, is an extraordinary place to study endemisms, as it hosts dozens of plants that cannot be found in other parts of the world. Many endemic plants, however, are in serious danger of extinction because threatened by the competition with species introduced by man.
Valparaiso Vina del Mar and Valparaiso day tour from Santiago <<-- GO
Just an hour by bus from Santiago, Valparaiso is a picturesque city that covers the sides of a hill, featured by characteristic alleys where the facades of the buildings are painted with colorful murals by famous artists: a destination not to be missed if you have a free day during your stay in Santiago.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) Easter Island among nature and history <<-- GO
Easter Island is located in the heart of the South Pacific, in the sub-tropical belt, and is known for its fascinating and mysterious sculptures which are a real puzzle for archaeologists and historians. The island has also a beautiful landscape dominated by ancient volcanic cones, extinct caldera and one extensive white sandy beach.

° ° °