Chile

 Santiago de Chile Chile 

Why Chile?                                                                       Click here to view video                                                                                              
Chile’s elongated, unique shape makes it one of the world’s most geographically unique countries, and this South American nation’s cartography lives up to its reputation. From top to bottom, thousands of miles encompass arid, rain-starved desert in the north to the icy glaciers of the south. The beautiful Andes mountain range is rarely far from view, defining the country's eastern border. Such a rich natural setting provides Chile with a wealth of possibilities for fans of the great outdoors. From excellent skiing facilities, through to trekking, horse riding and white-water rafting, adventure sport opportunities in Chile will push most adrenaline junkies to their limits.
 
The country's capital Santiago nestles in a central valley between the Andes and the Chilean Coastal Mountain range. A cosmopolitan city with its own version of Bond Street - Alonso de Cordova - it has several museums, Spanish colonial buildings and parks and taking to it by foot is simply the best way to see it. Santiago also has a wide range of accommodation and restaurants nestling on the cobbled street corners.  Chile is a success story among South America's economies with many international firms choosing Santiago as their headquarters in recent years. Its copper industry has long been a mainstay of the country's income, although agriculture and wine bears some economic significance. Chile has been politically stable since 1990 following the demise of General Augusto Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship.

  • When should I travel?
Due to its long coastline, clearly Chile’s weather is extremely diverse and unpredictable although it is seasonal in much of the country. Summer is from December to February, autumn from March to May, winter from June to August, and spring from September to November.  However, it is difficult to pinpoint temperatures for the country as a whole due to the dry, arid desert in the north, there is a Mediterranean feel in its central region with a colder, wetter season (May to August), while it is usually cool and damp in the south.  Easter Island has its own humid sub-tropical temperatures, while much of the south, from Region VII down has a very high annual rainfall. Chile’s terrain is also variable, ranging from low coastal mountains to the Andes in the east and central valleys and although its lowest point is sea level - the Pacific Ocean - its highest point is 6,880 metres.  Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the principal summer beach hubs in the north for local tourists, while Pucón in the south sees high tourism numbers from January to March. Due to its proximity to Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso beach areas see plenty of sunshine and beach bums during the summer, often filling up with neighbouring Argentinians. As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the ski season takes place between June and August.  In terms of visiting Patagonia and south, the summer months from December to March are ideal as it is warmer for trekking and other outdoor activities. November and April are quieter times in terms of tourism but the weather is less dependable. It isn’t advisable to visit the south from the end of autumn to the end of winter - May to September - as many trails close due to bad weather and strong winds and waterways ice over. However, places in the north, such as the Atacama, can be visited year round.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Chile is a remarkably safe country. Its violent crime rate is one of the lowest in South America. Though, it still has a healthy nonviolent crime rate. It's a good idea to take certain precautions, especially against pickpocketing, which is on the rise. Avoid carrying large amounts of money in vulnerable spots. Money belts and leg pouches are two secure means of carrying cash and other important documents.

  • What money should I take?
The currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP)Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted – although Diners Club and American Express slightly less so - in towns and cities, where ATMs are also largely available. Outside of the larger, more tourist-centred towns, currency exchange can be tricky. The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile, making it possible to exchange money and traveller's cheques at any casa de cambio at market-driven exchange rates. However, exchanging traveller's cheques in Chile has been reported to be problematic.

  • What language will they understand?
Spanish (official), Mapudungu (the language of the Mapuche), Rapanui (Easter Island) and Aymara.

  • How about my health?
Health insurance is essential. The medical care in Santiago and Valparaíso is generally good, but it may be difficult to find assistance in remote areas. Most doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Standards of hygiene are generally reasonable in Chile, and should not cause visitors any undue concern.

  • Public Holidays

2012
01 January New Year's Day
06 April Good Friday
07 April Holy Saturday
01 May Labour Day
21 May Navy Day
29 June *St Peter and St Paul
15 August Assumption
11 September Reconciliation Day
18 September Independence Day
19 September Army Day
10 October *Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day)
01 November All Saints' Day
08 December Immaculate Conception
25 December Christmas Day

2013
01 January New Year's Day
29 March Good Friday
30 March Holy Saturday
01 May Labour Day
21May Navy Day
29 June Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
15 August Assumption
18 September Independence Day
19 September Army Day
12 October Discovery of Two Worlds Day
01 November All Saints' Day
08 December Immaculate Conception
25 December Christmas Day

  • Do I need a visa?
No visas are required by South African passport holders for a stay of up to 90 days.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
No innoculations are required for entrance into Chile.