Chile

2017-04

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Overview

Chile is a country that can be best split into three geographic sections. The North, Middle and the south.

These three section greatly differ from climates, scenery and people. The south is home to Chilean Patagonia, this stunningly beautiful lands with mountains, lakes, isolation and cooler weather. The Middle is home to the wine areas and the big cities. The North home to the driest desert in the world, given uninterrupted views to the stars above. the baron flatness of the pampas, the bluest blue lakes of the Neuquén, and the stunning red earthy landscapes of the Andean North-West. Mix that with different cultures all across the lands and you’ll never be short of a smile whilst the high winds shoot across your helmet as you motorcycle up and down this vast country.

My GPS Tracking

This was my path across Chile. File Download (GPX / KML)

Summary Table

Chile (as of 2017) Rating Why
Money As of 2017 the Chilean Peso was stable and easy to withdrawal. All cards are widely accepted in all locations. Chile is similar to the same level of payment options you would expect in say Europe, Australia or the USA. During my time there I didn't find a bank that had no withdrawal fees for international cards. So try and get the max out each time to minimize this. Cost wise, Chile is one of the most expensive places in Latin America. in the leagues with Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. However, with this you can expect good service and quality products.
Accomodation Accommodation options are plenty in Chile. Hotels, Hostels, Couch-surfing and wild camping (outside main cities of course). However, hotels and hostels are more expensive in Latin american standards. Good news for campers though, Wild camping options in country are vast and stunning. Probably some of the best in the world.
Food The food in Chile is average, like neighboring Argentina, Chile also has a take on the BBQ, 'Asado' (Grilled meat). The method of asado in Chile is unique and exists mostly in the south. The rest depends on location, but it involves basic, uninspiring, international menus like burgers, pizza, pasta. Vegetarian options are limited.
Drinks Welcome to the land of cheap wine! While everything else is expensive in Chile, Chilean wine is super cheap and amazing quality. Beers are also cheap at supermarkets and there are also a few great German beers (Kunstmann). Surprisingly, the most popular coffee in Chile is Nescafe. Even finding good coffee in the supermarket is difficult
Nightlife (Is it Party time?) Highlights are Santiago and Valparaiso. Chile has this annoying system at bar where you have to buy a drink voucher first and then go to the bar... meaning getting drinks is a time consuming process
Motorbike Parts (Availability, cost of Adv Bikes Parts) Parts / Oil are easily available. Expect to pay similar prices to USA / Europe. Same for tyres etc
Petrol (Accessibility, Cost and Quality) The quality of gasoline is good, unfortunately it is expensive for south america standards. Also in Patagonia, the distances between stations might require you to carry a small can. (depending on your tank size)
Fun Factor on the Road (Did the road put a smile on my face) Chilean Patagonia has some of the most spectacular roads in the world. Carretera Austral and surroundings etc. Ruta 5 runs most of the length of this thin country. It is mostly multi-laned with a speed limit of 120km/h. I'd recommend avoiding it if possible as super highway riding is boring. Check out my 'best rides' of Chile
Internet (Wifi Access / Local SIM Usage) Local SIM cards are cheap and access speeds are comparable to USA / Europe. Claro was the best for coverage. Best to buy the SIM from an official store cause you can register your Passport at the same time. (This is required to use the SIM card after a few days)

Language

Spanish. However the accent is very different from the more neutral Spanish speaking of say Bolivia, Mexico and Colombia. As someone that is studying Spanish, the accent is more difficult to understand in Chile. Though the good news is that if you can understand the Spanish here you will be fine every else in Latin America 🙂

All things Money

As of 2017 the Chilean Peso was stable and easy to withdrawal. All cards are widely accepted in all locations. Chile is similar to the same level of payment options you would expect in say Europe, Australia or the USA. During my time there I didn’t find a bank that had no withdrawal fees for international cards. So try and get the max out each time to minimize this.
Cost wise, Chile is one of the most expensive places in Latin America. in the leagues with Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. However, with this you can expect good service and quality products.

All Cards are excepted at fuel stations.

If heading to remote places in the south, try and bring more Pesos from the last big cities (Puerto Montt). Some towns around Patagonia for example have limited ATMs.

Petrol (Gas)

Petrol stations are easy to come by, except for Patagonia where planning ahead is required if on a motorcycle. The general rule is if you see a petrol station, regardless of tank levels, fill up. If your motorcycle range is less that 250km, you should carry a small 3-5 L plastic spare container of fuel.

Also in Patagonia, the wind can really reduce your tank range (if you are hitting the wind head on). Plan accordingly. An awesome App for wind planning is Windty

Internet connectivity

Local SIM cards are cheap and access speeds are comparable to USA / Europe. Claro was the best for coverage. Best to buy the SIM from an official store cause you can register your Passport at the same time. (This is required to use the SIM card after a few days)

Safety

Chile is a relatively safe. Big cities have areas that should be avoided. Any seasoned traveler will have a sense of these areas and should avoid flashing expensive items around. Theft/Pick Pocketing is common in the nightlife areas of Santiago and Valparaiso.

Remote towns are very safe. As for Motobike security, I always try and park the Moto off the street. All places are very accommodating for this.

for Moto Travellers

Riding Chile is a riders dream location. This is also true for the locals. You’ll see heaps of adv bikes on the roads enjoying the landscapes.

For bike servicing and repairs, everything is possible in Chile Many mechanics will look at your large moto like it is a space ship. Parts / Oil are also horrendously expensive. expect to pay 4 times the price compared to USA / Europe. If you needs tyres or parts, you would be best off buying in neighboring Chile.

If the item you want to buy is not from Argentina, it will be expensive!. this goes for everything from tech to parts.

Must See…

  • Patagonia
  • Valparaiso
  • Chiloe
  • Elqui Valley
  • Laguna del Laja National Park
  • Conguillío National Park
  • Huerquehue National Park
  • Futaleufu
  • Cordillera Castillo
  • Marble Caves (Carrera Lake)

Best roads for Motorbike riding

Best accommodation places for Motor bikers

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