Chile summary

Daily planned budget: USD27

Actual budget: USD36.8 (primarily because of the 180USD ferry trip to Navarin Island and USD100 plane trip back)

Places we’ve been to

  • Arica
  • Humberstone
  • Tocanao
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • Santiago
  • Vina del Mar
  • Valparaiso
  • Valdivia
  • Pucon
  • Ancud (Chiloe Island)
  • Punta Arenas
  • Puerto Williams
  • Puerto Toro
  • Puerto Natales

Our favorite places:

  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • Pucon
  • Puerto Williams
  • Vina del Mar

Most expensive city: Toconao, in the Atacama Desert

Cheapest city: Ancud (Chiloe Island)

THINGS TO DO

  • Sandboarding – San Pedro de Atacama
  • Volcano climbing – the Villarica Volcano in Pucon
  • Bathing in the hot pools in a geyser field – San Pedro de Atacama, El Tatio geyser field
  • Admiring the wall murals in the artists’ neibourhood – Valparaiso
  • Seeing the sea wolfs and sea-food markets – Valdivia
  • Flying over Patagonia in a 20 people plane – from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams (Navarin Island)
  • Climbing Cerro Bandera (the Hill of the Flag) – Puerto Williams
  • Taking a ferry to the Southermost populated place on our planet – from Puerto Williams to Puerto Toro

Most challenging thing we did: climbing the Vilarrica Volcano

ACCOMODATION

Most expensive accomodation: Puerto Williams, 8000 pesos a night, breakfast and wi-fi included.

Cheapest accommodation: Ancud (Chiloe Island), 5000 pesos a night, breakfast and Puerto Natales 5000 pesos a night with wi-fi and breakfast.

We Couch Surfed only in Santiago as in the smaller places it was harder to find people who would take in 3 surfers. We stayed in different hostels with prices ranging from 5000 to 8000 pesos. The hostels were actually most of the times hospedajes – families renting out rooms in their houses – cosy and nice most of the times. Breakfast was generally included and it consisted of bread, butter, gem, coffee and tea.

There are many camping sites as well if you are travelling with a tent.

Favorite accommodation

Arica Unite – Arica, 5-7 minutes walk from the bus terminal. 7000 pesos a night, breakfast included, wi-fi.

Pucon – right by the JAC bus terminal, you cannot miss it! 6000 pesos a night, breakfast NOT included, wi-fi.

There’s another place just beside, we discovered it on the last day, they were charging 5000 but we cannot say much about the conditions and owners, you’d have to check that out.

Mimi – Ancud (Chiloe Island) – just across the street from the bus terminal. 5000 pesos a night, good breakfast included, NO wi-fi.

GASTRONOMI

This section is more useful for those who don’t eat meat as the 3 of us only eat fish, so many of the traditional meat dishes are not mentioned here.

Most expensive meal: 5000 pesos, Salmon a la Pobre in Puerto Natales

Cheapest meal: 1800 pesos, set menu San Pedro de Atacama. Usually the meals in San Pedro are very expensive, but if you go to the bus terminal (the general one, not the Tur Bus one) you will find a few little restaurants serving set menus for under 2000 pesos.

The cheap option is always the ‘menu de dia’. It’s a set meal that contains a soup, the main course and sometimes a drink or desert. It’s served for lunch and dinner only, between 12-3pm and 6-9pm. It almost always contains meat but it was fairly easy for us to get them to replace it – sometimes we’d get an omlet (tortilla) instead, other times just 3 slices of tomatoes and some letuce. We survived either way:).

Must have food:

Salmon a la pobre (or any other fish/meat cooked a la pobre) – they call this the meal of the poor (pobre=poor) and it’s absolute deliciousness! It contains a huge piece of meat/fish with 2 fried eggs on top, a generous poertion of fries and some fried onion on a side. They use calamansi and sauce sauce in giving it the unique taste you will absolutely love!

Curanto – a sea-food dish typical to Valdivia. Contains different types of muscles and clams, some pork, chicken and sausage, boiled potatoes and a special soup. It is huge, so you can take it to share. Make sure you order a ‘te frio’ to go with that.

Churros – sweet street food found everywhere. It can be plain or with chocolate, cheese, banana or manjar. You will find it in most South American countries.

Mansana empanadas – the empanadas are a type of pastry you can find pretty much everywhere, but the mansana (apple) ones are typical to Chiloe Island.

Must have drinks:

Tsunami (also known as Teremoto) – a mixture of white wine and pinapple ice-cream.

Te frio (cold tea) – found South of Santiago, it’s actually cold wine served in tea cups by the restaurants which do not have a licence to serve alcohol.

 

TRANSPORTATION

We were generally happy with the buses, they were clean, warm and comfortable and the prices reasonable. The most we paid was 60USD for a 24 hour ride (San Pedro to Santiago). It got cheaper further South and we paid 50USD for a 33 hour ride from Chiloe Island to Punta Arenas (they did say it was more expensive during peak season though).

Favorite bus companies

Our favorite was Pullman, and Tur Bus is also very good. Do your best to avoid the other ones if you can.

The best things in the country (our opinion of course): people’s hospitality; huge variety of landscapes, from deserts in the North to glaciers in the South; reasonable prices for tours and tourist attractions; Patagonia’s impressive colors in autumn; salmon a la pobre and tsunami.

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