Best time to go: March – May & September – November
Best for: Natural Attractions – lakes, mountains; Easter Island
The first thing that strikes potential visitors to Chile is the country`s extraordinary, elongated shape, and this South American nation has a remarkable geography to match. It stretches thousands of miles from one end to the other, from arid, rain-starved desert in the north to the icy glaciers of the south. The beautiful Andes mountain range is rarely far from sight, defining the country`s easterly border.
The country`s capital Santiago is a vast, often smoggy sprawl set between the Andes and a coastal mountain range. It has several museums and attractions that are well worth a visit, and a reasonable choice of accommodation and restaurants.
Chile`s beautiful Lake District is made up of national parks that offer staggeringly lovely views of ancient monkey puzzle trees, pristine alpine lakes and perfectly shaped volcanoes.
One of the world`s most active volcanoes, Volcán Villarrica near Pucón, is safer than it sounds – it is also one of the world`s most monitored, so you should have plenty of warning of any imminent eruption.
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Capital: Santiago (SCL)
Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)
Dialling code from SA: +56
Time Zone: UTC / GMT -4 (6 hours behind South Africa). Easter Island: UTC / GMT -6 (8 hours behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: from first Sunday September to last Sunday April: UTC / GMT -3 (5 hours behind South Africa). Easter Island: UTC / GMT -5 (7 hours behind South Africa)
Side of the Road: Right
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular
metal pins are used.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you are bringing medication on your travels it should be in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. Bargaining is not practiced in street markets.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Landmines are still active in some areas around the borders – visitors should stick to marked roads.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Chile without incurring customs duty: • 400 cigarettes and 500g of tobacco and 50 cigars
• 2.5L of alcoholic drinks
• Gifts to the value of US$300
• Items bought on arrival in the duty-free shop to the value of US$500
Prohibited Imports: Used cars and motorbikes, asbestos and pornography. Restricted imports requiring authorisation include firearms and ammunition, food, drugs and pharmaceutical products.