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Country Guides for South America

Chile

Chile

From the deserts of the north to the tundra of the south, and from the Andes to Easter Island, the long, narrow country of Chile offers a host of diverse travel experiences. If it's an urban adventure that you're looking for, Santiago offers wonderful restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Lovers of nature will find magnificent national parks like Torres del Paine and Parque National Puyehue that are home to hundreds of bird, mammal and plant species. For those who just want to relax with a lovely glass of Chilean wine, La Serena and Vina del Mar offer sunny resorts and sandy beaches. Note: The summers in Santiago and surrounding areas can be extremely smoggy.

Language: Spanish

Major International Airport:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
SantiagoSantiago Int'lSCL10 miles NW

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry.

Dengue, American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), and leishmaniasis are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

If you visit the Andes Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. In addition, use sunblock rated at least 15 SPF, because the risk of sunburn is greater at high altitudes.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

The CDC recommends the following vaccines as appropriate for age (See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect):

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • Yellow fever vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to the northeastern forest areas of Argentina.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don't share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it. Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Those traveling to Chile are at risk from Chagas disease transmitted by triatomine bugs. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing in rural areas.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

With the exception of some first class hotels, the water supply in Chile is contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The potential for terrorist activity is low. There has been some politically motivated violence among indigenous communities in southern Chile, none of which has affected Americans or other foreigners. Potential for civil disturbance is low, although demonstrations, sometimes violent, do occur, particularly on the anniversary of the September 11, 1973 coup against the government of President Salvador Allende.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement , Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME: Crime rates are relatively low. Most crimes against foreigners involve pick pocketing or theft from purses, backpacks, or rental cars. There have been few violent crimes against Americans in Chile, although visitors should be as alert to the possibility of crime in Santiago and other cities as they would be in any large city. Tourists using taxis in Santiago should be alert to possible scams involving currency switching. There have been reports of taxi drivers switching 10,000 peso notes given them by passengers for 1,000 peso notes and demanding additional payment. Since the notes look similar, passengers should be very careful to indicate to the driver when paying in the larger denomination. Police are generally responsive to reports of crime by Americans.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.



Source: U.S. Department of State

Northern Chile is warm and extremely dry, with very little temperature variation from month to month. Moving southward to central Chile, the climate is more Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The southern region offers a marine climate, with warm wet summers and cool wet winters.


City
Annual
Precip. Days
Annual
Precip. Totals
Iquique10.7"
Puerto Montt21571"
Punta Arenas14815"
Santiago5212"

Chile's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

United States citizens entering Chile for business or pleasure require a visa, which can be obtained at the port of entry upon payment of a Reciprocity Fee. The visa is valid for 90 days and can be extended for an additional 90 days for another fee. Visitors will be issued a Tourist Card upon entry that must be surrendered upon departure. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Consular Section, Embassy of Chile, 1734 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC 20036, tel. (202) 530-4104, fax (202) 530-4145, or the Embassy of Chile web site at www.chile-usa.org.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Chile is -4 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Chile would be 1:00 pm

The unit of currency in Chile is the Chilean peso (CLP).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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Other Travelers' Experiences in Chile

"Street crime is rampant in most Chilean metropolitan areas. Do not wear anything of value that is visible on your person. Santiago is particular bad with many reports of people being assaulted and robbed on the downtown streets. "