Chile - General Info
Chile is a magnificent country, and maybe one that is not linked very often with mortorhome rental or campervan hire, but this is a great place to explore. The land stretches for thousands of miles southwards, even though it’s only thin and skinny. From north to south there is a huge diversity of landscapes from arid desserts to glaciers, from mountains to beaches, and then of course there are the wine regions, cities, volcanoes and the wonderful Easter Island.
Earthquake – Maule Region
On the 27th February 2010 an earthquake of 8.8 magnitude struck the area around Concepcion. Many areas near to the epicentre were badly damaged, as was the city of Talcahuano on the coast which was hit by a subsequent tsunami. Many areas are now back up and functioning almost as before, the Lake District and Patagonia in the south and the north of the country are largely unaffected, but in the centre of the country many roads are still in need of repair so diligent driving is required. The main roads are now repaired however; if you intend to go off the beaten track make sure you have a suitable vehicle.
Good to Know
Chile’s weather ranges from baking heat in the north to freezing temperatures in the very south of the country. The centre of the country, including the capital Santiago, has an almost Mediterranean climate with the cooler and wetter times to visit are between May and August. Come prepared with a variety of clothing and some waterproofs, especially if you intend of doing a north to south trip.
Chile’s official language is Spanish, although there are a few dialects in the more remote areas and on Easter Island. Don’t forget your phrasebook if you don’t speak the language. English is spoken here, but usually only in the more tourist orientated spots, and the larger cities.
In general the roads in Chile are very good, the Pan American Highway travels most of the way down the country from the Peruvian border to Puerto Montt, a total of 3,455km or 2,147 miles north to south. The Chilean’s tend to be more compliant with regard to the traffic laws, unlike some of their Hispanic cousins, it is mandatory to wear seat belts in the front of a vehicle and against the law to use a mobile phone, wear headphones, or smoke whilst driving! Be aware that the road signs are only in Spanish, another good reason to bring a phrasebook, and many of the shapes and colours of the signs are different from both Europe and the US. If you are travelling to some of the more remote areas it’s a good idea to rent a 4x4 vehicle, always carry plenty of water, and make sure you’ve filled up the fuel tank!
A motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in Chile is a very relaxed affair. You won’t find hordes of tourists all at the same spot because the areas are vast, there are so many places to visit and things to do, make sure you take as much time as you can to discover the whole of the country and you won’t be disappointed.
Chile Is full of fantastic places to visit for holiday makers with a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle. Here are 10 places where you might like to try, and hopefully there will be something here for everyone.
There are a few ways to describe the geography of Chile, thin is one, diverse another, but a popular way is to describe it by colours….confused? Well it’s pretty self explanatory, start off with orange at the top, signifying heat, as you head south the colour changes to yellow until you reach the centre where it tunes green, then it turns blue, and then finally at the very southerly tip white! Now isn’t that a different way of describing things; but if you prefer a more traditional approach here we go….
Chile is very diverse for visitors deciding to take a road trip in a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle. There’s the arid north or the glacial south, and in between fertile and green valleys. If you’re travelling to Chile you will probably be spending longer than a few days here, we’ll start from the centre around Santiago and then work our way both up and down this beautiful country.
A motorhome rental or campervan hire is a fantastic way to experience some of Chile’s undiscovered areas. These are not places where there is a hotel around every corner, or even a restaurant, so having everything with you gives you the edge to find that ‘special’ place. Chile has lots of areas considered to be off the beaten track but here we will ‘uncover’ just two, Patagonia and the Atacama dessert and antiplano.
Arica is a port city in the very north of Chile, just 18km or 11 miles south of the border with Peru. This is an area of both the dry Atacama Desert and some areas of tropical oasis, where greenery is lush and fruit and vegetables grow. Arica is a popular tourist destination for all kinds of travellers including those with a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle because it has a very good beach, and it has very good links to Peru and Bolivia.
The dusty mining town of Calama is just like a scene from a Wild West movie. It sits on a high, arid, mountain range and is one of the driest places in the whole world, although the River Loa, Chile’s longest river runs through it. This would probably not be somewhere that the average tourist would stop for too long, as it is really only a stopping off point for the Atacama Desert. For visitors with motorhome rental or campervan hire, there is little choice, but at least you will have your own comfortable surroundings rather than having to find a hotel for the night.
Puerto Montt is another of those important places that marks the beginning, or end, of a motorhome rental or campervan hire adventure. This is where you can get together everything you’ll need for the journey south to places such as the incredible Patagonia, or Carretera Austral, or is somewhere to think over what you have just seen; it’s also the crossroads for travelling to Argentina. The peaks of the Andes tower above it and the ocean gives a taste of things to come, although there are some colorful houses, this is not the picturesque lands of the rest of the Lake District, but it is however a place of necessity and has everything a traveller needs including some good restaurants; try the local salmon, its incredible.
The city of Puerto Natales is the gateway to the amazing Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. This is a busy and bustling port for both locals and tourists; and for visitors on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday it’s a place to spend time getting together provisions for the next leg of an incredible journey south. This is where the great outdoors is wild and awe inspiring, with incredible national parks, mountains, and wildlife. Here are a few suggestions of how to spend your time here.
Punta Arenas is the third largest city in Patagonia, and only 881 miles or 1418 km from the coast of Antarctica. The literal translation of Punta Arenas is ‘Sandy Point’, but why?...To impress some of the fellow travellers you might meet on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in the area the following useful historical facts may come in useful. Punta Arenas is the most southerly settlement in the Magellan Strait, the name Magellan is the name of the first Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who passed by here in 1520 on behalf of the Spanish during a circumnavigation of the globe. Early navigational documents relating to the area refer to it as ‘Sandy Point’!
As you would expect from any capital city Santiago de Chile is packed with museums, theatres, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues. Positioned right in the centre or the country it’s the ideal starting and finishing point for a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday in Chile.
The city of Valparaiso is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. A motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday here is more about wondering the streets, taking in the atmosphere and the brightly coloured buildings rather than trudging round tourist sights. You’ll be glad of this because much of the city is extremely hilly, but that’s where one of the ‘must do’s’ comes in handy, not just for tourists but residents too, more about that later. As with any city Valparaiso has a multitude of places to eat, drink and to be entertained in, so it’s recommended to find a good place to stay for a few nights and just enjoy the atmosphere.
Chile’s long coastline certainly has no shortage of beaches for every kind of visitor. Whether it be the rugged natural kind, or the popular town beaches, the country has something for everyone. If you have a campervan hire or motorhome rental and want to check out Chile’s best beaches here’s a list from north to as far south as you’d want to go to dip your toe in the water, unless of course you’re are a Magellan Penguin!