When to go & weather: The summer in Chile is from November to March, and is the best time to visit Patagonia and the beaches around Santiago. The winter is from June to September. The ski season is from August to October, but bear in mind that southern Patagonia is sometimes hard to get to at this time of year as roads are blocked due to adverse weather conditions. Easter Island has a pleasant climate all year round.
Documents: Make paper and digital copies of all your travel documents before leaving home, and store them in a safe place. Do the same for any documents that you pick-up along the way (eg. Any tickets you buy locally and Immigration cards which you will be given upon entering most countries.) Having a copy of your lost or stolen documents will make it much easier to replace them. In most countries in South America you are legally required to carry a form of photo ID at all times in case of random police checks, a copy of your passport is sufficient.
Visa requirements: British Passport holders are granted a tourist visa upon arrival valid for stays of up to 90 days. You may be asked to produce proof of onward travel upon arrival in Chile so we recommend you keep a printed version of your tickets with you at all times. Upon arrival you will complete an arrival card, make sure you keep your part of this document as you will need to present it with your passport when leaving the country. Make a copy or take a digital photo of this card and store it with your copy of your passport. If you lose it you will have to pay for a replacement before being allowed to leave the country.
Travel Insurance: You must take out an appropriate Travel Insurance policy to travel with Discover South America Ltd. Make sure you are covered for medical expenses abroad and repatriation should it be necessary. If you plan to carry out any adventurous activities such as multi-day treks at altitude (whether as part of your Discover South America tour, or independently) make sure your policy covers you. Most insurers will include cover for specific activities at a premium if those activities are not included as standard. We can advise upon suitable policies.
Money: The currency in Chile is the Peso Chileno. ATMs are widely available and dispense Pesos or US Dollars. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and major shops and restaurants in big cities. Make sure you tell your bank or card provider before you travel if you are planning to use your card abroad and check their fees for making withdrawals and using your credit card abroad. US Dollars can be used in tourist areas and can be exchanged for Pesos in other areas. Official Exchange offices are more secure than informal money changers found in all large cities.
Before you go: Visit your GP at least 8 weeks before departure, so that any vaccinations you may need have become fully effective before you travel. Many UK surgeries have travel clinics and will advise you on the specific requirements for the countries you are visiting. To visit lowland jungle areas you should have a yellow fever vaccination, and some sources recommend malaria prophylaxes. Check the NHS Fit for Travel website for more information: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
While you are there: Food hygiene standards are high in Chile compared to other South American countries, you should still drink bottled water.
Safety: Unfortunately, pick pocketing and distraction theft occurs in cities all over South America, particularly in places frequented by tourists such as bus terminals. Common sense is often your best defence – do not wear flashy jewellery or display valuable objects in poor areas and big cities. Your local guides will advise you on the safe areas to walk around independently, and any areas to avoid. If travelling independently before or after your tour, or if you do not have transfers included, make sure you always use a registered radio taxi in cities, identifiable by their plaques. Hotels will always be happy to call a trusted taxi company for you.
View our destination guide for Chile.