Did you ever fantasize about being in one of the most panoramic countries in the world? Chile’s view of the Andes is not only unparalleled, it is also as awe-inspiring as it can get (not to mention the other sights). For its abundance of natural wonders and its friendly, talkative people, it has seen a rise in tourists in the past few years. Yet before you travel there, keep these six essential things in mind!
This is quite possibly one of the most controversial aspects of Chile: its prices. While numerous guides and people will tell you that Chile is cheap, this is not entirely the case (note the word “entirely”). While you can get almost anything at fairly reasonable prices, there are always financial traps that one should learn to avoid. And this is the main reason that lies behind the discrepancy in opinions – Chile is a country of financial contrasts. From the classiest, you can go to the cheapest. So no, things are neither always cheap there nor sky-rending in terms of prices – it all depends on how you manage your budget and how you plan your trips.
2. Temblor, sweet temblor:
If you think that Japan is the only country plagued by constant earthquakes, then you clearly haven’t been to Chile, where the very ground moves beneath you as often as you forget about it. This is the thing with the Chilean earthquakes: they always hit when you think that they have forgotten about you and that they have spared you. While you might find yourself questioning your very existence at the first experience, you will see the locals basking in everlasting tranquillity (often signalling at you to stay calm). “How is that even possible?” you might ask. Well, regularity begs assuetude.
3. Climate zones:
If you think that packing the necessities will be easy when travelling to Chile, then you are terribly wrong. Why? Well, because Chile is about 4,300 kilometres long and it passes through a number of climate zones. From the Atacama Desert to subtropical paradises, you will encounter everything there. Oh, and let us not forget about the mountains because they inadvertently beg that you pack some heavy clothes. And on a side-note, do not confuse llamas with guanacos or alpacas – that kind of mischief can get you laughed at (wink)!
4. Ah, sweet Spanish:
First and foremost, understand that the language spoken in Chile is Spanish. So we got that down, now it is time for the heavy artillery. While you might think that you are a Latin-ace, you are soon going to find out that things can get pretty confusing even to the familiar ear. This is because Chileno Spanish is like putting the world-champion of all runners on an impossible treadmill – in other words, they will grind words faster than you can make basic mental connections. The only remedy for this inevitable situation is spending time with the locals and getting accustomed to their “style.” But let us not hop overboard and believe that it is impossible – after a little listening-in, you are bound to enjoy it!
Guess what? They are completely unnecessary. You can visit Chile and stay for 90 days without a single bat of an eyelash. Yet if you wish to extend your stay for more, you can do what the local expats do: cross the border to Mendoza (Argentina) for a cup of tea or something and return to Chile with a renewed deadline. And guess what else you can do starting out from Mendoza? That’s right, hit the Aconcagua peak if you are a daredevil (wink)!
6. Night owl haven:
We all know how the Spaniards tend to eat as late as they can and this inadvertently crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Chile’s restaurants serve lunch after 13:00 and dinner after 17:00. This can get even later with some establishments because their clientele simply demands it. Yet this does not mean that you are going to starve if you are trying to stay within your normal munching-hours (wink). Get yourself some great street food or hit the supermarkets! Oh and you will find that the Chileans host parties that reach well into the night. Dinners and other events make you wonder if the country was founded by night owls.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Chile and what was your overall perception of the country? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some interesting updates from time to time! Safe travels, earthquake rider!