Passport: entry is generally straightforward as long as passport is valid for at least six months beyond arrival date.
Customs Regulations: no restrictions on import and export of local and foreign currency. Duty-free allowances include purchases of up to US$500. Travelers leaving the duty-free Regions I and XII are subject to internal customs inspections; there are heavy fines for fruit, dairy, spices, nuts, meat and organic products. X-ray machines are used at major international border crossings, such as Los Libertadores (the crossing from Mendoza, Argentina) and Pajaritos (the crossing from Bariloche, Argentina).
Visas: generally not required for stays of up to 90 days. Australian citizens must pay a 'reciprocity fee' when arriving by air.
Tourist Cards: on arrival, visitors will be handed a 90-day tourist card in the form of a receipt with bar code that will be asked upon leaving the country. It's possible to renew a tourist card for 90 more days. Many visitors prefer a quick dash across the Argentine border and back.
Electricity: the electricity current operates on 220V, 50Hz; plugs are C / L type.
Time: for most of the year Chile is 4 hours behind GMT, but from mid-December to late March, because of daylight-saving time (summer time), the difference is 3 hours. The exact date of the changeover varies from year to year. Note that Southern Patagonia uses the summer time for the entire year and Easter Island is 2 hours behind Santiago.
Internet Access: most regions have excellent internet connections; it is typical for hotels, hostels and coffee shops to have Wi-Fi. Much of Patagonia lags behind in this area, though free public Wi-Fi is available in some communities on the plaza.
Mobile Phones: foreign travelers with unlocked cell phones can only use a Chilean SIM card after registering their own device in Chile. Local SIM cards are cheap and widely available, for use with unlocked GSM 850/1900 phones. There's 3G or 4G access in urban centers. Cell-phone numbers have nine digits, starting with 9. If calling cell-to-landline, use the landline's area code. Cell phones have a 'caller pays' format. Calls between cell and landlines are expensive and quickly eat up prepaid card amounts. Purchase a new SIM card from a Chilean operator such as Entel or Movistar. Then purchase phone credit from the same carrier in kiosks, pharmacies or supermarket check-outs. In Patagonia, Entel has much better coverage than other companies. There's reception in most inhabited areas, with the poorest reception in the middle of the Atacama Desert and parts of Patagonia.
Money: ATMs are widely available, except along the Carretera Austral. Credit cards are accepted at higher-end hotels, some restaurants and shops. Traveler's checks are not widely accepted.
ATMs: Chile's many ATMs, known as Redbanc, are the easiest and most convenient way to access funds. Transaction fees can be high. Most machines have instructions in Spanish and English. Choose the option “tarjeta extranjera” (foreign card) before starting the transaction. Throughout Patagonia, many small villages only have one bank. Those crossing overland from El Chaltén, Argentina to Villa O'Higgins should bring plenty of Chilean pesos, as the nearest reliable banks are in Coyhaique.
Cash: some banks and “casas de cambio” (exchange houses) will exchange cash, usually US$ dollars only. More costly purchases -such as tours and hotel bills- can sometimes be paid in US$ cash.
Credit Cards: plastic (especially Visa and MasterCard) is welcome in most established businesses; however, many businesses will charge up to 6% extra to cover the charge they have to pay for the transaction. Credit cards can also be useful to show 'sufficient funds' before entering another South American country.
Currency: the Chilean unit of currency is the peso (CH$). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coin values are 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos, although one-peso coins are fast disappearing, and even fives and 10s are uncommon. It’s important to carry small bills; it also can be difficult to change large bills in rural areas.
Tipping: it's customary to tip 10% of the bill in restaurants (the bill may include it under 'servicio'). Taxis Drivers do not require tips.
Taxes & Refunds: a 19% value-added tax known as the impuesto de valor agregado (IVA) is levied on all goods and services. When using US dollars or a foreign credit card to pay for lodgings or tour packages no IVA, or tax, is charged.
Opening Hours: Hours given are generally for high season; in many provincial cities and towns, restaurants and services are closed on Sunday and tourist offices close in low season.
Banks 9am–2pm weekdays, sometimes 10am–1pm Saturday
Government offices & businesses 9am–6pm weekdays
Museums often close Monday
Restaurants Noon–11pm, many close 4–7pm
Shops 10am–8pm, some close 1–3pm
The longest and thinnest country in the world runs from the Andes to the Pacific. As well as sharing borders with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. Chile also has territories in Polynesia and Antarctica, making it a tri-continental nation. From the high Andean plateau to the untouched southern territories at the end of the world, Chile invites to live adventures in the middle of the world’s driest desert, in the unique rainy temperate forest of South America, in front of millennial glaciers or under the watchful eye of the Andes in the middle of the buzz of modern cities like its capital, Santiago. These cultural and climatic contrasts have left an imprint on the identity of the country and its people. Warm, energetic, approachable and kind, Chileans share the love for their land, which invites you to build relationships beyond boundaries, to live unique experiences and to discover Chile.
Population: 18,1 millions.
Capital city: Santiago.
People: 95% European descent and Mestizo, 5% Indian.
Language: Spanish and a handful of native languages, including Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui.
Religion: 89% roman catholic, 10% protestant, less than 1% jewish.
We begin our tour stopping at the viewpoint of "Cerro de la Cruz", from where you have a wonderful overview of the city with its colorful roofs, the Strait of Magellan and in the background the big island of Tierra del Fuego. Later the tour goes to the main streets and monuments, then visit the Salesian Museum "Maggiorino Borgatello", founded by the Salesians of Punta Arenas in 1893, it is therefore one of the oldest of its kind in Chile. This museum houses a comprehensive collection of Patagonian tribes, flora, fauna, history and economy. Then visit the "Palacio Sara Braun," the story of the pioneers of Patagonia has some protagonists wrote pages in both countries Argentina and Chile . The Braun family was one of them and the city of Punta Arenas is the place where they lived and forged his destiny. Near the Plaza de Armas, in addition to know the cathedral, the government building, the traditional hotel Cape Horn, are Sara Braun Palace and Jose Braun Menendez residence two mansions worth visiting for understand the influence of the family on the origins of the city. All this will allow visitors to have a thorough knowledge of the city.
More than 300 years after the failed attempt of the Spanish colonization, the Government of Chile takes the unfinished dream of populating the Magallanes Region. Thus in 1843, the schooner Ancud saturates two kilometers from Port Famine (Puerto del Hambre) in PUNTA SANTA ANA, where Fort Bulnes is built based on logs of wood and grass huts, noble materials that helped establish the Chilean sovereignty in the Strait of Magellan. After six years of great hardships, the settlers realize that Punta Santa Ana had no conditions for a permanent human settlement, so they move northward in search of a friendlier climate. Thus, the city of Punta Arenas is set in the area called Sandy Point, leading to neglect and decay of Fort Bulnes. In January 1852 riots in the city of Punta Arenas Lieutenant Cambiazo in their flight to the south of the city; among other raids, fire facilities Fuerte Bulnes, which were completely destroyed. However, the story did justice to their importance, and between 1941 and 1943, it was rebuilt, it was declared a National Monument in 1968.
Sail daily trought the Magellan Strait to Isla Magdalena and Isla Marta, both of them form the Natural Monument Los Pinguinos, who protect at more than 120.000 penguins and also a small colony of sea lions. Both islands form an interesting ecosystem, making an obligatory visit for any visitor, whereas Marta Island lodges more than 1000 Sea lions, Cormorants, Skuas, Austral seagull, Antartic pigeon and Sea elephants. The Magdalena Island allows us to interact with one of the majors colonies of Magellan Penguins, going beyond the 150,000 birds. During the navigation it is possible to sight Austral Dolphins and Overas Toninas (kind of dolphins). To protect wild life, Marta Island is only circumnavigated to admire and photograph the Colony and the diversity of marine birds that live there. However in Magdalena Island it is possible to disembark for about one hour, to walk and to interact with the colony.