"Chile: An easy, comfortable country to visit" Chile by melosh

Chile Travel Guide: 4,913 reviews and 13,636 photos

A country that works

If you can get past the challenge of street Chilean Spanish, which is fast and off standard with lots of missing sounds and some changes in pronunciation, then you will find Chile a comfortable country to visit. The country seems to work. There is a professionalism about that even includes "non-bribe-able carabineros. Buses, planes and trains seem to follow schedule on time, other activities not so much. Although crime is not unheard of, it does not seem pervasive. Probably most shocking is the fact that you can feel safe in crosswalks --drivers actually stop for pedestrians.

As a group. . .

On the surface Chileans seem to be more reserved than most Latin Americans, but once you get beyond this surface coolness, they are as "simpatico" as any. A bottle of Chilean wine can be useful, but a smile and a little initiative works just as well. What I found surprising was the passion (love and hate) held by Chileans about Allende and Pinochet. One lady blamed Allende for destroying the Chile she once knew and replacing it with a Chile characterized by class hatred. She believed Pinochet tried to save Chile, but failed. Others saw Allende as representing social justice and Pinochet injustice and crime. The closest I got to a neutral response to my neutral questions was from one fisherman who said that neither effected his life so he did not care -- but most people seemed to care a lot.

A group of Spanish travelers observed this same thing and commented that in Spain 3 million people were killed in three years, but Spain was over Franco. Perhaps in 10 years, Chile will have moved beyond Allende and Pinochet, but if today's passion is any indication, maybe not.

An early warning-- You will need more time.

On the Navimag ferry from Puerto Montt to Natales I had the chance to meet a friendly collection of more than 8 independent travelers headed to Patagonia in the late off season. What was surprising was that each one had a different planned itinerary. What we all realized was that no one had planned enough time to see everything. The idea of a gringo trail did not really seem to apply. It would be more like multiple intersection pathways. Considering how Chile is rather a remote travel destination for most VT members and reaching Patagonia from Santiago requires crossing a lot of latitude, I would advise more strongly than for most countries that a visitor no matter how much time they are planning add extra time if at all possible.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The seafood alone is worth the trip.
  • Cons:A visit is a bit more expensive than in most of Latin America
  • In a nutshell:Chile: desert to glaciers, mountains to ocean
  • Last visit to Chile: Nov 2008
  • Intro Updated Dec 14, 2009
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melosh

“If you have not been, you can not know.”

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