Getting Around Chile
How you travel around Chile will depend much on the time you have available, your personal preferences and your budget. Chile is fast establishing itself as a popular self-drive destination, boasting some of the most spectacular roadside scenery in the world. Due to the elongated shape and long length of the country however, it is often necessary to fly between regions to make the most of your time. Escorted tour options ensure you always have an experienced guide on hand and do not waste time working out logistics or trying to find your way from A to B.
However you choose to travel, Discover the World and our appointed representatives on the ground, will be there to help ensure everything runs smoothly and you are free to simply relax and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
Flying around Chile
The long, stretched out shape that makes Chile such a diverse and fascinating country, does make travelling from one area of interest to another by land, a little bit tricky if you are short on time. There are however many municipal airports dotted around the country’s many tourist hot spots, making flying one of the easier ways to get around in a hurry. A small number of domestic carriers will take you, often very affordably, between the key gateways from where transfers, excursions and car hire can be arranged to help you explore the areas that spark your interest.
If you are happy to drive, then Chile will reward you with some incredible sights and amazing adventures. Generally speaking, the main tourist routes are kept in reasonably good condition, and you will likely encounter relatively few other cars – depending on the region and time of year in which you travel. Having your own vehicle allows for an independent approach, with greater freedom and flexibility to explore off the beaten track and means you can spend more time at the locations that interest you the most.
While it is not mandatory to hire a 4x4 vehicle in the majority of locations, we do recommend them. They afford you a smoother, more comfortable journey, additional storage and seating space and increased possibilities for unplanned adventure.
Chile is one of the safest countries on the continent and the locals are often all too willing to help a tourist in need, whatever the reason. Our detailed documentation and 24 hour local assistance will ensure you are always well informed and looked after for the duration of your journey.
Like in almost all of her South American neighbours, the residents of Chile drive on the right hand side of the road. While most signage will be in Spanish, property and place names should be recognisable enough for English eyes to identify without difficulty.
Toll roads are frequent and although rates are inexpensive, most must be paid for locally and in cash (Chilean Pesos), so it is important to ensure you carry a supply of small change with you at all times.
Expedition Cruises / Local Ferries
The extensive coastline and endless fjords make exploring Chile by water a genuine and very popular option. While there are a handful of voyages each year that will travel further north, the main networks of expedition cruise opportunities are located on the largely sheltered seas of Patagonia. Here, passengers can experience extraordinary scenery, glacial activity and the kind of wildlife normally associated with Antarctica – including penguins and elephant seals. There are also many local ferry transfers available in this region, particularly useful for those wishing to gain access to the notoriously remote route known as the Carretera Austral.
Local transport in Chile is reasonably priced, but outside of the main cities of Santiago and Valparaiso, it can be awkward to plan around. While the country has a strong historic association with the railways, many lines now lie overgrown and abandoned, meaning the non-driving population is heavily reliant on the bus and ferry networks to move about. These are generally quite reliable, but can be infrequent and, at peak times, overcrowded.
By far the easiest and most comfortable way to travel in each region (without hiring a car) is to book onto private or group transfers and excursions. These eliminate the need to waste valuable time preparing for and arranging your every move. The drivers and guides will also often be able to offer advice and local knowledge, enhancing your understanding of the regions and sites that you are travelling to and ensuring you do not miss any secret hidden gems.
Escorted tours are a great option for those who want to cover a lot of ground without needing to worry about driving or spending time planning logistics. They are also ideal for anyone wanting to gain a good understanding of the history and culture of the regions being visited as an experienced guide will be on hand to answer your questions and ensure you do not miss out on anything worthwhile.
We offer small group experiences, which have a strong focus on nature and wildlife, while ensuring participants are also able to interact with the locals and learn of their traditions. An element of flexibility is also embedded to enable individuals with different interests and abilities to choose the activities which best suit them.