For your Discover Chile Hiking Tour – The Ultimate Hiking Experience, you definitely want to be well prepared.
No matter which hiking stages you choose, we recommend the following packing list:
Underwear: Synthetics are easier to wash and dry. Synthetic thermal underwear. You need a lightweight long underwear top and bottom of a polyester-type fabric. Wool and wool/synthetic blends are also suitable for 4 hiking stages excepting Easter Island.
Clothing: Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt. Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts. Medium-weight sweater or jacket of synthetic fabric, such as fleece. Gore-Tex wind parka for foul weather. Full-length pants, preferably of quick-drying synthetic fabric. Hiking shorts, preferably of quick-drying synthetic fabric. Pile/fleece pants, ideal for relaxing time after hiking.
Accessories: Sun hat with wide brim, preferably with a chin strap to keep it from blowing off. Bandanna. It will keep your neck from getting sunburned and can double as a hand towel. Wool or pile hat or ski cap. Gloves or mittens (wool or pile).
Foot wear: Sturdy, properly fitting footwear can make your trip much more pleasurable. If you’re buying new boots for this trip, please break them in beforehand by wearing them as often as possible before the trip. Medium-weight, all leather, sturdy trekking boots with padded ankle, good arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your trekking boots should be well broken in, and suitable for prolonged walking on sandy and rocky terrain. Running shoes are NOT appropriate for this trip. Medium weight synthetic socks (we recommend Thorlo® Lt. Trekking). Athletic socks (synthetic for easy washing and drying) that are suitable for the shoes you’ll be wearing while in towns. Inner socks (synthetic) that can be washed and dried quickly.
Other Items: Swimsuit (for hot springs and Easter Island); One set of casual city clothes that are dressier than your trek clothes (for the cities); Hiking sticks (optional but highly recommended). These are helpful, if not essential, to relieve the impact on your knees during long downhills; Camera with plenty of memory!; and Binoculars.
Travel Accessories: Wide mouth water bottles, 1-liter capacity. Bring two and make sure they are leak-proof, heavy duty plastic (preferably Nalgene brand). Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on; Moisturizing lotion; Ace bandage or brace if you’re prone to sore knees or ankles; Sunglasses (very important); Sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. The sun in Chile can be much more intense than you probably imagine, even in Patagonia!; Sunscreen lipstick of SPF 15 or higher; Small flashlight with spare batteries, or small headlamp with spare batteries; Zip-lock bags (they’re great for camera gear); Personal first aid kit; Swiss Army-type pocket knife with can opener and scissors.
Your favorite snack food. We’ll have plenty of excellent food, but you might want to bring along your favorite snack food (such as raisins or chocolate). Although we accommodate vegetarians, meat is one of Chile’s main staples, Vegetarians might want to bring some protein supplements.
We suggest visiting the web for current conditions in Chile and doing your own research on this topic.
Here is a general description for each hiking stage:
The Atacama Desert is commonly known as the driest place in the world. Although the almost total lack of precipitation is the most prominent characteristic of the Atacama Desert, exceptions may occur. The Invierno Boliviano or Altiplano Winter is a phenomenon which can produce a little rain and abundant electrical storms, and occurs in January and February. The average rainfall is about 15 mm. (0.59 in) per year. Moreover, some weather stations in the Atacama have never received rain. This desert is so arid that many mountains higher than 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) are completely free of glaciers; indeed, only the highest peaks have some permanent snow coverage. In San Pedro de Atacama, the local climate is extremely dry and mild, with daytime temperatures between 25ºC to 30ºC (77ºF–86ºF) in the summer (December to February) and 18ºC to 25 °C (64 to 77 °F) in the winter (June to August). Nighttime temperatures routinely drop below 0 °C (32 °F) and can reach as low as −10 °C (14 °F) in the winter.
Rapa Nui or Easter Island is classified as a tropical rainforest climate that borders on a humid subtropical climate. The temperatures are mild and suffer minimal seasonal variations. The lowest temperatures are recorded in July and August (18 °C or 64 °F) and the highest in February (maximum temperature 28 °C or 82 °F), the summer season in the southern hemisphere. Winters are relatively mild. The rainiest month is May, though the island experiences year-round rainfall. Easter Island’s isolated location exposes it to winds which help to keep the temperature fairly cool. Precipitation averages 1,100 mm or 44 inches per year. Occasionally, heavy rainfall and rainstorms strike the island. These occur mostly in the winter months (June–August). The driest months are between October and February. The temperature of the sea is for the whole year above 20ºC , its varies between 25ºC in the months of February and March and 20ºC in the months between July and October. Since it is close to the South Pacific High and outside the range of the intertropical convergence zone, cyclones and hurricanes do not occur around Easter island.
The Lake and Volcano District + Cochamo Valley and Chiloe Island
Generally the weather in this area is very similar to Northern California, specially the coast side. Late October and November (spring time in the southern hemisphere) present milder temperatures 10ºC to 25ºC (50°F to 77°F) with some scattered rain (likewise during our Fall, March and April). During December you can start feeling the beginning of the summer with temperatures around 10ºC to 27ºC (50°F to 81°F). In January and February temperatures range between 15ºC and 35ºC (60°F / 95°F). Remember that you are visiting the Lake & Volcano district, so always expect some rain!
Torres del Paine in Patagonia
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the saturated winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, the influence from the strong marine currents and Southern Patagonian Ice field make the weather hard to predict.
In Torres del Paine in spring or early summer fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rains and eventually snow. Even in summer (December to march) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min). Rest assured, however, that just as quickly as the weather turns nasty, it can become pleasantly warm! Night-time temperatures will most likely range from –1°C to -5°C (30s and 40s F) depending on the weather.
We run this tour under a regular departure and private departure. In the latter case you set the dates.
Private and regular departures from September 2015 until May 2016.
Atacama Desert, Easter Island and Lake & Volcano District Hiking stages have a Luxury Version available.
Mainly hiking, some days including natural hot springs, wildlife observation, and boat rides.
This tour presents two difficulty levels, intermediate and advanced level.
Intermediate Hiking: A reasonable level of fitness is required, as these hiking trips can require sustained endurance levels, hills and longer days. These outings are more demanding than the previous level, intended for active people who are comfortable participating in up to 4-5 hours of hiking per day. They may include hiking on difficult terrain, sometimes steep and/or uneven trails, with obstacles such as wet logs, branches and muddy areas.
Advanced Hiking: You love hiking. These hiking excursions are physically demanding and best suited for strong people with a high endurance level. These hikes are more demanding than the previous level, intended for active people who are comfortable participating in up to 6-9 hours hiking per day. A typical day may include hiking over fairly hilly terrain offering lots of challenges. Trails are along high meadow paths and/or maintained cliff-side or Andean trails, with some steep ascents to make you feel exhilarated.
Visa to enter Chile: No advance Visa application is needed for entry into Chile. Australian and New Zealand citizens entering Chile for tourism purposes will be charged a $160.00 processing fee payable on arrival. Cash and credit card accepted.
US and Canadian citizens no longer need to pay the reciprocity fee ($160.00) to enter Chile. A valid USA or Canada passport is required travelling as a tourist for 90 days.
Any policy you purchase should, at the very least, cover trip cancellation, loss of baggage, accident/life coverage, travel delays, and non-refundable airline tickets.
Carriers for travel insurance include World Nomads, Travel Guard and Travelex. You may also consider insurance that covers emergency medical evacuation. Search the web to find the best deal that suits your needs – read the fine print -.
As indicated in the program or similar. In Santiago area we work with excellent boutique hotels located in great areas.
For hiking stages in Atacama Desert, Easter Island and Lake & Volcano District we work with 2 star, 3 star and 4 star hotels. Likewise, we offer a luxury version for these three stages, staying at 5 stars hotels or luxury lodges.
For hiking stage in Torres del Paine Patagonia we only work with Ecocamp Patagonia
For hiking stage in Cochamo Valley and Chiloe Island we use a combination of mountain refuge, mountain lodge, beach lodge and 3 star hotel.
Modern van or minibus according to group size, air-conditioned
Slight itinerary modifications might occur due to weather and or road conditions, or force majeur.
In Chile, the local currency is called “Peso”.
The current exchange rate is $1 USD = $600 Chilean Pesos (CLP).
Travel checks are not convenient because only few places accept them and the exchange rate is 10% lower than dollar bills. Most credit cards are accepted at shops, restaurants and hotels. The most common cards are Master Card, Visa and Dinners Club. American Express is less commonly accepted that the others. There is no need to bring a large amount of cash; there are ATMs almost everywhere we go on the tour (except in Torres del Paine). The maximum amount of money that you can withdraw per day is equivalent to $300.000 CLP.
For up to date information we suggest you visit the website www.xe.com/ucc/
In Chile, the gratuity for hospitality services is normally 10% of the bill. People usually tip in restaurants, hotels and the local staff of guides. You shouldn’t tip taxi drivers, baggage carriers and bar tenders, they do not expect any tips. At the end of the trip gratuity for the crew for a job well done is highly appreciated. We encourage you to use your discretion and tip according to the caliber of service you receive. As a guideline, the industry standard is $120 dollars per person, per guide.
Food in Chile is great and healthy. Likewise, it is one of the highlights of this tour. Great wine, fresh and flavorsome produce, seafood and all kinds of meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb and wild boar) will be part of the daily menus. We are prepared to cater vegetarian, pescaterian and gluten free food, however if you are vegan you may have to be flexible because in Chile we have very limited vegan options. Unfortunately, kosher food is not available.
We highly recommend getting the Chile Airpass ticket with Lan Airlines, which includes the international flight from your country to Santiago (Chile) and the domestic flights to Calama (CJC), Easter Island (IPC), Temuco (ZCO), Puerto Montt (PMC) and Punta Arenas (PUQ) . This Airpass is definitely less expensive than buying the flights separately and what’s more important it is very flexible if there are some unexpected last minute changes. Lan Airlines Airpass can be purchased at any IATA travel agent.
We are happy to help you find and book your domestic flights, without extra cost.-
The international terminal at SCL is located in the same building than the domestic terminal.
Note: The local flights in Chile have a luggage allowance of 23kg. You will need to pay excess if your baggage exceeds this.