Traveling in Chile
You’ll need your passport to enter Chile. Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most EU countries do not need to secure a visa before they arrive.
The Chilean government now charges a ‘reciprocity fee’ from US, Canadian, and Australian citizens, in response to fees these countries impose on Chileans. As of August 2011, this fee is US$130 for U.S, citizens and is valid for the life of the passport.
Keep your passport handy during your stay in the park: many of our favorite day trips involve traveling up the Chacabuco Valley and crossing the Argentine border at Entrada Baker. Also, be sure to hold onto your copy of the entry form that you fill out when you arrive in the country.
Currency and ATMs:
Chilean Peso. Approximate exchange rate: 1 USD = 470 Chilean pesos (August 2011).
Bank notes come in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10, 000 and 20, 000 pesos. Carry small bills with you; it can be difficult to change bills larger than Ch$1000 in rural areas.
You’ll find ATMs in the Santiago and Balmaceda airports, as well as in the town of Coyhaique. There is a bank in Cochrane, 30 minutes drive from the Estancia, but the ATM there often doesn’t function. Travelers’ checks can be exchanged at banks or exchange houses, but tend to be fairly impractical compared to US$ cash bills. Travelers’ cheques will sometimes only be exchanged at a 30% discount to the cash exchange rate. Dollars may be accepted at major tourist destinations, but not in other places. Credit cards are accepted in many large stores, but not at smaller establishments. You shouldn’t need much cash during your stay in the Chacabuco Valley.
You should not need any special vaccinations to visit Patagonia. Although certain seasons can be fairly buggy, malaria is not a risk. Tap water at the park, and in most places in Patagonia, is safe to drink. If you have a sensitive stomach, however, bringing diarrhea medicine might be worthwhile.
Sunscreen, and proper sun protection (hat, sunglasses, long-sleeve shirts) are crucial, as the sun is very strong in this area.
The nearest clinic to the park is located in Cochrane, 40 minutes from the park. Cochrane has a pharmacy as well, but with somewhat limited options.
In general, please try to pack as light as possible. Charter flights may limit baggage weight, and the luggage allowance for domestic flights is 5 Kg for carry-on bags and 15 Kg for checked luggage, with some leeway depending on the airline and flight.
Miscellaneous Odds and Ends
Chile’s Country Telephone Code: +56
Each city/ region has a code; Los Lagos is 65 Aysen’s is 67
To connect with a mobile phone from overseas, dial 56 + 9 + 8 digit number.
Electric Current: 220 volts.
Electrical Plugs: Two rounded plug jacks.
Time Zone: One time zone throughout the country: GMT -5, with Daylight Savings Time in the opposite season from the Northern Hemisphere. So from October—April, Chile is one hour later than Eastern Standard Time, and four hours later than Pacific Standard Time..