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  1. Quick facts
  • Total days on the road: 586
  • Currently in: USA
  • Miles Driven: 36821
  • Countries Visited: 17
  • Days Camping: 389
  • Days Indoors: 202

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Chile

We spend a few short days in the north in San Pedro de Atacama, before heading into Argentina for a month. Later we cross back to Chile at Santiago and travel south through the Lakes District to the Carretera Austral.

Below you'll find our trip updates and photos of where we've been. We'll also publish information on internet and phone availability, budget recaps, border crossing details and an accommodation listing of where we camped.


Chile Wifi & Phone Report: Not Too Shabby

Written by Jessica on February 15, 2013

Chile Service ProvidersThis article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.

General availability: Excellent
Quality of bandwidth: High (Except in San Pedro and the Carretera Austral)
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Medium
Frequency of internet in hotels: Medium-High

Areas Visited

San Pedro de Atacama was the only city we visited in the north. We reentered Chile near Santiago and traveled all of the way south to Villa O’higgins. Information on southern Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego will be included in the Southern Argentina Wifi Report.

Overall Availability

Excellent. Internet was much easier to find in Chile than expected. Every town had multiple internet cafes. Most larger towns (and Villa O’Higgins) offered some type of free wifi at the main square. Some campgrounds had wifi, but not all, especially those more than a few miles from a town. Internet in hostels was very common. Most guest houses offer it, but ask in advance to be certain.

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Chile Budget Recap

Written by Jared on February 13, 2013

This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.

Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.


Chile was by far the most expensive country of our trip to date. By all accounts we should have been much farther over budget than we were. The big three: camping, groceries and gas all exceeded our budget. We managed to save by harldy ever staying in hotels and by only eating out one lunch.

We also didn't partake in any tours or activities that tend to drive up our budget significantly. In fact, our next biggest expensive behind groceries, gas and lodging was transportation costs. It's necessary to take a couple ferries in southern Chile to reach the island of Chiloe and the beginning of the Carretera Austral in Chaiten. We didn't budget separately for this, as we should have, and ended up spending $300 between the two boat trips.

This recap covers our time between Concon, a beach town west of Santiago, through the Carretera Austral in the south. It does not include the time we spent in northern Chile in the town of San Pedro de Atacama before entering northern Argentina, nor does it include the time we have yet to spend in the far south of Chile between Torres del Paine and Punta Arenas.

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Argentina to Chile at Avanzada Monte Aymond: Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on February 10, 2013

argentina-chile-flag

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

Border name: Avanzada Monte Aymond or Paso Integral Austral
Closest major cities: Rio Gallegos, Argentina and Cerro Sombrero, Chile
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Date crossed: Saturday January 25, 2013

The Steps

  1. Drive past the first Argentinian building, across the actual frontera, and park outside the new combined border building with the huge Chilean shields on it.
  2. If long lines, acquire a Chilean tourist card form and a Chilean SAG customs declaration form to complete while standing in line.

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Carretera Austral: Cerro Castillo to Villa O'Higgins

Written by Jared on January 29, 2013

A view along the Carretera Austral.

Start: January 4, Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo
Finish: January 15, Puerto Guadal
Fish Caught and Eaten: 2
Days of Perfect Weather: 9 of 12
Horseflies Murdered: Thousands
Miles Driven on Dirt Roads: 880

Another twelve days of endless gravel roads matched with mostly blue skies and scenery that is out of this world. It hasn't been all fun and games though. We've driven over 880 miles of dirt roads during our two weeks on the Carretera Austral. Gas costs around $8 per gallon, and it's been 10 days since we've seen fresh vegetables aside from blackening carrots. Parts are rattling off our car and every time we turn the air on clouds of dust erupt from the dash.

But, the more you have to work for it, the more rewarding the adventure. And considering how incredibly lucky we've been with the weather, it's pretty easy to take our mind off the discomforts of travel in this remote part of the world.

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Carretera Austral: Chaiten to Coyhaique

Written by Jared on January 21, 2013

A great view of a mountain and stream on the Carretera Austral.

Start: December 28, Quellon
Finish: January 3, Coyhaique
Pigs Tickled: 1
Fish Caught and Eaten: 1
Times Stopped on Road to Take Pictures: 27
Hours Spent Sleeping on Overnight Ferry: 3

The Carretera Austral runs 770 miles through Chilean Patagonia. Endless stretches of breathtaking scenery, crystal blue lakes, raging rivers, snow-capped mountains and some of the best trout fishing this side of the equator. It was first described to us by a German overlander we met in Cusco as being like the jungle, except with snow-capped mountains and pine trees. Unsure how to untangle that statement, we left with the assumption that it would be beautiful, and very rainy.

Fortune shined on us during the first half of the Carretera Austral. Unlike friends who went just weeks before us, we enjoyed sunny skies almost every day and only had to pack up wet tents once. Trout were caught, lambs were roasted and scenery was soaked up at every turn of the road.

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Chile Campgrounds and Hotels

Written by Jessica on January 18, 2013

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Christmas in Chiloe

Written by Jared on January 15, 2013

Our Christmas wreath.

Start: December 23, Puerto Montt
Finish: December 27, Quellon
Overlanders at Christmas Dinner: 7
Cost of Nine Pound Salmon Filet: $18
Kilos of Charcoal Consumed: 30
Whoopie Pies Made: 14

About two weeks in the making, our second Christmas on the road proved to be very memorable. Full of delicious food and great company.

From Pucon in Chile's Lakes District we planned with our friends Mark and Sarah to meet up on the island of Chiloe and celebrate together. Joining us were two new friends, Lacey and Luis of Lost World Expedition who happened to be in the neighborhood after restarting their journey after a six month hiatus back home in the US.

From our rainy campsite just east of Puerto Montt we drove into the city to pick up supplies on the 23rd. After two hectic runs to very crowded supermarkets we managed to stuff Christmas in the back of our 4Runner and head to the island of Chiloe with dreams of sunny skies and dry tents in our heads.

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Chile's Lakes District

Written by Jared on January 8, 2013

A view of a lake in Chile's Lakes District.

Start: December 12, Pucon
Finish: December 23, Puerto Montt
Grills Used For One Dinner: 5
Four-Legged Road Blocks Overcome: 2
Days With Rain: 9 of 12
Fish Caught: 0

The weather has finally caught up to us. I can count the number of times we've had more than two consecutive days of rain on one hand. Our time in the Lakes District brought us six consecutive days of rain and a lot of soggy gear. But we're from Seattle, meaning we don't believe in umbrellas, and we know how to shop for good rain jackets.

We did our best to make the most of our time in Chile's Lakes District. We started with a few days spent hanging out with friends old and new that culminated in a barbeque nearly rivaling our Thanksgiving pig roast. From Pucon we drove through the back roads to visit a handful of other lakes and rivers en route to Puerto Montt with the hopes of catching a couple world famous Patagonian trout.

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Chillaxin' in Chile

Written by Jared on January 3, 2013

The view from our beach house in Concon.

Start: November 16, Aconcagua, Chile
Finish: December 11, Pucon, Chile
Consecutive Days Camped: 29
Consecutive Meals of Thanksgiving Pork: 6
Days Spent in Beach House: 10
Liters of Oil Left in Blue After a Bad Oil Change: About 2
Dishes Cooked and Photographed: 47

Sorry for the delay getting some updates on our trip out the door. We've been side tracked by a new project, a consistent lack of internet and time spent hanging out with overlanding friends. But enough with the excuses...

Following The Great Argentinian Thanksgiving Pork Roast of 2012 we headed back into Chile, crossing the pass in the direction of Santiago and ending up at a beach-side rental in the small town of Concon on the Pacific coast. We spent a hectic 10 days catching up with online work and beginning our new project, a cookbook for campers and overlanders. We spent entirely too much money on food, and on a botched oil change for Blue that nearly ended in disaster.

From Concon we pointed south once again. First following the coast and then heading inland towards the lakes district where we endured the worst weather thus far on our trip. After spending a few months in more or less desert countryside, it took us a bit to get used to the rain again. But we're from Seattle, and it takes more than a few rainstorms to ruin the fun.

 

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Argentina to Chile at Los Libertadores: Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on December 27, 2012

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

argentina-chile-flagBorder name: Los Libertadores
Closest major cities: Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Date crossed: Sunday November 25, 2012

Steps

  1. Drive up the mountain pass and through the tunnel. Don’t stop at any of the random aduana buildings on the side of the road. These are for busses and trucks.
  2. Several kilometers on the other side of the tunnel there will be a big building over the road. This is immigration and aduana for both Chile and Argentina.
  3. Stop at the back of the auto line. Someone will approach your car and give you a paper for your car, and tourist cards and customs declarations for everyone in the vehicle. Fill out the papers while waiting in the line.

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Bolivia to Chile Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on November 20, 2012

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

bolivia-chile-flagBorder name: Hijo Canjon
Closest major cities: Reserva Nacional Eduardo Avaroa, Bolivia and San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 10 minutes in Bolivia, 45 minutes in Chile
Date crossed: Monday, October 29th 2012

Note: This crossing goes through the VERY remote southwest corner of Bolivia. It is at least 300 miles from Uyuni to the border and there are likely no supplies (gas, food or water) for long stretches. Plan accordingly.

The Steps

  1. Go to the Aduana office on the Bolivian side. This is 80km north of the border at an elevation over 5000m. (S22 26.454 W67 48.357) Turn in your vehicle permit.
  2. Enjoy the rest of the national park.

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