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27 replies
Chiln' in Chile
Adeelie
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Sorry about the awful subject heading, but it had to be done.

So my dream trip to Patagonia is on! I will be going to Chile in late December to early January. I have never been to South America, so naturally I am full of questions. Thankfully, I am traveling with a friend who has been working there for the past year. Right now I am just trying to focus on buying a plan ticket. Does anyone have any information about some flight deals/airlines that I should check out/not check out? I’ve done some preliminary web searches, and I’ve found that Varig Brasil has the best deals. I found a flight for just under $1000 after taxes, which so far seems to be the cheapest I can find. Does anyone know if this is a good deal? Any suggestions for finding a better deal? Or do you think this is the best I can do for that season? I’m flying from NYC to Santiago. I made sure to fly during the week, which has lowered the price a bit. Also, I think we will (hopefully) be taking at least one domestic flight to the south, to the tip of Patagonia (I really hope we go! Going to Patagonia has been a lifelong dream of mine!). I’ve tried to look for flights that fly into Santiago and maybe out of some other location in the south (Punta Arenas?). In the past I have found that flying in and out of two different airports has lowered the price, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for Chile. Any suggestions? comments? Also, does anyone have info on some good and cheap domestic Chilean airlines?

I’m just full of questions! I’d appreciate any information you have to give, especially from anyone who has been to Chile and has any and all nuggets of wisdom (or just some good stories) to share. Thanks!

Adee

Nadrazi
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Chile is fantastic, you’ll love it. Lan chile is the only cheap airline I remember but basically every country in that area has several airlines and the prices for specific routes are basically standard no matter which airline you use. For example between two cities in Chile there might be only two or three airlines that run that route and they all charge about the same price. The rule of thumb there is internal flights are cheap, international flights are absurdly expensive. You can fly the length of Chile for a reasonable price, but if your destination crosses the border into Bolivia, Peru, or Argentina you will pay double the price.

NYC $1000 seems very expensive. I payed about $700 Philly to Buenos Aires and back from Lima, Peru on Continental. They seem to have the fullest South American coverage of all the US carriers that I saw. Look in to flying out from Philly or Newark and maybe you can save some money. Maybe. Continental has a large base in Newark and many flights leave from there, so it may be cheaper than flying from JFK.

bunnih0p
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quote:NYC $1000 seems very expensive. I payed about $700 Philly to Buenos Aires and back from Lima, Peru on Continental.

Nadrazi, mind if I ask what time of year that was. I haven’t been able to find anything under 1,000 for travel in Dec.

CanYouDigIt13
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Hi Adeelie,

Mind if I tag along with you on this trip? I’m available December 20-January and I’d love to visit Patagonia myself as well! My user name’s Canyoudigit13 on www.couchsurfing.com – you should sign up for an account on that site as well!

Adeelie
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Thanks for all the help everyone!

As it turns out I ended up paying quite a bit more than $1,000 for my flight to Chile. I missed the peak time to buy (apparently it’s September if you’re flying in December) and ended up paying a whopping $1,300 on AA (after taxes). I’m coping well with the shock through therapeutic vistas of El Chalafate on my screen saver, ahh…

Now I’m on to booking interior flights. I’ve found a great deal on Lan Chile that will get me and my friends from Santiago to Punta Arenas, from Punta Arenas to Puerto Montt, then back to Santiago, all for just over $300! (here’s a tip: the more segments you add to your flight, the cheaper! And play around with the flight times, you can seriously cut the cost if you fly in the mornings or early afternoons, and of course fly midweek).

My question to all of you is about buses. I would like to fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Puerto Montt, Chile on Jan 1, but since the flight will be in the morning, i am worried that we’ll have trouble getting to the airport. I though about changing my flight to Jan 2 to avoid any New Year’s transit problems, but since I doubt we will want to spend New Year’s in Punta Arenas, we will probably have to take a bus from wherever we will be on Jan 1 anyway. Does anyone know if we will have problems getting around? Is bus service generally nonexistent on New Year’s day, or just limited? Incidentally, does anyone have a recommendation for where three New Yorkers should spend New Year’s eve in Patagonia?

Dominus~XIII: I don’t have a counch for you, but if you can recommend a winning New Year’s locale, I’ll buy you a drink.

sourlemonpie
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I am peruvian myself, and i’ve been in CHile a couple of times, and i think it’s going to be kind of hard to find a flight or a bus…. Jan 1. You can buy it before…. but since it’s New Year, it’s going to cost you more money.

Let’s see… last time i was in Chile was in 2002. As a peruvian, i found it a little bit pricey. More expensive than my country, sure, but it’s not "unaffordable". Places to visit? Go to Viña del Mar, for sure. It’s a nice beach.

In Santiago, if you like to go out partying, you can go to calle Suecia, or also to the clubs in Las Condes (that’s like, the most expensive zone of Santiago).

And from Peru to Chile i paid last time 270$… i think. Now it costs 450$.

Are you going to ISla de PAscua? I think it’s pretty much expensive, and you need to take the helicopter, but i’ve never been there….

Any question, just ask away.

Santa Klaus
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Adeelie, if you are travelling with a guy who has spent some time in Chile you´ll be in no trouble.

Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt are both pretty quiet places, but at that time of the year they´ll be full of Students from Santiago who want to drink as much &quotiscola" (you will very soon find out what this is!) as possible. You´ll have a blast, guaranteed.

Sourlemonpie: Ah, I remember Calle Suecia, although I found the nightlife in Bellavista much better.

South American nightlife is quite user-friendly. All the bars are usually in just one road. In Lima I even remember a road with only Italian restaurants, referred to as "Calle Pizzas" by the locals. The waiters bribed me with incredible amounts of free Sangria if I eat in THEIR place instead of next door!

sourlemonpie
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I think Bellavista is more…. like, there’s more "music scene". We went there too. I had forgot about it!

Holy. Don’t remind me about La Calle de las Pizzas. WORST. SANGRIA. AND PIZZA. EVER!

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Hahaha! Yeah, I guess that´s right. I didn´t have Pizza (or Sangria, for that matter) anywhere else in South America. I thought it´s as good as it gets there.
If I happen to go to Peru again some day I´ll ask you about good Italian Restaurants!

sourlemonpie
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Hahaha, that would be cool! Although i am not an avid pizza eater. I like it, for sure, but i don’t know why it’s a lil bit pricey in here!

Santa Klaus
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I LOVE Italian food! I had such a good Lasagna in Trujillo. On a general note, it´s a good idea to travel with Israelis in South America. Although this sounds like a stupid cliché, they always know where you get the best rate for your Dollars, where the cheapest hotel is and there are lots of kosher restaurants everywhere (they know them all) – I was quite fed up with &quotollo con arroz" so I was happy about ANYTHING else.

sourlemonpie
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Well. There’s a difference between lasagna and pizza. I would eat lasagna till explosion. Simple as that. My sister prepares an awesomely good one.

Arroz con pollo? It’s not like one of my fave dishes… but it’s alright! Depends of how you prepare it.

My big sister had a relationship with an Israeli dude. Actually, she’s planning to go to Tel Aviv next year!

Santa Klaus
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quote:
My sister prepares an awesomely good one.

You don´t know my Lasagna!

It´s the only thing I can cook, but I brought it to perfection.

sourlemonpie
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I hate people who can prepare it well cause it’s very, VERY hard to make a good one!!!

Santa Klaus
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U think so?

sourlemonpie
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Well i can’t even boil water, so it looks like!

Santa Klaus
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Good news: you don´t have to boil water when you make Lasagna!

sourlemonpie
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Not unless you have OCD and you have to boil everything before doing it!

Santa Klaus
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What´s OCD?

sourlemonpie
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Nevermind, lol

(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Santa Klaus
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Aha! I just googled that. I am obsessed with biting into pencils and ball-pens. Actually, I´m doing that right now. Am I sick?
It has an advantage though: nobody in my office steels my pens!

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AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! That’s disgusting. But i used to do the same at school.

Actually, i do remember lending my radiergummi to a friend when i was like 7…. and she literally ATE it.

Adeelie
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Wow. I love that my post has degenerated into a coversation about Italian food in Latin America and the benefits of traveling with Israelis. But somehow i doubt that they would know where to get the best kosher food since most Israelis do not actually keep kosher. Although I agree that traveling with Israelis in South America would be a good idea because you can be sure that they will make sure never to get screwed over. Being a "frier", even in South America, is out of the question.

Anyway, while you guys figure out where to get the best lasagna, could you give me some more advice about Chile please?

Has anyone done the "W" trail at Torres del Paine National Park in late December? We are thinking about doing this, it is a roughly a 5 day hike. Here’s the thing: I will be traveling with two other girls, we are all relatively in good shape, but we’re certainly not used to hiking for hours at a time. We are all up to this challenge, but I am a bit nervous that we might be in over our heads. Can anyone who’s done this give me some advice as to what I can expect? How difficult is it for inexperienced hikers? How many hours, roughly, will we be walking a day? We won’t be camping, so we’ll be using the bunks at the campgrounds (I think this is how it works, from what I understand). I also really need to know what to pack/what not to pack? Will we have to bring all our food for 5 days with us? How cold/hot is it at night/during the day? Any advice that you can give would be much appreciated. I really want to do this trail, but I have nightmares of lugging around a huge backpack, cold, wet, and with blistering feet for 5 days. Help please!

sourlemonpie
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quote: Anyway, while you guys figure out where to get the best lasagna, could you give me some more advice about Chile please?

AHAHAHHAHAHA!!

Btw, i thought (for me at least, im peruvian) food in Chile kind of sucked. And it was expensive.

I haven’t made the trail, so i guess i am kind of lost in there…..

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Adeelie,

Um, sorry, I guess I sort of hijacked your thread.

I was in Torres del Paine in 1994. Dunno what the "W" trail is, there was just one back then which was called "Circuito". A loop, some hiked it in 7 days, others in 5.
Back then, there was only ONE refugio with bunk beds in the entire park – it´s new to me that each "camp ground" has its own now.

Please take 2 things into account:
– The weather. It is VERY windy all the time. December and January are usually warm and sunny, but when it rains it really sucks. It rains horizontally there. You´re soaked in no time.
– Your backpack. The actual hiking is not the most brutal thing, although it´s going up and down all the time. The worst thing are those 20 Kilograms on your back – all day long.

If you are not sure about the hiking thing, do this: Book in for a week at the refugio in the middle of the park. You can go hiking during the days and come back in the evenings. You can cover a lot of ground this way because with only a bottle of water and a few sandwiches to carry you are much faster than with a full load of gear.

Torres del Paine is really worth a week. It´s without doubt in my top-5-list of South American places I visited.

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Um, and dont forget a trip to Calafate, Argentina (Perito Moreno glacier!). They really know how to make a good steak!

Adeelie
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I think we will try to do the W trail anyway, even though staying in one refugio for a week and doing day hikes is probably a lot smarter. But I see this as a challenge I’d like to do.

I do have an itinerary question though. We will be in patagonia for two weeks and we are still trying to iron out an itinerary. The travel book that I am using suggests an intinerary for three weeks, and based on that we’ve come up with the following plan:

3 days in Ushuaia
2 days in El Calafate (Glarcier Moreno)
3 days in El Chalten (Mt. Fitz Roy)
5 days in Torres del Paine National Park

This is a rough itinerary, and the rest of the days will more or less be taken up by travelling. Does anyone know if it is really worthwhile to go to El Chalten/Mt Fitz Roy if you only have two weeks? Considering the vast distances and the amount of time it will take to get around (we will mostly be taking buses, though we are looking for a cheap flight from Ushuaia to El Calafate). Would it make more sense to stay longer in El Calafate and Torres del Paine instead of treking up to El Chalten? Any suggestions??

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There is a really nice national park around El Chalten with the Mt. Fitzroy in the middle of it. I have spent 3 days there and did some hiking (again the day-hike scheme, I hate to sleep in a tent).

I think after doing a major hike in Torres del Paine (which is the nicer park anyway) you will probably be quite &quotarked out". If time is a concern, skip it. It is the "fin del mundo" after all where all the locals are proud of never being busy, so take it easy. You will not miss that much.

By the way – I did not actually see the damn Mt Fitzroy once – it was too cloudy all the time.