What You Need to Know about Traveling to Patagonia Chile After the Pandemic
While we have all been looking under the bed for our dusty suitcases and outdated passports, the country of Chile throttled their post-pandemic reopening in a single action. Chile skipped the gradual steps of reopening that I've seen other countries take. What exactly did Chile do and how does this affect foreigners? They did it all baby. I'm happy to report that as of October 1, 2022, all covid requrements have been suspended. Chile dropped the axe on vax cards, covid tests, mobility passes and face masks. Don't get me wrong. If you show up with noticeable symptoms of upper respiratory infection, they might want to have a chat. And a test. If you know anything about common sense, this would be an example of how it works. Just treat others how you would like to be treated when it comes to exhibiting symptoms of contagious illnesses.
Any US citizen can enter Chile with only a valid passport. Which brings up the question. What is a valid passport? Here's the first thing that people who are snapping out of their binge-watching movie comas need to do: check the expiration dates on their passports! This policy on passport expiration dates applies to just about all countries. Foreigners need to show a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after their arrival dates at their destination. If you're planning to travel, don't wait to get your passport renewed. I've seen standard renewals take up to 13 weeks. Expedited passport renewals are supposted to take between 4-6 weeks. (this could change seasonally)
Do you want to join one of our small groups traveling to Chile in 2023?
Choose from the following travel dates: Choose hotel rooms in double room for 2 people, triple room for 3 people and single room for 1 person. All itineraries include 3* hotels with private bathrooms. Upgrade hotels may be available in SCL and Punta Arenas on request.
- Arrive SCL Morning Saturday March 18 - 26, 2023 Depart SCL Saturday after 6PM to return home
- Arrive SCL Morning Saturday March 25 - April 1, 2023 Depart SCL Saturday after 6PM to return home
- Arrive SCL Morning Saturday November 18 - November 25, 2023 Depart SCL Saturday after 6PM to return home
- Arrive SCL Morning Saturday December 2 - 9, 2023 Depart SCL Saturday after 6PM to return home
To join a group in Chile, here's what we need to know: expected arrival date/time in SCL, number of people in your party and ages, number of hotel rooms and beds in each room, confirmation that passports are valid for at least 6 months after your travel dates. Here's a link to see the 8 Day Itinerary.
Why Do I Need To Have A Valid Passport In Hand When I Reserve My Trip to Chile?
In my opinion, once you get wiithin 1.5 to 1 year within your passport expiration date, you need to plan your trips around your passport renewal. To book in-country flights on South American airlines, most countires require a passport as ID at the time the reservation is made. Most people in the US can book flights on US airlines without entering passport info as long as you understand that you must present a valid passport before boarding. That's not how they do it on airlines in South American countries. Let us know if your passport is being renewed because we have ways to work around this requirement.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Santiago, Chile Before Flying to Patagonia?
This depends on the time of your arrival in Santiago. Many airlines coming from US territories have red-eye flights that arrive Santiago in the morning. This is ideal to have a buffer day in case of delay, and a day in the city to recover from your long flight before you fly another 3.5 hours to the tip of the South American continent. It is possible to fly directly to Punta Arenas if you plan to explore the penguin colony on Magdalena Island. Otherwise if you're short on time it may be better to skip the penguins and focus on Torres del Paine National Park. In that case you could fly into Puerto Natales which has 1 maybe 2 flights a day.
There are variables that need to be known before setting up a custom itinerary to Patagonia. These include:
- the number of people in your group and their ages
- the total number of days you have to travel
- the date and time of your arrival in SCL (Santiago)
- the date and time of your departure from SCL to return home
- the class of hotels / accommodations you would like.
- the fitness level of the slowest person in your group if you plan to do the 1 day (8 hour) roundtrip hike to The Torres del Paine Granite Towers Lookout (
- It's not necessary to hike to see the granite towers. We have an alternative route that you can drive to with light hiking for a view of the granite towers from a different angle.
What Do We Need to Know About Hotel Accommodations in Patagonia Region in Chile?
The sequence of your activities in Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park are determined by the type of accommodations you choose. Let your tour operator know in advance if you want tourist class, 4* or luxury accommodations or maybe 1-2 nights of "car camping" with indoor bathrooms and a kitchen. Here's what you need to know about how your choice of accommodations in the Patagonia, Chile region affects your itinerary:
- there are roughly 300 rooms available per day. About 100 of those rooms fall into the 4* and 5* category for travelers with no budget limitations. Then there are about 100 rooms in the category of least expensive like hostels and places with dorms and shared bathroom facilities. Finally, that leaves about 100 rooms that fall into the mid-range, affordable tourist class category with private bathrooms, including homes that can be rented for a group.
- except in the town of Puerto Natales, hotels are not grouped together in a resort area in the park. Hotels are isolated from each other. This is what makes Patagonia a great place to travel to experience the true sense of being in a wilderness without enduring the challanges of sleeping in tents.
- the sequence of your activities in the park are based on the location of the hotels you're in.
- If you set up an itinerary with 3* hotels and then decide later to ask about upgrading to a higher class that could result in a totally different itinerary.
- Breakfast is usually included in your accommodation but dinner is not. Plan to dine in the hotel restaurant at your own expense each evening. There are very few restaurants except in the towns of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas.
- If you're planning to hike and backpack the "W" Trek or other trails, let your tour operator know in advance.
Is There Anything Else We Need to Know About Weather and Preparing for a Trip to Patagonia in Chile?
- there are days when the wind at the tip of the South American continent can blow the freckles off your face.
- ideal travel season is in summer months from November through early April
- In December and January, it's daylight until after 10PM at the tip of South America
- Here's a link to Adios Adventure Travel Pre-Departure Info for Travel to Chile
- There's no plastic in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and the Patagonia Region. You will not see empty shopping bags snagged in tree branches. You can't buy bottled water in plastic bottles. Bring your own reusable bottle and drink from the tap in your hotel.
How Many Days Should We Add For A Trip To Easter Island?
Yes. Here's what you need to know about traveling to Easter Island.
- Flights begin and end in Santiago, Chile and take about 5.5 hours each way.
- There is 1 flight per day each way. But after the pandemic, flights are not available every day.
- 3 Days / 2 Nights are the minimum needed to travel to Easter Island from Chile mainland.
- Usually you will need 2 extra nights in SCL. One night before the flight to Easter Island and 1 night after you return to SCL.
- The entire island can be toured in 1 day by car with stops to explore the Moai at various locations.
- When you return to the Chile mainland, the current flights arrive around 9:30PM. This is too late to connect with an international flight home. Plan to spend the night in SCL.
It doesn't cost anything to chat. Give me a call or text me in Virginia. I'm also on What'sApp. Both Heather and I have been to Patagonia and Easter Island. Jacquie 757-714-6649 / Heather 757-270-9293
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