Travel Tips for Chile
When to Go: For Pucon, the Season gets going in early November. The rain bring in runs like the Turbio and the Plata. In December the Nevado come in. All season long the Palguin, Trancura, and Maichin run. We got lucky so late in December getting some of what we got. I think Early December is likely ideal for Pucon. I believe the Southern Chile/Argentina stuff goes in January but don't hold me to that.
Entry into Chile: Assuming you fly into Chile through the Santiago airport, you will be required to pay a Recipriocity Fee. Depending on what country you are from, the price changes. For the US it was $140 in 2010. The fee is good for the life of your passport. Stupid me, mine expired 6 months after I returned home so if I go back to Chile I will have to pay again. Diane however would not have to as her passport has 6 or 7 years left on it. If you drive across the border anywhere else, this fee is not required. The fee is paid at the immigration booths before you enter customs. The lines can be very long here. We had a 1.5 hour layover. Spent 45 minutes in the line before we managed to talk the officials into letting us cut in line. We then had to cut in customs line, through bag check lines, cut at the ticket counter, and cut back through security and only made our flight to Temuco with minutes to spare.
Getting to Pucon: We had limited time on this vacation, so instead of taking the buses 12 hours from Santiago to Pucon, we opted to fly to Temuco which is 30 minutes from Pucon. It is a small airport, taxes are available though we had our guide pick us up. If you want to go the bus route, check out turbus.cl for times and rates. There is a bus stop in Pucon itself.
Passport: If you are American, you need a passport but not a Visa. Always keep your passport on you.
Driving: We didn't drive in Chile. So I am not sure if you need anything special.
Water: In Pucon we drank the water 100% of the time. No problems.
Vaccinations: Hepatitis A is required. I also recieved Yellow Fever and Typhoid.
Money: Although we were told we to bring traveler's checks... they didn't work. No bank would take them. Also, for some reason some people's cards don't work well with the ATM's there (mine) so Diane had to spot me all our in country money as I had no access to moeny. Sometimes this is because certain banks require no more than 4 digit PINs for cards, but I have no idea why mine didnt work. I talked to my bank before I went to make sure everything was set. Oh well...
Food: While you are there, get Empanada's. They are amazing. Super Markets sell them or usually standing outside of the Markets there will be people folks selling home made ones... those are the best. Oh, and of course get some Gelato (ice cream but creamier and better).
Boats: Several places rent boats. KayakPucon rents boats (smaller selection though) as well as Kayak Chile and Pucon Kayak Hostel.
Accomidation: For long stays people sometimes rent a small house. Not sure how they go about that. For most, you will stay in a Hostel which are plentiful and tend to run about $40 a night.
Weather: Some days in November/December are hot, others are rainy and cold (when it was cold, it was cold). Even in our short 12 day trip I was glad to have shorts and t-shirts as well as pants and sweatshirts.
Random Thing to do: Go to the Hot Springs. Some are really exspensive but others were cheaper (on the order of $10 if my memory serves me). The hostels should be able to point you in the right direction, I know I can't, and can even arrange a bus to pick-up along with all the other folks heading up from town as they are about 15 minutes away by car.
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