Chile - To Go Or Not To Go

Nov 3rd, 2019, 09:21 PM
  #1  
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Chile - To Go Or Not To Go

Hi all,

We are thinking about travelling to South America for the first time in December, 2020 and, after some research, are considering visiting Chile for a few days more than two weeks if we do decide to go, mainly due to its better safety record than most, if not all, other South American countries and its abundance of nature reserves and natural beauty.

1. Is Chile worth visiting?
2. Should we concentrate on Santiago and the north or Santiago and the south?

Thanks
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 11:20 AM
  #2  
 
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Hi,

1)

Absolutely if you like nature reserves and natural beauty.

2)

If you want to see high barren peaks and the driest desert on Earth, dramatic, lifeless scenery go to the north.

If you want to see high snowcapped peaks, lakes, river, waterfalls, forests, fjords, glaciers go to the south.
BDKR is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 01:09 PM
  #3  
 
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I wouldn’t say that Chile was my favourite country in South America by any means but it is worth visiting.

Not sure what you mean by "its better safety record than most, if not all, other South American countries" . Safety in terms of what exactly? We have travelled fairly extensively in South America and can’t say I found anywhere particularly unsafe, but I suppose everything is relative. There is a lot of hyperbole in the press re safety in South America but IME much of it is vastly overdone.
crellston is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 06:21 PM
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Chilean Patagonia (along with Argentinian Patagonia) is absolutely stunning, and is very much worth visiting. Easter Island is also technically Chile, and is great.

We thought Santiago was thoroughly uninteresting and had not much redeeming value.

Agree with crellston about "hyperbole in the press re safety in South America," and don't think this alone merits 2+ weeks in Chile and writing off the rest of the continent.

If I'd never been to S Am before and had 2+ weeks, I'm not sure spending all of that time in Chile would be my plan.
LAX_Esq is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 07:22 PM
  #5  
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Hi,

Thanks for your responses. I really thought Santiago was more interesting than what you all are saying.Oh well

What would you recommend for an 18 night 1st time trip to South America? Our interests are history, culture, architecture, scenery, food and some beach time.

Is Argentina worth visiting?

Thank you.

Last edited by AirBalloon; Nov 4th, 2019 at 07:45 PM.
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 09:32 PM
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We have spent maybe 1.5 to 2 years travelling around South America over the last 12 years and never get tire of it. It is incredibly diverse, mountains, rainforest, ancient civilisations and a huge range of different cultures. It keeps drawing us back, again and again. Argentina is definitely worth visiting but, much as I love the country, it perhaps would not be my first choice for a visit to the continent.

The time of year is a key factor in where to go in South America so that could have a big influence in your plans. With 18 days, I would stick to one country but would be hard pressed to pick a favourite although for a first time visitor, Peru has pretty much all you are seeking. It also has a well developed tourism infrastructure so is very easy to get around. You may find some ideas in our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/ which covers some of our travels in SA. Just click on the destination tab , South America and then the relevant country.. it does help if you speak at least basic Spanish but in Peru at least, English is wideLy spoken.

Most first time visitors to Peru will head straight to Cusco in the Sacred Valley and thence to Machu Picchu. Arequipa and The Colca Canyon, Lima and the Amazon are all easy options and 18 days would just about allow sufficient time for most of that.

Argentina is a huge country and I would want to stick to either the north or south. Iguazu falls are breathtaking and you could fly there from BA, always worth a few days. The region around salta in the NW has some breathtaking scenery and is great for a self drive road trip. Or, there are the glaciers, lakes and mountains of Patagonia in the south.

We also really loved COLOMBIA but it is a little more challenging to travel there so perhaps not for a first visit.

So many choices!
crellston is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:56 AM
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"Thanks for your responses. I really thought Santiago was more interesting than what you all are saying.Oh well"

If you think it is interesting for you than it is indeed interesting. It is interesting enough on its own right, especially if it is your first stop in South America. It pales only in comparison with other major cities of South America, like Rio, Buenos Aires, etc.

Valparaiso is close to Santiago and a very cool city with the colorfoul houses and the elevators/funiculars and the location. It's a World Heritage listed city.

"What would you recommend for an 18 night 1st time trip to South America? Our interests are history, culture, architecture, scenery, food and some beach time."

Now, this is changing the game, since you mentioned only looking for natural beauty in your OP. The nature is amazing in Chile, but it's seriosuly lacking (visible)history, colourful culture, architecture,good food, and beaches.

"Is Argentina worth visiting?"

Argentina is worth visiting. Every country is worth visiting in South America(Venezuela is currently off limits, but would also be worth visiting).

Argentina is a bit better on most counts than Chile, but it's far from the best, except for tango and steaks, plus the Iguazu Falls(but you can access the from Brazil too)

Peru is probably the best country overall and it includes everything on your list except great beaches(at least not the clear blue water, palms and soft sand variety).

Colombia has everything including great beaches, but the food is not as good as in Peru(oh well, the food is nowhere as good as in Peru) and of course it is Peru where you can find and abundance of amazing ruins from the Inca Empire and even from earlier period.

These are all reasonbaly safe countries if you use your common sense. While Brazil is also a great destination I'd hesitate to recommend it for someone who is as concerned about safety as you.

For a quick lowdown on all South American countries check out these sites:

South America - travel > Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador

https://www.journeylatinamerica.com/destinations

https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/South_America
BDKR is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 06:23 PM
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I agree with the two posts above; Peru (and maybe add on Bolivia) is a good 1st stop in South America. Guatemala is also a good choice if you've never been to Latin America.

If you are into hiking, you absolutely spend 18 days in Argentina and Chile if you make your way down to Patagonia.
LAX_Esq is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 06:10 PM
  #9  
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Peru it is! Now we are going to start our planning and are so excited to visit the southern continent for the first time.

Thank you so much for all of your informative and helpful advice and for the links you provided.

Fodorites really are the best!

Andrea
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 07:02 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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From what I know of you, Andrea, I honestly can not imagine that you will find Peru to your liking. But obviously, I could be wrong. I hope you actually do some research before committing.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 04:42 PM
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We began our trip in Buenos Aires then flew to Bariloche and did the Lakes Crossing theoigh national parks in Argentina and Chile.We enjoyed this natural wonder with volcanoes, lakes and all. We flew north to Santiago and drove up to Zapallar, Valparaiso, and the Casablanca Valley wineries before spending time in Santiago. There was such a contrast between Argentina and Chile. Chile was economically stable unlike Argentina. We felt safe in Chile, not in Buenos Aires, Bariloche, a resort area, was fine.. We have never had such wonderful fruits and vegetables as in Chile. Bountiful seafood too. We were visiting locals in Santiago and had a wonderful time. There is a lot of resemblance to California geographically. Zapallar reminded us of a smaller Santa Barbara. We skipped the Atacama Desert as it did not interest us; we have been in a lot of deserts.
We saw few people of color in either country, mostly German, Italian and Spanish immigrants’ modern day ancestors. Not different from the US with it’s immigrant heritage. Chile is worth a visit and be prepared for a Wuropean feelin some areas. . We didn’t get down to the far south, Patagonia, but did enjoy our month long experience.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 05:18 AM
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People need to be aware of the ongoing civil unrest in Chile at the moment. This has gone on for more than 3 weeks. Large demonstrations, although peaceful, can affect transport, opening of museums, restaurants etc. depending on where you are in the city. Line 1 of the metro is running but certain stations may temporarily close if there are demonstrations above ground. Since the locations of the demonstrations a re shared on closed social media sites it is difficult to predict where they might pop up, although Plaza Baquedano seems to always have demonstrations now. Things start around 5 pm. The peaceful marches often end with the less lovely elements of society looting and setting fires. There is a mix of people with genuine grievances, anarchists, and political manipulators. But that is of little concern to the average tourist who simply wants to enjoy their holiday. Other cities with large gatherings which can deteriorate are Valparaiso and Concepcion (not really a tourist destination). Although there have been peaceful marches in Puerto Natales all feedback indicates that a visit to Torres del Paine is much as before. San Pedro de Atacama has had a few small marches which are more like parades. Pucon and Puerto Varas in the lake district are both trouble free. So it is definitely possible to have a safe and enjoyable visit to Chile you do need to be aware of what is going on and where to base yourselves. Since we ourselves have no idea how long this will last we can't really advise about future visits.
Huentetu is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:27 AM
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The OP says they're planning to go next year:

"We are thinking about travelling to South America for the first time in December, 2020"

Let's hope it's not going to last for more than a year.

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 9th, 2019 at 10:30 AM.
BDKR is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 07:04 AM
  #14  
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Thank you so very much. So much to consider. The reason we have not travelled to South America up to this point is only due to safety concerns. We know that many times, these concerns are overblown, but many of the people we have talked to recently who actually lived in South America say that even in the safer countries, it is best to limit your journeys to the tourist sites and not to actually walk in the more local areas, like we would do in Europe.

But Peru does look fascinating and I do believe it has alot to offer. By the way, kja, you don't know me at all, you have never met me and have no idea what I would enjoy on vacation, so please do not pretend that you do. If you have nothing constructive to add, please do not respond to my posts. I really don't understand why you do.
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 09:56 AM
  #15  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by AirBalloon View Post
By the way, kja, you don't know me at all, you have never met me and have no idea what I would enjoy on vacation, so please do not pretend that you do. If you have nothing constructive to add, please do not respond to my posts. I really don't understand why you do.
I know what you have said you seek and enjoy on vacations -- like the freedom to jump in a car and drive around or the opportunity to swim and relax on a beautiful beach. I know the things that I, or others, have described as sources of enjoyment while traveling that you have denied as possible interests, even to the point of claiming that we are making things up just to mock you and attacking us with such viciousness that your posts have had to be deleted -- things like learning about the local cultures and their history or spending time in settings where you will see local people engaging in their lives. While Peru offers a wealth of travel opportunities, I honestly do not think that it is a place you would enjoy given YOUR comments over the years.

Although you repeatedly ask Fodorites for advice, you have also repeatedly made it clear that you don't understand why I, or anyone else, would attempt to provide helpful input, telling us we should "get a life" rather than taking time to respond to questions. And when it's input you don't wish to hear, you attack us, again spewing such venom that your posts must generally be deleted. Puzzling.

Last edited by kja; Nov 10th, 2019 at 10:16 AM.
kja is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 10:37 AM
  #16  
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Spewing venom? I should probably be upset if that wasn't so laughable. I have never been anything but gracious and appreciative of all the help everyone offers, but there have been times when you and a few others have taken a very elitist and condescending attitude towards those that do not live up to your travel standards, which deserved a respectful, but firm, response.

How about this. I do not want to continue this back and forth with you. Can we not be civil with each other and move forward and actually try and help one another where we can?

I am not sure if you've noticed, but we have enough hate and resentment in our world today. No need to add any more.
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 10:41 AM
  #17  
kja
 
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If your responses had been respectful, but firm, they would not have had to be deleted. Some of us are ALL too well aware of your capacity for venom, Andrea.

If you can be civil, that would be great.
kja is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 11:19 AM
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Obviously, an olive branch is something you dont respect or want.

Good luck to you. Thia is the last time I ever respond to one of your posts.
AirBalloon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 02:03 PM
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" We know that many times, these concerns are overblown, but many of the people we have talked to recently who actually lived in South America say that even in the safer countries, it is best to limit your journeys to the tourist sites and not to actually walk in the more local areas, like we would do in Europe."

You'd better look for the experiences of travellers and not expats or locals. You're not going to settle down in Latin America, only travel there. The issues and experiences with safety and crime can be quite different for a short term visitor and a long term resident. For example kidnapping is a real risk in some cities for someone who lives there and has a daily routine, but it is of no concern for a traveller who is dashing in and out and moving all the time from sight to sight. A traveller is more likely to have his backpack nicked from the bus and stuff like that.

The other thing is that too many expats live in kind of a bubble with the supposed safety of fellow expats and are hesitant to mingle with the locals and fear the unknown.

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 10th, 2019 at 02:27 PM.
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Nov 11th, 2019, 10:18 AM
  #20  
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Thanks BDKR. We just do not want to be afraid every time we leave our hotel and walk the cities or towns we are based in. Simply to visit the main tourist sites is not really appealing to us and, although we will avoid the more dangerous areas, we have been told that you cannot simply walk around like you would do in Europe, for example.

We do get your point, however, and we appreciate your advice. We will talk with others who have visited the various countries in SA to get a better idea of the safety concerns they felt.
AirBalloon is offline  

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