I'm planning a 12-13 night trip to Chile in May/June 2006 to celebrate college graduation with a group of 6-10 people. I've gone fairly deeply through 2 travel guides and have an idea of what I want to see but am not sure about the practicality of it all. Hopefully someone can answer these questions.
I'd like to begin in Santiago and travel south to Puerto Montt and then head back. Is 12-13 days going to be enough time to see and do enough between those two cities? Would I have time to venture further south as well?
Does anyone know how bad the weather will be at this time? If winter in this region during may/june IS truly terrible, are there any places/activities I shoudl stay away from in the central valley and lake region?
Finally, how easy is it to see the wilderness without camping? Chile seems to have a ton of national reserves but can you make day trips out of them if you use the nearby cities as a home base?
Thanks for any help anyone can provide!
12 days will be enough to visit from Santiago to Puerto Montt, from there, you can cross to Chiloe Island, it's worth, but I don't recommend to go further south, unless you do it by air, and it's quite expensive.
The winter is beggining in May/June, will be very rainy from Concepción to south, but the weather is not going to be a problems to whatever you want to do. You'll fin a lot of day trips to do to trekking, riding and seightseeing, it's not going to be a problem, but the best need some camping.
I've heard the winter can get really rainy, but also that it WILL be a problem because it frequently forces closure of many outdoor areas and roads, and slows travel. You mentioned that it was bad south of Concepcion, but is it much drier north of there? I'm thinking I want to replan my trip to go as far south as Concepcion and then into el norte chico as well. How is winter in places like Rancagua, Curico, Pichilemu, Chillan, etc...?
There is a well paved highway between Santiago and Pto. Montt, so you shouldn't run into any problems with regards to rain closing roads. It you have issues on smaller roads off to the parks if there is a lot of rain, but they are pretty prepared for that.
Instead of Pto. Montt, think about basing yourself in Pto. Varas. It's a nicer town than Pto. Montt, and also is closer to a number of things in the lake district that you might want to see. You can do day trips from the towns to see things.
Orosno Volcano is nearby. I did a trip across the Andes into Argentina and to Bariloche that is a bus and boat tour. It's very, very cool.
You make it sound like Chile in the winter is completely do-able. Is that accurate? I get the feeling it's safer just to be flexible 'till I get there and decide on North or South then. But based on your experience, the Central Valley should be dry enough in May/June?
Also, do you think a 500 dollar budget will cover all my expenses beyond airfare and lodging?
I was last year in the south of Chile in Feb/March.
If you go down to Porto Montt there is a nice tour to Fruttilar,around the Lake.
But a very good Trip is to go by bus to Bariloche/Argentina,return by Boat cruising the Lakes Todos los Santos.
Concepcion is a place not worth to send a postcard home.(I was there only to see an old Friend).
500$ seams to my not anough for you plans.Chile is MUCH more expensiv then other South American Countrys,
Dont forget,Chile is a very long streched Country,from Santiago to Conception 6 Hours by bus,to Puerto Montt I dont know because I took the Plane to Punta Arenas.If I remember right,the flight Punta Arenas to Puerto Montt apr.2hr.
Parque Torres de Paine is also en exellent Place to visit.
wish you wonderful days
$500 to cover 13 days not including lodging and airfare is more than enough. I spent around $US 40 a day including lodging when I was down there, and that includes the Andes tour and the Navimag ferry.
I think the lake district is doable. It'll be cold, so bring appropriate clothes, but it's not that the country will be closed down.
Of course, weather is weather and often unpredictable. If you can remain flexible and make a choice when you get down there, then you might as well do that.
This is all great info, and it's really comforting. I agree that flexibility is key, and I'm trying to have several routes put together in the event of unfavorable weather.
My new problem is airfare. Up until a couple days ago, it was around 700-750 US, which was something our group was willing to pay for. In the last week, it has shot up to 900-1000. Is it likely to go down again? We're not going until the end of May so it seems like this is well in advance. I have a travel agent friend telling me that fares go down in february. Does anyone have any advice on cheap tickets?
Waiting on airfare would be okay if you are flexible on your dates and/or where you fly into. How many are in your group? If you have a lot of people, the chances of all of you finding cheap tickets will decrease.
Sorry, just re-read the original post. If you are trying to get 6 to 10 people to one place as cheaply as possible, I would think it is much better to get airfare now. Waiting would be okay for 2 people, but trying to find 10 last minute inexpensive tickets which had all of you arriving at the same place at the same time would be very difficult.