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Self-drive Chile: Off the beaten track

14 days from £2999pp

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Self-drive Chile: Off the beaten track

14 days from £2999pp

Private Journey


Insurance and documents

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Car Insurance: Your vehicle hire includes limited CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance with an excess payable of approx US$1,150-US$1,800 in the event of loss or damage. Limits and certain exclusions do apply. Please contact us for further details.

From 8 June 2015 new regulations will apply concerning the paper counterpart of UK driving licences. This may affect what is required by the rental company when you collect your car.Please check for further details.


3 domestic flights; 2 ferries, self-drive car route.


We’ve chosen small and friendly mid-range guesthouses and cosy rural lodges; all are comfortable and well located for exploration of the area. They all have well-equipped rooms, private bathrooms and heating. Our favourite, Cabañas Mirador del Guadal, has heavenly views of Lago General Carrera in deepest Patagonia.


Breakfast daily, full board day 2, lunch day 3.


We carefully select our local partners in Latin America, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• Chiloé Island: Guided visits to Dalcahue, Castro.
• Chiloé Island: Guided tour of the coast and fishing villages.
• Lake District: Guided excursion to Alerce Andino National Park.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Santiago 1, Castro 2; Puerto Varas 2; Puerto Tranquilo 2; Caleta Tortel 2; Puerto Guardal 2; Santiago 2. 

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Vehicle hire with limited insurance for Aisén region (Carretera Austral).
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America
• Insurance
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions


The unit of currency in Chile is the peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per person per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.  

A budget of approx US$200 should be sufficient to cover fuel costs for the self drive sections.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in Santiago, Castro and Puerto Varas and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency in the larger towns, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. 

Have a ready supply of Chilean pesos for spending in the self-drive section where there are few working ATMs and credit cards may not be accepted.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This is partly a self-driving holiday for independent-minded clients seeking the freedom to explore without the support of local guides and drivers but with the security of pre-booked accommodation. You should be confident to navigate along roads outside the UK, driving on the right. Some Spanish as well as mechanical knowledge, for example the ability to change a tyre, is highly recommended.

 The self-drive section is off-the-beaten-track Patagonia for adventurous travellers; there are few services for travellers en route; fill up with petrol whenever you can. Routes travelled in the Aisén region are all on gravel roads for which 4-wheel drive is advisable. Let us know if you have a strong preference for automatic or manual transmission as vehicles supplied can vary. GPS equipment is not normally available but you will receive basic written directions and we will send you our Rules of the Road document with helpful tips specific to driving in Chile. 


In the Santiago area expect a Mediterranean type climate though it can snow in winter (June-August). In October, November, March and April  temperatures range between 15°C  and 25°C and there’s a good deal of sunshine. January and February are hot, around 30°C or higher. 

The lake district has a weather pattern not dissimilar to that of the UK, though summers tend to be hotter and sunnier and winters wetter.

The Aisén region has a cool temperate climate, in places close to the coast it rains up to 300 days a year but in others, such as the area around Coyhaique, a rain shadow effect reduces precipitation. Warm sunshine is possible during the summer (Dec-Mar). However, as in all parts of Patagonia you should anticipate encountering all seasons, especially in the shoulder months of November and April. It can be very cold in winter (May-September), when roads may be blocked and hotels are closed. 

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both clothing for both hot and cold conditions including sun hat a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex (or similar) outer shell. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants in Santiago, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring umbrella, insect repellent, sun block and sun glasses. You might take swimwear for the odd dip in a natural pool.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

14 days from £2999pp

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About Private Journeys

Private Journeys are pre-planned holidays crafted by our experts, featuring routes and combinations that are proven to work well.

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  • All our Consultants have lived or travelled extensively in Latin America
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Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

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