13.04.2017 Liam and Sandy (England&Mexico) - Puerto Montt - Antofagasta
Our adventure with “La Quesadilla” - our home away from home Soulvan camper - started in Puerto Montt. Here’s how it happened.
We spent 3-4 days in Bariloche, Argentina researching how best we could travel from the Chilean Lake District all the way up north to San Pedro de Atacama.
Now, the one thing I always try to have when travelling is freedom without restrictions. These two ingredients combined set the stage for adventure, discovery, exploration and an incredible experience. I can tell you that this is achieved when you have a set of wheels and no solid plans.
After a couple of failed attempts to arrange a van with other companies due to poor communication and lack of interest towards our ideas, we came across Soulvans.
It was an easy and informal process of exchanging Whatsapps and ideas. Soon after we were on our way to meet Mauro in Puerto Montt to pick up our van. The whole process of renting the van was very simple.
And so it began, a blank canvas ready to be painted! Below is a simple guide to our South to North itinerary, not including several day trips, over night stops and nights in Copec gas stations.
Puerto Monte - Ancud (Chiloe Island)
Ancud - Castro
Castro - Cucao (Chiloe National Park)
Cucao - Chonchi - Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas - Valdivia - Villarica
Villarica - Pucon
Pucon - Lican Ray
Lican Ray - Salto del Laja
Salto del Laja - Laguna del Laja
Laguna del Laja - Pichilemu
Pichilemu - Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz - Santiago
Santiago - Valparaiso
Valparaiso - Vicuna
Vicuna - Bahia Inglesa
Bahia Inglesa - Taltal
Taltal - Cerro Paranal (ESO)
Cerro Paranal - Antofagasta
Chiloe Island - We spent about about 3 days on this beautiful little island. It is full of unique culture and great seafood!
Llanquihue Lake - This is a beautiful lake with Volcan Osorno as its backdrop. We took a nice day drive around the lake with a little trip to some beautiful towns and waterfalls. We found a campsite on the lake close to Ensenada with stunning views of the volcano.
Pucon and Volcan Villarica - Pucon is a cool little town with some beautiful National Parks dotted around it and the menacing Villarica Volcano just on the horizon. Lots of people there, but well worth it to summit the volcano, great experience.
Termas Geometricas - Not far from the village of Lican Ray are the natural springs Termas Geometricas. They are likely to be the most expensive springs in the area but I can vouch 100% that it is worth every penny. So much so that I have wanted to go back there every day since.
Although they are the most expensive in the area, they really aren’t that expensive and you will come out of there with some incredible memories feeling great.
The Laja Falls - Right by the village of Salto del Laja are 4 quite impressive waterfalls! Definitely with a visit.
Laguna del Laja - This stunning national park is an hour or two west of the city of Los Angeles. We trekked over petrified lava fields with views of the volcanos to a stunning waterfall. One of my best day treks in Chile. I forget the name of this trek but it leaves on the opposite side of the road to the short “Sendero Las Chilcas” trek.
Viu Manent Vinyard - In the wine region of Santa Cruz there are many vineyards to visit. We chose Viu Manent. They allowed us to park up and sleep on their land and we did a tour of the vin yards and facilities the following day. Parking up and sleeping on their property was just a blissful experience. Great tour too :)
Santiago - We spent a few days getting to know this vibrant city and left with fond memories. Lots to see and learn there. The fish market was amazing.
Valparaiso - We spent our nights in Valparaiso parked in an all night multi story car park with views right over the docks. Cheep and peaceful! This city is a must visit. I have nothing to say other then go see for yourselves!
Vicuna - From Vicuna you can do stargazing tours at one of the many observatories. When we visited, to our frustration, we didn’t get great weather so the stargazing was off the menu. At least for that moment! You are close to the little town of Pisco Elqui.
Bahia Inglesa - We spent a few days relaxing around Bahia. It was very quiet whilst we were there but we enjoyed the good food, strolls on the beach and the beautiful sunsets.
Cerro Paranal (European Southern Observatory) - This mind blowing observatory runs tours of its facilities every Saturday which they say MUST be booked online in advance (we hadn't). We planned to pass by the facility on Friday and decided to try our luck. Man, were we glad we did.
After leaving Bahia we traveled north and spent a night in the small city of Taltal. Taltal is an old mining city, a quaint place with some lovely views over the ocean. On leaving Taltal we made the decision to travel inland in order to pass the observatory heading north to Antofagasta.
Relieved to see a big sign in the middle of the desert for the ESO, we headed up a long winding road to the facility.
It really was an incredible and surreal sight to behold. We were initially told we needed to book online in advance for the tour the following day, but after telling the kind gentleman at that security desk we had travelled from England and Mexico to get there, he changed his mind and told us to come back the following morning, he would allow us on the tour. The next step was deciding what to do until then, this was the middle of the dessert after all with nothing for hours in any direction. We asked our friend if there was anywhere on site or close by where we could by food or drinks, he told us we were out of luck and the nearest place was Taltal, the city we had just come from. Seeing our somewhat pondering faces, he then decided to invited us to join him at 9am the following morning, to have breakfast with him in the security office, before the tour. A true gentleman.
We left the security office and decided to park up off the road with an incredible view of the whole facility and the marvel that was the onsite staff hotel. The time only being around midday at this point, we decided to stay put right where we were, taking the whole experience in, walking here and there and waiting for the nights sky to unfold. This was the experience I had been hoping for when coming to the Atacama Desert. As the sun went down and the light faded, the telescopes began to open and the stars began to appear. That was one of the most memorable nights of my life.
The tour the following day was also amazing and just topped off an altogether great experience.
p.s The amazing onsite hotel was used for the 007 movie Quantum of Solace. Thought that was pretty cool!
Now it was impossible to see all the beautiful things this route had to offer in the month we had the camper, but we definitely gave it our best shot.
We wouldn’t change a thing :)"
24.02.2017 Guillaume, Chloé and Margot (Canada) - Santiago
Before we left for Chile, we were complete wrecks. Submerged by stress, work, and the everyday struggle to have something like family time, we started to fear that a campervan trip was not what we needed. We almost canceled our reservation, intending to switch to a classic beachside resort. My god what we would have missed!
33 campervan days later, we come back with vivid memories of laughter, beauty, excitment and inside jokes. As a family, this is what we needed. We were always together, and all of our stuff was always close by. Our daughter took the van as her home. Pretty soon she was calling shotgun to be the dishwasher, or GPS handler. When you’re in a campervan, every little task is an activity. From cleaning the van to doing laundry, everything gets turned into a game. Needless to say, we miss the van a lot, and our big home suddenly feels too big and meaningless.
As for our trip, we sarted in Norte Chico up to Valle Del Elqui. Then we went down south, reaching Pucon. Then we got back to Santiago.
We would never drive more than 200km per day and find interesting places to camp on the road. We only stayed in campings because we wanted toilets and water access. Even in high season, we managed to find affordable campings, from 5000 clp to 25000 clp. It’s cheaper to just park somewhere, but we chose the stress free and basic confort option.
2-3 times we just asked people if they could help us find a safe place to park for the night. This led to unusual surprises, like spending the night with a cherry producer and ending pretty drunk.
We are 100% satisfied with Soulvan and happy to be the first family to rent a van!
Here is a list of our best campings:
-Casa de Octavio, Monumento National Morado
-Camping Chivato, Los Molles
-El Retiro, Valle del Elqui
-Refugio del Angel, Valle del Elqui
-Los Changos, Punta de Chorros
-Conguilio national park
-Turismo ayekan, Buchupureo
-Camping Olga, Huerquehue park
Here is a list of our Chile highlights:
-The road between Buchupureo and Curanipe
-Parc national Malalcahuello
-Monumento national Morado
-Vendors on highway 5
-The road between Iliapel and Combarbala
-Overall warmth and kindness of Chilean people
08.01.2017 Rogier and Marjolein (Netherlands) - Puerto Montt
We very much enjoyed our trip with the Mitsubishi from Soulvans! The camper is well equipped, reliable and had enough room to store the stuff of two people and the groceries for over three weeks! On top of that, Soulvans offered us a better price, better rental conditions and a better equipped camper than the competition!
Chile and Argentina are perfect countries to explore using these type of campers. Just park and sleep in the most beautiful places! - Marjolein and Rogier, Netherlands"
Recommendations they left for future travellers:
1) our favorite parts of our trip were:
- The last part of the carretera Austral. The journey from Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Chile Chico is amazing!
- Cuave de las Manos Argentina. A very nice canyon and interesting to see the paintings.
- Perito Moreno Glacier, el Calafate Argentina. Amazing mass of ice right next the lake.
- penguin island, Bahia bustamante, Argentina. Very nice to see the Penguins up close!
- Bariloche: very nice hiking!
- Vulcan Osorno. Very scenic road leading to the top of the volcano.
2) Our recommendations:
- the app ioverlander! It's perfect finding your next camping spot.
- Download the maps with google maps using wifi and you can use the gps of your phone anywhere!
- reuse the 6 liter water bottles you can buy in the supermarket to increase your water capacity
- buy a pack of Huggy's wetties. A very versatile cleaning cloth ;-)
- a roll of packaging tape is very useful as well
07.12.2016 - Torsten and Sophia (Germany) - Puerto Montt - Punta Arenas
When we were searching the internet for campervans in Chile we one day found the homepage of Soulvans and liked the philosophy from the beginning. These vans really have a soul! Vivian and Mauro answered all our questions in advance to our trip (which were really a lot!) and gave great recommendations for tours, places and bookings.
We had a great trip with our van, starting in Puerto Montt, where we met with Mauro, who brought the van all the way down from Santiago by himself. Our Mitsubishi dealt with all terrain and was a comfortable home for our 17 days trip. We made it down the Carretera austral to Puerto ibanez, crossed the border to Argentinia and went down the Ruta 40, passing great spots like Parque los glaciares with Mount Fiz Roy and Perito Moreno. We headed down more south to Torres del Paine national parc and when we finally arrived in Punta arenas and gave our van back we had at wonderful trip, not least because our Soulvan cave us a mobility and flexibility which is priceless.
As camping in Chile and Argentinia is really easy and the Soulvan offers a warm and dry place to sleep and everything you need to prepare a hot coffee or a meal, we often just stopped and stayed the night at places that looked nice (and there are a lot!). We still were a little off season so also most of the official campsites were nearly empty and we always found a quiet and beautiful site to stay (e.g. we can recommend camping lago roco, 60 km west from EL Calafate - we were the only guests and had a amazing view at the lake and at glaciers directly out of the van). Last but not least, Vivian and Mauro were reachable during the whole trip so we felt well supported all the time. We would love to come back to Chile and explore the rest of this great country with one of the vans!
23.11.2016 - Georg and Ursina (Switzerland) - Puerto Montt - Puerto Montt
1. Our highlights: Chilean people, unspoiled nature, Carretera Austral, Puerto Rio Tranquillo (marble caves), Paso Raballo Argentinian (beautiful landscape), Confuencia Rio Baker, Caleta Tortel, Laguna Cerro Torre near Chalten, el Calafate, Perito Moreno, Torres del Paine but extremely touristy. Bariloche by cable car. Isla Chiloe Visit penguins and whales in Punhuil and the stilts in Castro.
2. Camping recommendations: Isla Chiloe, Ancud, Camping Arena Gruesa (location on a cliff, beautiful), El Chalten (Argentina), Camping La Torcida. Or simply somewhere a beautiful spot in the unspoilt nature.
02.11.2016 - Mario and Tanja (Switzerland) - Santiago - Punta Arenas
First of all: we had a great time in Chile and Argentina with our campervan!! Two amazing countries with a breathtaking nature, funny and interesting animals, lovely people, delicious food and amazing wine :-)!
We took the van, which we named "Yoda", over in Santiago and made our way down to Punta Arenas in 23 days. It's not a lot of time, but still enough to see the most beautiful spots.
In about a week we travelled to El Chaltén in Argentina via Linares, Pukon, Valdivia and Bariloche where we had some overnight stops (but also a lot ofa rain). Aftrr some rainy days in the beginning the sun became our friend again :-)!
Some days in El Chaltén with Mt Fitz Roy & Co., then some days in El Calafate with all the glaciers (really impressive!!) before we headed to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, where we experienced an unbelievable time. A lot of walking though ;-)
We enjoyed driving with Yoda on the Ruta 40 and we were really sad when we had to give him back in Punta Arenas at the end of the trip.
Camping in Chile and Argentina is very easy and beautiful. And thanks to Soulvans that we had a home for 23 days after travelling and backpacking for 8 months!!
29.09.2016 - Fraser and Jasmine Santiago-Los Rios - San Pedro
Our experience renting a Soul Van was nothing short of amazing. We had shopped around a little to try and find the right option and we were so happy we ended up choosing Soul Vans. Vivian and Mauro were lovely and always happy to help with any questions we had, both leading up to our trip and through out as well. The van had everything we needed and was very comfortable, although we were happy we brought along our sleeping bags as Chile is in fact very chilly during the winter months - particularly in the desert. Having the van made it so easy to visit all the spots we wanted to see and so much more that was off the normal tourist route made for a truly special trip.
The van had no problem taking us from Santiago through Pucón to Valdivia and then all the way up to San Pedro de Atacama seeing all the best Chile has to offer along the way. You will have no regrets if you go with Soul Vans for your Chilean adventure! Step out of the door and go!
Thanks so much again Vivian and Mauro!
07.05.2016 - Sophie&Nik (Austria/Germany) - Santiago-Patagonia
25 days Roadtrip in Chile in April/ May.
We were planning to explore Patagonia but as in Autumn it might get quite cold down there we decided to start in Santiago, spend some days at the coast and in the Lake District to get comfortable with camping and driving in Chile. We explored the area, took some relaxing baths in thermal water and when the weather finally turned better we left the touristy towns of Puerto Varas and Villarica behind us to start our journey down the Carretera Austral. Following bumpy roads, enjoying great views, walking through rainforests and looking down volcanos we made our way down south. Sleeping near beaches, deserted campgrounds or in riverbeds we drove until Lago General Carrera / Chile Chico, before turning back north through Argentina.
The trusty L300 became our temporary home for that time and we felt comfortable as it offered everything you need. Most nights we slept in the wild and were happy about the flexibility the van gave us. Following the Carretera and a very helpful Overlander App we managed to always find a nice spot to eat, sleep & having a hot coffee in the morning.
We were glad to have warm sleeping bags with us as it gets quite cold in the south. Because we traveled off-season, almost all the ferries, wild camping spots and also the campgrounds were pretty empty (some of them were even closed).
The autumn colors in the Patagonian and the landscapes are amazing, a real paradise for photographers. Traveling the Carretera was no problem for the van and we would have loved to go down even further. But don’t underestimate the distances.
Vivian and Mauro were always reachable and helpful. Even before we booked our trip, they gave us useful tips for planning our journey.
12.04.2016 Nele & Eike (Austria) - Santiago - Santiago
We rented a Soulvans Campervan for a trip from Santiago to Navidad and back. On our way we wanted to stop at Colchagua Valley, Santa Cruz and Pichilemu. We rented a Mitsubishi L300 which had everything we needed. We even got blankets, which we never got by a campervan rental before. Everything was also very clean. Starting from Santiago we drove directly to Santa Cruz. There is a nice little museum, which was very interesting and great pizza place. Santa Cruz is a nice stop-over. Vivian recomended us to have a wine tasting at Lapostolle or Viu Manent and so we went to Lapostolle. This vineyard is incredible. Its so modern and has stunning views. We slept in Colchagua valley without a problem a few nights. Driving furtheron to Pichilemu we enjoyed the huge empanadas there and the easy surf atmosphere. There are a lot of spots where you can sleep a little outside of Pichilemu. We also did a cheap surfing course there - fun! In navidad we spend our last nights. The campervan resisted the winds and we found a nice sleeping place at a spot which is where the river hits the ocean. We highly recommend this spot! We enjoyed our holidays a lot. Vivian and Mauro made a lot of efford that we have a nice time and we really liked our little campervan in Chile. Renting a campervan this one is an economic one, but for the price you really get a comfortable little home for your roadtrip. Hopefully see you next year again!
03.04.2016 Alina & Marcel (Germany) - Santiago - Chiloe
25 days on the road in Chile! We were lucky and were able to spend 25 days and nights in a campervan in Chile, which made us feel home on the same time.
The first days of our rental were pretty exiting but quickly we got a camper routine, which made our road trip a relaxed adventure. Our tour was made of short distances between Santiago and Chonchi in Chiloe and back. Following the principle “today here, tomorrow there” we enjoyed this flexibility a lot. Santiago-Constitución was our first stage of the road trip in Chile. Going there was quite hot and long, but we forgot about this when we saw the beautiful beaches and the sea lions. Continuing our trip we went on a country road to a national park close to Concepción.
People in general are very friendly in the rural Chile and a lot of time are even happy if you sleep on their properties or in the countryside. Laraquete is a very cute little village located directly at the Pacific coast and convinced us with its great opportunity to have a bath in the ocean without high waves and with warm white sanded beaches. We always used country roads to avoid the Ruta 5, as driving in rural Chile gives you a better inside in Chilean costumes and traditions. In Santiago or Constitución one gets to know modern Chile, but on small roads, you will learn a lot about agriculture and culture, moreover its just pretty. We can say, that a lot of roads in Chile are in a very good state, however you will always hit unpaved roads as well. Our campervan managed them without any problem. You will just drive very slowly due to the noise and road conditions.
Passing Largo Lanalhue we got to Villarica/Pucon where we noticed, that this is region is more touristic, as you can choose between lots of activities, We wont say that this is negative as horse riding with a volcano view is simply a great experience. However the nice part about renting a campervan is that you can go to unspoiled nature and be able to stay there without any other people or the need of finding a place to stay. We can recommend the national parks Chiloe and Conguillo.
We drove the campervan until the end of our trip which was the airport going back to Germany. Not very happy we gave the campervan back to Mauro and Vivian. They were always helpful during our trip and solved everything which occurred to us. We would love to come back and continue exploring Chile in a campervan…it’s absolutely the best way to get to know the different parts of Chile. Chile we will be back!
08.03.2016 Charlotte & Family (Germany/ Chile) - Punta Arenas - Puerto Montt
Soulvans Campers, offered us a Mitsubishi L300 campervan and with her came a great service by Vivian and Mauro. They were really helpful, professional and friendly. They also recommended us tours.
Our camper was practical a trusty vehicle suitable for all the family and an easy way of exploring this great land. We drove all over the South of Chile and Argentina and even if somewhere along the Caratera Austral we really longed for some asphalt, our Soulvan took us on a great adventure. During one month we discovered with her the stormy Magallanes Region, the wild beaches of the South, Patagonia, and the entire, more tan stunning Carretera Austral. Our pick up location was Punta Arenas, where our journey started, followed by Torres del Paine – Calafate – Perito Moreno – Chile Chico – Puerto Tranquilo – Puerto Ciscne - Coihaique – Chaiten – Chiloe –– Puerto Varas - Frutillar – San Carlos de Bariloche - Puerto Montt. She was always a trustworthy companion during our whole journey and never failed on us. We never had any problems. Not even a flat tire and that is regarding the bad condition of the Carretera Austral quite a miracle or just speaks for a great maintenance of the camper.
The Soulcamper is kitted out with everything you'll need for a short break or a longer relaxing holiday. Cook up inside the van or outdoors if it´s not too windy. And perhaps dine alfresco under the dawning (or inside if the weather isn't so kind!).
Our Soulvan was professionally converted into a Campervan. There's all the campervan basics you´ll need during your journey. As well as some handy extras! She is suitable for all weather camping. Believe us. She became our home during one month! You have all the comforts for your breakaway. The only thing you´ll need to bring is your overnight bag if you travel to the South!!
In our Soulvan slept three adults and it worked out! We had enough space. Most of the time we did choose sleeping spots at solemn places which are more abundant in the south - campsites where not that common in this area.
Vivian also supplied a written guide and talked us through everything when before we picked her up.
To sum it up, we had a pretty spectacular experience renting a Soulvans campervan from Vivian and Mauro. Soulvans is really interested to give people an amazing experience. So don't book tours! Discover it on your own with a Soulvans Campervan.
05.02.2016 Jonas and Femke (Denmark) - Region Metropolitana - Puerto Montt
We hired a campervan for our 3 weeks of vacations in Chile. At first we started in Santiago going to Valparaiso region. We loved Valparaiso, its definitely worth to climb up the hills to have a nice view. Dont go to the fish market and restaurants in this area, as they are really bad. As the area has a high density of people, it was harder to find a nice spot for sleeping so we stayed at Camping Islote las Gaviotas, which was cheap and very nice located for exploring the area a few days. From there we drove up to Maintencillo, Zapalar and Papudo. If you drive up the hill in Maintencillo you can find a nice quiet spot (with natural bathroom and trees for putting the solar shower-yay). Maitencillo is so nice, you can walk for ever on the beach. In Papudo we stayed with the camper right next to the beach which was awesome. Vivian knows where exactly. On the way back we passed Santiago and visited Colchagua Valley (great great wines, visit Lapostolle, its sooo beautiful and Santa Cruz is such a nice little town. From there we went to Pichilemu, where we highly recommend to have some huge seafood empanadas. The rest of our time we visit natural parks close to pucón, spend some time in thermal waters. We recommend http://www.termastrancura.com/ as they are much cheaper than others and very cosy. They also allowed us to stay there overnight. On the way to Puerto Montt you should visit Osorno,Frutillar and Puerto Varas. A recomendation for Puerto Montt: pass Angelmo and continue driving, the Fjord is very szenery. In general we´ve had a great time and no problems. If you want a long shower, visit a big copec, we found the showers clean and a good alternative to the solar shower.
25.01.2016 Annika (Germany) - Chiloe
I did a 4 days trip to to the island of Chiloe from Puerto Montt. The Campervan I rented is so easy to drive and super equiped. I have been with Wicked Campers before and this was even better. Vivian mentioned that they also will be in Castro and that I can join them if I want to. So I first went to see the penguins close to Ancud. I found a beautiful beach close to this spot for sleeping, absolutely quiet with beach in the morning. Then I continued driving to Castro, where I met Vivian and her family. I stayed with them in a little house and we went to Cucao. If you keep left you will get to Puente las Almas , if the weather is great this is such a beautiful spot. I stayed another night with Vivian and then continued to Isla Lemuy. This island is so peaceful and quiet, I stayed next to the beach of Detif, there is a parking in front of a school, so there is no wind. The next day I went back to Puerto Montt. Chiloe is beautiful. I recomend Lemuy a lot. Thanks guys for such a nice short trip and the possibility to stay with you and make new friends!
19.01.2016 Farina and Julian (Germany) - South of Chile (Los Rios/Chiloe)
When we first had the idea to do a roadtrip in Chile the question was how to find a cool camper. A few days earlier we found a facebook group called “Deutsche in Chile” where we read Vivians post about Soulvans. So we went to the homepage and wrote an e-mail. Vivian answered really fast and gave us a lot of information so we decided to rent one of the Soulvans. At the first day of our trip we met one of Vivians friends who gave us the van and final information and so our 10 day trip to the south started. After the first night at one of the big Copec gas stations we drove more or less directly to the Caburgua lake near to Villarica and Pucón. The first part of this route was pretty easy because the road signs are easily understandable. The second part when we tried to find the camping lot of one of my working colleagues was a little harder because it was at the road, which guides you to the national park Huerquehue. This road was more like a gravel road but in the end we found this beautiful place. For people who don´t know somebody with a private place next to the lakes, there are located many camping lots. We stayed here for 3 nights so we had enough time to visit the beautiful park Huerquehue. With its giant trees and beautiful views on the volcano Villarica, this was definitely one of our highlights. We did the three lakes tour which takes more or less 5 hours. Our second stop was the Chiloé. We took the ferry in the night, slept next to a gas station and then went to visit Castro with its beautifully colored pole houses. We stayed here a few hours and then we moved on to Cucao, which a local recommended to us. We slept close to the sea behind some dunes. The Chiloé is a windy place and gets really cold in the evening so we needed some winter wear but the van was a good shield to cook and sit behind. Located in Cucao is the „Parque Nacional Chiloé“ which is a really beautiful spot, too. Next we visited the national park Conguillío, which is located 100 km in the east of Temuco. In order to drive though the park entirely, you need to have a 4 wheeler. Hence, we could only drive through the first bit of the park. But this part was already breathtaking due to its lakes, volcanic landscapes and the awesome view on the volcano Llaima. The last stop of our trip was Pichilemu on the coast, 200 km from Santiago. This is a beautiful, small surfer place. Here we spent the day at the beach and went around the small and cute shops of this town. We slept again next to a gas station. The next morning we went to Santiago. Finally, we can just say that it was an amazing trip and that the Soulvan opened many possibilities for us, that we wouldn´t have had without a “rolling house” like this.
Highlight overview: Parque Nacional Huerquehue - Cucao (beachcamping Chiloé) - Parque Nacional Conguillío
Some tips: 1. If you don´t want to spend money for camping lots, the big gas stations like Copec are a good alternative. They are safe and in the morning you can have a hot cup of coffee and a hot shower. 2. In some areas you have many kilometers between the gas stations. Sometimes we had to leave the highways to gas up. 3. If you want to try something tasty at the wayside there are some people selling “Mote con Huesillos”. Especially after a long ride this is really refreshing.
19.01.2016 Janneke & Friend (Netherlands) - South of Chile (Carretera Austral/Chiloe)
We went down Carretera Austral all the way down to Lago General Carrera, most of the roads were unpaved so the conditions for driving weren't the best! Also we had to take some ferries and we didn't think to book them ahead. We got lucky there was space but it can be wise to book them in advance if you're short on time.
Highlights we visited:
Camping Ventisquero is a beautiful campsite and from there you can do a nice walk to a glacier 10k one way
Ventisquero Colgante (hanging glacier and not the same as the one above)
Cerro Castillo we would definitely have gone hiking there if we had more time
Puerto Rio Tranquilo to visit the marble caves was amazing
Camping Arena Gruesa in Ancud on Chiloë is an amazing place to stay!
09.12.2015 Mary and Sebastien (España and France) - South of Chile (Region Los Rios/Lagos/Chiloe)
In our trip we drove from Santiago to the south until we reached the island of Chiloe. The first few days we had a hard time finding nice places to stay. Maybe it was the lack of experience with this kind of trips and that we were not sure if we were allowed or if it was safe to stay in certain places. From Santiago to probably Temuco the population density is higher, so we found it was harder to find a quiet calm nice place to stay overnight. But further south the towns are smaller and more charming with lots of amazing and quiet places to relax and enjoy nature. Chiloe is a most! Chileans are super friendly and respectful with people parking and sleeping in public places! So respect the surroundings! Do not leave trash, toilet paper or anything behind! Google maps was not always the best tool to find a place to stay. Some places looked great on the map but once we arrived we realized it was private land, closed beach...So if you are looking for a nice place to stay overnight start early. The mattress is super comfy-we slept perfectly.
25.12.2015 Philipp and Astrid (Alemania) - North of Chile (San Pedro-Antofagasta)
We hired a soulvans camper for two weeks starting and ending in Antofagasta. During the first days we explored the area around San Pedro de Atacama, including Lagunas, the Salar, weird rock formations, the El Tatio geysers and generally some amazing scenery. Unfortunately we couldn´t go to the ALMA Telescope, because we didn´t book far enough in advance. Afterwards we pretty much went without much stopping north to Arica, so we could get done with all the driving. We then drove east to Putre and later on entered the Parque Nacional Lauca. Here we saw the amazing Lago Chungará and the Laguna Cotacotani. Both well worth a visit. Now leaving the sealed road we went further south, deeper into the national park. Our highlights here were definetely the salar de surire with all it's lagunas, flamingos, vicuñas and suris and within the salar some beautiful hot springs, surrounded by volcanoes and left alone by any tourists (when we were about to leave more people arrived, but we spent at least two hours completely alone there). Further south, between parque nacional las vicuñas and parque nacional Volcán Isluga, the road got a lot worse and we went down a couple of hills, where we were really afraid that we couldn't get back up in case we'd have to turn around. Luckily the river, that was supposed to be our greatest challenge, turned out to be more of a creek as there was not a lot of rain so far this year (always ask locals about road conditions and the river, if you want to go south of the salar de surire). We made it safely out of the national park at Colchane and could enjoy a real road once more. Going back to Iquique and then further south, we explored some of the coast. To our surprise even the coast was dry and desert. But apparently the water must be full of live. We saw never ending crowds of sea birds covering the sky above the ocean, sea lions catching fish and the shore full of crabs, see urchins and shellfish. We even caught two crabs once and cooked them for dinner (the red ones are delicious!). The best beaches for swimming are roughly 100 km north of Antofagasta. Check out the long beautiful beach ´Playa Hornitos´! Then sadly our trip ended, but we definitely got a lot of stunning memories.
A couple of tips and tricks in case you want to do a similar trip:
In case you get stuck, use the car-jack to lift the stuck tire and put some stones below it (probably you need a nice flat stone to have a base for the car-jack as well). If you go into the national parks Lauca etc. you need to carry some fuel. You can fill up in Putre, but from there the next official gas station is in Iquique.
We always slept as far away of any other people as possible, leaving the driver's seat empty and the key ready to drive off in case something unexpected happens. Apparently it's safe to sleep in front of police stations as well, but we were always more comfortable outside of cities and towns.
For showers we used pretty much everything from lagunas and the ocean to gas station showers at times. And most important of all: you got your own car now! Stop anywhere, you think is worthwhile and enjoy ;)
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Blog: Landscapes of Chile