USEFUL CAMPERVAN LINKS
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Luggage You definitely do not bring an XXL suitcase; try to be as practical as possible, however the camper has enough compartments for your belongings under the bed. In case you are missing something, you can buy it in Chile, here always can find what you need.
On the road overnight
Route 5; You will find traffic almost exclusively heavy trucks, it is very common for them to exceed the allowed speed at night, reaching 120km/h or more. Be careful, let them pass you. Remember that a trailer will never have the versatility of a small car. In the southern zone, during the night there is a lot of fog, there is slow and very dangerous traffic.
To make your trip to the north more interesting, I recommend you avoid Route 5Norte; use the interior roads, start your journey through San Felipe, then Combarbalá, Monte Patria, La Serena. Now you are entering the area known as "Norte Chico" desert climate. Security: high.
Coquimbo District, Circuit Range - Cordillera de Los Andes Route. Surely you want to feel connected with nature, without the intervention of other human beings, solitude, silence, fresh air, nature. Do this route. The road was built to connect a mega mining project called Pascua Lama, with the port of Coquimbo; which fortunately was not executed due to serious interventions to the environment.
Caleta Chañaral de Aceituno - This area happily concentrates the greatest marine biodiversity of the Chilean coast, there are beautiful offers of activities, for example there is a company that offers diving expeditions, visit their page, you don't lose anything... https://www.explorasub.cl , you can also buy a boat ticket to go see whales, dolphins, sharksthe. The town offers a totally quiet, safe, very simple life... it is perhaps what you need to live
Section “Huasco - Caldera” - If you travel north, don't use Route 5 North entirely; use the Husco - Caldera section... then you inevitably return to Route 5 North.
If you travel from South to North; You will first arrive at Vallenar (do not spend time in Vallenar City) At the intersection between Vallenar and Route 5 North there is a restaurant in front of COPEC, go in, buy empanadas, they are the best! then drive a couple of kilometers to Freirina; It's a really nice little old town, quiet, small, nothing happens there, but you can go to rest and talk to people, I'm sure you'll have a great time. Watch this video https://youtu.be/67PoWELylTk
A little further on is Huasco, it is a little bigger but still very nice to visit. From this point it runs along the coast, please, visit the "Llanos de Challes" National Park, you will like it, you can do a short, comforting trek. After a couple of kilometers you will arrive at Bahía Inglesa, it is not bad to go for a beer in a terrace on the coast, right? The road is coastal, it is very nice to stop, walk to the beach and take a good swim in the Pacific Ocean, everything is open, there are many kilometers at your disposal.. kilometers of beach just for you
Section Caldera - San Pedro de Atacama. Unfortunately between the port of Caldera and San Pedro de Atacama there is not much to see; there are a couple of wonderful national parks and salt flats; but also fortunately, very close to San Pedro de Atacama there are others.
In this section, practically all the routes towards the mountain range are routes that go to mining deposits, nothing very nice really, don't go, they are routes in poor condition, only trucks, gravel, dirt.
You will have to use Route 5 north, arm yourself with patience and drive as if there were no future. Go to Chañaral to rest, the town is ugly because it was almost entirely destroyed by a great mudslide. There are a couple of supermarkets, a few cafes, inns, and gas stations. The beach is not recommended for swimming, despite the advertising that you probably see. After Chañaral, you could go to Tal Tal, not much to see but it is comforting to rest on the coast.
Do not visit Antofagasta, Copiapó or Calama. Security: poor. Unfortunately there are high crime rates in these cities and my clients know it very well; don't risk it
San Pedro de Atacama, is an exception, you have a great time and it is surrounded by places that you must visit; much better than me, please seek advice from the tourist agencies in town. Important; it is better to go up to the height in tourism services (like a Geysers del Tatio), because possibly the lack of air makes you and your camper not work and you have to lower it with a crane, it is expensive and you will have to bad time. To the north of San Pedro, the situation is repeated, the cities have a bad life, and you will risk it for nothing; the natural beauty is exactly the same as that of San Pedro de Atacama to the south, nothing more to see, the desert is repetitive at this point, stay with what you will see in San Pedro, it will surprise you
Section Santiago to Puerto Montt. Leaving Santiago you can take route 68 to Valparaíso and connect with the access to the city of Algarrobo; From this point to the south you will find small coastal cities, very close to each other... well to relax on the first day of your trip, after a short walk you will reach the town of "La Boca", a little further south is the bay of Matanzas, these are good places to sleep, there is plenty of space, it is safe, comfortable... then you will pass through Pichilemu (go to Punta de Lobos) and Cahuil and so on, always along the coast to the town of Cobquecura, there are small coastal towns dedicated to fishing, all very similar but very pleasant to visit. It is good to eat fish and take a bath in the sea. To the south of Cobquecura you must take interior routes because there is a mouth that interrupts the coastal route, in addition to the second largest city in Chile, it is Concepción.
From this point you will pass through countless small towns and you will return to the coastal route from "Lebu". Now you enter Mapuche lands, Mapuche is a Chilean ethnic group, it is the original people of the area, you will realize it. Drive to Puerto Saavedra, or Puerto Dominguez. The field is beautiful, very green, it is calm. It's time to go to the mountain range: you can go to Temuco, from there it leads to the area of lakes and rivers, visit Pucón, Licanray, Villarrica, Curarrehue, Neltume... From this area to the south there is much to see, you have many lakes that you visit, hot springs, volcanoes. I suggest you reserve long time in this area, you will like it, and review the options on the CONAF website and more specialized SERNATUR web page
It would be very entertaining to sleep in the Osorno volcano; there is a ski center that continues to operate in summer. Park, sleep, and do a little trekking on the volcano. the snow you see will not be in summer time. In front of the Osorno volcano there is another volcano called Calbuco, you can park and sleep on its slopes and do the trekking routes in the middle of the forest, check the CONAF guides (the Chilean forest service), the routes are really beautiful, they are easy to do.
Very close there is a very nice point called Petrohue, drive there and walk along the edge of the river, I assure you you will be a very happy and satisfied person for having made the decision to visit Chile.
Isla de Chiloé: You must visit Chiloé, it is an archipelago with many very beautiful islands, you can go around the island but stop in Puñihuil, so you can see penguins and whales; buy a ticket, get on a boat and after 30 minutes in the sea you will be able to see whales, it is really something very beautiful. You can sleep on the beach, no problem. Continue through the route and visit Chiloé National Park, in particular Cucao beach. You must stop by to eat a dish called "Curanto", it is a must!! Are serve it very well in the Ancud market and in the Dalcahue market. Near Dalcahue there is a waterfall called Tocoihue, stop by to eat and sleep, you will like it. There is a small island Aucar.
Carretera Austral Section - This long road must be visited in summer, feet in winter it is interrupted by avalanches, mudslides, flooding of rivers, etc etc but in summer it is very friendly. To start you must take three ferries, the first two do not need a reservation, the third does, however you can arrive and wait for a free seat. Check the Naviera Austral website; Naviera Paredes, Tabsa, Navimag.
The first park that you should visit in Pumalín, is huge, you can take a horseback ride, walk for a few days or just be there, with just that you will feel very good. After kilometers there is Chaitén, and in a nearby detour the route will take you to Futaleufú, it is very beautiful! there are a couple of exceptionally large rivers, almost every year there is a cayak competition and the like, lots of nature, lots of fresh air, tranquility, solitude. Tourist services abound in this area, find out when you arrive in town. The national parks are very close, I can not recommend one, because they are all wonderful. The southern highway does not have sanitary infrastructure, in the absence of them, you can access a campingsite on the route. From Cerro Castillo the gravel route begins, it is never in good condition, so I ask you please, keep calm and travel at 20 - 30 or 40 km/h; Mechanical services on the Carretera Austral are slow, they take their time, don't take risks. Carretera Austral - Well at the end of the road there is a very special campsite, the link on google is the following https://goo.gl/maps/8XvPKs52MoLr29dR6
They offer horseback riding through the mountains and possibly you can go around a glacier, it is not overwhelmingly visited, so this tour can magnificently crown your season in Chile.
Section Route 40, Argentina - Route 40 is very long, the natural scene is the majestic pampas, interesting to experience it for once. The road passes through the areas of greatest tourist value in Argentina, Bariloche, El Bolsón, Lago Puelo; Mount Fitz Roy and Perito Monreno Glacier, you can't miss it. The section that joins the Chilean territory and Route 40 is approximately 200km long, regardless of the border crossings; always in very bad condition, you must have patience and do it in a whole day. Fortunately not all the route is in bad condition.
Section Argentina - Punta Arenas. The nature scene changes again and you will be impressed again. If you have a ticket to Parque Torres del Paine, make sure you travel with enough time. The Park is a separate point, you have to live one the most beautiful places on the earth. And now, you have survived everything, there is nothing left, it only arrives to Punta Areas, we hope you are happy with your life 😊