Chile stretches over 4,300 km along the southwestern coast of South America although the width never exceeds 240 km. The official language is Spanish, the currency is the Chilean Peso and the population is nearly 17 million. The Andes mountain range is the backbone of the country and in the north, peaks reach altitudes well over 6,000 metres, including the famous Ojos Del Salado, the highest volcano in the world at 6908 meters. The Coastal range runs parallel to the Andes and in between lies the Central Depression, which in the north contains the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world. The country becomes more fertile as you move southwards due to the rich volcanic soil and the abundance of rivers.
The Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is barren and waterless. A few soda lakes can be seen, and even the petrified remains of animals. While most areas here only receive moisture from an occasional fog or a shower every few decades, the rain gauge at Calama has never recorded any measurable precipitation. The Atacama is a high and cold desert (most elevations are over 2,500 metres) with average temperatures ranging from 0° to 25° Celsius.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Atacama became responsible for Chile's leading export, copper, which is mined in the eastern portion of the country, near the border with Argentina. Population in the Atacama is limited to oases and mining towns and flora and fauna are sparse.
The capital of the Atacama region is Copiapo, which has a long mining tradition. South America's first railroad (completed in 1852) ran from here to Caldera, and Copiapo will be the starting point for climbs to Ojos Del Salado.
Travel facts Chile
Do I need a Visa?
A visa is not currently required for a stay of up to 90 days though for the latest requirements please refer to the Chilean consulate in your country of residence. Passports must be valid and have at least one blank page.
When is the best time of the year to visit Chile?
Chile can be visited all year round though if you are planning on a climb on Ojos Del Salado then you should consider traveling between November and April.
What vaccinations do I need?
You will need to check with your doctor or travel clinic as travel advice changes but all standard immunisations (for example, tetanus and hepatitis A+B) are recommended.
What's the currency of Chile?
The currency in Chile is the Chilean peso. Bills come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 pesos.
What is the time difference and phone code for Chile?
Chilean time is GMT/UTC minus 4 hours and the international code for dialing to Chile is +56
Are there ATM facilities in Chile?
Cities and large towns should all have ATM’s which accept international credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express; debit cards Visa Electron and Maestro.
Ojos del Salado Books and Maps
Altitude and its Effects
Travel at High Altitude, Medex, ISBN 0-901100-76-5 (free to download)
Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment, The Mountaineers Books, Bezruchka, ISBN 0-89886-685-5 (pocket sized guide)
Medicine for Mountaineering, The Mountaineers Books, Wilkerson et al, ISBN-10: 1594850763, ISBN-13: 978-1594850769
Full UIAA medical resource download (3.5Mb Zipped folder, 22 Chapters)
Ojos del Salado Region Guides
The Andes - A Guide for Climbers, Biggar, Andes, ISBN-10: 0953608727, ISBN-13: 978-0953608720
The Andes - A Trekking Guide, Biggar, Andes, ISBN-10: 0953608719, ISBN-13: 978-0953608713
Trekking and Climbing in the Andes, New Holland, ISBN-10: 1845379470, ISBN-13: 978-1845379476
Chile and Easter Island, Lonely Planet, ISBN-10: 174104779X, ISBN-13: 978-1741047790
The Rough Guide to Chile, Rough Guides, ISBN-10: 1848361750, ISBN-13: 978-1848361751
Argentina, Lonely Planet, ISBN-10: 1741794641 , ISBN-13: 978-1741794649
The Rough Guide to Argentina, Rough Guides, ISBN-10: 1848365217, ISBN-13: 978-1848365216
Mountaineering in the Andes, Neate, Hyperion Books, ISBN-10: 0907649645, ISBN-13: 978-0907649649 (view free online at RGS website)
Nevado Ojos del Salado, 1:100,000, Deutscher Alpenverein, ISBN-10: 3928777947, ISBN 13: 9783928777940
Spectacular views in the Bolivian Andes.