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Old 12-06-2012, 11:47 PM   #22
rcroese
Haarlem Globetrotter
 
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: GR Michigan
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Congratulations on your well-planned trip and I wish you "buen viaje" to a couple of my favorite countries. I used to live in Temuco, Chile and my wife is from Córdoba, Argentina. You will be in a couple of well-organized counties, with good roads and other tourism infrastucture. Camping is defininately an option in Chile and Argentina, but the campings are generally outside of town and the life of the Latino culture, in terms of hotels, restaurants and other fun places are generally in the center of town. When it rains and camping is less comfortable, the campings usually have inexpensive cabins as well.

You will do well to stick fairly close to the speed limit (around 100 km/h), as the police use speed guns and step out in the road to stop you. Police in Chile are called carabineros (nickname Paco(s) and they are courteous, polite and will throw you in jail if you even try to bribe them. In Argentina, the Policía Federal is a bit more flexible in that respect.

Try to get off the Panamericana when you have a chance, especially on the Pacific coast below Concepción, and other circle tours in the southern lakes district of Chile. Rather than going from Osorno directly to Bariloche, Argentina, you may want to go to Puerto Montt and make a circle around Lago Llanquihue and (hopefully) see the Osorno volcano from all sides. Another nice side trip would be to Villarrica, Pucón, Lican Ray, Collipulli, etc.

Parts of Ruta 40 in Patagonia are now paved, but the wind is still a big factor. I hope you plan to go back into Chile at Esquel/Trevelin/Futaleufu and ride the carretera Austral (Southern highway), formerly known as carretera Pinochet. This area is a micro-climate with citrus trees and begonia-type vegetation along the road (expect rain). You can stay overnight in Puyuhuapi, a lovely German settlement on the shores of the Pacific inland waters. Then you go back into Argentina at Coihayque and on to Ruta 40. In the Patagonia heart land you want to stay at an Estancia (Ranch), rather than camping, because of the wind, cold and lack of infrastructure.

I will stop here with me comments and advice, but please feel free to ask questions at any point of your trip, I know the Southern Cone quite well. One final point - expect to pay a reciprocity visa fee of about US$150.00 at the Santiago airport on arrival. They staple a stamped receipt into your passport and the fee is good for 10 years or the remaining life of your passport. I know this is a lot of money, but Chileans have to pay a similar amount to obtain a US visa.

Finally, you mentioned communication with the US. I always use Skype for calling landlines and cell phones in the US from anywhere in the world, for which I pay an annual fee of (I believe) $50 to Skype and the calls are free.

Enjoy your trip!!
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