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Travel to Chile

Flying to Chile

Chile's main airline LATAM (www.latam.com), connects both Europe and the US with Chile. British Airways (www.ba.com) also flies to Santiago via Sao Paulo in Brazil (the second leg is operated by LATAM), Air France flies from London via Paris (www.airfrance.com), and Air Canada arrives from London via Toronto (www.aircanada.com).

The major airport is: Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport.

Notes

At the airport upon arrival in Chile, visitors are issued a tarjeta de turismo (tourist card) by the immigration authorities. Travellers must retain this document and present it to immigration upon leaving the country.

Airport Guides

Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport

Code

SCL

Location

Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is located 15km (9.5 miles) northwest of central Santiago.

Telephone

+56 2 2690 1752.

Address
Casilla 79 Correo Aeropuerto Internacional
Santiago

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Flight times

From London - 17 hours (including stopover); New York - 10 hours 30 minutes.

Air passes

The oneworld Visit South America Pass (www.oneworld.com) is valid within Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile (except Easter Island), Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Participating airlines are American Airlines (AA), British Airways (BA), LAN (LA), Qatar Airways (QR), TAM (KK) and their affiliates. The pass must be bought outside South America in the country of residence. It allows unlimited travel to over 60 destinations. You can take as many flights as you like, but a you must book a minimum of three flights.

Departure tax

None.

Travelling to Chile by Rail

A sporadic service used to exist between Chile and Bolivia (although it was mostly used for freight). There is talk of reviving that line, although that may be years before it happens.

Driving to Chile

Chile shares a northern crossable border with Peru and Bolivia, and Argentina is to the east. There are more than 30 border crossings accessible by road with Argentina, although in winter months many are closed due to snow (remember, the daunting Andes separate the two countries).

The two most commonly used border crossings by road are the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores, also called Cristo Redentor, a breathtaking mountain pass in the Andes between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, reaching elevations of 3,200m (10,500ft) and including some intense switchbacks. The other popular crossing is the Pajaritos crossing (also known as Paso Cardenal Antonio Samoré) between Villa La Angostura, Argentina and Osorno, Chile.

Driving note

Many border crossings are paved highways, although some, especially towards the far south of Chile or the far north in Atacama, are gravel roads. Many are not accessible by public transportation, and close for the winter due to snow. It's best whenever possible to check ahead of time with either the nearest tourism office or gendarmeria (border police) office to make sure that the crossing is open.

Getting to Chile by boat

Shipping lines such as Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica (CCNI) (www.ccni.cl) and Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV) (from New York and European ports) (www.csav.com) operate in Chile. The country's biggest port is San Antonio.

Ferry operators

Cruce Andino (www.cruceandino.cl) runs between Bariloche, Argentina and Puerto Varas, Chile. While not an actual ferry, small boats can be hired by Juana de Arco (www.interpatagonia.com/juanadearco) from Lago Puelo, Argentina to make a water crossing, but they drop passengers off at the Chilean border – most travellers continue on by foot.