Spend your winter in Chile: Is Chile a good snowbird location?

Approx Reading Time: 12 minutes

On South America's western edge, lies Chile, a long narrow country with over 6000 meter (19686 feet) of Pacific Ocean coastline. Up north is the driest desert in the world, and down south are waterfalls and glaciers.

Surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range Mountains, Santiago is Chile's largest city. It is also the nation's capital. The official language is Spanish. Chile is a culturally rich country,  and its people are friendly and hospitable. Snowbirds can look forward to exploring the wide horizons, nature & wildlife, interesting attractions, and pristine lands.

Spend your winter in Chile: Is Chile a good snowbird location? 1

Why should people stay in Chile

Chile is one country where you find wonder in nature and every other detail of the country. It is one of the top tourist locations in South America.

Snowbirds will find so much of the country's wildlife untouched because the country protects the pristine lands. Life is slow-paced in Chile, so it shouldn't just feel like an escape from long winters, but also an escape from the bustling city lifestyle. Chile's rich heritage can be experienced in well-preserved ruins and artifacts. The country is home to some World Heritage sites.

Chileans also have a long-existing wine culture. It is easy to find a good glass of wine to enjoy.

The country is blessed with a diverse landscape that goes from deserts to lush forests in different regions. There are also so many beaches snowbirds can relax at, get a tan, swim, or just walk around. This country offers snowbirds an unforgettable adventure either relaxing at the beaches, strolling through historic sites, or exploring nature.

Climate

The weather in Chile is diverse and unpredictable. Generally, it is a warm climate and along the coastline, there's a cool sea breeze. In the dry arid Atacama desert, temperatures can reach up to 32 meter (105 feet) and drop as low as -2 meter (-6.6 feet). The climate is warm and mild in the central zone. In the south, it is icy, cold, and with strong winds. The diverse climate of the country is owed to its unique narrow size. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere it is summer in Chile. And the summer sees mostly sunny days with hardly any rain.

For more climate information visit Meteoblue

Safety

Like many other popular travel destinations, snowbirds are advised to exercise caution as they travel to Chile as tourists are usually targets of petty thieves while exploring landscapes or architecture. Pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs in shops, restaurants, public transportation hubs, and other crowded places. Some areas like Providencia, The Las Condes are usually frequented by thieves.

Don't flaunt your cash, keep your valuables hidden safely and be observant of your surroundings.

Communication, internet, and cellphone in Chile

Chile's official language is Spanish. Many locals spice up their conversations with some slangs and vernacular. Most Signage, road signs are in Spanish, so some knowledge of Spanish will be helpful while snowbirds tour the country. However, you could come across people that also speak English.

Snowbirds are advised to buy a SIM card upon arriving in Chile. Communication is efficient here. There are over 10 network service providers you could choose from. With a local SIM card, you can enjoy cheaper call rates internationally and locally. They also provide data services. There are also public telephone booths in every city.

Wintersun Locations in Chile

  • Valparaiso: This is a beautiful port city with so many colorful homes like the poet Pablo Neruda's. Located close to the ocean, snowbirds can enjoy its sandy beaches. There are also museums, palaces, and gardens to explore.
  • San Pedro de Atacama: This town is located at a high altitude in the Atacama desert. Here, snowbirds can explore Salt pans, geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, and also enjoy great views.
  • Puerto Montt: Located in Chile's southern lake district, this port city provides access to the majestic Andes and the breathtaking Patagonian fjords. It has beautiful scenery, monuments, and other attractions.
  • Chiloé Island: Located in Southern Chile, snowbirds can get a tan, visit historic wooden churches that are world heritage sites, and see the Magellanic & Humboldt penguins on this island. There are also smaller islands around to explore, and you can visit some nature parks in the area.
  • Easter Island: Home to the famous massive Moai statutes and the Rano Kao Volcanoes, this remote Polynesian isle is littered with archaeological remains, and geographical marvels. There's also a beach you can bask in.
  • The Wine Valleys: The valleys around Santiago are used to produce some of the best wines from Chile. It is also a fine location to spend some time during the cold northern winter.
  • Hornitos: A more remote location, but with a more calm sea as due to a bump in the coastline it is protected from southern swells.
  • Zapallar: Here you will find maybe the most beautiful beach in Chile.

Things to see in Chile

  • The Mummies Of Chinchorro: One of the fascinating attractions in Chile, The mummies are the oldest in the world! They're close to 8000 years old, which makes them even older than the Egyptian mummies.
  • Moon Valley: Located in San Pedro de Atacama, moon valley is used by NASA to carry out expeditions and tests because the terrain at the valley is very similar to that of Mars.
  • The Moai: This is a world-famous tourist destination. The moai are monolithic human figures carved from stone by the Rapa Nui people. There are over a thousand of these statues. It is also a world heritage site.
  • El tatio: This high altitude field is home to over 80 geysers. Strolling through the field can feel like an open-air natural Sauna.
  • Caves: One of the world's largest cave systems is on Easter Island. snowbirds can explore its underground lava tunnels that give over 7000 meter (22967 feet) of gallery.
Spend your winter in Chile: Is Chile a good snowbird location? 39
KszuloFotkiCC BY-SA 3.0

Activities in Chile in the winter

  • Bird watching: Chile is a great destination for snowbirds that are birdwatching enthusiasts. There are many bird species you could see in the country like flamingos, penguins,  and woodpeckers.
  • Landscape Photography: Chile's landscape is an endless panorama of wonderful views. Some of which you can't get elsewhere. From the world's driest desert to the glaciers of Antarctica and Patagonia.
  • Wine tours: Tour cellars, old vineyard manors to discover and experience how the experts make some of the finest wines in the world.
  • Visit World Heritage sites: Chile's territories include some cultural sites that are being preserved. Some of these sites are: The Churches at Chiloé, the Historic Quarter of Valparaiso,  Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter office,  the mining town of Sewell, etc.
  • Stargazing: The world's clearest skies can be found in Chile. Thanks to nature, geography, climate, and positioning, the night time skies of some parts of Chile become a window to the universe. You can hunt for shooting stars, learn about constellations, planets, and watch the stars.
  • Fishing: Fishing is one of the most important activities in Belize and tourists can also have a go at it. There is an abundance of game fish and regardless of your fishing skills, you are almost guaranteed to make a catch.
  • Visit Robinson Crusoe Island: The fabled island exists! The Juan Fernandez Archipelago is a National Park in the central area that was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Shopping + Restaurants

Chile offers a great variety of restaurants and shops that are mostly open all year round. You can enjoy original and traditional food. There are also international cuisines like Italian and Chinese available. Prices and quality of service depends on the kind of restaurant you go to or where it's located.

For shopping, snowbirds can enjoy a relatively cheaper experience. There are international brands available and also local markets that are open all year round, where you could buy souvenir items of different kinds and other things you need.

Spend your winter in Chile: Is Chile a good snowbird location? 40
WurstsalatCC BY-SA 3.0

Transport

Snowbirds can arrive by air, sea or land. By air, you could arrive at the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago. There are six other international airports in other cities. These airports and other smaller airports also operate domestically.

Chile has many options for public transportation. Santiago has a very extensive metro system. It is safe, reliable, fast, and cheap. It has 136 stations.

Buses, or Micros, are very common. It is easier and cheaper. All the towns have bus stations where you can find schedules and information on fares. You can find buses that go within a town or to and fro other cities.

Taxis too are very easy to find, but be mindful of criminal elements looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. Uber is also available almost everywhere. Car rentals are available once you're over 22 and have an international driver's license.

In terms of train service,  there is one available between Santiago and Rancagua, and from Santiago to Talca.

Health

Healthcare services in Chile rank top in South America. According to WHO, the country is ranked 33rd out of 190 countries. Many doctors and dentists are educated abroad and speak English.

For medical insurance in Chile, you will need a Chilean ID number. Both the public and Private health systems can take care of most health issues you might have.

Accommodation

Living in Chile is relatively inexpensive. Tourist concentrated areas are usually busy and expensive. For snowbirds, staying in less busy towns is advisable in terms of cost and population. Most accommodations have basic amenities. Some places you stay might have amazing views or even a beach. Rent could range from $200 (approx. €178, £161, $271 CAD, $290 AUD) to as high as $1000 (approx. €892, £807, $1358 CAD, $1452 AUD).