Chile's Other (cheaper) Airline
Most everyone who's traveled in South America is familiar with LAN, the legacy Chilean airline. It's a good airline with a well developed domestic and international route system and good services. But there are cheaper prices available. Many of the domestic destinations served by LAN are also served by Chile's other airline Sky Airlines, albeit often with less frequency. It's a bit of a low budget operation, rather like Southwest in the US or Air Berlin in Germany. Much better, however, than the likes of Ryan Air. I made several domestic flights with Sky in August, 2012, and found the service in the air to be just fine. Good food, on time performance, and friendly and efficient service. The reservations service was another matter. The Internet site did not work well, so phone calls were necessary to straighten problems out, suspicious credit card companies did not want to accept the charges, requiring still more calls, and the airline changed schedules in big ways without bothering to call or e-mail me. The takeaway: This is a way to save some money if you're able and willing to be on top of carefully managing your reservations yourself.
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Fly over the mountains
Flying on DAP Airlines is like flying in your own private plane.
There were only 4 other passengers and the 2 pilots aboard when we left El Calafate, Argentina.
It was a beautiful day and a smooth ride across the mountains to Puerto Natales, Chile.
I would highly recommend this airline to anyone unless you are afraid of riding in small planes.
There is a weight limit on luggage allowed so take that into consideration also.
Dap has offices in most southern towns of Argentina and Chile.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
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Ships and boats
A common trip is the 4day trip between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales which Navimag, the most popular company, charges 200-400US$ dorm bed/cabin and going as high as 850$US ! The journey is beautiful , the food is generous but boring, except vegetarian dishes, and the crew do their best to make you happy . There is plenty of...Pisco Sours in the Bar. There is a big lounge for people to come together, talk, read and watch entertaining or educative films. Book your trip well in advance ! For the complete trip click on Boat trip 1a & 1b -Chile 'things to do' tips, bottom of page.
Another destination is Laguna San Rafael , which you can take from Puerto Montt or from Chacabuko(Coyhaique). In Coyhaique there are offices of Navimag as well as in many cities, for telephone numbers click here Navimag
Ask local people about other boats from Puerto Montt or Coyhaique and even go to the ports yourself since every Travel Agency and hotel owner is promoting Navimag.
In 2005 after a desperate research I finally came to a smaller company where the fare for the trip to Laguna San Rafael was one fourth of the price of Navimag(55000p) and when we went in, they upgraded us to the Wonderful Reclining Armchairs(Salon Cama) . I went on to Puerto Montt with 16000pesos! Unfortunately I have heard from friends that this company is not operating any more but it's advisable to make your own research . They might have come back to business or something new might have come up.
(The Company was NAVIERA RIO CISNES
----AVENIDA ANGELMO 1673- Recinto Portuario
OFFICES: AVENIDA ANGELMO 2091 (65) 432700-1-2---PUERTO MONTT
Click on photo
For the detailed trip click "Laguna San Rafael-Part1-2"Related to:
- Family Travel
Puerto Natales - Punta Arenas
Arriving in or leaving from Punta Arenas by plane a lot of tourists do have to travel by bus to/from Puerto Natales.
We made our reservation at the office of Buses Fernández two days in advance and we got reserved seats.
The departure at the local office was just like one on an airport and we had to check in and drop off our luggage. The bus ride takes 3 hours through a rather pleasant scenery. And our bus even had a TV with a movie.
Buses Fernández operates 7 services from 7.15 am till 8.00 pm; we paid 4.000 Chilean pesos for an one way ticket. There is also a stop at the airport of Punta Arenas before reaching the city office/station.Related to:
- Road Trip
Santiago – Valparaiso
We visited Valparaiso on our own using public transportation.
First by metro (very modern and clean !!) to Pajaritos Station. There is a bus station and we could buy our ticket and almost immediately the bus left for a ride of about 75 minutes. We arrived at the central bus station in Valparaiso and from there you can take buses or a taxi to every corner of this city.
We used Tur-Bus, because they do have the most services to and from Valparaiso; during daytime almost every 15 minutes a bus will depart. Ask for a return ticket, it will save you money.Related to:
- Road Trip
We went on a cruise with the MS Nordnorge and we had the best time ever!!! Fantastic food, wonderful people and plenty of window space to have a glance at the fjords and Antarctica!
Absolutely recommended!!!Related to:
Subway & More
A good idea is to rent a car.
If you're going from Santiago to the south you can do it by train, bus (Tur-Bus has a good service to the south) or airplane (LanChile & LanExpress have flights to major cities.)
If you're going to the north you can do it by bus or airplane.
In Santiago the subway is clean, safe and efficient.
Taxis are a good idea in Santiago and in other major cities . Also 'colectivos' could be a good idea.
This is the pic of Santiago;s Subway (Metro de Santiago). Pic taken from Amadeus.net website.Related to:
Buses in Chile is a very popular and cheap way to travel within the country.
There are some excellent Companies, like:
- TUR BUS
- PULLMAN BUS
Both of them goes almost along the whole country.
A ticket from La Serena to Santiago with Tur Bus, must cost $3.700 (US$5.00), this is one way. (473 km, about 6 hours).
*Photo: taken from www.yahoo.com*Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
Most people from abroad will arrive by plane in Santiago. And some others in other Chilean destinations like Punta Arenas (from Ushuaia), Puerto Montt (from Bariloche) or Easter Island (from Tahiti or Lima/Peru).
But most of the tourists who want to see different areas of Chile will ‘have’ to travel by plane, due to the huge distances in the country. Almost the only way is flying with LAN Chile.
Easter Island can only be reached with LAN Chile.
(I know there is another airline in Chile: Sky Airline - www.skyairline.cl - with an increasing number of destinations.)
LAN also offers the South America Airpass to travellers reaching South America with LAN or another OneWorld airline. Check the conditions, because you may save a lot of money for domestic flights: http://www.lan.com/en_ue/promociones/data/europa/todo_europa/saairpass.html
(There is also an One World South American Air Pass, sometimes with better deals than LAN:
We used another option travelling within Chile, using our RTW tickets (OneWorld), which allowed us to travel to and from Easter Island and from Punta Arenas to Santiago.
Travelling around Chile - General
The best methods to travel around Chile are eitehr by plane or bus. Being the longest country in the world, it's recommended to invest in an air pass for the very long distance journeys! For example, from Santiago to the Chilean Lake District this takes an average of 13 hours either by car or bus! And if you're planning to travel to the very north of Chile or further south, the journeys can take up to 30+hours!!! The national carrier is Chile LAN/LAN Express. It's recommend to purchase the air pass in your home country prior to travelling to Chile. It usually works out cheaper purchasing a pass because of internal flights in Chile are generally expensive.
Travelling by bus is the most popular option by locals and visitors alike and is easily accessible. Compared to many countries, bus travel is reliable, cheap and generally more comfortable with plenty of leg room. The departures are frequent to many destinations across the country. There are three classes of bus you can travel on and they are clasico; semi cama where the seats have twice as much legroom; and Salon Cama, the most comfortable of all classes and has wide seats reclining to a horizontal position almost like being in bed. The bus prices are cheap comparable to North America and Europe and if you book in advance you can get further discounts as bus companies often advertsise this and otehr special fares. You can pay around 24,000 CLP (November 2008) if you book in advance to travel in salon cama from Santiago to Puerto Varas (a 12 hour journey) and it's even cheaper travelling in the other two classes. In clasico you can pay 11,000 CLP (November 2008) for an 11 hour journey from Pucon to Santiago. One of the large bus companies, which I highly recommend, is Tur Bus for its comfort and reliability. Local journeys are even cheaper as you only pay approximately 800 CLP (Novemeber 2008) for an hour's journey locally.
Ferry & boat
South beyond Puerto Montt is where the archipelago and fjords begin. There is a ferry network for Chile's Carretera Austral and Southern Patagonia. The most popular route, it seems, is the Puerto Montt to Puerto Natalas (for Torres Del Paine National Park) route by Navimag, a ferry operator, and also round trips to San Rahael Glaciar from Puerto Montt.
It's possible to travel on a catamaran across Lago Todos Los Santos in the Chilean Lake District from Petrohue to Peulla and this crossing is also done as part of the Lakes Crossing by Cruce Andino from Puerto Varas to Bariloche in Argentina. The Lakes Crossing is very expensive, 180 USD (November 2008), and this can be booked with Turistour in Puerto Varas of it you're in Argentina, Turisur SRL in Bariloche, Argentina.Related to:
- Road Trip
getting from buenos aires to rio
should you decide to travel to rio from buenos aires, be prepared for a long trip. i took it a couple of years ago and it took 36 hrs. (actually that was not even all the way to rio...it was to florianopolis). the bus takes you up around uruguay, then cuts over to porto alegre and continues north from there.
you could, of course, split the trip up by buying multiple bus tickets, going from buenos aires to iguassu, then from there, to rio. it's going to be a long ride.
transportation and accommodation tip
addressing accommodations and transportation in chile:
the best budget accommodations are usually hostels. you can get your own private room a a hostel while paying as little as $15 USD per person. i have used the following websites and found them to have convenient locations:
(boots n all is a great website for general travel info)
i don't know exactly where in chile you are going, but if you're on the coast, i can recommend an accommodation. i stayed at a nice hostel that seemed more of a guesthouse in vina del mar, must north of valparaiso, on the coast.
it was a great price and the lady who runs the place is a sweetheart. it't right near the ocean (you have to walk up a hill, so be prepared to lug your bags, or hail a cab) and it's clean and located on a pretty quiet street that's close to restaurants and liquor stores.
from here, we took day trips north about a half hour to a small local beach called con con. we also took day trips (only about 20 mins) to valparaiso. there is a wealth of info about valparaiso on th is forum and on the internet in general.
warning about the buses in chile: in the smaller towns like vina del mar, which is where you can land when you take a bus from santiago, you have to tell the driver where to go. he basically has no specific destination other than "north" and "south". in our experience, we learned he stops for anyone on the side of the road (so you can literally hail a bus) and he stops where you want him to. this is where speaking spanish comes in very handy for you :)
hope that helps!
Discounted prices common?
Bus travel around Chile is convenient between all populated destinations, but less so, of course, for travel to less populated areas. The standard published pricing is not cheap by bus travel price comparison with many other countries, but I was surprised that whenever I bought a ticket I was given a discounted price. This may be seasonal. I was traveling in October. It also may reflect lots of competition between travel points.
The buses were pretty much on schedule.Related to:
- Budget Travel
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If you plan to do a lot of bus travel in Chile, you should consider breaking up your bus travel going either north or south in Southern Chile with the Navimag ferry-cruise Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. I have read that during the summer (Jan/Feb/Mar?) last minute tickets might be hard to obtain. You can buy them over the internet. The cost is also higher during this season. I went in late October 2008 (North to South) and paid about $400 bed, board and transportation. After doing a lot of bus travel, this travel is restful. It gives one a different prospective on the nature of the land and waters of Southern Chile. The idea of a "cruise" is one I shy away from, but I enjoyed this interlude immensely. One should not plan to do this if you are on a tight schedule. My trip was delayed a day due to an engine problem, took four days and then the better part of a day waiting to disembark because of "high" winds in Puerto Natales.
Easy to roam. Even though I waled around a bit, it was when I rented a car that I saw the true Chile. You have an option to rent at the airport or event at some hotels. I chose to wait until I arrived at the Sheraton 4 Points.
The streets were well paved. Easy to move around. Traffic signals similar to ours. I found Santiago much simpler to drive than Paris.Related to:
- Wine Tasting
- Food and Dining
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