95 countries do NOT require a visa to enter Chile, except Australia – I blame ScoMo.
I wandered back through the Santiago arrival hall hoping to perhaps recognise the bastard who approached me on arriving. Then I went to the car park area where I was met, I would have recognised the car as it was a black BMW sedan with a dent on the off side rear. No joy. Then the penny dropped: the man who greeted me and then apparently phoned the hotel, in truth was phoning the driver! So he said something along the lines of “ quickly drive to the car park waiting areas, I am bringing a victim”!
I am sitting in the LATAM VIP lounge, the Qantas flight from Sydney has literally just touched down as I write, on time. Two more humans travelling with wagging, joyful dogs this morning! If this was Europe or the USA, I reckon the dogs would be allowed in the lounges for VIP passengers.
It has been my universal experience when travelling internationally, that the flight check-in, provokes a moderate degree of anxiety. On this trip to Chile, the process has verged on panic, despite flying Business Class.
Even for a domestic flight, LATAM recommends arriving 2 hours before departure, nevertheless I am processed in less than 20 minutes! I am sure a major factor is that I am leaving from a smaller domestic city airport! Much less traffic.
However, getting back to the check in desk, as I said, my passport is taken, the clerical staff key in my information, then follows several minutes of intense staring at screen, biting lower lip, looking at me over top of glasses, back to staring at screen, more biting of lower lip, twisting fingers through long hair, then leaning across to the agent at the adjacent desk. Both look at my screen, chat and point, more looking at me…. Then thank god, the keyboard is tapped and my boarding pass is printed. I am convinced there is a red flag that pops up against my name in all Chile customs, immigration and travel software.
A fluffy white poodle lap dog type, enthusiastically barks and romps around my legs, I turn to see an older couple with luggage and empty animal transport cage, piled up on their luggage trolley. They entice “Fifi” into the cage, with a silk cushion mattress, slivers of liver treats and then load mutt and cage onto the carousel.
The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago was uneventful in the LATAM 787 Dreamliner. I am only human and as a devout agnostic, I was moderately nonplussed when the lady in 1L window seat, (I being in 1J ) performed a furtive sign of the cross, as we lifted off and again on touch down! I suspect a retired flight attendant?
Sadly this trip at least for the first half was characterised by a smouldering degree of persistent anxiety! I was constantly vigilant, checking that I had my phone and passport secure and IMPORTANTLY that I adopted a routine of methodically placing them in the same pocket in my backpack. If I became rushed or flustered, this invariably caused me to “misplace” my documents or passport and I would become positively panic struck as I searched every pocket of my pack!
This was my fifth Backroads trip. However, all the ground work before I left in the past has been done by a very efficient knowledgeable, travel agent , since retired, and I now surrender to the fact that I will need to arrange my future International trips through a Travel Agent.
So just to reiterate, I flew from Australia to Santiago and then onto Punta Arenas. Caught a local bus, very modern and efficient to Ushuaia. It was in this village, where, destined to meet my backroads tour, The Saga of the Chilean Visa reared It’s ugly head again.
I arrived at the airport in Adelaide without processed Visa. I had applied for a transit Visa, but not hit the finish button. ( the wrong type anyway) Hence, when I arrived in Chile I was marched to the immigration department where they at last gave me, a single entry Visa valid for 90 days. You would think that I had successfully negotiated the system. You are wrong
Travelling by bus from Punta Arenas in Chile , I crossed the border into Ushuaia, Argentina. In other words, I had affectively left Chile having entered once. But the cruise starting in Argentina, obviously was going to disembark in Punta Arenas Chile for the Patagonia part of the tour. So in reality, what I actually needed was a multiple entry Visa for Chile. I was the only non-American on the trip, and citizens of the United States do not need a Visa to enter Chile. Please be reassured that this information will in no way make me consider applying for citizenship of the United States of America.
So, just as we are having lunch before boarding, our Cape Horn cruise ship, I am pulled aside and told that I cannot embark! To the huge credit of the backroads team, I’m driven into the village of Ushuaia where Patricio the local Backroads representative a delightful, intelligent young man, facilitates the issue of a visa from the local Chile embassy within 48 hours! As luck would have it, he apparently is close personal friend with the woman, who is the local consulate for Chile!
Patricio organises everything for me with eye watering efficiency. He booked a catamaran tour on the Beagle canal, and then finally booked a seat on a bus, returning back to Punta Arena – my second stay in this town! So I set up with the group at long last for the five days in Patagonia, which, as you will, hopefully see from the previous post, more than made up for my missed cruise.
So here I sit back in Punta Arenas for the third time, and hopefully the last , awaiting my flight to Santiago.
On our penultimate day, there was a morning hike to the top of a cliff, looking out over a remarkable view. The winds increased during the morning and by lunch, almost gale force! Again, not much to say other than some remarkable illustrative photographs. As I told the group at our farewell dinner last night, I think that God had taken pity on me for not being allowed on the boat, and so for the five days we’ve had in Patagonia, the weather has been truly perfect.
The Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego (SETF; Spanish: Company for the exploitation of Tierra del Fuego) was a historically important company operating within the Chilean and Argentine region of Patagonia It was founded in 1893 and cultivated over 1 million hectares (2.5×106acres) land for sheep farming and private factories like Puerto Bories to process, freeze and export sheep meat.
The above cut and paste is from Wikipedia. This hotel has been remarkably created within the original Puerto Bories processing, freezing, and exporting sheep meat mentioned above. It truly is unique, and I think that’s why it’s called the singular hotel. It has earned place in the top 100 luxury hotels around the world, although the brochure maintains it in the top 10!
The factory processed tons of sheep meat in the 1920s through I think to the 1970s. It was an amazing engineering feet using liquefied ammonia as a refrigerant, driving temperatures to – 20 degrees! There were two giant steam boilers, driven both by coal and wood to supply electricity and power to drive the compresses. These machines have been lovingly maintained and restored as part of the redevelopment of the hotel, and the best way to illustrate this is to revise pictures.
The frozen carcasses were carried on a little steam engine ( 20 hp!) along a wharf to be loaded and shipped to Europe
Mirador Cuernos 6.5 km (4.0 mi), 90 m (280 ft) elev. gain . Torres del Paine, XII Región de Magallanes y de la
. I shall let the following pictures, illustrate the joy and wonder of the walk. It includes an iconic photograph of what is a picture, postcard representation of the mountains, frequently shown on travelogues and postcards from Patagonia.
Esconsed well and truely in Patagonia after a fairly long mini-bus trip into the Torres del Paine National Park and our hotel, Las Torres Patagonia. I think I can rest easy, with each passing hour, the spectre of a Chilean armoured police tank
Now, on a different topic, let me firstlystate categorically that I am extremely fond of most Americans. They are universally somewhat naive, whilst not humourless, lacking the insight into irony, at least the unique Australian variety. Those I meet on the my travels suffer a moderate degree of heath anxiety, self medicate to an alarming degree, tend to vote Democrat and are in general philosophical about the American way of life, although they also universally, on average have 5 types of guns in their households. I have yet to meet an American who does not own at least one firearm.
Esconsed well and truely in Patagonia after a fairly long mini-bus trip into the Torres del Paine National Park and our hotel, Las Torres Patagonia. I think I can rest easy, with each passing hour, the spectre of a Chilean armoured police tank trundling over the hills, lessens. The Hotel Las Torres is part of a complex, which is remarkably similar to the various forms of accommodation in the Uluru National Park. There is the five star hotel, then some hostel accommodation, as well as camping sites. It is also similar because of its remoteness that it relies entirely on provisions being trucked in weekly, if not more frequently. There is a complement of almost 500 staff members half of whom are on 12 days leave in the local town and the other half are on site with full board and lodgings.
Power is provided by a mixture of electricity, diesel generated and LPG gas which it was explained to us is heavily subsidised by the government. It seems that Australia is the only country which does not subsidise its rich reserves of this product.
Now, on a different topic, let me firstly state categorically that I am extremely fond of most Americans. They are universally somewhat naive, whilst not humourless, lacking the insight into irony, at least the unique Australian variety. Those I meet on the my travels suffer a moderate degree of heath anxiety, self medicate to an alarming degree, tend to vote Democrat and are in general philosophical about the American way of life, although they also universally, on average have 5 types of guns in their households. I have yet to meet an American who does not own at least one firearm. I lie as John tonight reassured me he does not have any weapons in his home!
An opening photograph of an Argentina shearing shed – very similar look and feel to the large outback Australian sheds
So I have 2 hours to spare whilst waiting to be collected, so I obviously have a coffee then decide for a beard trim as next door is a barber shop! Well let me tell you I had a beard trim that was the best I have ever had. A Number 1 clippers then hot towel compress followed by shaving cream with the old cut throat razor, beard oil and finally after-shave . How will I ever go back to Jarrod at Walkerville?