- 1 1. Campervan or Motorhome Chile – Basically a non-existent way to travel, be prepared for this!
- 2 2. Get a campervan with a toilet and shower (preferably a 4×4).
- 3 3. Ruta 5, the Pan-American Highway, will become your best friend.
- 4 4. Learn basic Spanish
- 5 5. Petrol station etiquette
- 6 6. Have a basic plan
- 7 Related posts:
Everybody loves a good motorhome, campervan or RV road trip don’t you think? So why not do a Motorhome Chile road trip? Being Australian we have road tripped Australia and New Zealand without any hassles and loved it. We can happily say it is our favourite way to travel. So when the opportunity came up with Andes Campers to road trip Chile we jumped at it.
For those who don’t know Chile is a long and is skinny country perfect for a good old road trip. Basically, you can only head north or south because to the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Andes Mountains and the border with Argentina. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to get lost in Chile, but hey we still managed. Stay tuned for that story. So what do you need to know before you embark on your road trips in Chile and of course what is there to do?
1. Campervan or Motorhome Chile – Basically a non-existent way to travel, be prepared for this!
There is so much freedom when you campervan, motorhome or RV Chile because next to no one does it! You can park where ever you like and dispose of black and grey water where ever that may be, which is entirely opposite to New Zealand who has strict laws on campervan waste disposal. Obviously, you need to use some common sense of where to dispose of your waste, but that isn’t the infrastructure like other countries. Therefore, somewhere where the environment is not harmed is best.
Caravan and RV parks in Chile are also basically non-existent. You will often see camping signs however these places are often only for people properly camping with a tent. The other option is if you want to pay ridiculous amounts of money to stay in a cabana, also known as a cabin to the Aussies at home, you can.
We did, however, find a couple of places that allowed campervans around various destinations in Chile. They again didn’t have all the infrastructure for campervans, such as power and waste disposal drops but they worked with us to make our stay comfortable. The Pucon Kayak Hostel even ran an extension cord for us so we could, in fact, have power and I must admit it was nice to charge our electronics. Also, the use of a big shower, unlike the small one in the van was a nice luxury.
2. Get a campervan with a toilet and shower (preferably a 4×4).
Due to the lack of infrastructure within the country of Chile having your own toilet and shower can give you peace of mind and freedom. We have been able to park on and near beaches, in National Parks and around lakes without the worry of needing toilets.
The Wild Camper, from Andes Campers Chile, was perfect for a campervan rental around Chile. A near new VW Amarok 4×4 gave us peace of mind on dirt roads, and there can be a lot of them. Even Google maps couldn’t help us sometimes. Roads that looked like major roads and should be bitumen had long sections of dirt. However, we never felt unsafe in the VW Amarok, Wild Camper it tackled the dirt roads that well my partner Jarrad, now wants one.
Within the tray camper was all the facilities we needed. A toilet, shower, fridge, stove, oven, solar panel, table, bed (obviously) and even a heater. We had everything we needed to be off the grid for 18 days.
Please note that petrol stations and truck stops along the major highways quite often will have toilets and showers in case you decide against having a camper with those facilities.
3. Ruta 5, the Pan-American Highway, will become your best friend.
The Pan-American Highway runs from Alaska through to the bottom of Argentina with a large portion of the highway travelling through Chile, known as the Ruta 5. A dual lane highway running north to south we used this road extensively if we needed to get somewhere. Also, it was by far the best-maintained road in Chile. We found the roads in towns to be downright terrible at the best of times. However, the highways were pristine. Travelling along Ruta 5 is quick and efficient but do you expect to pay tolls and quite a few at that. Our total of tolls for the trip including Ruta 5 and other highways came to approximately $57000 Chilean Pesos ($115AUD, $87US).
4. Learn basic Spanish
I know you would have heard it before but do try and learn some Spanish before attempting to a road trip. We didn’t learn Spanish before arriving in South America and have regretted it ever since. Having now been on the continent for over 80 days we have picked up the bare minimum to get by. However, the more you know, the more comfortable you will feel. You should know that campervan or mobile home in Spanish is casa rodante. Luckily for us though at a petrol station all we needed to say was ‘diesel’ and ‘full’ to be refuelled. In Spanish, diesel is diesel and full is maximo. And speaking of petrol stations here is some etiquette.
5. Petrol station etiquette
In Chile, you are lucky enough to have your petrol pumped for you. For us Aussies, this hasn’t occurred for over 20 years, so it is a bit of sweet treat not to have to get out of your vehicle. We had no issues with refilling with fuel throughout our time in Chile. We were, however, told always to check the meter before they begin to fill your tank with petrol. Apparently, it can occur that there is already fuel on the meter before they even start, obviously then costing you more. However, the entire time we had beautiful petrol guys who always asked us to look at the meter and confirm $0000.00 before we began. Also, be sure to tip the petrol station attendants if they clean your windscreen, however, feel free to say no if you don’t need it cleaned.
Finally, always use reputable petrol stations in Chile. These consist of Copec (our favourite, because you can stay out the back of them for free), Petrobras and Shell. We were told that some smaller petrol stations in small towns might not have decent fuel and therefore should be avoided. Also, it must be noted that especially in the north petrol stations can be few and far between so fill up often, even if you don’t feel you need to. I know I didn’t want to face running out of fuel on the side of a Chilean highway ha ha.
6. Have a basic plan
From the white ice of #Antarctica to beauty that is the #AtacamaDesert in #Chile. I swear both claim to be the driest place on earth ha ha. - We are excited to have teamed up with @andescampers to experience Chile over the next 17 days in this epic camper van. Clearly Jarrad was so excited he had to climb on top. #sponsored
By basic, I mean basic. All we knew was we were picking up the camper in Calama and dropping it off 17 days later in Santiago. We knew we wanted to see the desert but also wanted to travel to the Lake District, south of Santiago. Essentially all campervan rental in Chile will have a limit on kilometres unless you want to pay more. Therefore, we knew we had 4250kms for the 17 days and planned a very basic route within that. Of course, nothing goes to plan, we got lost a few times, and therefore we didn’t make it as far south as we first intended, but that was fine for us because we had an adventure and enjoyed various Chile destinations.
To ensure safety, I would also recommend arriving in a place you want to stay no later than a couple of hours before sunlight fades. Therefore, you can get a feel for the place within the daylight to ensure you feel good and safe. Unfortunately, early in our trip, we didn’t stick to this rule, we got lost, it got dark, and we were unsure where we could park and where was safe to. After driving for an extra hour, we finally pulled up in a quiet place hoping we weren’t on anyone’s property and we were in a safe place. Naturally, nothing went wrong, but that feeling of unease was one I didn’t wish to experience again. Therefore, we were always sure to find a place no later than 6 pm (it was summer, so the sun didn’t set until late).
Are you worried about safety in Chile? Check out these tips.
I have no doubt the campervan, and motorhome industry will grow within Chile over the next few years. It is the perfect place to explore with the extra freedom camper vanning Chile provides. Driving through the ever-changing environment and taking in the spectacular sights of Chile could not be better explored than within a campervan. If you are contemplating taking a trip like this, I have no doubt you will love every minute (unless you get lost like we did but hey will still had an adventure ha ha).
Andes Campers were fantastic for camper rentals in Chile and often have specials. Get yourself a bargain, whether that be in camper 4×4, or more basic camper and enjoy Chile like the locals.