Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fly Fishing Patagonia: Day 02 Chile

Before I start, I would like to mention that you may experience a few format and grammatical errors.  I am doing my best to put my best English forward, but I simply do not have the time to thoroughly edit/review everything I would take too much time.  In advance, thanks for understanding.

Five months in Patagonia, is about (30 days x 5 months) = 150 days.  I have 148 days left and as much as I like Santiago, I am anxious to get my truck and head south to Patagonia.  Seriously, for many of you, 150 days is the trip of a lifetime.  But for me, a guy who in 1999 spent 365 days hiking-fishing South America (TDF to Columbia), this trips seems like a long weekend.  By no means am I complaining, I am one lucky S.O.B and I am eternally grateful for this opportunity.

22,841 feet

I love Chile!  As you leave the airport, and as you look to your left, you are faced with the towering Andes mountains, covered in snowy white.   In fact, as you pan the horizon, you are looking at the highest mountain in this entire hemisphere; Mt, Aconcagua, at 22, 841 ft.  Just over the mountain is Mendoza, Argentina...Malbec Wine capital of the world.    

My plane took off at 8:35pm in Miami, and we landed at 7am in Santiago (about 8 hours total in the air).  I slipped through immigration/customs, paid a $12.00 Pesos (about $3.00 USD) for a transfer to my lawyers office, and now I am sitting in Starbucks drinking Te (Tea).  For fellow travelers, your travel options form the airport are: rental car, taxi, micro-bus, and public bus.  Like in the USA, the pricing for said services range from high to low.   The fastest, of course is a taxi but that will cost you more pesos (+/- $50 USD).  I hired Trans-VIP (a micro-bus/van), the type of service you share with other travelers.  Within 30 minutes, I was at my lawyers office.  Trans-VIP is located directly in front of you, just as you leave immigration.   A note for future travelers to Chile: you must pay $160 entry fee.  This will give a 10 year window to come and go as you please.   You can pay in cash or major credit card.  Please remember, if you pay in cash/USD, you must present crisp, like new USD.  A small tear on a bill will be rejected.  FYI, the entrance fee in Argentina is the same; however, now you must pay online, preferably before boarding your flight.   

So, you don't want to rent a car or travel by bus in Patagonia?  

Your options are the following:

  • Buy an automobile in Chile or Argentina (due to the legal process, preferably Chile) 
  • Ship you own vehicle

For much of my life I have elected to be self-taught, and experience the pain and pleasure of doing things on my own time and dime.  But, to expedite the process in Chile, I decided to hire a lawyer.  My Chilean lawyer, who speaks/writes English, specializes in working with fly-fisherman and Ex-Pats who wish to do the following:

  • Import personal vehicles (like me)
  • Buy vehicles in Chile, title-registration, insurance, etc
  • Buy or rent real estate for ex-pats

As it turns out, my lawyer has worked with many North Americans/ Ex-Pats, including my neighbor in Maine, Franz Jansen.  Franz is the owner of a great fishing lodge (Martin Pescador), located in La Junta, Chile.  FYI, La Junta is AMAZING (search the web for won't be disappointed)

In La Junta you can fish for Brown/Rainbow Trout and King Salmon

The contact info for my lawyer is:

Eduardo Del Real
Dario Urzua #1955
Providencia, Santiago
Tele# 22474100
Mobile# 77780495

Officina de mi abagado

Eduardo, mi Abagado

Note: You can easily rent a car in Chile or Patagonia, and cross the borders (I have done it many times).  Also, there are tons of blogs, and chat forums with more specific information about importing, shipping, and buying cars in other countries.  

So you want to ship your vehicle to Chile - Patagonia?

It is not nearly as difficult as you may think.  In fact, it's probably the easiest part of the entire process, and I have met many people who ship their vehicles all over the world.   However, like anything else in life, there are pros and cons.  Thus far, if you elect to ship you own personal vehicle, the 'con'' to this process is that you can not obtain Chilean auto insurance for a vehicle that is titled and registered in another country (i.e. USA).  On the other hand,  if you buy a car/truck in Chile, you can easily obtained a title, registration, and both liability and comprehensive auto insurance (with, or without the assistance of a lawyer).  I knew this prior to shipping my truck, but for my personal reasons, I felt it was more important to have my own vehicle.  So, I am now in Chile and the big question is... what options do I have for insurance?  I am in the process of contacting Clements, a global insurer that specializes in such things (I'll keep ya posted).  I must admit that I am concerned about traveling in Chile or Argentina, without auto legit insurance. My lawyer tells me that Chilean drivers must have, at the very minimum, liability coverage (it's the law).  So, once again, given this information, buying a vehicle in Chile would provide you the opportunity to obtain a title, registration, and liability/comprehensive auto insurance, without issues.  If you chose this option, the next big question is what vehicles can you buy in Chile.  The good news, Eduardo will find just about any vehicle you want.  However, for my personal needs,  he could not find a 2003 Ford 250/350 Super Duty-Crew Cab, with an 8ft bed...this is a an extremely rare truck in Chile and Argentina.  But, if you don't mind a smaller pick-up truck (i.e. Toyota Tundra), suv, van, etc., you'll have many options.  If this option interest you, I suggest viewing Mercado Libre  Chile does have Craig's List, but Mercado Libre is very similar, and much more popular.  Another option, is to buy a vehicle from an ex-pat (someone like me) who has been traveling throughout South America.  When your vacation is coming to an end, you then sell the car to another person who wishes to have his/her own overland vehicle.  This may seem a bit sketchy for the average Joe, but typically overland vehicle owners have very good vehicles and they take car of them.  Why? Because they live and travel in them.  A good site to learn more about these opportunities is Expedition Portal

The exchange rate in Chile is:

1 USD = 475 Pesos
10 USD = 4,750 Pesos
20 USD = 9,480 Pesos
100 USD = 47,740 Pesos

For Daily Rates:

In 1999, during my first trip to Chile, I recall things being very affordable.  I also recall that Argentina was very expensive.  Now days, things have reversed.  Chile's economy continues to grow strong, while Argentina has undergone two severe economic super nova's.  That being said, there are ways to make your stay in Chile an affordable experience.  For example, if you plan to stay in Santiago for either one night or an extended time, you may want to look into renting via  Since my plan is to only stay1-3 days, and to be as close to my lawyer's office as possible, I chose to stay at NewenKara Hostel,

Pricing ranges from $9 to $40,000 CLPesos, or $18.00 USD to $80.00 USD.  $18.00 USD gets you a shared room, with a total of 8 bunks.  Due to my height, at 6'4", I have opted for a private room with a queen size bed, and my bathroom is just down the hallway, for a grand total of $23.00 CL Pesos ($50 USD).   This price includes a european style breakfast, WiFi, and full use of the kitchen.

Hostel NewenKara, Santiago
Hostel Backyard.

Salon, complete with computer and WiFi

Full Kitchen = You can cook your food, eat-in, save $$

WiFi and Music

Day 02 finished with a great communal dinner with Alex, the self proclaimed 'no-mad' from Hungary,  Roger & Renada from Brazil and Lina from Columbia.  I met Alex mid-afternoon, and he said that he was cooking dinner for people and the cost will be $1000 CLPesos = $2.00 USD.  Your probably wondering what you get for $2.00 USD.  Well, it was far from cat food on a cracker.  In fact, it was very good and I really love how fellow travelers, especially in hostels, group together to support each other, in some way or fashion...I would not travel any other way!

If I have time, on day 03, I may visit the house of poet Pablo Neruda.

Hasta Luego Amigos.