Finally in this diary from Chile I will, as before, try to write down a few summarising views and impressions from what we experienced during our 43 days in Chile.
This article is part of a travelogue from of a five month journey in 1987-1988 to several countries in South America: Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile.
With Chile the big South American journey has come to an end for Bo and me. We have had an excellent time, in every way. Despite this, it will be good to come home, both because we have a lot to look forward to and because a journey of five months leaves so many impressions that we have become “satisfied”.
We are on the other hand not worse off, than we are already planning our next journey…
If we subtract souvenirs and that kind of expenses, the actual travel costs in Chile were 3,407 Norwegian Kroner (NOK) (516 USD) or 79 NOK (12 USD) a day for each of us.
We paid each about 21 NOK (3.2 USD) for accommodation and dinners amounted 15-20 NOK each (2-3 USD).
What a difference from the Andes Mountains! The roads were fine and well maintained. There were usually central bus stations. The buses themselves were first class: large and comfortable with good service. On long journeys they served even plain meals and coffee (with sugar only).
There are many departures. Large competition, in particular from Santiago and other big towns, made it possible to save money on checking out prices with different companies and bargain.
Not unexpectedly the prices were somewhat higher than further north in South America, but not very much.
People and land
Chile is a country with great varieties in its landscape. To the north there is desert, in the central region around Santiago lies the large farming areas (and population density), whereas further south are found lakes and forests which in many ways reminded us of Norway.
South from Puerto Montt there are fjords and glaciers stretching all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. Chile is also under the impression that it “owns” part of Antarctica.
We also noticed the change from the Andes in terms of people. The Indians disappeared and mestizos became the almost totally dominating “race”. We saw surprisingly many with completely European looks and not least the Germans have set their mark in Las Regionas del Lagos. There we found everything from religion to the way of life, from architecture and business strongly influenced by the German immigrants in the 19th century.
The ordinary man looked well dressed and the towns were modern. It was clean everywhere – order was first priority. The little we were able to get behind the face of it, we saw a more nuanced picture. The people are still not as open and free-speaking towards strangers, even though the authorities have loosened their iron fist a little.
The streets and parks are so clean because they are kept that way by people on minimum wages – “slave work” as an elder gentlemen in Antofagasta expressed it. Salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living, the shops all have signs offering down payment deals. Many sew their own clothes, and we saw begging children here as well.
The Chileans seemed nice and hospitable, something we were able to experience at the home of Bo’s Chilean friend.
The food is a lot better than in the Andes. We were even able to eat salads and in the large cities there was potable water. Apart from the lag from Bolivia we were not ill in Chile. The wine was excellent and Chile seems like a really lovely country to visit.
Incredibly, Bo and I functioned excellent together even on five months of travelling.
Overall finances in South America
All in all the two of us spent 31,694 Norwegian kroner in South America (4,802 USD). If we subtract the purchase of a camera lens, Bo’s doctor visits, private purchases and souvenirs we end up with 11,164 NOK each for our five months (1,692 USD). (The flights between Norway and South America cost us an additional 10,060 (1524 USD).
This corresponds to a daily average spending of 74 NOK, 19 of which for accommodation (11 and 2.8 USD respectively).
These numbers are low and shows that we have not only kept a tight line without being misers, but also that South America is incredibly cheap to live and travel in. My expenses in South and East Asia were higher. It is also worth remembering that we in South America travelled huge distances.
All articles from Chile
This is the story of a five month journey to South America. My girlfriend Bo and I visited five countries on the continent, from Brazil in the east to Peru in the west, from Ecuador in the north to Bolivia and finally Chile in the south. These were the chapters from Chile:
(25) Chile (1) – Peace and prosperity in northern Chile: After 36 hours on the train from Bolivia we had a belated arrival in a country very unlike its neighbours to the east and north. We went about with the usual money exchanging activity, and visited the world’s largest mine.
(26) Chile (2) – We had some relaxing days in the capital of Chile: It was a wonderful city, much to see and with lovely summer weather.
(27) Chile (3) – The Lake District: Moving south from Santiago to the Lake District, an active volcano and a vacation within the vacation.
(28) Chile (4) – The German South: We are taking a closer look at the towns, lakes and islands in the German south.
(29) Chile (5) – The Central Parts: Back to central Chile for the last two weeks before the long way home from South America.
(30) Chile (6) – Impressions: Finally in this diary from Chile I will, as before, try to write down a few summarising views and impressions from what we experienced during our 43 days in Chile.
Read the introduction to this journey
View a full screen map of the journey
Read more about my visited World Heritage Sites in Chile: The City of Valparaíso and the Churches of Chiloé.
See all images from Chile.