The author and publisher of the Travel Guide Chile Experience have done a great job on this very creative guidebook. Everything about it is high quality.It is richly illustrated throughout with full color photos, drawings, and graphics of all kinds (maps, outdoor scenery, wildlife, flora, fauna, architecture, and very useful illustrations). The color and layout make this the most enjoyable of all the guidebooks to read and browse.
The same company, Turistel, publishes a high quality Spanish edition guidebook (highly recommended if you speak Spanish). The Spanish guide has 3 volumes (4 if you buy the complete set that includes the Camping guide) that cover Northern, Central, and Southern Chile. A separate guide for Camping is also available.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION (pages 11 to 48) covers Arrival, Documentation and Other red tape, Tourist Information, Money, Safety and Health, Getting Around, Courtesy/Behavior, Lodging, Food and Drink (great section with 8 easy-to-make traditional Chilean food recipes, such as Empanadas – meat turnovers, Pastel de Choclo – corn and beef casserole, Humitas – chilean tamales, and Cazuela de Ave – Chicken and vegetable soup), Media, Communication, Conversions, More Details, Students-Seniors-Workers and Volunteers, Responsible Travel, Preparing for the Outdoors (this includes Clothes, Camping Equipment, Medical Kit, Health Concerns, Fire and Waste Management, National Parks, Map and Compass), Select Bibliography, and Glossary (includes 4 pages, 3 columns per page, of basic Spanish vocabulary, including some useful terms for outdoor travel).
This PRACTICAL INFORMATION section contains much useful information, is well-written, and is generously illustrated with quality full color photography, maps, and illustrations.
On pages 49 and 50 is a Trip Planning Overview, covering all of Chile – North, Central (Santiago is located here), South, Patagonia, The Islands and Antartica.
ACTIVE and ADVENTURE TRAVEL (pages 51 to 126) includes Circuits and Overland Tours, Bike Touring and Mountain Biking, Trekking and Day Hikes, Horseback Riding, Moutaineering and Rock Climbing, Skiing and Snowboarding, Flying, Navigation, Sea Kayaking, Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking, Surfing and Windsurfing, Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, Spas and Hotsprings, and Fishing.
Some general info is provided about each activity, along with a map of numbered locations showing the several places in Chile (if applicable) – NORTH, CENTRAL, SOUTH, PATAGONIA, THE ISLANDS, ANTARTICA – where you can participate in this activity. Each of those numbered locations are identified according to their region, such as NORTH, CENTRAL, etc. In addition to the map of numbered locations, another small chart lists the locations along with a page number where you can read more about the activity/place later in the guidebook. This is a very useful feature.
For example, on pages 86 to 89, Skiing and Snowboarding activities are briefly introduced and described . There are 8 locations for CENTRAL Chile (several of the 8 are near Santiago) – Farellones/El Colorado, La Parva, Valle Nevada, Portillo, Lagunillas, Chapa Verde, Termas de Chillan, and Antuco. SOUTHERN Chile includes the ski resorts of Lonquimay, Las Araucarias, Villarrica/Pucon, and Antillanca. PATAGONIA includes the ski resorts of Cerro El Fraile and Cerro Mirador. Each of these locations are listed along with another page number, such as Farellones/El Colorado, pg. 372. When you turn to page 372 you find detailed info on skiing and snowboarding at that location, including a richly illustrated color map and graphic of the ski resort’s layout.
Here is a sample on what is said about Farellones, from p. 373:
Farellones retains the most authentic ski village atmosphere of any resort in the Chilean Andes. It also contains the greatest variety of accomodation, and its central location allows you to ski La Parva, El Colorado, and Valle Nevado from a single base.
On p. 89 is a very useful chart/graphic comparing several key characteristics of the ski resorts, such as Vertical Drop, Maximation Elevation, Number of Chairs, Number of Surface Lifts, Number of Trails, % Easy, % Intermediate, % Difficult, % Expert, On Mountain Rentals of skis and snowboards, Lessons, Snowboard Park, and Grooming.
If you are planning to ski during your trip to Santiago, you will find this guidebook very useful for your planning. Even if you are not going to ski, you might enjoy a day trip to one or more of these areas. The views are spectacular.
The ACTIVITIES and ADVENTURE TRAVEL section is followed by BACKGROUND INFORMATION (pages 127 to 150), such as Paleoclimate and Geomorphology, Geography and Topography, Climate, Prehistory, Occidental Contact and Conquest, The Colonial Era, Independence and the New Republic, The Twentieth Century, and Chile Today.
Next comes the FIELD GUIDES section (pages 151 to 258). The first part covers Natural Attractions (p. 151 to p. 195) – The Northern Coast, The Atacama Desert, The Altiplano, The Night Sky, The Central Valley and Cordillera, Birds of the Central Coast, Southern Chile’s Forest Ecosystems, The Southern Fjords and Archipelago, The Patagonian Steppe Ecosystem, The Juan Fernandez Archipelago, and Antartic Flora. This section provides detailed information, again with attractive color photos and drawings of the flora and fauna.
Starting on page 196 and continuing through page 258 the FIELD GUIDES section covers Cultural Attractions arranged by topics – Native Peoples of Chile, Archaeology, Architecture, Religion and Myths, Industry and Development, The Arts (Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, The Cueca- Chile’s national dance, and the New Song Movement), Regional Specialties – broken down by region, NORTH, CENTRAL, SOUTH, PATAGONIA, and PACIFIC ISLANDS -, Handicrafts and Other Things to Buy, and Sports.
Following the FIELD GUIDES section is FROM NORTH TO SOUTH (p. 259 to p. 604). This section is the bulk of the guide, and covers each of the major regions, NORTH, CENTRAL, SOUTH, PATAGONIA, PACIFIC ISLANDS, and ANTARCTICA. There is a brief overview of the region, and then the major cities of that region, along with their attractions and activities are listed.
CENTRAL CHILE (the area of Chile which lies between the Aconcagua River to the north of Santiago and the Bio Bio River to the south) is also where Santiago is located. The CENTRAL CHILE region coverage begins on p. 330 and runs through p. 429.
Santiago and several principle comunas – Centro, Bellavista, Providencia, Nunoa, El Bosque, Vitacura, Las Condes -are briefly covered (p.340 to p. 365). There are listings for Tourist Information, Banks and Money Changers, Post Office, Hospitals and Medical Services, Museums, and Parks and Gardens. Illustrated maps for Santiago Centro, Bellavista, Providencia, and El Bosque/El Golf, give you a sense of the city’s layout.
Following that is a short section with information for Day Trips out of Santiago – Pomaire, Wineries and Haciendas, Pirque, and Reserva Nacional Rio Claro. Included is some basic info (location, fees, difficulty, time required, etc) for Day Hikes around Santiago. SKI AREAS ABOVE SANTIAGO (east of the city) provides further details and maps for the major ski centers – Farellones/El Colorado, La Parva, and Valle Nevado. Just a little further north of Santiago is the famous Portillo Ski Resort, also covered in the guide.
The guide was published in 2001, so no doubt some of the contact info, such as phone numbers, schedules and prices, will have changed by now. The descriptions of both the places and activities for Santiago and Chile are very helpful.
Overall, this is a very attractive guidebook, one you will enjoy reading. Recommended.