General Info Chile & Puerto Varas
Chile is a long and narrow country between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile stretches over 4.300 km (2.672 mi) north to south, but only 350 km (218 mi) west to east at its widest point, with a variety of climates and landscapes, from one of the driest deserts of the world in the north, passing through forest lands, the lakes, to the Patagonian steppe. This provides a diversity of products that have made Chile famous for its fruits, seafood, wines, wood, lithium and copper exports.
The largest economic activity is copper exports, and both domestic and international companies have found in Chile a good place to invest. The political and economic stability have provided a good base for business, and for constant immigration.
The currency of Chile is the Peso. The exchange rate is around 1 US dollar = 650 pesos. Updated exchange rates can be found here.
To exchange money it is better to use official money exchange institutions, such as banks and official currency exchange houses or just ATM machines. It is unlikely that foreign currency will be accepted, except at some hotels, so it is important to have enough cash in Chilean currency. However, most places accept credit cards such as Visa, Master Card, Diners Club and American Express.
Throughout the city you will find ATM machines, which dispense Chilean pesos the whole day to card holders of most major international networks (including Cirrus, Plus, and Maestro). This machines can be found not only in banks, but also many stores gas stations, pharmacies and shopping malls.
The Value-added TAX (VAT) in Chile is 19% and is normally included in the price of goods. Foreign visitors are exempt from paying VAT for accommodation in regular hotels. The hotel will ask for a passport that is valid (i.e. has not expired) and the receipt with the stamps from Immigration and Customs. Be careful not to lose the little paper.
Tipping is customary in all restaurants and is usually about 10% of the whole amount of the check. Tips to taxi drivers is not mandatory.
The historic low and high temperatures between December 10th and 14th have been 8 °C (46 °F) at night and 18 °C (64 °F) during the day, with an Average of 14 °C (57 °F). At that time of the year sun rises at 6:15 AM and sets at around 9:30 PM. Average rainfall in December is 91 mm. Although heavy rain in the summer is rare, do not forget to bring a waterproof jacket.
During summer Chile moves the clock forward by 1 hour to daylight saving time, so it time zone becomes GMT-3.
General Tips for the Traveler
Chile is a safe place to travel. In particular, small touristic cities like Puerto Varas, which has 37.000 people, are calm and safe. In most cities and suburbs are safe to walk anytime of the day and night. However, as in any medium-size and large cities, do not leave your belongings unattended, particularly laptop computers, photographic cameras, purses, wallets. Opportunistic thieves trying to take advantage of a minute of distraction can be anywhere.
About Puerto Varas
Places to eat in Puerto Varas
Some recommended restaurants are:
- Casa Valdés: Chilean cuisine & sea food.
- La Marca: BBQ.
- Mesa Tropera: Pizza & Beers.
- El Humedal: Chilean cuisine & sea food.
- La Jardinera: Chilean-European cuisine.
- Costumbrista: Simple Chilean cuisine.
- Bravo Cabrera: Chilean-International cuisine and pub.
Things to see and do around Puerto Varas
There are many things to see and do in the Lakes region and the surroundings of Puerto Varas. A good amount of information can be found on the website of the Chilean Tourism Service of the for foreign visitors. If you are planning to stay just for the symposium, only points 1 and 2 in the following list will be feasible to do in a short visit. If you like outdoor activities and excursions, you will defenitely need to extend your stay for a few extra days.
- Walk around, enjoy the restaurants and the view of the lake Llanquihue, the second largest lake of Chile, surrounded by vulcanoes Osorno, Calbuco and Puntiagudo. Calbuco is an active volcano. Its last eruption took place during April 2015. Calbuco’s name is thought to come from the Mapuche words “kallfü” (blue) and “ko” (water), meaning “blue water”. Osorno resembles Mount Fuji, and its last eruption was 150 year ago. Puntiagudo (Spanish word for “sharp-pointed”) is considered a dormant volcano near extinction. Some areas of Puerto Varas are characterized by the architectural style of German settlers, with houses built from alerce wood in the 19th century. Several buildings are protected as historic heritage, like the Kuschel house, the Yunge house and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. The wooden church is one of the city’s iconic landmarks. Puerto Varas dates back to 1853 and is named after Antonio Varas, the Minister of the Interior at the time, responsible for the government sponsored colonization project under the presidency of Manuel Montt. The Chilean authorities of the time were worried about the potential occupation of Southern Chile by European powers. Therefore, the congress approved a law in 1845 to recruit settlers. The 1848 Revolution of the German states motivated the Chilean authorities to hire the services of German explorer and naturalist Bernhard Eunom Philippi as colization agent, who brought the first 212 German families to Puerto Varas, by the end of 1853.
- Visit the Petrohue rapids and Lago de Todos (“All Saints Lake”). The excursion includes the visit to these places
- If you plan to stay longer, perhaps the best option to visit different places around the area of the Lakes Region is to rent a car a drive to such places as the town Frutillar, the fish market of Puerto Montt, or take a ferry to the island of Chiloé to drive to Ancud and Castro. If you like trekking and exploring nature, the privately owned Tantauco Park has many options to offer and good information in English. The Chiloé National Park has also beautiful paths and landscapes. However, most of the information is in Spanish only. Some links that may be useful to the more adventurous are:
- Turistour has several tours, from day trips to the crossing of the Andes from the Chile to Bariloche city, in the north of the Argentinian Patagonia.