Chile

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in South America occupying a long and narrow coastal strip wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage at the country's southernmost tip. The Pacific forms the country's entire western border. Chile's unusual, ribbon-like shape — 4,300 km (2,672 mi) long and on average 175 km (109 mi) wide – has given it a hugely varied climate, ranging from the world's driest desert – the Atacama – in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a snow-prone Alpine climate in the south, with glaciers, fjords and lakes. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border.


Entry Requirements

All Nationalities

A Visa is not required for entry into Chile at this point in time.

Australian Citizens

Must pay a "reciprocity" fee on arrival to Santiago. This is currently at a cost of US$ 117 per person. Proceed to the left of Immigration and pay the fee prior to proceeding to Immigration.


Banking and Currency

The local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP; symbol CH$).

Visa, MasterCard and to a lesser extent American Express, are accepted in most large shops and hotels. Traveller's cheques, particularly in US dollars, are welcome in major towns where there are banks.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

There are frequent services between main cities. The southern part of the country relies heavily on air links and reservations are essential. Flights are operated by LAN Express, a subsidiary of LAN (www.lan.com), and by Sky Airline (www.skyairline.cl), as well as a number of air taxi companies such as Aerovías Dap (www.aeroviasdap.cl) which flies around the Magallanes region and Antarctica.

Flights fill up quickly so it is essential to book in advance throughout the year.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your General Practitioner or nearest Travel Clinic for advice on medical issues relevant to your destination. For additional information refer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website – wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm


Safety Notices

TRAVEL ADVICE & WARNINGS

We strongly recommend you review the current travel advice for your country/countries of destination before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.

Australia: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL

We recommend that you register your travel with your local authority. These services are free and help locate you in case of an emergency. Updates to travel advice are also provided through the subscription service.

Australia - Smart Traveller service - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pages/

USA - Smart Traveller service - https://step.state.gov/step/


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Standards of hygiene are generally reasonable in Chile, and should not cause visitors any undue concern. Tap water in the cities is fine to drink but it does have a high mineral content and may taste different to what you’re used to. Bottled water is easily available should you prefer to stick to that. When it comes to eating out, use common sense – only eat food that has been freshly cooked and looks to have been prepared in hygienic conditions.

Santiago has a wide range of options for eating out, from excellent vegetarian restaurants to hearty, good-value grills. However, you can also find sushi, Indian, Middle Eastern, seafood and Peruvian restaurants. Borago, Astrid y Gaston, Puerto Fuy, Sukalde, El Jardin de Epicuro and and Osaka are consistently named as some of the city’s finest restaurants. Plenty of economical set lunch deals are to be had downtown, and cheap eats can also be found near the university.

Once outside of Santiago, options tend to be limited for vegetarians. Seafood, red meat (including lamb), and chicken dominate the menu in the provinces. For carnivores, any chance possible to experience a leisurely countryside asado (barbeque) or curanto (shellfish stew) is an opportunity to participate in a cherished Chilean tradition. If you have the good fortune to be invited to a local’s home to eat, you should show up with something to share - a bottle of decent wine or a dessert would be appropriate and appreciated.

It is customary to add 10% to the bill when eating out. Some restaurants and bars automatically add this.


Climate and Weather

Due to its long coastline, clearly Chile’s weather is extremely diverse and unpredictable although it is seasonal in much of the country. Summer runs from December to February, and winter from June to August.

It is difficult to pinpoint temperatures ranges for the country as a whole as they’re so variable. There’s the dry, arid Atacama desert in the north where temperatures reach a maximum of 32°C (90°F) and can drop to -2°C (28°F). Chile’s central region has a Mediterranean feel with a colder, wetter season (May to August), while it is usually cool and damp in the south. Easter Island has its own humid sub-tropical temperatures, while much of the south, from Region VII down has a very high annual rainfall.

In terms of visiting Patagonia and south, the summer months from December to March are ideal as it is warmer for trekking and other outdoor activities. November and April are quieter times in terms of tourism but the weather is less dependable. It isn’t advisable to visit the south from the end of autumn to the end of winter - May to September - as many trails close due to bad weather and strong winds and waterways ice over. However, places in the north, such as the Atacama, can be visited all year round.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

When visiting the warmer areas of the country during the warmer months, bring lightweight, natural fabrics. During the wet season, you’ll need to bring waterproofs – aim for breathable materials so you don’t overheat. More substantial waterproofs and warm weather clothing are often needed in the south and at altitude.

Please see the attached gear list for specific packing suggestions.


Internet Availability

Internet cafes are open all hours in the main towns and tourist areas. Many hotels and hostels will have access to the internet which is relatively cheap at around US$1 for 30 minutes, while free Wi-Fi is also becoming increasingly popular, with many hotels offering this.


Electricity and Plug Standards

In Chile the standard voltage is 220 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. Power outlets are type C and type L. They accept a plug with two or three in-line round pins.


General Guidance

MEDICAL & CANCELLATION INSURANCE

EPIC requires participants to be adequately covered by a medical insurance, including aero-medical evacuation from Antarctica, as well as adequate cover for trip cancellation and interruption insurance

For Australians

Should you require insurance cover, EPIC uses Aussie Travel Cover underwritten by Allianz Insurance. Please copy this link into your browser to make an on-line insurance application - AussieTravelCover - https://aussietravelcover.agaassistance.com.au/?AgencyId=13433

For all other nationalities

Epic has an affiliation with Travelex. Please copy this link into your browser to obtain a quote and process an application - Travelex Insurance -

http://www.travelex-insurance.com/index.asp?location=05-0733&go=bp

PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital cameras are the best for wildlife, with a good zoom up to 300mm or more. If you have an SLR it is a good idea to bring a point and shoot as back up. Remember to bring plenty of memory cards, spare batteries and battery chargers (Please check that you have all your chargers for cell phones, iPods, kindles, camera and video batteries).

BINOCULARS

Binoculars are very useful when looking at wildlife in the distance. We recommend 7 x 35mm or 8 x 32mm as these are a good size with great magnification. If size is an issue then 7 x 25mm or 8 x 25mm are compact and can be put into your pocket. Nikon & Canon are great options. Have a look at the following website for further ideas - www.consumersearch.com/binoculars


Antarctica

Antarctica is a land of extremes: it is the coldest and driest continent on Earth and has the highest average elevation. As the fifth largest continent in the world, Antarctica is also the most Southern, overlying the "South Pole". Scarcely touched by humans, the frozen land boasts breathtaking scenery, broken by only a handful of scientific bases and a "permanent" population of scientists numbering only a few thousand. Visitors to Antarctica generally must brave rough sea crossings aboard ice-strengthened vessels, but those who do are rewarded with amazing scenery and tremendous wildlife.

Antarctica is the only continent with no significant landplant life and no native land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians (polar bears inhabit the North Pole). However its shoreline serves as nesting ground for many species of migratory birds and penguins, and the Southern Ocean surrounding it is home to many fish and marine mammals, including whales.

Although several countries have laid claim to various portions of Antarctica, it is governed by the 1958 Antarctic Treaty, which establishes the continent as a peaceful and cooperative international research zone. There are no cities per se, just some two dozen research stations.


Entry Requirements

It is the responsibility of clients to obtain their own visas.

Visas are not required for entry into Antarctica at this point. Passports will be stamped however.

Should you be entering through Chile, a "reciprocity fee" is payable at the airport. This is currently US$100 per perosn.

Please Note: It is a requirement that you have a validity of 6 months on your passport at the time of travel and at least 4 blank pages in order to gain entry.


Banking and Currency

Antarctica has no official currency or banking system.

All major credit cards are accepted. Room accounts can be settled at the end of the voyage.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE
The maximum weight allowed on the flights to and from Antarctica is 20 kg (44 Lb.) per passenger, including hand luggage.

Excess luggage will be kept in custody in Punta Arenas and will be handed over to travellers upon your return from Antarctica.

The baggage weight limit is a technical requirement imposed by the flight operation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to purchase extra allowance.


Health and Medical Information

IMMUNISATIONS

Please consult your General Practitioner or nearest Traveller’s Medical Centre for advice on medical issues relevant to your destination.

For additional information please consult the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

If you have any dietary needs or allergies please note these on the Participation Form. All needs will be met as long as adequate notification is provided.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Please advise EPIC in the Participation Form should you have any pre-existing medical conditions or if you are taking prescription medication.

ONBOARD INFIRMARY

The ship has a small, well equipped infirmary for the attention of minor medical problems and is under the care of a licensed MD. Serious emergencies require evacuation to medical centres that are better equipped.For this it is essential to undertake a very costly air evacuation procedure. This is why EPIC requires all participants to have an insurance policy that covers this eventuality.


Safety Notices

COMMUNICATION ONBOARD
There is satellite phone services available on board. Any usage will be added to your room account.

WI-FI ONBOARD
There is wi-fi available although it is quite expensive. Any usage will be added to your room account.

SAFTEY AT SEA

Your safety is our main concern.

Please:
- Never smoke in bed, in your cabin or in any part of the ship, other than in the outside designated smoking areas.
- Never throw anything overboard, please.
- Always turn on the lights upon entering your cabin.
- Use non-slip shoes when on deck, as it can be slippery at times.

During rough weather:
- Do not walk in large, open areas
- Brace yourself, using handrails both outside and inside the vessel.
- Always use door handles and never hold doors by their frames, as a sudden lurch may prove very dangerous.

TRAVEL ADVICE & WARNINGS

We strongly recommend you review the current travel advice for your country/countries of destination before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.

Australia: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL

We recommend that you register your travel with your local authority. These services are free and help locate you in case of an emergency. Updates to travel advice are also provided through the subscription service.

Australia - Smart Traveller service - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pages/

USA - Smart Traveller service - https://step.state.gov/step/


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

MEALS AND DRINKS

A group of international chefs will prepare a delicious selection of different cuisines during the trip. Please let us know ahead of time if your have any dietary restrictions.

Unfortunately Antarctica does not cater for Kosher or Vegan meals.

Wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board the ship is included, as well as coffee, tea, chocolate, water and snacks throughout the expedition. Beverages purchased at the ship’s bar are excluded and can be settled on the final day.


Climate and Weather

Antarctica is the coldest continent on earth, and has a climate of extremes. Severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation; Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate;
higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing.

Note: Be prepared to extreme weather conditions at any time. The Weather can change very quickly in Antarctica, sunshine can change to a serious snowstorm from one moment to another.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

It is imperative to wrap up warm in Antarctica given its sub-zero temperatures.

The average temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula area during the austral summer is about 0°C (32°F), although sometimes it may feel a little lower because of the wind chill factor. For this reason, it is best to wear several layers of light, warm clothing, with a windproof and waterproof jacket and pants as the outer layer. The suggested clothing for Antarctica is very similar to that recommended for skiing.

SUGGESTED CLOTHING

- Thermal gloves or mittens

- Polar cap, hat, buff or balaclava hood

- Sunglasses with high anti UV protection

- Sunscreen with a high protection factor

- Quick drying socks to wear over polypropylene socks

- Thermal underwear including sweatshirts, turtlenecks, socks

- Fleece jacket and trousers

- Waterproof hooded parka

- Swimsuit (for possible hot spring dips)

- Insulated waterproof trousers

- Comfortable clothes to wear on board such as slacks, jeans etc (temperatures will be around 20°-22°C or 68-72F)

- Comfortable rubber-soled shoes to wear on board

- Personal medications

- Backpack to carry your belongings during shore excursions.

WATERPROOF BOOTS

As most landings in Antarctica are “wet landings”, the best footwear is knee-high waterproof boots. You will not need to carry them with you since ANTARCTICA XXI will provide you with a pair of thermal rubber boots before arriving in Antarctica.

FACE PROTECTION

Good quality UV filtering sunglasses are essential. Glacier glasses have leather flaps at the sides to stop the light from passing through. Due to the high reflectance of UV radiation, you will also need good sun block lotion for your face (protection factor 30 and above) and lip balm.

ON-LINE GEAR SHOP

ANTARCTICA XXI is pleased to offer an on-line store. With a simple click on the “Gear Shop” link at
http://antarcticaxxi.newheadings.com you may browse and shop from a unique collection of high quality apparel and gear that will help you get ready for your polar adventure.


Internet Availability

Internet accessibility depends where you are going. Many scientific bases maintain satellite internet and marine satellite links are fast becoming widespread on expedition and tourist ships. Check with the base you will be staying at or ship you will be sailing on. Some vessels and bases even have mobile phone service.


Electricity and Plug Standards

The vessel has her own electricity supply which is 220V. Electrical outlets are equipped with a round, two prong plug or euro-plug. Please bring with you the necessary adapters.

A hair drier is available in each cabin.


General Guidance

PRE & POST TOUR ARRANGEMENTS

In due course EPIC will provide options for those interested in undertaking pre and post cruise touring. Being on the doorstep of Chilean Patagonia, you have a treasure trove of options available. EPIC can tailor-make an itinerary to suit.

FLIGHTS & ACCOMMODATION IN SANTIAGO

Santiago is the entry and exit point for this journey. Most international flights arrive into Santiago in the afternoon thereby requiring an overnight stop. In some cases an overnight stop may be necessary on the way out depending on the timing of your international departing flight.

EPIC will assist with arrangements in Santiago and will book your return flights to Punta Arenas, the stepping off point for the Antarctic adventure.

EPIC can assist with your international flights if you wish.

You must plan to arrive into Punta Arenas on Day 1 of the Air-Cruise before 2.00 pm.

That afternoon all passengers must attend a mandatory safety and Antarctic guidelines briefing and an information session covering important practical details. You must also attend a fitting session for your expedition boots. Participation in these activities is essential for the success of the expedition.

Additionally, by arriving before 2.00 pm you can take advantage of the welcome service at the airport and the hotel transfer. Pick up at the airport and transfer to the hotel cannot be guaranteed for travellers arriving later than 2.00 pm. Remember that scheduling a tight connection is never wise when travelling to remote places with limited services. Protect your travel investment by building some buffer in your travel plans in case of problems with luggage delivery, flight delays etc.

EPIC strongly suggests that a flexible air ticket be held for your journey home in case you need to change your travel arrangement following a delay of the return flight from Antarctica.

See also the sections on possible flight delays and related contingency plans.

ITINERARY

Every effort will be made to adhere to the planned programme. However, with this type of adventurous travel to Antarctica, changes to the itinerary may occur due to severe and unpredictable weather. We need to emphasize the fact that weather conditions are unpredictable and that safety is always the paramount concern on any Antarctic voyage.

For this reason EPIC reserves the right to change the itinerary described due to weather conditions or other factors beyond EPIC’s control without consulting the participants.

POSSIBLE FLIGHT DELAYS & CONTINGENCY PLAN

Flights to and from Antarctica operate based on weather conditions. While historically only a minority of flights have experienced a delay, you should be prepared for that possibility.

Antarctica XXI has been organizing Antarctic air-cruises since 2003. Over these years they have gained extensive experience in the delicate coordination of land, air and sea operations in the extreme Antarctic environment. In the unlikely event that the flight to Antarctica is delayed or cannot take place due to unfavourable weather conditions, Antarctica XXI will apply a Contingency Plan.

The Contingency Plan is included in the cost of your expedition. The primary goal of the plan is to provide an engaging and comfortable travel experience while we wait for the weather to improve. A flight delay can impact travel to Antarctica or return back to Punta Arenas, and the plan includes a range of activities determined by the specific nature of the delay.

Additionally, the Contingency Plan offers you financial protection by providing a refund should weather conditions prevent us from reaching Antarctica.

THE DETAILS

In case the outbound flight to Antarctica is delayed the group will remain in Punta Arenas while waiting for an improvement in the weather and for the opportunity to fly to Antarctica. Included are accommodation at the Cabo de Hornos Hotel or similar, meals, and guided excursions to local attractions. If by 2 PM on Day 4 of the itinerary it is still impossible to reach Antarctica, the trip will be interrupted and the cruise fare will be refunded.

In case the return flight to Punta Arenas is delayed the group will remain in Antarctica and wait for the opportunity to fly to Punta Arenas. Included are meals and accommodation on the ship, and local excursions. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, accommodation at a 3-star hotel or better, and transfer to the airport the next morning are included.

Travellers are responsible for any expenses associated with the rescheduling of their airline tickets or onward travel plans.

PARTICIPATION FORM

Participants are required to fill and sign an on-line Participation Form, and to return it to EPIC at least 120 days prior to departure.

MEDICAL & CANCELLATION INSURANCE

EPIC requires participants to be adequately covered by a medical insurance, including aero-medical evacuation from Antarctica, as well as adequate cover for trip cancellation and interruption insurance

For Australians

Should you require insurance cover, EPIC uses Aussie Travel Cover underwritten by Allianz Insurance. Please copy this link into your browser to make an on-line insurance application - AussieTravelCover - https://aussietravelcover.agaassistance.com.au/?AgencyId=13433

For all other nationalities

Epic has an affiliation with Travelex. Please copy this link into your browser to obtain a quote and process an application - Travelex Insurance -

http://www.travelex-insurance.com/index.asp?location=05-0733&go=bp

EXERCISE

Walks on the beach or further inland, with some low hill climbing can be expected. You should be reasonably fit to be able to do so.

BINOCULARS

To see the wildlife you should have a good pair of lightweight binoculars (the suggested magnification is 7x or 8x).

PHOTOGRAPHY

Whilst in Antarctica there will be many opportunities for photographing the stunning scenery and the incredible abundance of wildlife. To help you get the best out of your photographs, we suggest the following:

• There are some excellent compact cameras with zoom lenses. Still, for the best photographs consistently, you cannot beat Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras. However, the camera does not the photographer make! Whatever your preference, take reliable equipment with already proven results.

• If you are a SLR camera user, definitely take a standard zoom lens (for example with a range of 18-70mm or 24-85mm) so you do not have to change lenses continually. Antarctica is vast, and it is good to have a standard lens which offers some wide angle range. If you are gear-crazy, bring along a wide angle lens. In addition, a tele zoom (for example with a range of 70-200mm or 70-300mm) is recommended, especially for wildlife shots. An image stabilizer is worth the investment. Lenses beyond 300mm will rarely be used, except by serious photographers or professionals.

• Think about bringing a back-up camera/camera body.

• Even more important than a back-up camera is to take extra batteries/battery packs (since cold temperatures reduce their life span considerably). Rechargeable batteries are a great idea (but do not forget the battery charger).

• Do bring plenty of memory cards (twice the amount you think you will be using!) or, alternatively, a laptop or a photo tank.

• If you are serious about getting excellent shots, a tripod gives you more potential but it certainly is not mandatory.

• Do bring a UV filter (mostly to protect your lens from the elements).

• The use of a polarising filter is not recommended. It takes a real expert to be adept enough to use a polarising filter to reduce glare and darken the sky without ruining the rest of the photograph. Mostly, it darkens the image and takes the sparkle away from the ice and snow, which is what brings it to life.

• When photographing wildlife, respect the minimum distance recommended by our guides. This helps to prevent unpleasant situations and stressing out the wildlife – or yourself.

• Be aware that Antarctic conditions can be very harsh on camera equipment. Carry plenty of protection for your camera against salt spray, snow, or rain. Please bring sealable cases, waterproof day packs or ‘dry bags’ but do not bring lightweight plastic or rubbish bags as these can be easily blown away and are contrary to our environmental obligation under the Antarctic Treaty.

If you need to or are interested in hiring a lense to take with you, here are a couple of websites for you to take a look at:

In the USA

https://www.lensrentals.com

In Australia

https://rentalens.com.au/index.php or http://www.camerahire.com.au/hire/digital-slr


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