Ground Transportation for Chile

Options for traveling within Chile for a 21-day period 

Outline

Car

Renting a car... 

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My initial itinerary for a tour around Chile is as follows:

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1. Antofagasta to Calama

2. Calama to Santiago

3. Santiago to Easter Island

4. Easter Island to Santiago

5. Santiago to Valparaiso

6. Valparaiso to San Antonio

7. San Antonio to Concepcion

8. Concepcion to Osorno

9. Osorno to Puerto Montt

10. Puerto Montt to Temuco

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Renting a compact car in Chile averages to about $53 per day. I could not get an estimate for an underage surcharge. As shown in small box below, the only requirement that I found was the driver be at least 22 years of age. No surcharge was listed.

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 I estimated gas mileage at 20 miles per gallon, and estimated fuel costs at $5 per gallon. For a 2411 mile trip, fuel costs are estimated to be $602.75.

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Since I included a trip to Easter Island, driving is not an option. The only feasible way to travel to Easter Island is by plane. A roundtrip flight from Santiago is $491.38. 

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A breakdown of rental car expenses:

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The total for renting a car, including all surcharges is $1094.87 for 21 days. In those

21 days, fuel is estimated to cost $602.75. The mandatory flight to Easter Island will cost

$491.38. The grand total for this Car/Flight itinerary is $2189.00.

Train / Bus / Air 

For my proposed itinerary, no one single mode of transportation will be sufficient. Because of the vast distances covered on this trip, a flight is more practical. Rail travel is not a popular mode of travel in Chile — the rail system is in disrepair. As a result, I chose bus and air.

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1. Antofagasta to Calama:

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    Total $7.45 (bus)

        

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    Bus scheduling websites in Chile do not go out past 30 days, so that is why I used March in many of the following legs of the trip. Prices seem to be consistent day to day, so I expect bus prices to be around the same price in August.

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2. Calama to Santiago

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    Total: $48.24 (flight)

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    Flights are inexpensive in Chile and save precious travel time. This would have been a drive of over 1000 miles

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3. Santiago to Easter Island

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Air transportation is necessary to travel to Easter Island, which is a long flight. This is a roundtrip flight.

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    Total: $491.38 (flight)

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4. Santiago to Valparaiso 

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    Total: $9.83 (bus)

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5. Valparaiso to San Antonio

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I could not find a direct route from Valparaiso to San Antonio, so I had to break up the trip into two segments.

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    Valparaiso to Santiago: $9.38

    Santiago to San Antonio: $9.83

        Total: $19.21 (bus)

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6. San Antonio to Concepcion

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As I did above, I had to split the ride into two different segments:

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    San Antonio to Santiago: $6.55

    Santiago to Concepcion: $23.54

        Total: $30.09 (bus)

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7. Concepcion to Osorno 

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    Total: $16.86 (bus)

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8.  Osorno to Puerto Montt

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    Total: $4.02 (bus)

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8.  Puerto Montt to Temuco

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    Total: $12.92 (bus)

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Other options 

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I also looked into riding a bicycle in Chile. I decided against travel by bicycle because: 1) The country is far too large and 2) I discovered that bike shops with capable mechanics in are few and far between. A private driver is another option for travel, but I eliminated it early in the process pricing information was not clear or easily obtained.

Estimate of total ground travel expenses

I narrowed down travel methods in Chile to two categories of transportation: Bus/Plane and Car Rental/Plane.

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To rent a car in Chile for 21 days and fly roundtrip to Easter Island, it would cost $2189.00. This includes all taxes, fees, and fuel. I would use my American Express card, so there would be no need for additional liability insurance. This is quite expensive, but it gives the traveler the freedom to explore the country at a less restricted pace.

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A less expensive option is travel by bus and plane. The cost of travel between all legs of the trip is $640.00. This is a substantial savings, and I believe it is the best option for travelers on a tight budget.

Submitted by Stuart on March 8, 2019

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