We spent 56 days in Chile, it is now time for us to make a small assessment.

First of all, here is our route

  • 1 day between Frutillar and Ensenada
  • 1 day between Ensenada and Puerto Octay passing by Petrohué
  • 1 day in Puerto Octay
  • 1 day in Entre Lagos
  • 1 day in Ancud
  • 2 days in Castro and around
  • 1 day between Castro and Puerto Varas
  • 1 day in Puerto Varas
  • 22 days volunteering in a vineyard in Trumao
  • 1 day in Pucòn
  • 4 days hiking in the national park Huerquehue
  • 2 days hiking around Caburgua
  • 8 days volunteering close to Poblacion
  • 1 day in Pichilemu
  • 3 days in Santiago de Chile
  • 1 day in Valparaiso
  • 1 day in Santiago de Chile
  • 1 day between in Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama
  • 2 days in San Pedro de Atacama

Some numbers

We slept:

  • 1 night on the field of one of our driver
  • 2 nights in AirBnB
  • 2 nights in  couchsurfing
  • 2 nights in hostel/inn
  • 3 nights in bus
  • 4 nights hiking
  • 12 nights camping
  • 30 nights volunteering

General feelings

The third country discovered, Chile, is a long and narrow country, rich in extreme contrast, from the driest lands in the North with the Atacama Desert to the wet plains, beaten by the winds of the Patagonia, near Ushuaia. We stayed there almost two months and nevertheless we had to make choice, impossible to see everything in this long country of more than 4,300 km long.
We crossed the border Argentina-Chile from Villa Angostura to Osorno and we decided to spend a lot of time as volunteers in vineyards (30 days on 56).

We appreciated a lot Chile and the welcoming of its inhabitants. We had beautiful meetings and beautiful exchanges, while we were hitchhiking or hiking. Moreover hitchhike is a way easier than in Argentina; several times cars stopped while we did not even raise the thumb! Thus, we found ourselves with a family during a whole day to discover the lake of Llanquihue, we pitched our tent on the side of a volcano, we shared a fruit juice with a gentleman and his parents on holiday in a luxury residence with a fantastic view over a lake or we had a lift in our first truck! Hitchhiking offers beautiful surprises!

Chile is the most advanced country economically in South America, we find big commercial brands, more western clothing style and the faith of the young people in their government and in the politics. After 17 years of dictatorship under Pinochet, Chile made a commitment in the democratic way where the corruption remains mastered, contrary to his Argentinian neighbour.

We had the opportunity to discuss with young santiganos and we can assure it, they love their country! From travelling around it during their holidays (we met a lot of santiganos during our hikes or when we were camping – we were often the only ones non-South American), to show it to foreigners. We were lucky to be well welcomed by Coty and Marcelo in couchsurfing who did not hesitate to take us in their favourite places of the capital! A magnificent experience for us (and to find the interview of Coty, it is there).

Concerning our farming discoveries

Chile is the country where we stayed most of our time in volunteering! Two experiences and 30 days on 56 in the country! Find the article here (our second volunteering will have lasted only one week and will not have taught us much more, thus we chose not to draft article)!

Chile is the 8th world producer of wine with 1,01 billion liters (2016). Its wines are mainly exported (910 million liters). Indeed, Chileans are not big consumers in comparison with French for example 😉 12 l / year / inhabitant in 2016 against 40 l for French!
Naturally, we chose to make our voluntary services in vineyards in biodynamics or at least, organic. However, they are unfortunately not the majority, the chemistry being used with not much moderation in spite of the quasi-absence of disease of the vine on the territory.

Concerning the agriculture generally, Chile possesses big fertile valleys in the center; we find the classical culture of wheat, potato, sugar beet, corn, rice, tomato and oat. Fruits are not outdone by grapes, melons, apples, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries and bays of all kinds, which places Chile in first producer of fresh fruit in the southern hemisphere, only that!

The South of the country is more dedicated to the animals, bovine, porcine and ovine breeding or to the exploitation of the wood.

With 6,400 km of coast, the ocean has an omnipresent place in Chile. Thus, it is normal that one of the most important industries of the fishing in South America is there. Chile is the second world producer of salmon, unfortunately very polluting industry which destroyed the oceans.

The organic production is a rather recent practice in the country, begun approximately twenty years ago. The researches we made allowed us to find data of the years 1999-2000, little representative of the today agriculture; we decided to not show figures.

Concerning the consumption of pesticides, Chile is an enormous consumer of pesticides with in 2014, 343 kg of pesticides used by hectare of arable land (over the same year, the world consumption was 138 kg of pesticides by hectare of arable land and 152 kg for France (Source: The World Bank).

Zero-waste objective

As for the Argentina, it was once again difficult to us to find markets or bulk stores. However we were able to discover another positive point to a zero-waste approach; when we go hiking, we have few trash to carry! We saw several couples which at the end of two days of walking had already a full plastic bag where we need several months to fill one!
Another precision in the list below, we do not take into account waste produced during our volunteerings. Indeed, we are not responsible for consumption choices of our hosts, who are unfortunately often far away from our considerations of limitations of waste…

Chile is considered as the most expensive country in Latin America, it is true and we once again choose to camp and home-made cooking to protect our budget.
We did not keep the exact detail but globally on 56 days we produced as not recyclable or not biodegradable waste:

  • 1 bag of chips
  • 20 packagings of tea bags (we payed attention that the box was not covered with plastics but we had not thought of the packagings of bags …)
  • 4 straw (fruit juices were offered by one of our drivers who had invited us to share one moment with his parents on holiday in a residence by the lake Llanquihue)
  • 5 bag of pastas
  • 4 bags of oat
  • 1 bag of wheat
  • 1 bag of peanuts offered by walkers
  • 1 packaging of six beer cans and beer cans (they are recycled)
  • 2-3 labels of luggage (a lot much less than in Argentina, phew!)
  • 1 packaging of brushes inter dental
  • 2 packagings of toothbrush. After almost 5 months of using of our bambou toothbrushes, it was time to replace them! We were delighted to have found bamboo toothbrushes in an organic store in Santiago, unfortunately, they were packed in plastic and cardboard, certainly made from recyclable materials, but we ask ourselves the question of the relevance when we buy compostables brushes … In brief, we hope that they will last us as long as the previous ones!
  • 2 plastics protecting the opening of pesto jars
  • 2 packagings of alfajores (knowing that we gave our cloth bag to the seller, this one had to be afraid of making it dirty and gave us packed biscuits)
  • 3 plastic teaspoons
  • 1 small plastic plate
  • 1 packaging in polystyrene of French fries offered by our couchsurfing hosts
  • 1 bag of olives, 2 bags of cheese, 1 plastic pocket and 1 bag of yeast (we were couchsurfing there and wanting to cook for our hosts, we took to us in a supermarket to go shopping; we are not used there any more … But to let you know, the bread and the pizza were a success;-)!)
  • Dental floss
  • Bandages
  • Condoms

A financial point to conclude

With Argentina, Chile is one of the most expensive countries of South America. The average budget per day per person seen repeatedly was 32€. Hotels or restaurants have a cost rather similar to Argentina. However, transport are much cheaper and hitchhiking is rather easily practised (iin the South of the country at least). Once again, we camped, cooked, hitchhike, but also hike, lived in couchsurfing and in AirBnB in Santiago. By the way, AirBnB was cheaper than certain nights in camping!

So we spent 12€5 per day and per person:

It is necessary to note however that having spent the majority of our stay in volunteering, our daily budget is not very representative of travelers. Indeed, the activities have a rather high cost in Chile (national parks between 5 and 15€, Pablo Neruda’s house in Santiago 10€, valleys in San Pedro de Atacama between 5 and 10€).

We hope that you liked reading our balance assessment of Chile. You can find our other series on the following links. The portfolio it is here, the interview it is there and the production of the pupils of Quinson it is for soon!

Good reading on Yakoilabas!