When its time to leave its time to leave. Say goodbye and head to the bus station to take the border crossing over to Mendoza. Its best to book tickets online as there are a bunch of different bus terminals around Santiago. Prices might be cheaper at the stations. But $50 Aud for a premium seat and border crossing is pretty good. We rode with Andesmar but any bus going over the border should do the trick just fine.
Driving in the night has benefits, you get to sleep. But you also get woken up 4 hours in to go through through border control, which is perfectly safe and organised, takes about an hour, just not enjoyable at 2 in the morning. If you do a day bus you can avoid the annoyance but have to ride a bus in the day. Which we personally think is always worse. However the views are amazing, if you love taking it all in as you drive through a country then the day bus is for you.
Make sure you don’t lose your entry receipt or you’ll have to pay a leaving fee. And if you’re Australian, catching a bus in and out of Chile will allow you to avoid the $150 Chilean Australian reciprocity fee.
Because no one likes photos of a bus, below is a few random ones!
Just about smack bang in the center of Chile you’ll find its capital Santiago. A popular starting point for a lot of travellers so expect positive atmospheres and a lot of drinking. Be warned that the center location leaves you with the difficult choice of heading South or North. Most people we have met can’t do both, but with one unnaturally long highway it is possible.
We stayed in Bellavista which is the cool street art covered bar and club district of Santiago. Prepare to eat, a lot. Chile is famous for its food and Santiago has the best of it all. Churrasco, completo, pino empanadas, the very weird but surprisngly nice dessert of ‘mote con huasilla’ and all the regular dishes about everywhere. What makes Santiago great is the cleanliness, positive atmosphere, easily navigable subway and most importantly the Chileans who are probably the easiest and friendliest people to meet. Whether you’re a couple of guys in an electronic shop or a boss called Julio, Chileans got it all going on.
Keep in mind that Chile is very expensive. A hostel will set you back about $17 ( we stayed at La Chimba Hostel and it was great!) and a restaurant meal is the same price as Europe and Australia. The cheapest thing around is wine & beer which we still think is great.
I have managed to accidentally deleted all our photos from Santiago. But here is a few shitty ones that was saved.
Places you shouldn’t miss visiting is:
Cerro San Cristobal – A good place for a small hike and stunning views
Cerro Santa Lucia – A pretty place in the centre that is a nice walk with views of the city
Cajón Del Maipo – Beautiful place to go for a full day with amazing hiking, river rafting & hot springs.