Toll roads in Santiago:
We didn’t worry about them too much. The price is not big and going around would take too much time and effort.
Central highway (N-S)
Rivercoast highway (E-W)
We rented the cars from Chilean rent-a-car and they had Tag devices which beeped on tolls and this would come later on our credit card bills.
Usually those are about the same throughout the town and we didn’t notice much difference between highway and off-highway. To find prices of the town we used this page by clicking on Details and filtering by region-town. The default map didn’t work too well on my phone.
Other car stuff:
We used Parkopedia to compare and find parking places.
We washed our cars at the end of the trip in Copec Lavamax station. Copec is a petrol station, Lavamax is the car was service which comes in 2 flavours – self service (autoservicio) and automatic (automatico) car wash. The automatic car washes were few and far, so we didn’t go there, but by the advertisement looked like no brushes are used there either, just high pressure water. For the self service one you buy tokens at the counter, one token gives you 3 minutes of water – either with shampoo or without – there were some 6 options of different kinds. When looking up from phone in Chile, I was able to find a map and filter by both kinds of carwashes as well as other services Copec offers. When looking up now from home the page doesn’t open anything except for a security warning, but it might be this one or just copec find-a-station one.
Heating and hot water:
Maybe in hotels it is fine, but we mostly sticked to apartments and other kind of cheep stay places offered by booking.com. In no place we saw central heating. There were electric heaters, kerosene heaters, wood heaters or no heaters. The kerosene one we encountered in Pucon we liked the most – it was the most powerful. Water is mostly heated by boilers of different size or ‘calefonts’. In half of the places there was no hot water in sink at all, but there was in shower. Showers were not straightforward. We found that the best method to get hot water is to open the shower to max pressure and max heat. If this is not done then you might only get lukewarm water at most. If you decide to reduce the heat or pressure after, your water might get cold. If then resumed to max-max, it gets hot again. And, of course, if there is a boiler then the amount of hot water is limited. We also stayed at a place where the host said +26 degrees is the max she can turn on for the calefont, in another place the max was higher. We didn’t take shower in the +26 place. It was barely enough to not freeze hands while washing one’s face and changed all the time warm-cold-warm-cold.
We used Entel because of a possibility to last 15 days with one top-up as well as the supposedly good coverage. The sim card has 15min, 100SMS and 150MB data and cost 3000CLP. There might be different starting sets as well. The coverage was still not ideal, especially on the highway further away from big cities, but it looked like no other operator would be better (usually ‘No service’ instead of ‘Emergency calls only’). We bought the sim cards in a small phone shop in Santiago. Top-ups is done in farmacies, e.g. Cruz Verde which seemed to be the largest farmacy chain in Chile. It might be possible to use bank card in web app as well but we constantly got errors when trying so sticked to farmacies. After top-up of some amount of money, e.g. 1000 pesos, if you need to buy data, you will need to spend the credit on packs ‘bolsas’ either bare data or together with voice. We only bought data and mostly used chats and e-mails instead of calls, so the 15 min were enough. The packs can be purchased using phone or web. Our Spanish was not good enough for phone, but the Entel Lite web portal is easy to use, just need to make sure you are not on wifi.
We were mostly user Lider hypermarkets and found addresses by searching this page. Be careful with address – there were 2 occasions when it was pointing to wrong town or even wrong country (Lider is Chilean Wallmart). It is not possible to search only Hiper Liders there, but we can tell that the one in Chillan is hyper and the one in La Serena centre is mega hyper. Express Lider is a small shop while ‘Mayorista’ means wholesale and looks like a cash-and-carry shop with shelves filled with not so well presented boxes.
Another chain which we saw in quite many places was Tottus.
We went there successfully in one day from Antofagasta (and not the other side from San Pedro de Atacama where you can find most trips from) starting around 6:30 and returning around 22:30. Take warm clothes, extra water and petrol just in case you need to stay there over night. It is cold there in nights, 3500m altitude after all (the prediction for Imilac said -4 Celsius). And have a 4WD car – our Brilliance which we thought should be able to make it, likely wouldn’t be able to (even if it hadn’t broken before the most rough part of the road) – being too long and with too low clearance.
Our blog entry
Our track file
Estonian travelers in 2014 with many road photos
We used different kinds of offline navigation apps on our trip as sometimes one was not enough. We did not find the power line road in Here maps, but it was there on Navmii and Maps me. This is maybe because those use the openstreetmap data.