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July 15 2021

Traveling to Chilean Patagonia during COVID-19


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The COVID-19 pandemic indeed marked a before and after for travel worldwide. It is also true that traveling to Chilean Patagonia already had its complexities. Did things change with the pandemic?

In general, the situation added new requisites to reach this remote destination. We explain what it means to visit the farthest corner of the world right now and what your trip could be like.

Getting to Chilean Patagonia

Traveling during the pandemic added precautions you should take. Now, these can vary quite a bit, but knowing them beforehand gives you an idea of how your trip could change if the situation evolves locally or globally.

Entering Chile

You can find the sanitary protocols currently in force for tourist activities at the national level in the Chilean government's COVID-19 Step-by-Step Plan.

According to this plan, you cannot enter the country by land. Chile only allows foreign travelers to enter through the Santiago International Airport. You must constantly check the airport's website because travel conditions may vary from day to day depending on where you are flying from.

If you are a foreigner, in addition to your passport, you need to have the following papers at hand, according to the Ministry of Health:

  • A mandatory 10-day self quarantine. You must do the first 5 days in a transit hotel authorized by the Health Ministry, while the remaining 5 can be completed in the arrival destination.
  • An affidavit for travelers coming from abroad that you must complete 48 hours before boarding. Complete the form and download it here.
  • A PCR test taken within 72 hours before boarding with a negative result.
  • An insurance policy with COVID-19 coverage of a minimum of US$30,000.
  • Complete a tracking form within 14 days after arrival in the country (by email).

If you are a resident in Chile or have a diplomatic passport and come from another country, you only need to present:

  • The affidavit
  • The follow-up form
  • The negative PCR

What happens once you enter the country?

You will have to spend between 10 in isolation. For that, you have 24 hours to move from the airport to a transit hotel to do the quarantine the first 5 days. On the seventh day, the authorities will do a PCR test, and if it is negative, they may authorize you to end the isolation earlier.

It is essential to mention that these requirements are mandatory, regardless if you received the vaccine, according to the National Tourism Service.

It is equally important to keep in mind that all of these rules could change, so you must monitor these sources constantly.

Moving to Patagonia

Already in Chile, the health affidavit for travelers lets people move between regions or communes in quarantine stage 3 or higher, which allows free transit. In fact, some Patagonian communes are in phases where it is possible to travel, but others are not. Check the situation of the commune you are going to in Patagonia here (in Spanish).

For now, only the Patagonian regions of Aysen and Magallanes require a negative PCR to enter (to be taken within 96 and 72 hours, respectively). You can present the same test you used when entering the country if you are heading immediately to your destination and do not make a stopover before.

What activities are allowed in Patagonia?

The following tourism-related activities are still allowed, but with certain restrictions:

  • Take-out food orders in restaurants.
  • Visiting some national parks and reserves.
  • Limited access to beaches.
  • Admission to swimming pools.
  • Lodging in hotels and campgrounds.

However, festivals and massive events remain canceled until further notice.

Recommendations for travelers and what to expect

Being a sparsely populated territory, Chilean Patagonia allows tourism away from large crowds like few other destinations. It is specially recommended for those who look for an  alternative trip in this remote destination.

Even so, it is a good idea to follow these tips:

  • Find out about the health services in the community you are visiting.
  • Wear a face mask in public, including transportation and common enclosed spaces.
  • Wash your hands constantly and prefer activities that facilitate social distancing.
  • Respect the curfew, which extends between 22:00 and 05:00 hours in the Patagonian regions.
  • Prefers accommodations that follow the sanitary measures of the Step by Step Plan of sanitizing common spaces, keys, and cards.
  • Some museums and other cultural spaces are open in communes in stages 2 or higher, but for a limited number of visitors. Be sure to book your tickets in advance.
  • Some national parks have enabled online reservations (check the list here).

Even in a pandemic, visiting Patagonia is still possible

As you can see, you must travel with patience and a set of extra days to comply with all the isolation and sanitation requirements if you enter the country from abroad.

If you reside in Chile, you have fewer time requirements, but you must still comply with all the sanitary rules, so make sure you have your documentation updated.

These procedures require you to plan ahead, something that was already recommended for Patagonia before the pandemic.

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