After the longest Covid lockdown in Latin America, I’m delighted to report that this weekend Chile is fully re-opening all its frontiers (Sunday 1st May).
Chile locked down with Argentina in mid-March 2020, but while my adopted country fully reopened to all visitors (apart from vaccine refuseniks) on November 1st last year, its neighbours across the Andes have been ultra-cautious.
Though it opened the international airport at Santiago before Christmas, most land border crossings were still closed, and strict quarantine imposed on all arrivals, restricting movement from Bolivia, Peru, and where I live in northern Argentina.
Since our borders fully re-opened six months ago, we’ve seen a modest flow of foreign tourists, still well below pre-Covid levels: estimates suggest arrivals are at least 60% down on the first quarter of 2019.
Sixty five percent of arrivals from December to March have been from neighbouring countries (including Chile, as while we couldn’t travel from Argentina, they could come over here!)
At Poncho Tours we’ve had more Brazilians than any other nationality so far this year, perhaps suggesting that many people are still reluctant to venture too far from home, because of all the added hassle of travelling in a Covid-19-afflicted world.
A bugbear for our recent guests from the USA is that while they can enter Argentina without a PCR test, they are required to show proof of a negative test before flying back to their home country.
Here’s the official Chile government guide to planning your holiday. You’re required to have full vaccination, insurance for Covid and to fill out a sworn statement, as with Argentina. Unlike Argentina, you may also be selected for random testing.
As you’ll see on the right (or below if you’re scrolling this blog on your smartphone), we run trips to Chile’s Atacama desert using both border crossings, at Sico (in Salta province) and Jama (Jujuy). We can also organise tours of Bolivia, where you’ll find the spectacular Salar de Uyuni.
I’m glad to report we’ve already got a booking for a trip across the Andes in November.