Published on March 2nd, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
Traveling to Chile: The Latest
The earthquake that struck Chile on February 27 has kept the destination in the news for the past few days, as reports of damage and casualties continue to make headlines.
So should you cancel your next trip? The U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Alert urging U.S. citizens “to avoid tourism and non-essential travel” to Chile, for the time being.
But it may actually depend on what part of the country you’re visiting (and when). Turismo Chile, the national tourism organization, has issued the following roundup of information about several specific regions:
• The North: According to Turismo Chile, there was no damage reported and no effects from the quake.
• Easter Island: Tsunami warnings were lifted at this major tourist destination, which lies 2,300 miles off the coast of mainland Chile.
• The Coast: According to Travel Weekly, the coastal cities Valparaiso and Viña del Mar have reported damage, and the annual Viña del Mar International Music Festival has been suspended.
• Lakes and Volcanoes: According to Turismo Chile, the northern part of the Lakes and Volcanoes region, around the city of Concepcion and the Bio Bio River, was most affected by the quake. Authorities are still working on assessing the full damage.
• Patagonia: The far south of the country was not affected by the quake and has not reported any damage, Turismo Chile reports.
• Santiago: Electricity and phone lines have been restored in Santiago, and the city’s public transportation systems, including the Metro, are operational, according to Turismo Chile. Santiago’s international airport is to reopen later this week.
LAN Airlines, the largest carrier based in Santiago, reports that as of March 2, it was to begin operating inbound and outbound domestic and international flights on a restricted basis. LAN is working with the Chilean Aviation and airport authorities to construct a makeshift tent terminal for passengers, which will allow LAN to operate 15% of its usual domestic and international flights. Through this Thursday, March 4, the priority will be to accommodate travel for the passengers whose itineraries were directly affected by the cancellation of flights in and out of Santiago, Chile. Arturo Martinez International airport will remain closed during this time.
To counter the constant flow of distaster-oriented images, Santiago Adventures, a Chilean adventure tour company has released a series of photographs — taken about 36 hours after the earthquake — showing the city of Santiago, focusing on what hasn’t been damaged by the quake. These photos are a stark contrast to what’s been in the news lately.
“Chile is a strong, well developed country,” said Brian Pearson, president of Santiago Adventures. “Outside of the Concepcion and Maule regions there was relatively minor damage considering the force of the quake. The situation here is much different than what happened in Haiti.”
Still, to help the Chile earthquake relief, Pearson is encouraging people to send donations to the Red Cross.
As for me, I’m headed down to Chile next month, to personally inspect what’s going on and what’s changed, and provide full reports, photos and videos. In the mean time, if you have personal experiences, advice or questions about travel to Chile, please share it with other readers here.