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Chile is a great country to hitchhike. Especially compared to the South of Argentina, it's really good. Chile borders in the north to Peru, Bolivia to the north-east and Argentina in the east. The country is divided into 15 regions, which can be pooled in four main zones.
If you tell people you're a foreigner when you ask for a ride, they might ask to see your passport. Just swallow your pride and take the ride.
If you travel longer distances, you probably want to hitch the panamericana, called Ruta 5 here, which goes from north all the way to the south. Around larger cities, it's developed as a motorway. It's very common to walk or cycle on the emergency lane, so you can also stand there and put your thumb out. Cops won't bother either (I was standing right next to them holding my thumb out (to try out the hard way if it is legal) and they didn't care). Maximum Speed is 120 km/h, so if you are in a visible place, everyone can stop fast enough. Using a sign can prevent taxis, micros and buses to stop for you. They won't take you for free.
The traffic is not very dense in general. In rural areas, there might be one car in 5 or 10 minutes, so prepare for longer waiting times if you can't stay on the main roads (e.g. check some games you can play). To get to towns and out of there take a Micro or a collectivo, it is not worth it hitchhiking within a city (although sometimes possible).
If you are a tourist be sure to show it with your backpack, flags attached to your backpack, etc. The locals love chatting with foreign travellers. However, many people don't like U.S. Americans.
The best places in Chile for hitchhiking are easily in the extreme south, in the Region of Magallanes. From Punta Arenas, one can easily find a semi truck all the way to Santiago; while in Punta Arenas,themodernnomad was offered a ride all the way to Arica (on the border of Peru), but, sadly, had to turn it down due to the fact that he was trying to lose himself in Isla Riesco.
Chile is a very safe and easy country to camp or squat. Hostals are rather expensive, so camping is a better method. The local gas stations (usually COPEC) are almost always hitchhiker friendly, and will be happy to let you crash behind the place for the night. The cities to exert special caution in when crashing out are Valparaíso (known for a somewhat dodgy center) and the capital Santiago -- those two make for the lion's share of crime in Chile.
Posta rurales : "In Chile, the posta rurales operate on a no-pay basis, which is very different form the way proper hospitals do things in this country. In the postas, anyone, from anywhere, in entitled to free medical treatment and any medicines that are available, similar to the way they do things in Bolivia. The sacrifice is that the postas are not equipped with proper doctors (only paramedics), or operating facilities. " - from http://hitchtheworld.com
These are only on the Ruta 5 (or Panamericana Sur), but, as usual, are a very good place to hitch rides.
Be aware that many roads in Chile are very remote and made of dirt; any road that starts with a 'Y' classifies as a rural route, (known locally as a reten). Some of these roads do not recieve any traffic for days, sometimes weeks at a time. Use caution when hitchhiking on one of these. You may think you can hike it for fifteen or twenty kilometres and then hitch a ride, but sometimes the cars won't pass until it's too late. themodernnomad once nearly died of thirst in the Altiplano near the northern border of Argentina and Bolivia because he started walking towards Salta from a Chilean iron mine and went almost three days without seeing a car.
- La Serena
- Puerto Montt
- Puerto Varas
- Punta Arenas
- Viña del Mar
Chile is a wonderful hitch. I made my way for three months from Arica to Puerto Montt and onward down the Carretera Austral all the way to Cochrane (in summer months). After the jaunt in Argentina, I reentered Chile near Puerto Natales and the hitching was superb there as well. - Chael
"I hitched around Chile for about two and a half months and found it to be very easy. The only problems you might run into is in the summer it seems like everyone is hitching and you might have competition with thirty other people in some obscure desert stop off. I've found the farther you are from Santiago the easier it is, the northern and southern third being great." - Jason G