Guide to Chile: Health |

Guide to Chile: Health

For up to date, journey specific health advice, consult your GP. You might also like to visit


Most health problems are minor stomach complaints. Wash hands regularly. Exercise reasonable caution when eating: avoid undercooked or reheated meats and fish, drink bottled water and make sure that ice is made from purified water.

Diarrhea and Intestinal Problems – few visitors to Chile experience anything other than run-of-the-mill traveler’s stomach in reaction to unfamiliar foods and any microorganisms in them.

Chile’s tap water is clean and safe to drink; however, a small percentage of travelers with delicate stomachs report having experienced tummy upsets.

Bottled mineral water is widely available throughout Chile if you’d rather not take any chances.

Do not under any circumstances drink tap water in San Pedro de Atacama.

Other things to guard against are sunburn and dehydration.

Insects can be a nuisance in some areas, notably around Puerto Varas and the southern Lake District in February. A DEET based repellent is worth taking.


When travelling In northern Chile some people may suffer the affects of altitude sickness ?Soroche?. It?s caused by the lack of oxygen in the thin mountain air.

It can affect anyone, regardless of physical condition.

Symptoms include headache, shortness of breath and loss of appetite.

Drink plenty of bottled water. Walk slowly and take things at a relaxed pace. At least for your first few days avoid alcohol, smoking and heavy food.

Altitude can aggravate any pre-existing medical condition.

Travellers with heart conditions and high blood pressure should check with their doctors before undertaking travel at altitude.

Austral Sun

The shrinking ozone layer in southern Chile has caused an onset of health problems among the citizens who live there, including increased incidents of skin cancer and cataracts.

If you are planning to travel to Patagonia, keep in mind that on “”red alert”” days (typically Sept-Nov), it’s possible to burn in 10 minutes.

If you plan to be outdoors, you need to protect yourself with sunblock, a long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.


Chile is rife with pharmacies, and you’ll find them in odd locations, such as shopping malls and gas stations — and, strangely enough, they always seem to be packed with ailing clientele.

Many stay open 24 hours a day, and a few chains will deliver for a small fee. Chilean pharmacies sell numerous kinds of prescription drugs over the counter, including antibiotics and birth control pills.


We recommend that you use an antiseptic handwash (the sort that you rub in and it evaporates) during your travels.

If you apply the handwash in the morning and then do not wash your hands, the antiseptic continues to work.

Any time you wash your hands with water you will have to reapply.

This trick does more than anything else to avoid stomach bugs whilst on your travels.