Central Coast Campground

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TremendoGringo
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Central Coast Campground

Post by TremendoGringo » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:19 pm

I did a search and I don't think this topic has been covered extensively, forgive me if I'm wrong.

Coming from Canada, I am a bit of an outdoor fanatic who loves tent camping. When I first arrived in Chile and drove the Carretera Austral with my polola, I was impressed by the CONAF campgrounds along the way. For example, we found a great campground between La Junta and Puyuhuapi in Queulat National park in December. Since the high season hadn't started yet, we were the only ones there and no one came around to collect the fee. The same goes for other CONAF campgrounds and private campgrounds such as Parque Pumalin, great facilities that rival those found in Canadian provincial parks, and reasonable prices (i.e. $6000 clp/night/party).

However, my polola and I have found camping options along Chile's central coast to be lacking. Specifically, I've stayed in the private campground at La Laguna close to Maitencillo (very small campsites, $6000/person/night), and the one in Puertecillo at the south end of the beach (nice spot but hard to find/get to and also expensive at $5000/person/night with no running water while I was there). While visiting Matanzas, I chose to sleep in my car rather than pay $30,000 a night for camping(!).

Since then I have been thinking of the possibility of opening a seasonal campground along Chile's central coast. Here's the way I see it:

Opportunities:

- Ability to charge higher prices than in other countries (i.e. campgrounds in Canada usually charge per party, in Chile many charge per person)
- Limited competition (see above)
- Ability to offer additional services that may not already exist in the community where the campground would be located (i.e. kitesurf camps in Matanzas)
- Camping/outdoor activities are becoming more popular in Chile (need to find more data to support this point)
- Campgrounds close to Santiago can more easily cater to domestic tourists, rather than those in Patagonia that rely more on foreign tourists
- Business could be operated for a few months every year, leaving the rest of the year for another seasonal business (in Canada for example)

Threats:

- Limited locations where sufficient land is available close to the coast in a desirable spot
- Price of land may be prohibitive (i.e. in Cachagua)
- Significant challenges obtaining water/electricity on uncleared land, depending on location
- Chile has a very short domestic tourism season (i.e. many touristic businesses are already closed in March and the weather is still fantastic, at least by Canadian standards) - I see this as the main threat
- The majority of Chileans do not currently go camping

In short, I would like to hear from anyone who has started a campground in Chile and their experiences as well as everyone's general thoughts on opening a campground on Chile's central coast. If there are any great campgrounds you have stayed at close to Santiago, please let me know about those as well. Looking forward to your thoughts.

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nwdiver
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Re: Central Coast Campground

Post by nwdiver » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:41 pm

Under threats you missed the real one: nine 17-21 year old guys drunk and blasting loud music from 7pm until 8am when they have all passed out and the battery dies in the boom box.

I love the camp site at Caleta Gonzalo in Pumalin, I stay in the hobbit cabins but, it must be one of the nicest campsites in Chile.

If you are looking to do this make it sport specific, surf/windsurf/kitesurf areas are common along the central coast in out of the way places. You want people that will pay well for good quality services. I talked to a guy that was looking at an area in Valle Maule that has become a paragliding site he was looking at a nice camp with a service to pickup and drive flyers back up to launch, he feels a site for 15-20 tents, with tables and asado area plus good washrooms with hot showers, would work and draw people from all over the world. The campsites, sort of dirtbag style, in Futaleufu that draw whitewater kayakers form all over the world are famous and they don’t advertize or anything but offer drop off and pickup along the river.
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HybridAmbassador
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Re: Central Coast Campground

Post by HybridAmbassador » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:52 pm

nwdiver wrote:Under threats you missed the real one: nine 17-21 year old guys drunk and blasting loud music from 7pm until 8am when they have all passed out and the battery dies in the boom box.

I love the camp site at Caleta Gonzalo in Pumalin, I stay in the hobbit cabins but, it must be one of the nicest campsites in Chile.

If you are looking to do this make it sport specific, surf/windsurf/kitesurf areas are common along the central coast in out of the way places. You want people that will pay well for good quality services. I talked to a guy that was looking at an area in Valle Maule that has become a paragliding site he was looking at a nice camp with a service to pickup and drive flyers back up to launch, he feels a site for 15-20 tents, with tables and asado area plus good washrooms with hot showers, would work and draw people from all over the world. The campsites, sort of dirtbag style, in Futaleufu that draw whitewater kayakers form all over the world are famous and they don’t advertize or anything but offer drop off and pickup along the river.
Hmmm, perhaps an investment opportunity..Plus I do love tent-up camping myself. A hot shower a must despite being in the dirt way in the campo.
15-20 tents affordable site, how much Mullahs do you think will require.? I know, it is very difficult to even estimate but if possible a rough guess-timate would do..ratbert-san, care to chime in..?
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Donnybrook
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Re: Central Coast Campground

Post by Donnybrook » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:22 pm

Actually Chileans do a lot of camping but usually further afield. For instance, people from Santiago will go south to one of the many campgrounds around the lakes. You have only to look at the number of campings between Villarica and Pucón to see how popular it is in the lake district. People from Temuco or Concepción will usually head into one of the national parks. What people from Santiago are unlikely to do is spend money on a very good campground near one of the beaches easily accessible from there. They will go north to the beaches and south to the lakes, hauling chemical toilets and plug in refrigerators. For the nearby coast they have a house or flat at one of the beaches, a relative or friend with the same, or they rent a roof. The people fro Santiago who camp at the coast, say Laguna Verde north, are doing it for cost reasons and are not going to spend any more than they need to.

In our camping days we used to go to one on Calafquen for a couple of weeks. Wonderful forest, lake and a key to your own toilet/shower. You had to book around June. The closest to Santiago we ever camped was at Vichuquen but didn't like it.

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Re: Central Coast Campground

Post by admin » Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:25 pm

My father left me shares in a camp ground in northern MN that he had bought with some partners in the 70's. Three attorneys none the less trying to run a camp ground.

So, after he had emptied garbage cans and dealt with complaints from campers about everything for a whole summer of weekends away from his day job, he told his partners "next time let's just pay our $5 at the state park and go camping".

By the way, I am only still a partner in that company because one partner with controlling interest has more money than he knows what to do with and needs the tax write-off / entertainment of running it. Otherwise, we would have all happily handed the keys to the IRS a long time ago.

There are lots of camping places in Chile. Much of it depends on the type of camping you want to do. KOA sorts of places, not very many (well, they tend to be called "motels"). Rustic tent camping, most beaches are public property. Trying to find a happy in between is hard.

I would suggest talking to the owners of places that have cabins on the beach. They might cut deals to let you camp in front on the beach (you don't need a full cabin), and let you use their facilities. Might go over particularly well if say you a cut deal for paying on a per use basis for things like showers or whatever, buy beer off of them, and so on. There are lots of places like that up and down Chile's coast that have almost no customers, but might be happy to make a few extra pesos with limited work for them.

all the perks of the KOA, without the bed bugs of marginal cabins in Chile.
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