20 Jun 2012
Slip away from the urban rush to a deceptively distant landscape on one of these accessible day trips from Santiago.
Here, we present three more handy hikes spread throughout the Cajón del Maipo valley, perfect for the clearer skies of the southern hemisphere winter season.
El Morado Natural Monument
At just two hours southeast of Santiago, El Morado Natural Monument seems transported from the distant Chilean Patagonia, hundreds of kilometers further south. The jagged rock outcrops and eroded, mineral-laden hillsides encircling the valley below the El Morado glacier makes you feel like you're hiking in the very heart of the Andes mountain range. Hikers can follow the well-marked gravel trail leading through scrub vegetation and small wetlands, climbing to a small lagoon beneath the glacier's blue ice. A visit during the winter months means pristine vistas of the glacial pass and snows, but the trail past the lagoon is usually closed during the winter months.
Getting there: Transportation to Baños Morales, the hot springs below El Morado Natural Monument, is available seasonally. Take the blue MB72 bus from the bus terminal Bellavista de La Florida next to the Bellavista de La Florida metro stop (line 5). Private transportation services to Baños Morales are also available year-round.
La Palestra de El Manzano
The trail leading from the main road through the park near the small local of El Manzano winds along hillsides covered by tall flowering cactus and boldo trees. This popular rock-climbing spot reveals climbers on unlikely peaks and outcrops throughout the park, and visitors who venture deep into the Andean foothills on this trail can discover a series of small caves tucked away in the mountains.
Getting there: Take the metro to the Las Mercedes (line 4) stop and board the blue MB72 bus. Ask the driver to let you off in El Manzano near the gas station.
The road to Lagunillas
Coiling up to the winter ski destination of Lagunillas, this uphill route traverses switchbacks through the open hills, skirting valleys and canyons on its climb to the high, snow-capped peaks. Walk as far as you like, and take in the vistas from this easy to follow gravel road route.
Getting there: Take the metro to the Las Mercedes (line 4) metro stop and board the blue MB72 bus. Ask the driver to let you off at the entrance to the road to Lagunillas, just a few kilometers past San José de Maipo.
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