Cajón del Maipo: Outdoor Paradise at Santiago’s doorstep
Short of time? You do not have to drive all you way to Chile in order to see extraordinary nature and even icebergs (although – travelling the whole of Chile ist really the best option). Outdoor enthusiasts who come to central Chile shoult definitely not miss out on wonderful Cajón del Maipo. This deep-cut valley begins at the southeast corner of Santiago and stretches over 80km from there to the Andes. You can o there on a day trip with your rental car from Santiago or, better, stay a few days. We will be happy to help you finding a nice hotel there.
Here are our best tips:
For these excursions we recommend an off-road vehicle, e.g. one of our jeeps or SUVs. They can be done as day trips from Santiago between late September and early May, starting early in the morning.
Cerro Morado National Park
The trek through the Cerro Morado (Purple Mountain) National Park begins Drive almost at the end of the valley, in Baños Morales. Leave your rental car there and let yourself be enchanted by the high valley, while admiring the majestic “Cerro Morado”. Along the way, you can also enjoy impressive views of other summits over 5,000m. Attention, the first part of the path goes uphill to reach the plateau. This can be tiring for inexperienced hikers – but it is worth it: With a bit of luck you will see a condor in its natural environment and at the bottom of the valley, beneath a moraine layer, there is the small San Francisco glacier, giving origin to the small river that runs down the high valley. Where else can you stand in a real glacier gate?
Cerro Morado glacier lagoon
This excursion for experienced hikers starts even further back in the Cajón. The way to the starting point allows magnificent views of the 5,856 m high volcano “San José”. Walk through the barren beauty of the highlands to “Laguna del Ventisquero” (“glacier lagoon”). This lagoon is being formed by a hanging glacier tongue coming down from Cerro Morado the ice gradually breaks into the water – so you do not have to drive to Patagonia to see little icebergs! We recommend a detailed hiking map for this tour.
Soft adventure for everybody
Those who do not dare to go on challenging hikes can still be adventurous in the Cajón del Maipo: Many small local providers organize rafting excursions on Rio Maipo, which are fun at any age and in almost any condition. For those who prefer it more quiet and would like to enjoy scenery, you can take part in guided horse riding tours or take a shorter hike in the central part of the valley.
Relax with a view
There are marvellous hot springs to relax in in several places here. We recommend a trip to the Baños Colina hot springs, where you can indulge in warm natural water in rustic natural pools while enjoying a phenomenal view of the Andes – who knows, maybe with a condor up in the sky, to round up the panorama?
Postcard-like photos can be shot in a secondary valley at the water reservoir “Embalse del Yeso”. This is where most of the drinking water for Santiago comes from.
Find the cheapest rental car for your trip to explore Central Chile. Our Chile-experts will be happy to advise you regarding your route plans, interests for your rental car holiday in Chile with and the appropriate rental car category. Feel free to contact us and get your non-binding offer for a rental car trip in Chile.