- 7-hour hike in El Morado Natural Monument with transport from Santiago
- Explore the natural landscape of Maipo Canyon (Cajon del Maipo) with your guide
- See the mineral-rich colors of Aguas Panimavidas
- Learn about endangered and protected flora and fauna, such as the giant hummingbird
- Admire views of El Morado peak and San Francisco Glacier from Lagoon El Morado
- Box lunch, water bottle and round-trip hotel transport included
What You Can Expect
Start your excursion with pickup at your hotel by air-conditioned vehicle. Then hop on the trail for an easy, 9-mile hike with an expert guide, learning as you go about endangered animals like the cururo and the silky ratón de Noé.
First, walk for 1 mile (2.8 km) up a gentle incline to Aguas Panimavidas. Notice the colors of this mineral-rich natural spring, encrusted with red and yellow from the iron-carbonated water. Keep an eye out as well for the park’s extensive bird life, such as the giant hummingbird (picaflor gigante), which measures 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) in length!
After snapping a few photos, continue another 3 miles (5 km) through wetlands to Lagoon El Morado. Relax and take in the panoramic views of this pristine landscape; you might even see wild horses gallop across it. In the distance, El Morado’s snowy peak reaches higher than 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level. With the base of San Francisco Glacier just half a mile (1 km) away, you’ll feel like you can almost reach out and touch it!
Take a break to eat lunch (included), and then follow your guide back down the trail. Your tour ends when you are returned to your hotel.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, warm layers and sun protection (hat, sunglasses and sun block), as temperatures in the Andes can vary.
We chose to do this on the day after we landed in Santiago, partly in order to clear our heads of jet-lag, jet noise and the 'plane-stupidity' induced by a long-haul flight. It did this admirably - and much, much more. Fran, our guide, picked us up bright and early from our city centre hotel and whisked us out through the suburbs to the El Morado National Park, north of Santiago. It was a perfect late summer morning and an utter joy to make our way up the long but steady incline of the valley in warm sunshine (we had just escaped a very , miserable English winter) with the snow-topped Andes in front of us. We had a snack break at the lake and then pressed on up the somewhat steeper but perfectly do-able section to the edge of the glacier. Throughout, Fran was the perfect hiking companion: friendly, intelligent, personable, with good conversation in impeccable English and who was anxious for us to go at our own pace and enjoy the experience. We returned to the lake for a simple but delicious picnic lunch (food always tastes good on a mountain doesn't it?) that Fran had provided. Suitably refreshed, we ambled peacefully back down the valley, now with the surrounding green, purple and russet mountains bathed in afternoon sunshine. By the time we reached the park entrance, Santiago and his partner had arrived for their Sunday afternoon outing - and yet on the walk we had hardly seen a soul. It was blissful day that was the perfect introduction to the beauty of Chile and which would give a lot of pleasure to anyone who enjoys the sort of hiking that captures the senses, stretches the muscles and fills the lungs but does not bust a gut. And who knows when it is sensible to wear sunblock and a hat.
This tour was the highlight of our stay,but we probably would not have undertaken it if we had known how far it is to the glacier. Our guide was lovely and let us set our own pace - essential as we are both in our sixties and not very fit. Ultimately, we turned back just before we reached the glacier. Highly recommended but the glacier is more than 14 kilometres from the starting point!