Just outside Santiago lies Yerba Loca Sanctuary, a diverse natural reserve in the heart of the Chilean Andes, replete with glacial ravines, rocky peaks, and wildflower-covered meadows. Known for La Paloma Glacier, the looming peaks of Los Piches and El Altar, and the densely wooded forests of Villa Paulina valley, Yerba Loca Sanctuary is a popular day-trip destination. The Basics
A visit to Yerba Loca Sanctuary is the ideal foil for bustling Santiago. Go horseback riding or camping, try your hand at mountain climbing, or pack a picnic and take a leisurely hike. Yerba Loca Sanctuary is home to more than 500 plant and animal species—watch for Chilean condors, cordilleran hummingbirds, and culpeo foxes. If you’re short on time, join a half-day tour with round-trip transport included. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Yerba Loca Sanctuary is a protected area. Fires are prohibited, and travelers must stay on established trails.
- The sanctuary has an admission fee.
- If you’ll be camping, take your own supplies and equipment.
- The sanctuary isn’t accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Yerba Loca Sanctuary is 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Santiago, just over an hour’s drive. The sanctuary is reachable by public transit, but requires transfers. If you don’t have access to a car and want to make the most of your visit, consider joining a tour with round-trip transport included.
When to Get There
Open daily year-round, Yerba Loca Sanctuary is an all-weather destination, though heavy snow can sometimes lead to last-minute closures. For warmer weather and longer opening hours, visit between September and March.
Camping in Yerba Loca Sanctuary
Given the scenic surroundings and numerous activities, many travelers wish to spend more time at Yerba Loca Sanctuary. There are six authorized camping spots, only one of which—Villa Paulina—has tables, grills, and bathrooms. Take backup batteries as there’s no electricity, and be prepared for temperamental weather.