Photo by Andres04 on Flickr.
While the northern hemisphere is socked in with snow, rain and wind, here in the southern hemisphere, we’re smack dab in the middle of the warmest season. And though it may be difficult to picture at the moment, sometimes it’s just too warm to stick around in the city all weekend long. Luckily, Santiago has a great location and is close to both the mountains and the beach, both of which are significantly cooler than the city itself, and these are where most people will choose to go if they’ve got some free time.
Close to Santiago there are several access points to good hiking and camping, some of which are even metro accessible. Here’s a list of a few areas you might consider for getting out of town, but not that far out of town.
Rio Clarillo is a national reserve with easy access from Santiago. it has a clear river for splashing and playing, and while there are no campsites onsite, there are several just a few hundred meters down the road.
Yerba Loca is on the way to the Valle Nevado ski resort, fifteen hairpin turns up a mountain. There is both organized and wild camping here, access to a glacier, horse back riding, etc.
La Campana is actually on the way to the coast, and on a clear day, you’ll see the ocean from on top of the several hour hike. Many prefer to enter via the Ocoa sector, which has some easier walks.
Parque Mahuida is bus-accessible and allows camping on the mountain, but this is for more experienced hikers, trying or a two-day summit of Cerro La Cruz.
Cajón de Maipo itself has many smaller towns to visit, and for those who aren’t sure about camping or prefer it less rustic, Cascada de Las Animas, a family recreational and hiking center is a great option. Or if you’re itching to take the four wheel drive out, then consider a trip up to Baños Morales, where there is a small outpost town and also camping, or Termas de Colina, rustic hotsprings at altitude.
There are many beaches that are just a couple or few hours’ drive from Santiago. Here are a few highlights.
Valparaíso is a UNESCO heritage site, multicolored houses on a series of hills and outdoor elevators that take you up them.
Viña del Mar has a casino, a beach, more ice cream than you could eat in a lifetime and a relaxed setting.
Maitencillo is a small town that hugs the beach with a decent swell and some rocky areas.
Pichilemu has South America’s best left break and long walks on the beach for those who don’t surf.
Zapallar is an exclusive beach town down a long hill from the highway north west of Santiago.
Isla Negra is a smallish town which is also home to one of three of Pablo Neruda’s houses-turned-museums.
And if you want to go farther afield, in just a few short hours, you can go to the white sand beaches of the north, or the densely wooded forests of the south with convenient daily flights from the Santiago airport.