NileGuide Expert Says:
Closest rural park to downtown Santiago, with abundant wildlife.
NileGuide Expert tip:
Arrive early to maximize your chances of seeing rare birds.
Río Clarillo is one of the easiest national reserves or parks to get to from Santiago. It is located in the comuna of Pirque, just beyond Puente Alto, and is easily accessible by bus. What makes this park so attractive is the cool river (which people splash around in), which runs blue and clear all summer long. In an area that is somewhat desert-like and warm in summer, that's enough to bring Santiaguinos for a visit. A few bathing spots in the river fill up in summer, despite the water's cool temperature.
The park covers more than 13000 hectares, and varies in topography between 850 and 3500 meters above sea level, but most visitors stay low, choosing to picnic by the river (there are some 100 spots to picnic), and taking a few minutes to walk the interpretative trails which label foliage of the region, much of which is of the holly-like, hard-leaved trees such as the native peumo. There are two of these, one measuring 1.7 km, and the other measuring 1.2 km in length.
There is some wildlife in the park, though if you stick to the picnic area you are unlikely to see it. Ther are a few different kind of rodents, one species of fox, and many different kinds of lizards. Many kinds of birds are also present.
The reserve does not allow camping, but there are several campsites just down the road from Rio Clarillo, often with swimming pools, indoor toilets and picnic areas.