If there’s one thing you’ll notice, even before you land in Santiago, Chile its the stunning, snow-capped Andes Mountain Range that form Chile’s backbone. It’s difficult to escape the mountains wherever you go in this long, wild country – they’ll be visible as you road trip the Ruta 5 up and down the country, as you go rafting along the glacial rivers and as you visit sights like the Atacama Desert and the Torres del Paine National Park. Chile is a paradise for hikers and outdoor lovers and even Santiago, its capital lies just 40km/25 miles from the high hills themselves. Santiago is one of the few capital cities in the world that’s so close to such high mountains, which means it has some pretty amazing day hikes for you to embark on from the capital. As someone who’s lived in Chile for over 5 years, I’ve pretty much done them all, so here is an outline of some of the best hikes in or near Santiago, Chile all of which, can be done in a day.
TOP TIPS FOR HIKING IN SANTIAGO:
↠ The mountains immediately to the east of the city are the most popular place to hike in Santiago, Chile. This part of the ‘Cordillera’ is split up into four main parks; Parque Natural San Carlos de Apoquindo, Parque Puente Nilhue and Parque Natural Aguas de Ramon collectively known as the Parque Cordillera. You can get all the park details on their website here. Further south there is also Quebrada de Macul. These parks are all administered by Conaf, the Forestry Association in Chile and while they are separate parks, you can actually hike from one into the other.
↠ There is an entrance fee for all the parks except Quebrada de Macul. Admission is $3,000CLP for adults and $2,000CLP for children.
↠ The climate is seriously dry and hot and the weather in the mountains can change in an instant, especially during the winter where sub-zero temperatures, winds and zero visibility can make it very dangerous. In the summer it’s dry, dusty and scorching hot. Make sure to take enough water for the entire hike, layers and warm clothes and a hat.
Get your reusable, sustainable water bottle here. Say no to single-use plastic!
↠ There are no places to eat or buy food in the parks. Make sure you take all your water, snacks and food with you. Water in Santiago is potable and you can refill your reusable water bottle from bathroom taps.
↠ You will have to register at the entrance of the park and note down your name, phone number and nationality. You’ll also have to make clear which route you’re taking. This is for safety reasons.
↠ Make sure you have adequate footwear for hiking. Staff at the entrance check and you won’t be allowed in the park if you’re wearing shoes like vans or converse. Running shoes and hiking shoes like these are fine.
↠ Hikes in Santiago, Chile all vary in difficulty so they are perfect for everyone, including hiking enthusiasts and families. This is the case in all the four sections of the Parque Cordillera.
↠ Pollution is a serious issue in Santiago and your chance of having amazingly clear and crisp views are quite slim. To increase those chances though, begin your hike as early as possible and if you can, hike a day or two after rain. The rain helps to clear the air in the city, making it the best time to view the city from above.
THE BEST HIKES IN SANTIAGO, CHILE
This is one of the best hikes in Santiago, Chile found within the suburbs of the city. It’s a strenuous, tough climb at a constant incline all the way to the top although it is short, taking just 1.5hours to get to the top, making the trek a great half-day option if you have other things you’d like to do with your day. The views from the top are incredible on a clear day; on one side you’ll see the whole city, directly beneath you, the upscale suburb of Los Barnechea and on the other views of the high Andean peaks. This route is pretty low in altitude and in the winter generally doesn’t get snow or ice on it.
How to get there:
To get to the base of Pochoco Hill, you’ll have to take the metro, bus and then a taxi/uber or colectivo (shared taxi). Take the metro to Manquehue Station (line 1) and then the C01 bus from the bus stop immediately as you exit the metro. Get off the bus at Plaza San Enrique. This is the furthest public transport will go. From here the fastest way to get to the foot of Pochoco is by taxi or Uber. A taxi should cost you no more than $3,000 from Plaza San Enrique.
ALTO DE NARANJO
Alto de Naranjo is a great hike in Santiago, Chile for anyone in good physical shape and whats a challenge but nothing too extreme. It’s a beautiful trek, albeit steep at times that takes you up to the first ridge of peaks in the Andes. Alto de Naranjo is a fairly large, flat ridge on which sits a large, majestic solitary tree and the views around it are spectacular- it really is an amphitheatre of mountains to one side and the city to the other. There are two ways to access the Alto de Naranjo trail, either by ascending from Parque Puente Nilhue or by coming in from Parque San Carlos de Apoquindo. You can also come in from one side and exit the other way, without having to go back the way you came.
How to get there:
To get to Alto de Naranjo via Parque Puente Nilhue, you’ll have to take the metro to Manquehue, from there the C01 bus to Plaza San Enrique. From there take a taxi or an Uber the rest of the way until km 5,3 of Camino Farellones- keep as eye on this because the park entrance isn’t labelled well. It’s about a 10-minute taxi ride along Camino Farellones.
To get to Parque San Carlos de Apoquindo take the metro all the way to the end of Line 1, Los Dominicos. From there catch the 421, C02 or C02c all the way to San Carlos de Apoquindo. I find it easier to take the C02 or C02c as the route terminates closer to the start of the trail. From there walk up past the football stadium, take a right past all the football pitches and then left, walking past the stables and into the park itself.
ALTO LAS VIZCACHAS
For one of the best hikes in Santiago Chile, Alto Las Vizcachas combines the perfect mix of activity, views and time. Located in the San Carlos de Apoquindo section of the park this trek is one of my personal favourites. The views from here are simply stunning, especially in winter, when snow litters the ground and the contrast of colour is really pretty. This trek is fairly flat and easy for the first 2km and then gradually starts to ascend. This is also the path up to Morro las Papas- a fantastic viewpoint over the city- worth checking out on the way up before continuing. The last kilometre is the most difficult and you’ll find yourself scrambling over the giant boulders littering the path- it’s also the most fun part too. At the top, you’ll find some trees and benches which make the perfect place for a snack or picnic before descending.
How to get there:
To get to Parque San Carlos de Apoquindo take the metro all the way to the end of Line 1, Los Dominicos. From there catch the 421, C02 or C02c all the way to San Carlos de Apoquindo. From there walk up past the stadium, take a right past all the football pitches and then left, walking past the stables and into the park itself.
If you’re up for a serious day hike challenge Cerro Provincia is the one to go for- this is definitely one of the most well-known hikes in Santiago, Chile. Standing at 2,750m above sea level, the hike will take you 9 hours to complete with a total distance of 18km. This trek isn’t for the faint of heart- it’s tough and you’ll need some stamina. Due to it taking 9 hours you’ll have to be at the park entrance at 8 am to start and make it back before the park closes, especially in winter. In winter, the upper part of the trek will also be covered in snow and ice so take care. Make sure to also take plenty of water and layers for all types of weather. You’ll also pass Alto de Naranjo on the way so don’t forget to bring your camera.
How to get there:
You can access this trek either by Puente Nilhue or San Carlos de Apoquindo, however, I think it’s a little shorter from Puente Nilhue. See ‘Alto de Naranjo’ for details on how to get to the park.
SALTO DE APOQUINDO
This trek is one of the most varied and beautiful in Santiago. Why? Because a waterfall awaits you at the end. It’s totally worth the long 17km it takes to get there and you’ll need all day to do this one, (it will take you about 7 hours total) so you’ll have to arrive at the park entrance no later than 9.30 am. The trail takes you through a variety of different geographical features such as valleys, across ridges and hilltops and finally, you’ll get to the waterfall. Don’t expect Victoria Falls, but it’s a pretty high waterfall, I’d say at least 20 metres where you can bathe and soak your hot and swollen feet before heading back. If you have time to just do one day hike in Santiago, I’d recommend this one.
How to get there:
For this trek, you’ll have to enter by Parque Aguas de Ramon in the district of La Reina. Take Line 3 and get off at the last station Fernando Castillo Velasco. From outside the station, transfer to bus D02 and get off at Valenzuela Llanos / Esq. Av. Príncipe de Gales, just look out for the large Lider supermarket. From here walk up Onofre Jarpa Street until the end. Another way to get there is to take the metro to Simon Bolivar (line 4) and from there take the D18 bus, getting off at the big Lider Supermarket and continuing on foot.
CERRO LA CRUZ
Cerro La Cruz, like Cerro Provincia is another full-on day trek which will challenge your stamina and fitness levels. It’s a medium-high difficulty trek, taking 9 hours to do 17km. It starts off easily and gradually, getting steeper and steeper as you go. On the way you’ll also pass an ice-cold mountain stream and a waterfall- I highly recommend you take advantage of this on your way back, especially on a hot and dusty day in summer. The views from the summit are stunning, especially on a clear day and you’ll most likely have them all to yourself. From here you can continue to the peak of San Ramon, however, for this you’ll need camping gear and supplies as you’ll need to stay the night.
How to get there:
The Cerro La Cruz path is accessed from the Quebrada de Macul part of the park. To get there take the metro to Grecia station (Line 4), exit the metro and head to the bus stops located on Grecia Avenue. Here take the 506 or any other bus that goes all the way to the end of Grecia Avenue. At the very last stop or when the bus veers into the terminal get off and walk the rest of the way, in a southerly direction. It’s about 1.5km to the entrance of the park. If you prefer to save your legs, take an Uber the rest of the way or even an Uber from Grecia station.
Cerro Manquehue is actually located inside the city of Santiago in the district of Vitacura and it can be seen from almost anywhere in the eastern part of the city (its the hill with the flat top). Cerro Manquehue is definitely a half-day hike and the best one for views over the city. The sunsets and sunrises here can be incredible so I’d recommend to climb up for those, just remember to bring a torch. On the weekends this hill gets really busy, with local athletes using it for training runs and others getting in their weekly exercise. The trail is a little steep and for the most part incredibly dusty. It can also be slippery too as some parts of the trail have no rocks or boulders, just dirt. Bring lots of water and a camera.
How to get there:
Take the metro to Escuela Militar – exit the station and from under the flyover catch the C14 bus towards Los Trapenses. Get off the bus at Sta. Teresa De Los Andes / Esq. Gran Vía stop, just after the bus stops climbing the large hill. From here walk the rest of the way up Gran Via and through this pretty residential neighbourhood, or take an Uber (taxies will be hard to find in this area). I’d also highly recommend having Google maps handy at this point too.
Do you have any questions or comments about these hikes in Santiago, Chile? Leave them below and I’ll get back to you.
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