Cajón del Maipo is one of the country’s best kept secrets, as it boasts rivers, high mountain passes, lakes, and forests all in one centralized place. It is located only an hour from the capital city of Santiago, and is famous for outdoor sports, cultural experiences and delicious local food.
It was created in the foothills of the mountains. It lies where the river, Rio Maipo, cut a deep canyon for more than 70 kilometers and ends out in the open at the main town of Pirque. This town used to be the border of Kollasuyu, the Peruvian Empire’s southernmost limits.
Cajón del Maipo is a narrow valley deep in the Andes with remarkable highlights like natural hot springs and breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Loaded with adventures like bungee jumping, rafting, and hiking -Cajón del Maipo is the perfect getaway from the busy city life.
Cajón del Maipo also offers quieter experiences like horseback riding, fly fishing, picnics and amazing local cuisine like empanadas from the clay oven, fresh kneaded breads and fruits harvested straight from the local orchards. We at Kuoda have summarized the 5 things not to miss when visiting Cajón del Maipo in Chile.
1.El Morado National Monument
El Morado National Monument is a glacial cirque and forms part of the El Volcan River basin. It is home to the San Francisco Glacier. El Morado lookout as well as the San Francisco Glacier reaches up to 4320 meters. These are challenging climbs, sometimes on ice, that serve as the perfect “fix” for adrenaline junkies and hiking lovers.
El Morado National Monument is located only one hour by car from Santiago, in Cajón del Maipo. It is a protected area that encompasses the Rio Morales canyon and the adjoining hills of the Andes-mountain range. From all of the hills surrounding the canyon, El Morado is the highest one.
The birdlife is something that stands out here, with stunners like the Giant Hummingbird, the Cometocino and the Austral Thrush. The flora is bountiful with plant species that include the Andean hard-leaf thickets, mountain olives, green foxtail plants and a variety of white herbs.
It is important to note that the park is closed between May and September due to climate conditions. The ideal time to visit the park is from December to March.
2. San José de Maipo & San Alfonso
San José de Maipo is a quaint mountain village in Cajón del Maipo filled with culture, local cuisine and stunning views. It is the capital of the municipality, and a very popular place to visit because of the cute abode buildings, delicious oven-baked empanadas, vineyards and microbreweries. It is a great way to spend an alternative morning or afternoon, if you need a break from all the action-based activities.
Another similar town in the area nearby is the town of San Alfonso. This town is especially popular for its famous chocolate store. It is a fantastic designed building that resembles something that came straight out of “The Shire”. For something different and refreshing, San Alfonso is a great way to spend a few hours.
3. El Yeso reservoir
El Yeso reservoir is located deep within the mountainous gorge of Cajón del Maipo. The reservoir is formed by the damming of the Yeso River, and an incredible sight to behold. This place is highly attractive for fishing, having a picnic or taking hikes along the scenic landscapes of snowy mountains and turquoise blue water.
Other than having beautiful scenery, El Yeso reservoir, along with the nearby Laguna Negra, is a major source of drinking water for Santiago. This is an easy and beautiful excursion that can be completed in one day.
4. National Reserve Rio Clarillo
Located in the foothills of the central area to the southeast of Santiago, the National Reserve Rio Clarillo stands out as the last refuge of hard sheet (sclerophyllous) forest in the area. Species like puemo, litre, lun and quillayes mainly form this type of forest.
The main attraction of the park is the Calrillo river. It supplies water to the residents of the areas of Pirque and Puento Alto. The park is also home to animal species like the endangered Wood Pigeon and Chilean Iguana.
It was created in 1982 to preserve the natural environment of central Chile and its native species. It is a definite “must-see” for nature lovers who are traveling through the area.
5. Relax in the Valle de Colina Natural Hot Springs
The perfect ending to your hiking expeditions, observing the breathtaking views and breathing in the fresh air, is to soak in some hot water directly coming from the earth. The Valle de Colina is a series of mineral, thermal hot springs staggered along the side of the Colina Valley.
The hot springs are reputed for having healing abilities and during certain seasons it is accessible in the evenings, so you can have a stargazing experience over mountains too. Here you can stay for hours, taking in the majestic powers of nature and the amazing landscapes surrounding the area.
The Colina hot springs are located close to the capital, Santiago, about 110 kilometers away and it takes about 3 hours without traffic to reach the thermal hot baths. The pools are organized in terraces, and there are nine different pools to choose from. The higher the pool, the higher the temperature. The pools can be visited all year round.
How to visit Cajón del Maipo with Kuoda
As you can see it is quite an adventure to visit Cajón del Maipo. It guarantees a memorable journey, the opportunity to immerse yourself in mother nature’s majestic waters, and take endless photos of the breathtaking landscapes all around you. We at Kuoda understand the frustrations and struggles that go into planning a cohesive trip like this one, especially when you want to include a visit to Cajón del Maipo with other trips to top destinations in Chile. Kuoda specializes in custom-made travel experiences that include everything that you need for you and your family. Contact us today and talk to one of our trip designers to discuss your personal requirements.