Hiking in the Andes

Santiago, Chile

Today I went hiking in Cajon del Maipo in Chile. Cajon means canyon. There are a lot of hikes in the area. I went on a small group tour…there were 8 of us and 2 guides for part of the tour; then 2 people split off with a guide to go to hot springs and the rest of us continued the hike.

The area we were in was about 2500 meters above sea level; around 8000 feet. It was pretty cold and windy up that high. The area is rocky and pretty dry…this part of Chile has a Mediterranean climate, so not much rain in late spring to mid-fall. We could see the snow on the glaciers. We walked up first to a small stream for lunch (basic sandwiches) and then split off and went towards a big meadow. We saw horses and their foals, and lots of mountains.

At one point I stopped to take photos for a moment and when I looked up I couldn’t see anyone…they had turned to the left and out of sight. I didn’t know if they’d gone down towards the river or to the left…the “trail” wasn’t much of one. I eventually saw them and caught up but it was a bit eerie being out there all alone.

The main industries of Chile are mining and agriculture. The red in the mountains is iron, the white is gypsum and there is also copper mining. There was silver mining but a large earthquake in the 1950s pretty much destroyed the industry.

The trip took all day, from a 7am pickup to a 7pm drop off. It wasn’t all hiking; we stopped for breakfast and at the end again for a snack and the drive each was was a couple of hours.

It was really nice to get out of Santiago and see some of the countryside. There are lots of other hikes to do and I’d recommend going to this area if you are in Santiago.

Tomorrow…off to Punta Arenas on the Straight of Magellan!

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