Explore Chile: Cajon Del Maipo
Finally touched down in Santiago after a day of travel fiasco. My travel buddy, Patty and I scoured through the terminal to find an ATM to dispense Chilean Pesos. The arrival area was compact but still difficult to locate a working ATM. Luckily, Patty was able to utilized her Español to find us three ATMs by door #5.
Around the arrival area were workers holding up taxi signs. We were harassed left and right to jump into their vehicle. I read so many blogs about taxi scams at the airport that I instill my trust with the taxi counters over anything else. We didn’t bother finding the cheapest deals to get to our AirBnB because we wanted to get our day started. We paid 20,000 to get us to downtown which is a little extreme.
After freshening up for a bit, we were ready to go!
1. Embalse El Yeso:
Mauricio, our driver picked us up for a day full of exploring. It was already 11:30am and we were about to embark on what we thought would be an easy stroll through the Andes Mountains. We drove pass little towns until we came across San Jose de Maipo, a town populated with backpackers. We made a pit stop to pick up some water and snacks. Patty and I doze off for most of the drive. It was 2pm when we finally reached our first stop, Embalse El Yeso.
It was Sunday, family day. Traffic was horrendous. Vehicles were parked on the right hand side, while cars tried to squeeze through like a 2-way street on a side of a cliff. We had hit the prime time of people trying to return back into the city. There were no one directing traffic and the best way to pass this disaster was to park, and walk towards the view.
I felt my body brush against every car that I swiveled through. Mauricio lead the way and told us when it was safe to dash through traffic. We finally made it across the street to a beautiful crystal blue reserve.
Embalse El Yeso is a reservoir owned by Aguas Andinas. The reservoir supplies most of its drinking water to Santiago. You are able to hike down to the water or just observe from afar.
2. Laguna De Los Patos:
Laguna De Los Patos is about a 5.5 mile hike round trip that takes you alongside the Maipo River and up through the Andes Mountains. We paid 6,000 per person to enter into the Parque Valle del Yeso.
The hike started off relatively easy until we had to step over the Maipo River, cross a water fall, climb up the mountain that was so narrow and continue climbing for another 10 or so switch backs. After 1.5 hours of hiking, we finally reached the duck pond on the top of the mountain.
Mauricio packed bananas and peaches for us to enjoy at the top. Patty and I were starving. We haven’t eaten much since the airplane. Thank you Mauricio for coming to our rescue.
The view was breathtaking. The wind was wild. We could feel the change in temperature from the top. It was already 4:45pm. It’s time to head down.
Typically, the downhill hike is always easiest. Remember how I mentioned a stroll around the Andes. I had the impression that I wasn’t going to do a full blown hike so I wore my trail walking shoes. I had zero grip and had to slide down or walk like a grandma with a cane in my hand. Word to the wise: wear hiking boots, bring a windbreaker, walk with a walking stick, pack food.
We reached the bottom of the hike around 6:30pm (18:30). As an award for a job well done, we soaked our feet in a nearby thermal.
3. Termas Del Plomo:
Located at the start of the hike were thermal pools about 20°C to 30°C. We had intended on soaking our entire bodies at the start but the water wasn’t warm enough. We took our socks off and enjoy the lukewarm water run through our toes. It was a great way to end the hike.
WHERE TO EAT:
1. Empanadas Shop:
There are several shops along side San Jose de Maipo. The ordered the meat empanadas the size of my face for 1200. The pastery was delicious but I wished it included cheese.
2. Hot Dog stand:
We didn’t get back into the apartment until 11:30pm. Everything was closed except for a hot dog stand located at the corner of our apartment. Hot dogs are pretty popular in Santiago and typically comes with mayo and avocado.
**Photos of Patty and I are taken by Mauricio