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December Day trip into the Andes

Palatine, Illinois
Level Contributor
471 posts
58 reviews
December Day trip into the Andes

First visit to South America and I must get into the Andes! I have found a company for a half day trip and it is proposed to visit some of the ski resorts there. Would prefer a horseback ride and some hiking, not just a scenic drive. Any suggestions? Ando Andes tours, found on this site, does not offer horseback riding on the Saturday we have available and departs too early for us to join in any case.

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile, Santiago
Level Contributor
7,017 posts
15 reviews
1. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

One possibility would be the Cascada de las Animas in the Cajon del Maipo. They offer horse back tours.There is an english web page.

Palatine, Illinois
Level Contributor
471 posts
58 reviews
2. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

Thank you for this suggestion. The website is excellent and there is a lot to do there. I now must decide whether this area is the most scenic. Would you care to weigh in on the natural beauty of this area as compared to the ski areas in December? If the peaks are snowcapped in December, this would be preferable to a desert-like canyon area.

Santiago, Chile
Level Contributor
203 posts
24 reviews
3. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

December is hot and dry, with the last remnants of snow clinging to the highest peaks. To get a real feal for the Andes, the Cajon del Maipo is a good option, if you have a car, head all the way up the Cajon del Maipo very early in the morning, until you reach Baños Morales (also called Lo Valdes), about 2.5 hours of a meandering mountain road, with small towns and lots of restaurants. Then continue up towards Baños de Colina at the foot of the 5,800m Volcan San Jose. When you get to the top of the steep section and cross a bridge, stop there at the base of a "Moro", or small rocky peak, and go for a nice walk. You will head west (left looking at the rock), and up around the Moro towards the north, to the "Valle la Engorda" (30 minutes). This is a large expanse of meadows and fallen rocks with great views of the Volcan and surrounding high Andes. If you are energetic, you can climb the scree up to the top of the Moro for an even better view. Then, head back to the car, and continue a few km up the road to Baños de Colina. Here you will pay a fee $10-15 each to use the hot springs, which are natural pools on the side of the hill. One is almost too hot to get into. The scenery is surreal, and we have seen many condors in this valley. San Alfonso is a cool town to stop for a bite on the way back, and you can get a bite at the Cascada de las Animas, or many other places along the way. It is a long day, but like going to Tibet!

The drive up to the Valle Nevado ski area is nice too, if you don´t mind dozens of switchbacks (1.2 hours). You can walk further back into the mountains, or around the "casa piedra" about 10 km before VN, and at the edge of the canyon you can often see condors.

The mountains here often cloud up in the afternoon, mornings are best for touring, walking etc.

Good luck!

Palatine, Illinois
Level Contributor
471 posts
58 reviews
4. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

casey e: What a fantastic tour you have described! I think the moderator should post it in the day trips from Santiago section!

We will be unable to get into the mountains anywhere until noon or later due to our arrival time at SCL, so based on your comment about afternoon clouds, I think we will spend our one day in Santiago in the city proper and hopefully have views of snow capped peaks from our high-rise hotel!

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,485 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

Aside from some snow on the highest peaks above the ski resorts, there won't be many snow capped views in summer. If you are heading south, you will see snow on the volcanoes.

Palatine, Illinois
Level Contributor
471 posts
58 reviews
6. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

dancingmolly: I am having a hard time finding out about activities at the ski resorts in the summer. At some Rocky Mountain ski resorts there is quite a lively scene in the summer, with chairlift rides to hiking trails, alpine slides, even rollercoasters. Anything here?

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,485 posts
30 reviews
7. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

Valle Nevado has a number of summer activities:

vallenevado.com/en/summer-at-valle-nevado/

Palatine, Illinois
Level Contributor
471 posts
58 reviews
8. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

Looks fantastic - just what I had in mind. I am a bit concerned however that our time will be too limited with a 75 min travel time each way. Plus I am not sure I could handle the one way road with all of the switchbacks!

This activity should also be posted in the day trips from Santiago section of the forum. Thanks for sharing the link.

9. Re: December Day trip into the Andes

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