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Cajón del Maipo


It is hard to believe this stretch of heaven for adventure seekers is located just southeast of the big-city life found in nearby Santiago. Cajón del Maipo is a magnificent river valley created by the Río Maipo in the shadows of the Andes. Mountain biking, paragliding, horseback riding, rafting and hiking are all common activities in this outdoor paradise.


The mouth of the Cajón at Las Vizcachas is located 25km from the capital. The area is green with orchards and vineyards, while locals line the roads selling homemade treats and fruits. Push onward another 25km to reach the small town in the valley called San José de Maipo. The little town cluttered with one-story adobe homes was founded in 1791 after the discovery of silver in the area. It is also the final opportunity for drivers to refuel on gasoline. Also there are no banks or ATMs, so bring all the necessary money from Santiago.

There is a decent amount of accommodation options in the Cajón del Maipo area.

Tuti Cuanti doubles as a restaurant and hotel in San José. The food is good and the rooms are well-kept. The restaurant/hostel is located one half block from the main plaza at Comercio 19881 (Tel: 56-2-8612547, URL:

Find the beautifully remodeled Italian-style country home Los Castaños located at Camino al Volcán 30846 in San Alfonso. There are only four rooms here that have a capacity to hold eight guests so be sure to call ahead for reservations (Tel: 56-2-8614241).

Cascadas de la Animas (Tel: 56-2-8611303, URL: located at Camino al Volcán 31087 is another option in San Alfonso.

Camping can be found in San José at Parque del Río (Del Río 20.071) for approximately $4 per person.

San Alonso’s La Bella Durmiente offers cabins and has a restaurant open Tuesday - Sunday (Los Maitenes 107, Tel: 56-2-8611525, URL:

Donde Tío Pepe in El Manzano offers traditional Pastel de Choclo baked in clay dishes and is served all year around (Camino al Volcán 12.305, Tel: 56-2-8711129, URL:



Getting to and away

White and blue Cajón del Maipo buses depart four times daily from a little terminal near the metro outside Parque O’Higgins in Santiago. Buses go as far as El Volcán. Tursmontaña services Baños Morales from Plaza Italia, but call ahead to reserve a seat (Tel: 56-2-8500555). Departures are for the early-morning hours. Or rent a car and make the journey with only a couple of friends, but be warned weekend traffic is awful. It is best to leave around 8 a.m. and return before 3 p.m. or wait until nightfall.

Other neighborhoods in Santiago: Barrio Brazil, Las Condes, Providencia, Around Santiago, Barrio Ñuñoa, Bellavista, Barrio Lastarria and Center.

By Chris Hughes
Traveling South America to give Viva readers the most up-to-date information...
27 Apr 2009

Things to do in Cajón del Maipo


Pirque offers the small-town charm impossible to find in nearby bustling Santiago. The village is located on the outskirts of the Cajón. Most famously, the town is home to Viña Concha y Toro, ...
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Reserva Nacional Río Clarillo

Continue 23km southeast from Pirque to find the 13,000-hectare Reserva Nacional Río Clarillo. This tributary canyon of the Cajón boasts a beautiful river, forest and wildlife - including the ...
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San Alfonso

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Baños Colina

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Monumento Natural El Morado

Located approximately 90km from Santiago, Monumento Natural El Morado ($3, closed May - September) is a scenic park with views of the San Francisco glacier and Cerro El Morado. The park is only ...
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Las Vizcachas

There is a shrine to the folk saint Difunta Correa located past the Carabineros police station at Las Vizcachas. Also, as a throwback to 1960s United States pop culture, there is also a drive-in ...
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La Obra

La Obra used to be a stop on the military railroad that once climbed from Puente Alto to El Volcán. Located approximately 800 meters from Las Vizcachas, its Estación La Obra is now a national ...
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El Manzano

El Manzano is a scenic area with a variety of streams where outdoorsmen can cast a line to do a little fishing. There are also some decent trails for hiking and horseback riding, as well as several ...
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Several kilometers north of San José is the town of Guayacán - named after a tree with distinctive streaks in its bark. There are picnic tables, restaurants and cafés in this ...
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El Melocotón

Located approximately 5km south of San José is El Melocotón. It is known throughout the country as the site of Pinochet’s riverfront home - not the best place to kayak or raft past at the ...
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