You can enjoy nature in Chile without ever leaving the capital city, where a myriad of alternatives await you. Whether you’re hungry for adventure, looking to spend some quality family time, or just want to get some well-deserved R&R, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to ecotourism in Santiago.
In fact, there’s something for everyone, from horseback riding to rafting. It’s just a question of deciding what you want to do.
If you don’t feel like leaving Santiago, you might consider Parque Mahuida, located in the foothills of the La Reina commune. Travel by car and the journey offers some great sightseeing opportunities, especially since La Reina is located at the upper edge of Santiago. As you start to climb, you’re treated to some fantastic views of the city.
Once you’ve arrived at Parque Mahuida you visit Granja Aventura, a petting zoo boasting farm animals such as horses, turkeys, and goats. You discover a lovely area where you walk among trees, country paths, tunnels, and bridges.
But that’s not your only option for ecotourism in Santiago. If you want to take your experience to new heights, make your way over to Rodelbahn, where you find a hanging steel structure from which you’re launched in a little four-wheeled cart at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour. It’s an exhilarating experience, for sure, and no matter what you do, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunblock. Among the many attractions at Parque Mahuida, a highlight is definitely the walking paths. There are many options from short distances (the basic) to trails taking you all the way to the peaks of the surrounding hills (for the seasoned adventurers). Back at the park they’ll explain the different features of each path, including elevation, distance, steepness, and difficulty level.
For a different angle on Chile’s ecotourism, you might consider going for a horseback ride at the Altos de Cantillana natural reserve. Located 45 minutes from Santiago on the 5 Sur highway, off the Champa-Aculeo exit, the natural reserve is a true oasis and a rare sight in the midst of a busy metropolitan area such as Santiago.
The experience gives you about eight hours of fresh air and the kind of memories that will stay with you for some time after. You’ll depart from the Los Hornos sector, from where you’ll head straight into a forest of native trees such as the lingue (an evergreen tree found in Chile and Argentina) and belloto (a leafy timber native to Chile).
Next, you climb the Las Cancha ravine, where you find areas to stop and eat lunch and refresh in the streams. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and cover up to protect yourself against sun exposure. It’s also a good idea to bring bug repellent to fend off any pesky insects.
During one of your rides, you also have the chance to visit the Aculeo lake, which is best enjoyed with your family or friends. For a more adrenaline-fueled experience, you might consider conquering the local river and going down the Maipo rapids on a raft, a fun activity suitable for all ages.
Another ecotourism alternative on the outskirts of Santiago is rafting on the Cajón of the Maipo. It’s fun for all the family, just remember to take your bathing suits and some comfortable clothes and they’ll provide you with everything else you need including life jackets, helmets, and safety instructions.
For outdoor enthusiasts and fans of ecotourism, the activities and locations in the surrounding area of Santiago simply can’t be missed, even if they only represent the tip of the iceberg of all the kinds of wonders that await you in the north and south of Chile.