It’s September and almost Fiestas Patrias here in Chile. We may be missing out on the fondas, and big BBQs with friends, but we have some fabulous hikes in nature located within the city of Santiago!
(Information accurate for first week of September 2020.)
From my communa of Lo Barnechea, we can access Yerba Loca (current quarantine rules) Monday to Friday. You must register and pay online the day before and before noon. If your registration doesn’t go through, email outlife, (firstname.lastname@example.org) the company who manages the park, and they will confirm your name is on the list. We were turned away in August because our registration went through after 12 noon, and it’s an early morning to face such disappointment! Bring a printed copy of your form.
We left our houses at 7:30 a.m. and were parked outside the gates before 8:30. We were hand santized, they took our temperature and checked we were on the list. We parked at the parking lot and by 9 a.m. were hiking Sendero Mirador Glacier la Paloma. It does say on their facebook page that route is closed, but it is closed to overnight camping to get the actual glacier. If you just want a day hike, it’s fine.
Within an hour we were walking on snow. It was on an angle, hard packed and a bit slippy. But so nice to be on snow again! There are big blue poles marking the path but basically you walk above the river and keep it to your left.
We walked for 3.5 hours and then scrambled up the side to our right to have a view down into the valley and up to the glacier at left.
There isn’t any water en route (you can’t drink from the river as it’s too full of minerals) so bring enough water, food, sunscreen, hiking poles and good boots. It’s a slow incline all the way up to 2800m. We both had headaches on the way back, due to altitude.
We thought it would be faster coming back on the way down, but actually the snow was beginning to melt and we (okay, I!) kept falling into snow drifts up to my knees. It was starting to get slushy so our feet did get wet.
We were back by 3:50 p.m. to the car and we guess we hiked 16 km. There was some road traffic with returning skiers and cyclists on the road back, but not too bad. If you have a queasy stomach, Yerba Loca is located on curve 16 so I generally don’t eat breakfast beforehand as I can’t handle the hairpin turns.
You could also hike to La Parva which would be a nice long day hike. There are shorter hikes open as well. Camping is available in season with bathrooms, kitchen sinks, picnic tables and fire pits provided.