Cajon del Maipo in Chile: Tours and Activities


Cajon del Maipo in Chile, sits just outside of Santiago, the country’s striking capital. It has long been a popular haunt for city-dwellers in need of a breath of fresh air and a ramble through the great outdoors – and it’s not hard to see why this place is so popular. Snow-capped peaks that run down into rugged cliffs form the dramatic backdrop of Cajon del Maipo, with a glimmering aquamarine lake in the middle as the pièce de resistance.

4 Main Attractions in Cajon Del Maipo

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure and a lot of natural beauty on your trip to Chile, without traveling too far from the capital, Cajon del Maipo is the complete package. Booking yourself on to a Cajon del Maipo tour is the easiest way to make the most of this destination but there are also plenty of opportunities for solo exploration. Read on for some inspiration on what to do during your time in Cajon del Maipo. 

1. Embalse el Yeso

Cajon del Maipo's biggest attraction is the Embalse el Yeso Reservoir
Embalse el Yeso's reservoir at the foot of the Andes

If you want jaw-dropping natural splendor but you don’t have time to go all the way down South to Patagonia for a trek then Embalse el Yeso is the place to be. Here, you will find a reservoir in the Andes that was built in the mid-1960s and is responsible for a lot of Santiago’s drinking water. The route circles this stunning turquoise body of water and is a pretty easy hike despite being at 2500 metres above sea level.

The scenery here changes drastically throughout the year. If you are heading to Embalse el Yeso in summer than you should expect blazing sunshine and lush green mountains. If you decide to go in winter then you will be confronted with snow and a noticeable chill in the air. Regardless, there is never a bad time to go. For a hassle-free trip, consider a tour to Embalse el Yeso from Santiago

  • Starting Point: Baños Morales
  • Distance from San Jose de Maipo (the main locality): 1:20 hours by car. 

 2. El Morado Glacier

People who want to see some great glaciers but are short on time to visit the Chilean Patagonia, invariably choose to do the El Morado Glacier hike in Cajon del Maipo. The trail takes you through the El Morado Natural Monument National Park and leads you to beautiful glaciers and ponds. 

This hike is difficult due to altitude increase of 600 meters, but it is well worth it for the views it affords. The vistas of the valley and the surrounding mountains within the Cordillera range are truly second to none so make sure you have a fully charged camera with you to capture the moment. One can also extend the day hike to treks or mountaineering opportunities, as the park houses some fabulous peaks too.

  • Starting Point: Baños Morales
  • Distance from San Jose de Maipo: 1:20 hours by car

3. San Jose Volcano

While there are some hiking options within Cajon del Maipo that really push you to your limits, there are others that are suitable for everyone and are far more leisurely. The hike to the viewpoint of the San Jose Volcano is one of these more relaxing climbs. It is recommended for everyone – including children – and doesn’t take too long to complete. 

The entire hike is about 6km up and down with an elevation of about 200m. From the view point you will have unparalleled views of the San Jose volcano and the chance to breathe in a healthy dose of fresh mountain air to combat the smog of Santiago that you just left behind. Please note that this hike is only possible from October to May. 

  • Starting Point: Banos Colina
  • Distance from San Jose de Maipo: 1:20 hours by car

Take a look at our list of popular volcanoes in Chile if climbing one interests you.

4. Hot Springs

After a long day of hiking through the countryside there is nothing better than soaking your aching muscles in a natural hot spring. In fact, it’s pretty great even if you haven’t been hiking through the wilderness. From any of these pools you will be able to gawp at the snow and ice that surround you. Some of the hot springs can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius.

There are lots of different thermal baths to choose from so find out which one coincides best with your other plans. For example, if you are heading to the San Jose Volcano then the easiest hot springs to get to afterwards are the Baños Colina.

  • Distance from San Jose de Maipo: 1:30 hours (for Banos Colina)

Best Time to Visit

Cajon del Maipo, Chile, is what you could call a year-round destination but different seasons bring different things to the table.

  • From May until September the weather will be cool and dry with the possibility of snow. Coming during this time means less sweat but more layers.
  • From October through April is summer and during this time you can expect glorious sunshine and a much greener landscape.

Cajon del Maipo’s proximity to Santiago means that you can easily visit just for the day, but if you really want to make the most of your trip then you should consider spending anywhere from 3 days to a week here. There are plenty of accommodation options available and activities to keep you occupied. Read our guide for more ideas on how long to stay in Chile.

How to Get There

Cajon del Maipo Getting There
Cajon del Maipo is only a short distance from Santiago

Getting to Cajon del Maipo from Santiago is both quick and easy, and can be done by public transport. From Bellavista la Florida metro station you can take Metro Bus 72 all the way to Cajon del Maipo. This will cost you between USD 1 to 3. If you go by car then it is advisable to rent a 4x4 as the road can be a bit bumpy at times. 

With Patagonia just a few hours South of Santiago, Cajon del Maipo in Chile often gets overlooked by tourists in Chile. But, this is a blessing in disguise for those who do decide to go there as it means fewer people and more space to explore without interruption. 

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