El Cajon del Maipo, Santiago de Chile

       Our fabulous journey started at 9 AM with the meeting point at Ando Andes’ office which offer sustainable tour services. The Santiago’s sky was clouded and grey of the smog when we left the city. It’s on the way to El Cajon that the sun had started showing up. The view of the grandeur of the Andes with the wild horses and the flowered villages were splendid. We passed in front of the Rio del Maipo where during summer rafters come to practice their activities.

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     We drove around two hours before reaching the main point of the visit “ Embalse Del Yeso” a wonderful reservoir surrounded by the snow-covered mountain. We dropped the car and started walking around.

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   During the walk the guide explained us what were the effects of the glaciers over the mountains and the nature. Unfortunately, there are many mines which are still running and which destroy El cajon by wasting water and polluting the air with trucks.

 Armed with our camera we crossed paths a deserted-former military base from the Pinochet’s dictatorship and drunk the magic water from Cascada la vieja. Why magic? Who drinks this water will come back to drink it again on a future day. I’m looking forward going there again!

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     We continued our way to a terrifying deserted tunnel formerly used as a train to convey commodity and people. Horror movies-lovers we dare you to cross this dark and endless tunnel!

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    After this moving tunnel we came back to the car to lunch at the main village called San Jose del Maipo. We ate in a pleasant restaurant called Las ovejas negras “the black sheeps” before going back to Santiago.

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During the lunch we listened to a last story about el Cajon del Maipo:

   “When the Spanish came to overrun Chile, inhabitants from El cajon went to hide their gold and valuables through the mountains in order to protect them from the invaders. However, some of the inhabitants died before revealing where their fortune were hidden.  So we assume there is still gold somewhere between the rocks of the mountains.” Always wanted to be gold prospector? 😉

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TOP 10 Things you should visit in Santiago de Chile

  1. SAN CRISTOBAL HILL

    cerro san cristobal

To catch the best sweeping views over Santiago and the Andes you should go to Cerro San Cristobal. Reach the top with runners and bikers to admire the Virgin de la inmaculada Concepción, to drink a Motte Con huesillo and to taste an Empanada.

  1. SANTA LUCIA HILL & LA FERIA SANTA LUCIA

    santa lucia

Known as “the green lung of Santiago” Santa Lucia Hill offers one of the best view inside Santiago. Go for a stroll inside this park and reach the top in order to take some nice panoramas of Santiago. Then you can buy some traditional gifts at la Feria Santa Lucia. You might find funny souvenirs like a Indio(a) Picaro(a) or jewelry made of the famous blue metamorphic rock called Lapis-Lazuli.

  1. PLAZA DE ARMAS

    plaza de armas

The main square of Santiago is a vibrant place where lots of artists perform and street shows take place. It’s a perfect place for walking in the street a Sunday afternoon or to observe people. Unfortunately the square by itself is closed for renovation, then don’t be disappointed to not be able to visit the place.

  1. BARRIO LASTARRIA

lastarrias

Located in the center of the city, it regroups in a same place culture, bohemian style, white buildings, restaurants, terraces, designer shops… This neighborhood really worth it and deserves a walk.

  1. El MERCADO CENTRAL Y LA VEGA

la vega mercado central

Santiago is a city which doesn’t really break your habits; you will not be stunned in front of its contemporary buildings and its modern facilities. However, you just need to cross the Mapocho River to perceive what the Chilean culture is. The Central Market and The Vega are two indoor markets: one of seafood and the other one of fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect place to lunch, to amaze your taste buds with the Chile’s treasure and to slip between the locals.

  1. BARRIO BELLAVISTA
     

    bellavista

Barrio Bellavista is one of the most typical and picturesque neighborhood of Santiago, with a bohemian style and a particular architecture. It’s a perfect mix between gastronomy, art, and entertainment making Bellavista a really special neighborhood. One of the finest examples of cultural heritage is the Pablo Neruda’s house called La Chascona. After the sun went down this neighborhood turns in a place to party hard and to chill out till the sunrise.

  1. THE GENERAL CEMETERY

    cementerio

The General Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Latin America. Its 85 hectares became a magnificent grounds filled with ornate mausoleums. Notable interments like presidents, senators, musicians and scientists found their final resting there. The cemetery is surrounded by palm and leaf trees together with numerous sculptures (around 237). More than its vocation it serves as a true urban park decorated with thousands of flowers.

  1. EL PARQUE QUINTO NORMAL

parque quinta normal

Located close to the Matucana neighborhood, this park has been elected one of the 30 most splendid parks of the world. Bring your picnic (or some empanadas) and have a nap on this park can be a good idea to spend a nice afternoon. But more than a simple park, it regroups 5 museums which are all free the Sundays (/!\ but they are all closed on Monday). Outside of the park is located the Museum of the memory and the human rights. A place which tells the Pinochet’s dictatorship in order to never forget what happened not so long ago.

  1. CAJON DEL MAIPO

    cajon del maipo

Cajon del Maipo is a canyon in the Andean Southeastern portion of Santiago. You will enjoy riding, hiking, taking a bath in the hot springs and taking part to all the others activities. AndoAndes ANDOANDES is a Green Company tour; they take pride Recycling, Reuseing, Composting all of our tours. Their company is dedicated to showing the best places, magnificent and natural beauty in the Andes Mountains that can be found within just a few hours of Santiago like Glaciers, waterfalls, ancient forests, lagoons, volcanoes in Maipo Valley and national parks.

     10. EL PERSA BIO BIO

persa bio bio

El Persa Bio Bio is a giant second hand market located in the Franklin neighborhood. You can spend hours bargain-hunting for a really old writing machine or for a Chilean style backpack. They get everything you need and much more!

A great tip for travelers with small budgets

What is the concept of Freetournetwork? A website  which regroups free local tours all around the world. A concept designed by Robert Rosenthall, an experienced traveler.

freetournetwork

Tourist industry has been growing from the last years and mass tourism emerged with it. Then, nowadays flight tickets are cheaper compared to 10 years ago, what offers us the possibility to do what we like the most: Travelling (we are lucky =).There are different types of tourists according to their budgets, but sometimes we all have the same bad feeling to be only a cash cow, to be paying more that it should be, and to stuff companies’ pockets. Beauties of the world should be approachable for everybody. Then, some people have started travelling on a different way and the backpacking phenomena appeared “I’m a backpacker” or “I backpacked in South America”.  That’s why I thought you will be many to use his precious tips.

I hope you will follow the concept: not only to travel for free but to meet local people and to share experiences with them.  Freetournetwork is 172 tours, 139 cities, 56 countries on 6 continents … I think you have enough to be going on with!

http://www.ajihostel.cl