In the middle of Santiago’s gloomy winter rain season, when you’re handed a warm sunny weekend, you take advantage!
And, that’s just what happened this past Saturday! I blissfully awoke to bright rays of sunshine wriggling their way through my curtains and warming my vitamin D-deprived skin. It was the perfect day to get out and soak up some sun in the mountains!
For the past few weeks my friend Mandy and I have been trying to get into adequate physical (and mental) shape for our upcoming 5-day trek to Machu Picchu. I’ve never even done an overnight trek before, so I’ve been trying to fit in all of the practice that I can. Thankfully, there are so many different options for day hikes around Santiago that we’ve had no shortage of treks to choose from. Cerro Pochoco came highly recommended by friends who had done it a few weeks before, so we were really excited to give it a go!
Cerro Pochoco is one of the closer and easier hills to get to by public transportation from Downtown Santiago, so we were even able to sleep in a bit! We woke up, leisurely prepared some lunches, threw on our daypacks and head out around 10:30AM.
After about an hour and a half on public transportation, we finally arrived to the parking lot at the beginning of the trek. We mentally prepared ourselves and off we went.
The assent to the top of the hill was a steep climb from the very start and only continued to increase in incline, but we took our time with the hill as we couldn’t help but continuously turn around and gawk at our surroundings. We were extremely lucky to get a completely clear day, not a cloud in sight and the further we rose, the crazier the view became. We were on top of the world looking down at all of Santiago below us.
Finally after 2 hours of trekking, climbing and forging our own path, we arrived at the summit, where there was plenty of space to sit, relax, take in the view and dig into lunch!
It’s a tough, steep climb to the top of the “cerro,” but an incredibly rewarding experience. When you finally arrive to the summit, leg muscles all noodley with exhaustion, you are awarded the most spectacular panoramic views of Santiago, the best I’ve seen this far!
Pochoco Practical Information
How to get to Cerro Pochoco
All said and done, from downtown Santiago (I live in Plaza Italia) to the entrance of the hike, by public transportation, should take a little under an hour and a half.
Arriving to the Cerro Pochoco hike by use of public transport requires 3 forms of transportation, Metro, Micro and Colectivo or Taxi. Although this may seem like a pain, it really wasn’t bad compared to some others treks I’ve done.
Price of Transportation: ~3.000 CLP pp round trip
Directions: Take Metro Line 1-Red to Manquehue in Las Condes. From there find the bus stop and take Micro C01 or C01c until Plaza San Enrique. In Plaza San Enrique you will find taxis and colectivos who can bring you up the hill to the start of the hike. Make sure to get their cell number so you can call them to pick you back up on your way down.
(If they don’t answer your call, you can also call an Uber from the parking lot of the trek, which is what we ended up having to do and was actually cheaper!)
*You can also rent a car or take a taxi all the way from the center, but this is not necessary and these options are far pricier.
Price to enter
Unlike many hikes around the Santiago Metropolitan Region, this one doesn’t require permission to enter and is free of charge!! I know.. that’s what we all like to hear!
When to go to Cerro Pochoco
This trek can be done year-round, but I suggest avoiding it during the dry summer months of January-March. During this time the hill is in direct sun causing the ground to become dry, dusty and very slippery.
We did the hike on a sunny day after a rainy week and it was absolutely beautiful! The rain had washed away most of the usual smog and there was a fresh dusting of snow on the surrounding mountaintops!
Duration of Hike
- ~ 1 ½ hours to ascend from parking lot to summit
- ~ 45 minutes to descend
*Note: If this is your first time to Cerro Pochoco, I would allot more time than above. We were in no rush, pausing often, taking in the views, snapping photos and enjoying our surroundings! We also stopped to eat lunch for quite a while taking in the panoramic view at the summit. All in all I’d say it took us about 4 hours.
Of the hikes I’ve done around Santiago, this was definitely one of the more challenging. The trek was fairly steep and there was a good amount of climbing involved. The path was also not clearly marked and consisted of more a small network of interwoven trails. We mostly just followed the people up in front of us and continued our incline the best way we could find.
That being said, anyone in decent shape should be able to handle this trek, as although it is pretty steep, it is not very far, only about 4.2 KM, one way. It was definitely taxing, but completely doable, especially if you take your time!
Keep in mind that the way down, although quicker, was as complicated, if not more complicated than the way up. I really had a hard way on the way down as I was not wearing the appropriate shoes for this type of trek and kept slipping on the dry dust and rocks. Don’t worry! No injuries thankfully!
What to Bring
- Hiking Boots– I would definitely invest in a pair of hiking boots before attempting this hike. I wore my Nike trainers and as I mentioned above, I had a pretty hard time on the way down, slipping and sliding on loose materials.
- Plenty of water– There will be nowhere to fill a water bottle during this hike and as I’ve mentioned it is fairly challenging. Staying hydrated all the way is very important!
- Sunscreen– A good part of the trek is in direct sunset, with no access to shade.
- Food for the day– Once you continue on from Plaza San Enrique, there will be no markets to buy food or drinks. Bring enough food to last you through the day.
- Gloves with grips– This one is not necessary, but is a good idea. Some of the hike includes climbing and using your hands to lift/guide yourself.
- Backpack– During this trek you’ll want to remain handsfree for support and balance.
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What do you like to do on the weekends? Where is your favorite place to hike?
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