Continuing with preparations for my 5 Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (which I’m finishing today BTW!!), a few weekends ago I tackled Santiago’s Cerro Manquehue.
Cerro Manquehue is the highest peak in the Santiago valley measuring in at 1638 meters above sea level!
But don’t let its height discourage you! The hike to the summit at Cerro Manquehue was very doable, short and fairly easy. Well, at least compared to Cerro Pochoco from the week before. The trek was pretty steep, and required a good deal of climbing, but anyone in decent physical shape should have no problem!
We were lucky to have yet another warm and sunny winter weekend, but unfortunately without any recent rainfall, the infamous Santiago smog was in full force. At the time, the city of Santiago was actually in a pre-emergency “grey state” of pollution warning, meaning to be careful doing any kind of outdoor sport activity due to air quality. Of course I found that out after we returned. Oops….
Still, even though the air wasn’t as crisp, and the views weren’t as clear, it was pretty incredible to see all of Santiago (or most of it anyway) from up above. The rain from a few weeks before had left the surrounding Andes mountains sprinkled with a thin layer of snow, the makings of a picturesque backdrop.
And as the day went on, the smog only got worse. Check out that thick layer … gross ..
Once we made it to the summit, there was a semi-level area with many rocks to choose from for a nice rest, to sit, eat and take in what we could see of the views. There was even a Chilean flag perfectly positioned for photo ops!
P.S. On a clear day, your view from Manquehue will look a little more like this:
Cerro Manquehue Practical Information
How to Get to Cerro Manquehue
From Downtown Santiago to the beginning of the hike should take less than an hour! Cerro Manquehue is one of the closest hikes within the Santiago Metropolitan area and you can easily get there by use of public transportation. Arriving by use of public transport requires 2 forms of transport, Metro and Colectivo/Uber.
Price of Transportation ~6.000 CLP pp round trip
Directions: Take Metro Line 1-Red to Escuela Militar in Las Condes. Take metro exit Apoquindo/subcentro and go up the stairs by Dunkin’ Donuts. Outside the metro you will find a “colectivo” stop. A colectivo will bring you up the hill to the beginning of the hike for around 2.000 CLP per person, but you will have to negotiate. On the way down we ended up calling an Uber, and it cost a little less than 9.000 CLP in total, so if you’re with a group the two options should end up costing about the same.
*There is also a bus option, but personally I wouldn’t suggest this as the bus will not bring you all the way up the hill to the start of the hike. You will have to either get a taxi/colectivo/Uber from Lo Curro or add about an hour of an uphill walk along the street before even starting your trek.
PRICE TO ENTER
Unlike many hikes around the Santiago Metropolitan Region, this one doesn’t require permission to enter and is free of charge!!
WHEN TO GO TO CERRO MANQUEHUE
Cerro Manquehue is a great hike to do year round, but it’s actually best to do after a bit of rain. Now I’m not talking about heavy flood causing downpours, but after a light sprinkle in Santiago, the air is a bit cleaner, the views will be way better, and you’ll be awarded a lovely backdrop of snow-capped mountains in the distance of the city once you make it to the summit. The ground on the hill will also be more compacted and less loose/gravely/dusty, decreasing the chance of sliding and minimizing chance of falls.
DURATION OF HIKE
- A little over an hour (at a good pace) to ascend from street to summit
- ~ 45-1 hour to descend
DIFFICULTY LEVEL & ROUTE INFO
Compared to Cerro Pochoco, I would say this hike is pretty similar in difficulty. It is challenging, but doable. The trek to the summit at Cerro Manquehue was shorter than Pochoco, but a bit also steeper. For this reason, I would even say it was a bit easier, as although the ascent was more abrupt, you’re finished faster and able to rest.
The beginning of the path starts out with a moderate slope and quickly begins to climb. After around 20 minutes, you will come to a clearing with a lookout point and a wooden sign. This sign will indicate the different directions for the paths to Cerro Manquehue and Cerro Maquehuito (the shorter/easier hike). Stay to the left to continue on towards the Manquehue summit.
The route: Like Pochoco, the path was not always clearly marked, but since we went on a weekend, there were plenty of other hikers leading the way. There are parts of the route which contain loose materials, require light climbing and use of hands, but overall the ascent was not too difficult. There are many rocks to help with traction and to use as stepping stones. Anyone in decent physical shape should be able to tackle this hill!
WHAT TO BRING
- Hiking Boots– I would definitely invest in a pair of hiking boots before attempting this hike as they will help support ankles and prevent slipping and sliding on loose materials. Trainers are not recommended.
- Plenty of water– There will be nowhere to fill a water bottle during this hike so make sure you bring sufficient amounts of water along. Staying hydrated all the way is very important, especially on hot days.
- 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 Escuela Militar, you will not have many opportunities to buy food. Bring enough 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 hands free for support and balance.
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Do you like to hike on the weekends? What do you think about the smog in Santiago?
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