More than 8900 kilometres of the South American continent is devoted to the incredible Andes, a towering string of mountainous plateaus that, at its tallest, stretches to a staggering height of 6959 metres. In Santiago, the Chilean capital wedged between the mountain range and the Pacific Ocean coast, the ever-present Andes form a dramatic backdrop to the city’s skyscrapers, promising a world of adventure. Luckily, traipsing to the top of a mountain peak isn’t the only way to get a taste of their majesty. Here are the best ways to experience the Andes from Santiago, for every kind of traveller. 

From the plate of a chef: Boragó, Santiago

Boragó, Santiago

For meticulous chef Rodolfo Guzmán, there is no better way to experience the flavour of Chile than by serving it to guests at Boragó, his fine diner in the east Santiago suburb of Vitacura. Sitting at the feet of Cerro Manquehue, the tallest peak in the city, both the restaurant’s views and menus are influenced by the landscape of the Andes, with dishes comprised of ingredients including native seaweed or mountain mushrooms, hand-picked or foraged by his 200-strong network of local producers and farmers.

From a mountain town: San José de Maipo

San José de Maipo, Chile

A tangle of just three main streets, San José de Maipo, a tiny town an hour’s drive from Santiago, is often used as a base for further adventuring in the nearby canyon. From here, many horseriding, rafting, hiking and fishing expeditions in the Andes begin but, for the hammock dwellers of the group, there’s also a nearby collection of thermal springs for lolling about in – Baños Morales and Termas Valle de Colina are an hour further down the mountain road.

From a winery: Elqui Valley

Elqui Valley, Chile

Known for its wineries, otherworldly landscapes and unmatched dark sky reserves, Elqui Valley is a tranquil gem some six hours north of Santiago in the Andean foothills. Don’t think twice about the time spent to reach this ethereal spot on the edge of the Atacama Desert – one (or several) sips of the area’s delicious syrahs, sauvignon blancs and carménères, or a single glance at the crowded night sky, will make it worth the journey. 

From a ski resort: Portillo

Portillo, Chile

Visiting in winter? You’ll be pleased to know the skiing in Chile is some of the best in South America. If you’re partial to mixing your outdoor activities with downtime, make Portillo – two hours north of Santiago – your base. Set around the picturesque Lake of the Inca, this ski resort delivers on powder, apres-ski activities and, of course, views. The best place for the latter is the outdoor pool and jacuzzi deck, which sits on the lake’s edge and enjoys an incredible panorama of the permanent snow blanket.

From a lookout: El Morado Natural Monument lookout 

El Morado Natural Monument lookout, Chile

Billed as a natural wonder close to both Santiago and the sky, this stunning valley in Cajón del Maipo is a great place to survey the rugged Andes from a different perspective. Framed by jagged mountain peaks, the El Morado Natural Monument lookout is a glimpse into the untouched beauty of the wider region and can be reached by a five- to six-hour, easy-to-medium hike with elevations of up to 4320 metres. Tackle the trek over a day or camp overnight if you’re feeling adventurous. Note: the park is closed between May and September, when deep snow covers the area.


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SEE ALSO: Read Before You Leave – Santiago

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