The best place to go hiking near Santiago and Valparaiso in Chile
With a couple of days to spare around Valparaiso before I headed back to the capital of Santiago, I looked up some things to do in the area.
With the beaches of Vina del Mar only 30 minutes away and the vineyards of the Casablanca Valley within an hour’s drive, there’s actually plenty to see and do around Valparaiso. Then there’s the hiking.
Parque Nacional la Campana is one of many national parks in Chile, and being half way between Santiago and Valparaiso it is one of the most accessible too. The major draw here is hiking to the top of Cerro la Campana, a 1,880 metre-high summit where you can see the Andes on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, but that’s a proper full-day hike.
If you’re thinking of hiking to the top of Cerro la Campana then you’ve really got to set off around 6 or 7am to ensure you’ve got enough time to complete it in a day, but it’s well worth it, and in summiting Cerro la Campana you’re actually walking in the footsteps of Charles Darwin who did the hike himself back in 1834!
As I was coming from Viña del Mar, unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to summit Cerro la Campana, but there are still some really great hiking trails within Parque Nacional la Campana.
I caught the metro from Viña del Mar Estacion Central (tickets cost $2,000) to Limache, the station at the end of the metro line. If you don’t fancy the metro then there are buses running regularly from Valparaiso and Viña del Mar to Limache, so it all depends on which mode of transport you prefer.
From Limache there are a number of buses running to either Olmué where you can catch another bus to Parque Nacional la Campana, or, if you’re lucky, there are direct buses to the park entrance but these are less regular.
The cost in to get Parque Nacional la Campana is $8,000 and that’s for the whole day. The people on the front desk are really helpful and full of information, and they pointed out a number of different trails I could do for the afternoon.
With Cerro la Campana out of the question, there were a couple of viewpoints that looked like they would be good hikes, so stocked up with snacks and water I headed off.
(Photo by Wanderlust Chloe)
The first hike was a loop which took you through the forests to one of the viewpoints, and here you could see the rise of the mountains on either side.
One of the girls on the front desk told me to keep an eye out for birds, and whilst walking along that loop I came across a couple of eagles up in the trees. It always pays to keep your eyes open here!
(Photo by Wanderlust Chloe)
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking to the mirador, the main viewpoint for short day trippers in the national park. Most of the hiking here is under shade, but walking to the mirador you’re skirting alongside the mountain in direct sunlight and it can get rather hot and sweaty, so make sure you bring sunblock and a hat!
However, once you final make it to the viewpoint it’s all worth it. Here you’re afforded astounding views of Cerro la Campana and the valley floor, and it really is worth visiting Parque Nacional la Campana for this view alone.
From the mirador, getting back to the front entrance of the park is super easy, and unless you’re climbing to the top of Cerro la Campana you don’t need to be an experienced hiker to be in the park.
After leaving the national park, it was pretty quick to get back to the metro station at Limache.
I have to admit, I was actually really surprised at how set up Parque Nacional la Campana all was. All along the trails were places to stop and rest, and there were a number of picnic areas too.
While walking around, I came across a few families hiking together, and it struck me that the national park was a great place to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the cities and to reconnect with nature, and being in such close proximity to Santiago and Valparaiso it seems like the perfect escape for the weekend.