Hiking the San Francisco Glacier at the El Morado Natural Monument in Chile

Greetings from Chile!

Yesterday we went on a 12 mile hike up the side of a mountain to check out the San Francisco glacier in a part of the Andes mountain range and I had such an amazing time, I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to the experience.

I plan to do more of a recap of our entire trip once we get back, but today i just had to share the breathtaking views from our hike!
valleybanos morales

Since this is our second visit to Chile {check out details from our first visit here} I was pretty pumped when plans were made to do something different & check out a new area. I wanted to spend more time in and around the Andes mountains during our last trip so I was excited when I found out our group wanted to head back there for more fun this time around.

el morado

We headed to El Morado Natural Monument which is a Chilean Natural Monument located in the Cajón del Maipo, Santiago Metropolitan Region. It was about 2.5 – 3 hours outside of Santiago, so it was a bit of a hike but definitely worth the drive if you are in the mood for a good hike and some awesome views.

peace flags river

We left a hazy, cloudy day in the city and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to our destination and clear blue skies greeted us.


When I first signed up for this hike, I was told it was in the “moderate range for people in good shape.” I knew we would be hiking about 12 miles to a glacier and the first part of the hike was supposed to be the hardest – didn’t scare me at all & I figured it was nothing I couldn’t handle!


Here’s our whole group before the start! Ready to go!

group shot

The guide told us that the first 40 minutes would be the most strenuous but then the trail would even out and we should all meet at the Lagoon for lunch. We would know it when we saw it.

up upup

I should have known it was going to be a long day when the beginning of the trail started going straight up the mountain.

all the up

I feel like these pictures will never do the scenery around us {or the fact that this mountain was way steeper than it looked}  justice. Because it was crazy beautiful and an insane workout at the same time.

oh nolight big

Our group quickly got separated into the super fast climbers – the middle of the road hikers {us} and those that wanted to take their time. We kept good pace but made sure to stop and enjoy the scenery for some fun photos, and to catch our breath!


Since we were told that the first 40 minutes were going to be the worst, each hill we came to we thought {and hoped!} would be the end, but sadly for us the trail never really evened out and we were pretty much hiking vertical the entire time.

looking down

My legs may have been killing me, but it’s always a good idea for a jumping photo!


Eventually, what seemed and felt like forever we made it to the Lagoon. In my head I sort of hoped it was a shaded area we could relax with fresh water from the glacier we could put our toes in. Sadly, it was more of s pond with standing water in the middle of the valley. Still very beautiful and a nice spot to have lunch, but different that I had in my head.


We also arrived here after 2.5 hours of hiking up the mountain so everyone was pretty pumped to stop & have something to eat – and sit down for a while.

lagoooonrock sitting

For lunch we had the most amazing sandwich in all the land of food – our tour included lunch and snacks, which were provided to us on the bus and we could eat anytime. We enjoyed a bagel sandwich with spinach, tomato, chicken, carrots, mushrooms, honey mustard and what appeared to be some light cream cheese on the bottom. Sounds a little nuts but it was amazing. Also, by this point I was starving. bagelbreak

After relaxing and digesting for about 45 minutes we headed another 2 miles towards the glacier.


When we weren’t hiking up hill we were hiking through rock graveyards.


And then it was back up the mountain.


After another 45 minutes or so we eventually made it to our final destination – the San Francisco glacier.


Glacier jump shot, anyone?

glacier jump

I had never seen a glacier myself before so I was pretty excited. Like everything else in this post, the pictures do not do this thing justice. It was massive and it was very much moving. We saw massive boulders coming crashing down into the water – ice was falling down around it constantly. Pretty amazing to see but a little scary so we didn’t get too close.

glacier selfie1

I did manage to get to hold a piece of the glacier that had failed off – obviously it was freezing but pretty amazing to have in my hands.


We hung out at here for a while and then headed back down the mountain. Going up was really hard but coming down such steep terrain was even harder at times because we were climbing on rock 90% of the time and it was sometimes slippery and not stable footing.


But luckily for us, the sun & the clouds cooperated and going down was just as beautiful as going up.


We even got to take a sip of fresh water from the glacier.

running water

During our descent some horses that were grazing on the side of the mountain were being herded down the mountain just as we were coming down the path. We literally almost got run over and had to run up the side of the mountain to avoid the stampede. Cool to see the horses up close but pretty scary in the moment when you see these big horses coming at you.


We hiked for 6+ hours and it was such an incredible workout, my body is still sore. I’m so glad I did it because it was beautiful views and we got to see and experience so much, but it was hard! 12 miles up a mountain is no joke! But this hike totally got me thinking about doing more hiking once the Spring comes around!

peace flags1


What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Please share!


Off to enjoy more of our time here in Chile! Stay tuned for more updates from our trip!

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  • Reply Patty O February 26, 2015 at 10:34 am

    What an amazing experience – takes me back to our hike up the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu! So glad you were able to experience it!

  • Reply Kelly March 13, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    What tour company did you use?

    • Reply Leslie April 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Ando Andes I believe! Let me know if you have any questions!

  • Reply Jen April 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Curious what company you used for the tour as well and also, is there another hike you would recommend that isn’t a 3hr ride from Santiago? Thank you!

    • Reply Leslie April 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Ando Andes I believe! Let me know if you have any questions!

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