I went to El Morado Natural Monument with a small group of people from all over the world. Arrangements were made all through email; owner Pedro Gonazles was very responsive and offered information about schedule, payment, and necessary gear.
Pedro and his assistant Leo are most excellent guides: funny, helpful, informative, and all around just good guys to hang out with. They were punctual in picking me up at my hotel early in the morning. We made the rounds of picking other people up and headed out of Santiago towards the Maipo valley. Pedro can converse well in a number of languages, although he modestly denies how well he does. The trip includes meals, which were simple but nicely prepared and tasty. We made a stop for breakfast at the ghostown of El Volcan - Pedro stated that there are more stray dogs than people. There are no bathrooms in El Volcan. Here I enjoyed the best coffee I had in Chile, probably thanks to Pedro's Colombian wife. After that we went straight to El Morado (bathrooms are available at the ranger station). All along the hike Pedro explained the features of the terrain and snapped countless pictures that he later let us access via Dropbox. The hike was moderately difficult and enjoyable; there was quite a bit of snow still along the trail and we could not make it closer to the San Francisco glaciar. Nonetheless, the views were breathtaking; we even saw two condors fly by, one a mere 50 metres away. Condor sightings are a rare occurrence. After lunch, a few of us, more experienced hikers, decided to hike further closer to a frozen lake, which was the furthest we could safely go with the gear that we had. Pedro took the remainder of the group back to the trailhead and Leo came later to make sure our splinter group would have a safe return. As we got ready to drive back, we enjoyed splendid views of the San Jose volcano. At the end of the trip we stopped in one of the towns for empanadas and beers to end the day in good form.
This was one of the best day hikes I've ever had. This stunning place is being threatened by misguided plans to build reservoirs to dam the Maipo river, which is already affected by mining operations quite visible during the drive. There is opposition to these projects that will not benefit the locals but instead affect their livelihood. Please keep this information in mind and give back to this unique place and the gracious people that live in it by supporting their efforts to keep the Maipo wild.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.