El Morado Natural MonumentCLOSE TO SANTIAGO AND TO THE SKYFor all those who enjoy long walks, surrounded by a beautiful landscape, half anhour away from Santiago City, along Cajon del Maipo, you can find the entranceto a protected area, one of the most characteristic of the cordilleran geographyof the central area: the national monument El Morado.
It is very easy to get there. Along the road from San Jose de Maipo to Lo Valdes sector, you will get to a place where, due to the heavy rain, there are landslides of yellow mud. Past this place, there is a detour on the way leading to Villa Baños Morales, with thermal baths bearing the same name.
The entrance to the reserve is to the west of the Villa, crossing the bridge over the river Morales. A Conaf post is located a bit farther upwards, where the visitor pays for his entrance ticket and receives information about the park, or any special recommendation if necessary from Conaf officials.
Due to weather conditions, the park remains closed between the months of May and September. In this season, the amount of snow may reach up to 2.8 meters high, and the temperature may go several degrees below zero.
Nevertheless, between the months of December to March, the thermal variation during the day varies from 10º to 25º Celsius (decreasing during the night), without significant rain, being very nice to visit for the day or for camping.
The first part of the path leads us from the post to the area of Aguas Panimavidas, and may be covered in about an hour. It is 2.8 kilometers of a gentle, but continuous slope. In this place there is a curious event: there are permanent springs of mineral water (iron carbonated), born from the flows of waters through cracks of calcite and gypsum.
El Morado Lagoon
From this place on there is no slope, so it is very easy to go through the last five kilometers to get to Lagoon El Morado. The majesty and solemnity of the landscape are around you during all the way: the peaks surround river Morales, and at the end, there is the unmistakable image of the peak El Morado, 5,000 meters high above sea level.
Peak San Francisco, whose glacier can be seen from the lagoon, stands out to the Northeast. This one, which is very small, is covered with ice between June and October, at about 2,400 meters above sea level. Camping is generally practiced next to this lagoon, because it is protected from strong winds and occasional landslides; besides, the base of the glacier is about a kilometer away from it. It is important to point out that the visible glacier is not El Morado glacier, reachable from Baños Morales through an alternative route.
If it is true that one of the attractions of the park is a good walk, there are people who think this idea is somewhat exhausting. For them, there are two alternatives: visiting Baños Morales or hiring a horse. Some villagers offer their horses for rent in the parking area of Villa Baños Morales.
For those who want to stay overnight in the zone, the alternatives are camping in the designated areas of the park or staying in Baños Morales.
The national monument El Morado is one of the ideal places to practice mountaineering. From this place, it is possible to climb the following peaks: Rubilias, Chacayes, Unión, Mirador del Morado, San Francisco, through the glacier (technical climbing on ice), and 'El Morado' through the south wall (high difficulty mixed climbing).
It is also frequent to watch climbers practicing ice climbing among the crevice of the glacier San Francisco. If you want to find adventure on the high tops, but you don't have the necessary training and equipment, look for training or a qualified guide.
... El Morado is a protected wild area that must be respected. Some of the species dwelling in the park are endangered (llaretilla and terebinth shrub of the cordillera). It is also one of the few places where the silk mouse of Noah and the juarjual duck live, whose population has increased due to the protection they have been granted.
When you visit the park, consider these recommendations:
* Don't pick up flowers or plants, because these are an essential part of the ecological system.
* Don't disturb the local fauna.
* Don't litter. If you brought garbage, take it back with you.
* If possible, walk along the paths to prevent damage to the vegetation.
* If you camp, don't leave traces of your stay, in this way some other people will be able to enjoy a non-altered natural landscape.
* Use sun block lotion or ointment to protect your skin
* Take a first aid kit with you.
* Wear warm clothing, and snow clothing in winter.