Horse Trekking in Cajón del Maipo, Chile

Only an hour east of Santiago, the capital of Chile, Cajón del Maipo (Maipo Canyon) cuts through the Andes foothills and into the mountains proper. Offering spectacular scenery and loads of activities, from camping and hiking to white water rafting, Cajón del Maipo is popular with visitors and locals alike.

The head of Cajón del Maipo, with El Volcán (the Volcano) in the distance

The head of Cajón del Maipo, with El Volcán (the Volcano) in the distance

Antonio, our Santiago-based guide from AFIServices, took us to Cascada de las Ánimas Ecotour Resort and Nature Sanctuary in Cajón del Maipo to go horse trekking.

“So how much horse riding have you done?” asked Antonio, as we mounted our horses.

“Well, Sue used to ride a lot,” replied Rich, “But this is my first time on a horse.”

“Really?” questioned Antonio, sounding surprised.

“Really,” Rich confirmed. “I’ve been on a mule in Hawaii, but never on an actual horse before.”

“Oh, I thought you were an expert,” Antonio said.

We’d expected a gentle ride along the valley floor, but we were about to discover we’d signed up for something a little more adventurous!

We're heading up to the plateau on the left of this photo

We’re heading up to the plateau on the left of this photo

The Cascada de las Ánimas Sanctuary is named after a waterfall within the private park. We did actually get to see the waterfall from one of the many switchbacks we climbed, but at the time we were too preoccupied with staying on the back of our horses (at least, Rich was)!

Cascada de las Ánimas (photo from Wikipedia)

Cascada de las Ánimas (photo from Wikipedia)

Lead by a local guide from the sanctuary (I’m ashamed to say we can’t remember his name), we rapidly zigzagged from a starting elevation of about 3600 feet up to flatter ground at around 4200 feet. After this we continued to climb, but at a much gentler rate.

Up on the plateau - Rich doesn't seem to be in complete control of his mount

Up on the plateau – Rich doesn’t seem to be in complete control of his mount

Even from here, there's a lot more up (and we're still in the Andes foothills, don't forget)

Even from here, there’s a lot more up (and we’re still in the Andes foothills, don’t forget)

My view for most of the afternoon

My view for most of the afternoon

It's really arid up here...

It’s really arid up here…

...Which explains the need for these irrigation tanks...

…Which explains the need for these irrigation tanks…

... But there's still quite a lot of greenery

… But there’s still quite a lot of greenery

Kiln? Jawa hut?

Kiln? Jawa hut?

We finally topped out at just over 4800 feet, with an amazing view down into the Estero Manzanito ravine.

Our horses taking a well-earned rest

Our horses taking a well-earned rest

Panorama of the Estero Manzanito ravine

Panorama of the Estero Manzanito ravine

Before heading down, our local guide (via Antonio’s translation) asked whether we wanted to go back the way we’d come, or go the normal way down, which was a bit steeper.

Off we go again

Off we go again

We thought, what the heck, let’s go for it! How much worse could it be, right?

Now we just need to get back to the bottom of Cajón del Maipo

Now we just need to get back to the bottom of Cajón del Maipo

Wrong!

Our guide leads the way

Our guide leads the way

The trail down was definitely steeper than the way up. But that wasn’t the real issue.

A wide part of the trail down

A wide part of the trail down

The real issue was that the trail was only a couple of feet wide and made of loose rocks. So the horses were often sliding along on their haunches. That might not have been so bad, but on our downslope side, the mountain dropped away alarmingly.

Sue doing a handbrake turn!

Sue doing a handbrake turn!

And then Rich’s horse decided to leave the path completely!

Easy there, Antonio!

Easy there, Antonio!

Don’t get me wrong, the trek was a huge amount of fun. I’d definitely do it again. But it really got the adrenaline pumping.

Still got a way to go to reach the Maipo River

Still got a way to go to reach the Maipo River

And I was soooo glad to be riding with Sue and not Rich!

Back down in the valley bottom

Back down in the valley bottom

This post was inspired by the photo themes of  Outdoor Seating (specifically ‘saddles’ for the purpose of this post) from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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6 Responses to Horse Trekking in Cajón del Maipo, Chile

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    Another great entry for one of my challenges. 😀

  2. iballrtw says:

    Outdoor seating, for sure!

  3. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Outdoor-Seating – WoollyMuses

  4. Pingback: Sailing in Magellan’s Wake in Patagonia | Jaspa's Journal

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