Parque Morado hides in plain sight just an hour and a half southeast of Santiago. Nestled in the Andes Mountain range, it has none of the harried business people scurrying to and from appointments, crowded cafés, or “coffee shops” which are actually gentlemen’s clubs*. Those are replaced with 15,000+ foot mountains, technicolor hills, and glaciers. The surreal landscape is so jarring because of its proximity to such a huge city and made even stranger by the fact that apparently very few Santiaguinos even know the park exists. Our guide for this excursion, Pedro, told us that he was inspired to start his tour company because so few people explored the beautiful parks just outside the city and he wanted to give domestic and foreign tourists the opportunity to do so.
*We learned about this odd fact of Santiago life from our walking tour guide. Apparently, there are some coffee shops where scantily clad women just serve coffee (think Hooters as a cafe) and others which are apparently just strip clubs that are open during the day and serve coffee. Very different!
Just the Four of Us, We Can Hike it if We Try
Pedro wasn’t kidding about these parks being nearly empty. During our 6 hours of hiking, we only saw about 10-12 people, almost all of which were foreigners. Chileans, you’re missing out!
Our group for this tour was larger than usual because we have a special guest with us for a couple of weeks: Erin, one of Anna’s closest friends from their days at Nerinx Hall in St. Louis. Erin’s the one on the left:
The ultimate goal of the hike was the San Francisco Glacier, which flows down from the mountain to the valley where it was so close we could almost touch it. Although we couldn’t actually touch the glacier, we got to reap the best possible consolation prize: glacier water!
San Francisco Glacier melting behind us:
Erin’s first taste of delicious glacier water:
Pedro and the Amazing Technicolor Mountain
Although the glacier was cool (intended), the real show stopper were the surrounding mountains. The park is named after Cerro Morado, which means Purple Hill in Spanish. That name is only half accurate to us, though. This thing sure looked like a mountain. However, it was certainly purple:
But it was also green, yellow, rusty-orange, blue, black, gray, and many other colors.
Erin and Mike with Pedro and the colorful mountains:
Additional colorful mountains surrounding us:
That this beautiful park is such a secret seems impossible to us, but apparently it’s true. We’re just thankful that we had the opportunity to see it. Salud, Parque Morado!