Cajón del Maipo

Rich greenery lines the steep, rocky walls of this stunning gorge of the Río Maipo. Starting only 15 miles (25km) southeast of Santiago, it's popular on weekends with Santiaguinos, who come here to camp, hike, climb, cycle, raft and ski. Increasingly trendy restaurants, new microbreweries and a big winery mean that overindulgence is also on the menu.

November to March is peak rafting season as glacier meltwater brings Class III or IV rapids to the Río Maipo; ski bums and bunnies flock here June to September; and hiking, horseback riding and lunching are popular year-round.

Plans for a hydroelectric station here could have serious consequences for the region's ecosystem. So take advantage of this pristine natural playground; it's an easy getaway from the capital city by car or public transportation.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Cajón del Maipo.