I have been working and living in Santiago for nearly 3 weeks now and have found it quite a peaceful place to be. Unfortunately I have been working late into the evening during the week so haven’t actually gotten to explore the city that much. Last weekend we had a lovely sunny Saturday, perfect for spending the day outside exploring the parks that are situated on San Cristobel Hill.
Cerro San Cristóbal is a hill in central Santiago, Chile from where you can see most of the city on a clear day. Unfortunately it’s autumn now so there is a thick layer of smog that covers the city at the moment. The fog does disappear when it rains or when the spring winds start blowing.
I went on this park exploration with my would-be new flat mate, Particia and one of her friends. They had planned to visit some of they parks situated bon San Cristobel and invited me with. It’s always more fun exploring a place with someone who knows the area so I was definitely up for the hike.
As we entered the hill area we were surrounded by what felt like the whole of Santiago on bicycles or on foot. Everybody was out on this sunshine day. People were walking, out running or on their bicycles making their way to the top of the hill. At the foot of the hill there were even a huge group of people doing some kind of aerobics!
As we started our hike up the hill we walked through the forest a bit before actually getting onto the paved path that wind all the way to the top.
The first garden or park we went into was a Japanese-style garden, Jardín Japonés.
This park is very peaceful with its pond, watermill and well tended moss covered garden. Quite in contrast with the garden was the view of all the modern buildings of Santiago in the background. I was quite impressed at the good view I had from here of the tallest building in South-America! The Gran Torre Santiago (Spanish for “Grand Santiago Tower”), is 300 meters tall and does stand out among all the other modern buildings. This tower is part of the Costanera Center complex, which will include a shopping mall, two hotels and two additional office towers.
Walking through the small Japanese park felt like you were very far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The only thing that reminded me that I was actually still in the heart of the city was these glimpses of the modern buildings through the trees of this peaceful park.
Continuing our way up the winding path we reached Mapulemu botanical garden. This garden was created in 1983 and displays over 80 Chilean flora from all regions of the country. The plants are grouped according to regions of the country and there are explanations of what the plans are and what the flowers and seeds look like. I liked getting to know a bit more about the plants of Chile!
This park also has a lovely medicinal plant garden that is very well-labeled, although here you will need a Spanish dictionary to make out what they are.
We followed the gravel paths that wind peacefully around the grounds, following the numbered signs that make sure you get a complete tour of this garden. Following the paths back down the hill we came upon a pond with wild ducks. Luckily Patricia had a sandwich in her bag so we could actually feed the ducks!! Some of the ducks here did look a bit strange…..
What a fabulous place to spend such a lovely sunny day!