Laguna El Morado, not Morado national park

Lunch by the frozen lake at the foot of the hanging glacier El Morado (not the Morado National park)

The Morado National Park of Chile, accessed from Bano Morales, is famous for its red river and its glacier. Many tourists visit it, but we take a different approach, where you will see almost nobody except possibly a mountaineer. This approach is from the other side of the mountain which is not inside the National Park. The mountain El Morado has a glacier on either side and the one actually called El Morado glacier is not inside the National Park. That one is San Francisco glacier. The hanging glacier El Morado is equally spectacular and is where the red river begins its flow towards Bano Morales. Sadly, horses are not allowed inside the National Park, but you can access the other side on foot. It is not a particularly long walk – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way. The walk is very beautiful but there are more other tourists than you would meet when going to El Morado glacier on horseback. The ride is straightforward but fairly long. It is not suitable for small children or people who are unfit.

The approach after a heavy winter is a ride over snow, while after a dry winter, or later in the season, there will be less snow. It is exciting and surprisingly easy to ride across the firm snow – the horses are used to the snow and have no problem – to the foot of the glacier where there is a lake, at times cafe-au-lait in colour, occasionally blue, and frozen white in early summer.

This is a long ride with no difficulty, but tiring for some. We picnic among dry rocks at the base and enjoy incredible views, both of the glacier and further up into the snow-clad mountains.

Riding back gets us into camp in time to relax, read, bathe, play cards, photograph flowers or whatever, before a pisco sour and a hot evening meal in the delightful campsite where the horses are let loose to eat their fill of the rich grass.

Or, if it is a one day riding expedition, back to the car to take you down the mountain to the comforts of civilisation.

El Morado National Park       and      El Morado Glacier – a blog

Join the Conversation


  1. I amlooking for a vacation for myself a rider of 20 + years and my bf who has never ridden but wants to be able to go on a few easy rides with me on a trip. Is there a way to tailor a ride so I can do some harder riding and he can ride a little part of the day? Do you have trips in February? My vacation dates are Feb 14-March 3.


    1. We should be able to help you with that. If you are looking to go for a camping trip (not quite sure from your comment whether you are looking at several days riding, or just one?) we can certainly arrange that sort of ride. The place where we camp is so heavenly that you can sit and read, walk about and photograph flowers, birds, rocks, or bathe in ice-cold lake as well as ride. It isn’t quite so easy on a one day ride, although still possible if he is happy to read a book and/or sleep under a tree after lunch while you go one further up the mountain. Or, for a little extra we could send 2 guides with you and he could simply go some of the way and then come down earlier. ‘Todo es conversable’, as they say here in Chile. We try to be as flexible as possibly and February into March is a good time of year. Think about it and we can talk more. Best wishes, Rose

  2. Hi,

    My friend and I are planning to take vacation trip in South America for 3 weeks start February 9, 2012. We are interesting to take horseback riding to see Glacier on February 10, 2012 for one day. Please send us information.

    Best Regards,

  3. My family and I are planning a trip to Chile this Christmas to see family. I would like to arrange a 3 day / 2 night ride on Dec. 26 – 28 with myself and 2 sons ( age 10 and 12 – both have ridden before) and maybe some other family – to go riding and camping with you. I would like to be able to do a little trotting and see lots of green and pretty flowers and not ride near steep cliff areas but still see and experience the Andes.

    Would you be able to plan something with me?

    Kindest regards, Maryann

    1. I am really sorry that I did not reply sooner – I was in the UK and for some reason did not get your comment forwarded to my email.
      We can certainly plan a wonderful ride and camping expedition on those dates, December 26-28. There are some lovely valleys, long and fairly flat, up in the high Andes. It is impossible to avoid steep inclines here and there on the way to them, but I have been up there with my grandchildren aged 5 and 8 at the time, even one of 3 years old riding with the arriero guide, and everything was fine. The Andes are steep rocky mountains with valleys in between, so there are places to trot, and wonderful views. Just impossible to never pass briefly over a steep bit, but nowhere with sheer or frightening drops.
      Let me know if you are still interested and I will do you a quotation. IT is best to reply to, then I will be sure to get it. best wishes, Rose

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *