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