Cerro Carbon is an ideal evening excursion that provides an out of this world sunset and night view over Santiago, Chile. It is a relatively easy climb that you can access from the main roads and only takes about 2 hours up and down. Next to Cerro Manqueue, it’s a popular Santiago trekking route.
When you’re trapped in the city and all you want to do is get out… lucky you!! Santiago offers many outlets even within her city limits. Cerro Carbon is a great option for a run, for a little afternoon exercise after work or on the weekend, and even for a night-time cheese and snack as you watch the bustling city wind down for the night from up above.
Cerro Carbon by the stats
Altitude: 1,344 meters; 4,410 feet
Elevation Climb: 676 meters; 2,218 feet
Time: 2-4 hours round trip
About 5:30 pm we started climbing a jaunt that felt a bit like we were going the wrong way. Once we got to the top there was this fence with a little passway perfectly cut out for us to pass through. From here, it was obvious we were on our way and, furthermore, that we were allowed to be there because there were some bathrooms and a sign pointing the way. Great news!
A glimpse from above of a city that never sleeps
The path is great; very clear and well marked with signs along the way telling you how many meters to the next lookout. Since we went in the evening, the sun was setting as we were going up and lighting the mountains and city streets underneath in a magnificent way.
Quite a bit of the hike up overlooks the sprawling Santiago, Chile and it is cool to see and think about the millions of people, living their busy lives in that very moment.
The first lookout is around 900 meters, a lovely place with benches, greenery, and a great view. It would be a nice place to come for a trekking day, with a picnic… or even a bottle of wine/beer. There’s something about being above the vast city of Santiago, that sits in a bowl under the massive Andes mountains, that is so peaceful.
Due to the time, we enjoyed this spot for maybe 10 minutes before continuing on because we wanted to do as much trekking as possible during the daylight. The path gets a little narrow at some points so it is much easier when you can see the rocks under your feet!
The last lookout before the peak is fantastic. The combination of the shadows from the trees, the mountain lines in the back, and the lights from the city below was a unique eyeful.
It’s mind-boggling to be above the city, thinking of the millions of lives happening below.
From here, there is a terrific view of Cerro Manquehue; in fact, there is a connection from Cerro Carbon to Manquehue on this route, which makes both summits possible in one Santiago trekking day trip. We could see a small light in the distance, which was probably someone camping on Cerro Manquehue. Pretty cool to be camping so close to the city…. yet at the same time, so far removed!! I could see myself doing that and getting way too philosophical for the night, haha!
Anyways, we continued up the rocky path and arrived at the peak. I was so happy to have done it during the night as we were able to grasp the vastness that is Santiago. Looking down it was city, city, city. Streets gridded out, blinding lights, black spots where the many hills lie. It was awesome.
The way down was a bit difficult due to the darkness and a headlight is necessary. The rocks on the steep path made it easy to slip and slide, so we were slow movers, going sideways at some points for more traction.
Once we got to the bottom we made our way down to Fuente Mardoque for some of the biggest sandwiches Santiago has to offer, and an equally large tap beer. A great Friday night, that’s for sure.
Finding your North
I was imagining the millions of people having happy, sad, angry, busy, frustrated, you-name-it moments right at that very second. When you’re in the thick of it, it feels like that moment, that feeling, is everything. That it’s forever, that it’s never gonna end, that there’s no way out, that it’s the best there is… everything in it’s own context.
But, up above the city, you see the big picture so clearly and you see there’s so much more. It so easy for us to get wrapped up in the present, lost in the business of the days, the to do list, etc. But, sometimes, “stepping out” isn’t as far or as hard as it feels. It’s important to take a break from the intenseness of the moments to look from a different perspective and make any changes you to keep things moving in the direction that’s healthiest for your goals 🙂
How do you get to Cerro Carbon?
If going in your own vehicle, you can take Américo Vespucio towards Vitacura, and get in the right hand lane once you’re crossing the bridge over the Mapocho River. You’ll arrive towards what’s known in Santiago as the Pyramid, where you’ll turn right and eventually get to the St George school, where you can park.
If you go in public transportation, take the Santiago Metro to Escuela Militar and get on the 305 bus, which heads north on Américo Vespucio. You’ll ride for a while and get off on the corner with Francisco de Aguirre, where you’ll get on the C22 / C03 / C07 bus until arriving at the Pyramid. Get off the bus and walk towards the mountain.
When can you climb?
Cerro Carbon is an easy climb that you can do year round. That said, Santiago often has a thick layer of smog, so it’s best after a rainy day, at night-time to see the sunset and city lights, or during spring when it isn’t so hot.
Unfortunately, like it’s neighbor Cerro Manqueue, this easy access, easy climb mountains have seen an increase in robberies and violence in the past few years. So, keep that in mind when deciding when to go and what valuables to take with you.