Embalse EL Yeso, Chile — Entre El Gaucho y El Huaso


Entre El Gaucho y el Huaso
It’ s only 75 kms from Santiago to Embalse El Yeso, in the Cajon Del Maipo, but because of the road conditions ( in winter it is almost impossible to reach the summit) it can take 3 hours or more to make it to the summit. The views, the tranquility and solitude are more than worth the drive.

Embalse El Yeso ( El Yeso Dam) Cajon del Maipo, Chile
October 2008

The dam, located at the 9000 foot level provides most of the fresh water supply for Santiago. The water, which is icy cold at this time of the year, comes directly from the runoff of the winter snows and from the Rio Yeso. The lake turns a stunning turquoise color in the early spring sunshine. At this altitude, there is no smog or pollution so the skies are a crystal clear and a deep blue color as well. The Dam took ten years construct and was finished in 1964.


El Yeso Reservoir Blue Green Waters

El Yeso Reservoir Blue Green Waters
The fog made finding the correct road to the reservoir a challenge because there aren´t very many signs… as in three of them. The drive takes you through San Jose de Maipo, and to San Gabriel. Here you have to pay attention, because at km 47 you can easily miss the left turn up the reservoir.
Dawn over the San Jose de Maipo River



The directions I had struck me as amusing when I read them because they said turn right, the pavement will end, just follow the dirt road.


when the pavement ends...just follow the dirt road

when the pavement ends...just follow the dirt road

Yeah well, the pavement did end and the next 20 miles were literally a dirt road complete with dicey bends, and drop off some like the one below we not very steep others were downright scary.

This is a two lane road?

This is a two lane road?


As you can see in photos, the road just snakes its way through the canyon. You almost don’t notice that you are climbing the edge of the mountain until you come one turn which shows the length of the of the valley,


Cajon del Maipo Valley

Cajon del Maipo Valley

The dicey nature of the road really becomes apparent when you drive around a bend and come head to head with a car that is trying to share what is really a one lane road. In the late afternoon you have to deal with motor-cross bikers who barrel around the curves at break neck speed. There were quite a few places where the Spring runoff cascaded over the road, making it a challenge to continue to the summit where the dam is located.

The Spring Thaw cascades over many parts of the road to the summit.

The Spring Thaw cascades over many parts of the road to the summit.




I came across a wonderful array of bird life and flora, including one bird that normally is not seen that high up on The Cordillera. Among the birds I saw were Codroniz (California Quail), Chirihue Cordillerano (Bright Rumped Fellow Finch), Loica (Long Tail Meadow Lark ), Blue White Swallow and a few others that I am still trying to identify.



King of the  Quail Hill

Loica´s and a Morning Mating Call  












The day was warm, but cool. I had shorts on, but with a long sleeve shirt because of the breeze. Lunch was cheese, olives, bread, some local home made smoked sausage, an apple …and best part …the lake all to myself.



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