View from a small hill in the "town" of Nos, which is 20 miles to the SE of Santiago. This photo also shows what the "Valley of the Mapocho" (aka Santiago) must a have looked like 500 years ago.
Q: How does a noisy, big and polluted city of 5 million people disappear?!
A: All you need is a little rain and wind. When you can see the Andes that surround it, the city virtually vanishes. From the vantage point within the city, the Andes are impressive, but not overwhelming. After all Santiago is a BIG city. Step away from the city and you realize how insignificant man's footprint really is compared to nature. Literally an ant standing next to an elephant.
For those of you that have never been there, Santiago sits at and elevation of approximately 2,000 feet. The tallest buildings in the city are about 40 some stories tall (big, but not huge - it's a very seismic country). The lowest little dark hill (left of the center) is Cerro San Cristobal, from where several photos in this gallery were taken. This little, but steep hill is almost in the center of Santiago and is only about 2,700 feet high. It is easily accessible by foot or car - but feels still manages to feel "high" when you are there - it already easily dwarfs the tallest buildings in the city. The darker small mountain in the foreground - which when I was little thought, as many kids incorrectly do, was a volcano, is called Cerro Manquehue. Much bigger and harder to get to climb is still only 5,000 feet tall and, for all intents and purposes almost in the city now. The snowed peaks in the background are still very close to the city and are probably in the neighborhood of 16,000 feet high. The tallest mountains are off the image to the right and top out at over 22,000 feet and are only about 25 miles from downtown Santiago.