Four high-adrenaline adventures just one hour from Santiago

Day trips from Chile’s capital aren’t all about sun, surf and sand. The imposing mountains and rushing water just east of the city open up a variety of extreme sports, from bungee, to whitewater rafting, skydiving and paragliding.

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To be in contact with nature or soar into the blue skies of central Chile, there’s no need to drive great distances or pay for accommodation outside Santiago.

To get your kicks from the roughest and toughest that nature can throw at you, you need look no farther than the Cajón del Maipo. Only an hour drive south-east of the capital, this deep valley, perhaps best known for its wines, has all the right stuff to get anyone’s adrenaline pumping.

Some of the organizations offering trips in the Cajón del Maipo are Chilerafting, Geoaventura, Hacienda los Castaños, and Parapente Andino.

Rafting

Up to nine of your friends fit in a blow-up boat and confront the angry waters of the Maipo River. If you’re scared, get over it – rugged instructors will take you through the paces before the descent, but at the end of the day it’s only your wits that will keep you (not to mention the boat) afloat. Chilerafting (www.chilerafting.cl/) has its offices in the Cajón del Maipo. Four years after its birth, it now hosts around 80 wild-eyed tourists each weekend, for a price between CP$16,000-23,000 (US$ 32-46).

Paintball

Don masks and camouflage fatigues, and go into combat for the day, fully equipped with smoke grenades, flash-bangs and well-trained instructors checking for safe play. Fathers pit themselves against sons, work buddies against their bosses, the courageous against the foolhardy, all at the end of a gun barrel that fires balls of paint at a thousand feet per second. Relatively cheap in Chile compared to other countries, consult Geoaventura (www.geoaventura.cl) for a day’s paintballing, which costs between CP$10,000-12,000 (US$20-22).

Paragliding

Launch off the side of a cliff and sour up to a height of over 1,000 meters. Rely on the expertise on professional pilots for a 15 minutes owning the sky. The companies Parapente Andino (www.parapenteandino.cl) and Geoaventura both offer paragliding: Geoaventura is based 35 minutes from Central Santiago in the Las Vizcachas sector and will be happy to answer any queries you might have on safety.

Canopying

Zip through treetops at speeds of up to 60kmph in a unique, environmentally friendly pastime that will introduce you to natural sights you never otherwise would have the opportunity to see. The route offered by Hacienda los Castaños (www.haciendaloscastanos.com) crosses the Maipo River and reaches an altitude of 360 metres. Canopying may be a favored family pastime, but it is not for faint of heart. Be sure to pay attention to all safety precautions. Trips cost CP$6,000 (US$12).