Patagonia and other adventure travel destinations

How to Visit El Yeso Dam and Termas del Plomo

El Yeso Dam, also known as Embalse El Yeso, is a reservoir located in the Santiago Metropolitan Region of Chile, around 60-miles (98km) from the Chilean capital. The reservoir was created in 1964 by damming the Yeso River, and it now serves as one of the major sources of water for Santiago

The Embalse El Yeso in Chile is also a stunning area of picturesque natural beauty and makes for an excellent day trip from the city.

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Where is El Yeso Dam?

Located in the mountains southeast of Santiago, El Yeso Dam is only accessible by 4×4. From

Puente Alto, a city at the south of the Santiago conurbation, a paved road heads towards San José de Maipo and the well-known Cajón de Maipo. This deep river gorge is the primary location of outdoor activities in the region.

El Yeso Dam

Here, the road continues before it forks, with a left, turning along an unpaved track, taking you to El Yeso Dam.

From the turn-off at Puente Alto, it is a drive of around 45-miles (70km) with a time of approximately one hour 45 minutes.


What to see and do at El Yeso Dam

The shimmering turquoise hue of the waters of El Yeso Dam, or Embalse El Yeso, as it is known by the locals, makes it a truly spectacular place while away for an afternoon. Surrounded on all angles by the snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains, this dam feels hidden away from civilization.

During the summer, the dam is a popular destination for a day trip, with visitors bringing picnics to enjoy by the side of the water or even coming as part of a windsurfing tour. Embalse El Yeso is also suitable for fishing.


What to see around El Yeso Dam

Further up the dirt track from the dam is the Termas del Plomo. Heated by the thermal activity of Volcán San José, these hot springs sit at an altitude of 9,500-ft. (2,900m) above sea level. Visitors can relax in the soothing waters or hike an hour to visit Laguna de Los Patos, a lake known for its crystal clear waters.

The entrance to the thermal springs costs $5 USD.


Considerations before visiting El Yeso Dam and Termas del Plomo

Before setting out on a trip to the area, it’s important to consider the following pieces of advice:

  • A 4×4 is essential for visiting El Yeso Dam and the Termas del Plomo. This is because of the road conditions, which, although some of it is paved, also contain sections unsuitable for vehicles with 2×4.
  • From El Yeso Dam to the Termas del Plomo, there are parts of the road that are susceptible to landslides, so it is essential to take care when driving.
  • The best time to visit both attractions is in spring and summer. During the rest of the year, snowy or wet conditions can make the roads dangerous or impassable.
  • Take clothing for all weather types, as temperatures can drop significantly at altitude. 
  • Take plenty of food and water.
  • Don’t leave any rubbish at either site.

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