For most visitors, Rancagua may be a brief stop or a day trip rather than an overnight, but its nearby Andean attractions—the historic mining town of Sewell, the luxury hot springs of Termas de Cauquenes, and the wild high country of Reserva Nacional Río de los Cipreses—are among the country’s most underappreciated places.
Colonial Rancagua was ranch and farming country, and it’s still an agricultural service center and home to Chile’s annual rodeo championships. As capital of Region VI, it has key administrative functions and several historical sites, but the economy’s real motor is the El Teniente copper mine, in the Andes to the east.
Mostly rural and regional bus companies use the Terminal Rodoviario (Doctor Salinas 1165, tel. 072/225425), just north of the Mercado Central. The long-distance exception is Via Tur (tel. 072/234502), which goes to Los Ángeles, Puerto Montt, and intermediates. Andimar (tel. 072/237818) and Nilahue go to coastal destinations such as Pichilemu (US$4.50, two hours).
Tur-Bus (O’Carrol 1175, tel. 072/241117) has frequent service to Santiago (US$2.50, 1.5 hours) and extensive long-distance routes. Other Santiago-bound buses leave from the Terminal de Buses al Sur (O’Carrol 1039, tel. 072/230340).
From Estación Rancagua (Av. Viña del Mar between O’Carrol and Ignacio Carrera Pinto, tel. 072/225239), Metrotrén runs 28 commuter trains to Santiago (US$3, one hour-plus) every weekday, between 6:05 a.m. and 9:43 p.m., with slightly fewer services on weekends. Long-distance passenger trains to Chillán, Concepción, and Temuco (with connections to Puerto Montt) also stop here.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition