Sanctuario El Cañi is a beautiful 1,500 acre nature reserve located just outside of Pucón. While visiting there, you will have a spectacular view of the famous, and endangered tree species, the Araucaria.
The Sanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project. In 1990, it became the first Chilean forest purchased for conservation by a group of outdoor enthusiast. They named it the Lahuén foundation, and hope to continue to research and defend the forest from logging while promoting ecotourism.
The Cañi feels almost magical as you are hiking through it. You are surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna while Chiles unique birds are echoing all around you. A certain history of the Mapuche tribe still lingers on the ground as well.
For 700 pesos, a microbus headed for Huife also stops at Cañi. Check the buses timetables here and here. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the reserve. The cost to visit is 3.000 pesos each day you stay. For 10.000 pesos, a guide may be able to accompany you on your journey, though the trails are quite easy to follow if you stay on the main path. At the reception area, you will be given a map and more information about the area. There are only a few workers though and know that english is limited when explaining the trails in the reserve.
From the reception, there is a three hour, mildly streneous uphill hike to get to the entrance of the park. After two hours into your hike, you will notice the rustic Refugio Aserradero that is free to stay at for visitors. It has a giant fire pit in the middle of the cabin, and can sleep up to roughly 30 people with sleeping bags. There is also a treehouse closeby if you prefer a bit more privacy.
After the three hour journey uphill, you will come across the first lake which is the Las Totoras. From here on out, the park is more of a winding and leisure path, and you can give your legs a much needed break. There are cattle that are kept here, so if a large herd of cattle come your way, find a place to move to the side and let them pass as a group.
You have two hiking options. One is to hike around the 9 hidden lakes. The first few are easy to spot and find on the map, but know that going off the map and into the more rugged trails, they become less maintained and more wild. This will happen after lakes 1, 2, 3, and 4.
The other option that you have is to hike up to the breathtaking El Mirador that is 1,600 meters in elevation. It shows views of the region's four major volcanoes: Volcán Llaima, Volcán Villarrica, Volcán Quetrupillan, and Volcán Lani, and also a view of Chiles border with Argentina.
We recommend that you stay at least one night in the Cañi. Besides the Refugio Aserrader, you can stay at the Laguna Negra campsite at the Negra Lagoon. It has a small wooden shelter, and views of two lakes on either side. Bring your swimsuit! In all of the lakes, you are able to swim and relax in one of the most beautiful places in Pucón.
Last but not least, plan to pack a large amount of water. At the Refugio, there is a water system where you can get fresh stream water. It is delicious! After this though, you will need a purifier or iodine tablets to safely drink the water from the lakes, and streams are very limited in the heart of the Cañi.
Finally....Be safe, leave no trace, and happy hiking!! :D