El Cani Sanctuary

  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Nuuttipukki
  • El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Nuuttipukki

Key information: El Cani Sanctuary

  • The first NGO-protected private reserve in Chile, Cani is a rich landscape of protected temperate rainforest, set in a collapsed volcanic caldera.
  • Explore its waterfalls, lagoons and forests, revelling in its legacy of environmental education and eco-tourism. 
  • The best walk in Cani is a steep, fairly challenging hike to El Mirador, from which you can drink in a spectacular view of the snowcapped cones of volcanoes Llaima, Villarrica, Quetrupillan and Lanin.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating83
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest18
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating83

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 16km
  • 5-7 hours
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,550m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
El Cani Sanctuary - © Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg


Cani sanctuary is within easy reach of Pucon, a popular resort town and ideal base for hiking in Araucaria. Though small, it holds a mighty place in the hearts of conservationists. The first NGO-protected private reserve in Chile, Cani is home to the Araucaria trees for which the Araucaria region is named, a species virtually unchanged over the past quarter of a billion years. Nestled in the beautiful landscape of a collapsed volcanic caldera, this reserve has rapidly become a centre for environmental education and eco-tourism - with a strong focus on the protection of its incredible pre-historic forests.

Walkers here shouldn't miss the day hike from the gravel path behind the reserve headquarters, taking you through lush vegetation and past beautiful lagoons and climbing up to El Mirador, with its stunning vista across the volcanic Chilean landscape. Signposted detours can take in several more small lakes.

From the information centre the main path climbs steadily through both forests and prairie to the Aserradero shelter, about 2 hours into the walk. This hut provides an excellent place to spend the night: there is a raised sleeping platform which fits up to 30 people, along with a cooking stove and an open fireplace.

Arrows clearly signpost the way from here, leading you to Cani's largest stretch of water - the conversely-named Laguna Seca ("Dry Lake"). Steep slopes thick with trees rise from its shores. In summer the lake's edge is lined with vibrant green vegetation, providing a rich habitat for birds; in winter, it becomes a bleak, frozen scene of ice and snow.

The final major landmark is the scanty shelter at Laguna Negra, and it is here that the waymarks dry out. Head up the hills directly behind the shelter - there are several paths, but they all join further up. This section is by far the hardest part, as you zig-zag steeply to the viewpoint. Once there though, the effort will seem worthwhile.

Directly below you lie the lakes and pools which dot the old caldera: further away, the horizon is dominated by the impressive site of Llaima, Lanin, Quetrupillan and Villarrica - their distinctive, snow-capped volcanic cones rising above the mountainous Patagonian landscape of the Chile-Argentine border. A well-placed campsite at Laguna Negra allows hikers to spend a night nearby, climbing in the evening or early morning to watch sunset or sunrise from this spectacular viewpoint. 

Have a look at TripAdvisor before setting off - there are some reviews of the sanctuary, and particularly of the hike to El Mirador, which may have useful information.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

El Cani Sanctuary - ©Copyright Flickr user Fanny & Greg

share your experiences

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Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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