Altos de Cantillana
Whoever thinks that hills, mountains and ascents are exclusive of the Cordillera de Los Andes mountain range, is mistaken. The ascent to the Altos de Cantillana plateau is one the most attractive routes in the Cordillera de la Costa mountain range, offering the possibility to enjoy impressive views at more than 2.000 masl in one of the most important natural reserves in Chile. The Altos de Cantillana natural reserve was established as such in 2008 with the objective of preserving and protecting one of the areas with greatest biodiversity in the country. Enjoy its amazing corners and accept the challenge of this route, one the most attractive in Central Chile.Share this destination:
Duration: 2 days
Distance: 15,3 km (one-way)
Physical Difficulty: Medium/High
Technical Difficulty: Low
AccessTo get to the Altos de Cantillana reserve from Santiago you can take a bus in the San Borja bus terminal (Estacion Central subway station) with destination Aculeo-Rangue, which have a frequency of 30 min and a cost for the one-way ticket of CLP 1.500. DO NOT take the bus with destination Altos de Cantillana, which goes to a locality of the same name that is located 30 km from the reserve. Ask the driver to stop in the Las Cabras estuary, after passing the Alto Laguna condominium.If you are going by car, then you have to take route 5 Sur from Santiago and take the Champa-Kennedy exit to the coast, near km 50. You have to then advance along route G-546, passing over the Pintue bridge, the Alto Laguna condominium and the Las Cabras bridge, which is near the entrance of the reserve.The RouteThis route has an expected time of 2 days, duration that may vary in case you do the additional section to the summit. The main obstacle of this route is its physical demand, given that it includes an accumulated ascent of over 1600 mt to the Robleria (Oaks) sector.During the ascent you will be able to enjoy beautiful and amazing panoramic views of the Cordillera de los Andes and the Aculeo basin, walking along one of the most important ecosystems for biodiversity conservation in the world.This route has 1 section:1.- Entrance to the reserve - Lagunitas sector (robleria).
Description of the trekThe trek to the Lagunitas sector covers a distance of 15,3 km from the entrance of the reserve, and has an expected time of 6 hrs. The first 7 km are of vehicle road, after which the trails starts. The latter passes by the reserve guard's hut and shortly after the diversion to the Horcon de Piedra trail. At this point you must continue south heading to Altos de Cantillana plateau. The route is clearly signposted in order not to confuse the trail. In the diversion, going down a few meters, you will find a water stream where you can rest and resupply your water bottle (it is highly recommended to do so, since finding water afterwards is not assured). The trail continues with the ascent over the mountainside and the ridge of the mountain, where there is no more signalling. This is however not necessary since there is a single and well defined trail. The route ends reaching the oak forest, a beautiful place where you can camp and enjoy amazing views.There is the alternative of doing an additional section of 7 km to the Altos de Cantillana summit (marked in blue on the map). The trail advances over the plateau with a low slope, being easy to walk.
Precautions and Recommendations
1. Best season: November to April. In April you can start to see the red oaks of autumn.2. Water: It is recommended to resupply your water bottle in the water stream located near the Horcon de Piedra diversion, given that this is the only assured water source in the route.3. Clothing and gear: Bring adequate boots or trekking shoes to do the ascent. There are no refuges nor other type of infrastructure on the route, therefore you have to bring a tent.4. Physical Condition: This is a challenging route because of its physical demand, since it involves and accumulated ascent of over 1.600 mt on a single day. Consequently it is ideal to have a good physical condition.5. Trash and Fire: DON'T leave any kind of trash or garbage in the route, nor make a campfire under any circumstances (for cooking use a portable gas stove). Also don't interfere in any way with the local flora and fauna. Be a responsible backpacker and contribute to make sure nature is well cared for!6. Self-guided visits: Although at the time of writing this article one could do this route in a self-guided manner or hiring a guide with the Altos de Cantillana Expediciones & Ecoturismo company, a chance exists that in the future self-guided visits get prohibited. Therefore it is important to contact the reserve to know if self-guided visits are still allowed, in case one is interested in doing it that way.