Santuario de la Naturaleza Cascada de las Ánimas
In the midst of a multiyear struggle to divert a natural gas pipeline from Argentina, the Andean precordillera of the Astorga family’s former fundo Cascada de la Ánimas became one of Chile’s first private nature reserves in 1995. Only two years later, though, did the owners manage to definitively defeat the pipeline.
In practice, the official designation hasn’t made much difference, but it allows them to continue, without disruption, the activities-oriented recreation that has made the 3,600-hectare property a prime destination for hikers, riders, and especially white-water rafters and kayakers.
Descending the Maipo (US$33 pp) is a Class III–IV experience that’s normally suitable for novices, but the river can get wild enough for more experienced white-water lovers, especially during the spring runoff. Elevations range from about 1,100 meters along the river to 3,050 meters on the highest summit.
Many Santiaguino families come here for picnicking (US$5 per adult, US$2.50 per kid) and swimming (another US$5 pp for adults, US$2.50 for kids) at Cascada’s large outdoor pool on the river’s more developed north side. Most other activities take place on the south side of the Cajón del Maipo, where the Sendero Cascada de las Ánimas is a short guided hike to its namesake waterfall.
More foreigners than Chileans undertake the two- to three-hour guided climb to the summit of Cerro Pangal. While horseback riders will enjoy this scenic terrain, much of it is very steep and novice riders should be particularly cautious. Cascada also offers longer two- to three-day rides into the backcountry.
The campground charges US$11.50 per person for camping for adults, US$7.50 for children; after the first night, though, the price drops by half. Cabaña accommodations cost US$47 double, US$82 for up to four people, and US$165 for up to 10. These prices include pool access and a guided hike to the waterfall.
In addition, Cascada’s improving restaurant La Tribu offers a diverse menu ranging from Chilean standards such as cabrito (kid goat) and pastel de choclo, as well as Thai and other international dishes. The new terrace has unobstructed river views.
For information on all activities and camping, contact Cascada de las Ánimas (tel. 02/8611303, fax 02/8611833, www.cascada.net).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition