Cajas National Park

Tour Cajas National Park

Ecuador
Photo credit
Iryna Kurilovych
Cajas National Park
,
Ecuador

Cajas National Park, perched high in the Andean Sierra of southern Ecuador, is a mesmerizing realm of stark, rugged beauty. Spanning an area of around 285 square kilometers, the park's defining features are its glacially sculpted landscapes, dotted with more than 270 lagoons and lakes that glint like jewels amidst the tundra vegetation.

Located just 30 kilometers west of Cuenca, Cajas stands at an altitude ranging from 3,100 to 4,450 meters, ensuring its climate is cool and often misty. This high-altitude moorland, known as páramo, is a carpet of unique flora. Grasses, dwarf trees, and cushion plants adapt to the harsh conditions, and among them, the distinctive quinoa trees stand out, their twisted forms often shrouded in fog.

The biodiversity within Cajas is impressive. Despite its seemingly inhospitable conditions, the park is home to several notable animal species. Andean condors, with their imposing wingspans, soar overhead, while hummingbirds flit around the polylepis forests. In the underbrush, pumas, white-tailed deer, and wild llamas roam, often glimpsed in the early mornings or as twilight descends.

One of the park's most treasured inhabitants is the Andean speckled bear, South America's only native bear species. The lakes and streams, on the other hand, teem with trout, an introduced species that thrives in the chilly waters.

Hiking is arguably the best way to experience Cajas. A network of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day treks, crisscross the park. The most frequented is the trail around the large La Toreadora Lake, providing panoramic vistas of the surrounding moors. For those seeking solitude and unspoiled wilderness, the park's vastness offers plenty of opportunities.

Besides its ecological significance, Cajas holds cultural importance. The Cañari, the indigenous people of the region, consider the park's waters sacred. Many of the lakes are thought to be connected through subterranean waterways, weaving a tapestry of myths and legends.

In essence, Cajas National Park is not just a natural reserve; it's a spiritual landscape where every wind gust carries tales of the ancients, and every peak stands as a sentinel of time. Whether you're traversing its undulating trails, spotting elusive wildlife, or simply soaking in the serenity, Cajas offers a profound connection to nature and the cosmos, reminding visitors of the enduring magic of the wild.

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Geeky Facts about Cajas National Park

Fact 1

There are a total of 786 bodies of water.

Fact 2

The park's altitude ranges from 3,160 to 4,450 meters above sea level.

Fact 3

It has 29,000 hectares of Andean paramo.

Tours in Cajas National Park

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Countries that cover Cajas National Park

Wildlife

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