Cajas National Park covers 70,000 acres (29,000 ha) of protected Ecuadorian wilderness, and is located a 30-minute drive outside of Cuenca. This park has 235 lakes, and is the largest reservoir in Ecuador.
- 7 hrs
- Available Days:
- Every day
- 9:00 AM
- Hotel Transport Included
- Mobile Ticket Included
- Offered in English, Spanish
These lakes make the view from the mountains especially memorable. Retreating glaciers shaped this dramatic landscape, now home to a number of rare birds. The presence of hummingbirds, toucans, and Andean condors helped establish this park as an official Important Bird Area. Endangered animals like the speckled bear, puma, and ocelot also live in this park, although sightings are quite rare.
El Cajas National Park is far above sea level, between 9,842 and 14,763 feet (3,000 m and 4,500 m). This area’s ecological system is called a páramo, which describes a tropical, mountainous region. On your hike, you’ll see both scrubby, rocky terrain and green, tangled cloud forest. Cloud forests are known for their proliferation of moss and other delicate species of plants.
You’ll see hardy vegetation on some parts of the mountain, including 200-year old quinua trees. The quinua tree grows at a higher elevation than any other tree in the world. Chuqiragua trees also grow in this area, and brighten the moors with their orange blossoms.
Your hike will take you around some of the park’s famous lakes, like Toreadora, Burines, and the largest lake of them all, Luspa. To get a better view of the landscape, you’ll hike to the top of San Luis hill. After hiking for 3 to 4 hours, you will get to eat lunch in the park before you return to Cuenca.
The countless lakes, alpine hillsides and curious herds of alpacas make the Cajas National Park an impressive wilderness destination.
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Similar things to do
While you’re in Cuenca, get the most out of the local artisan scene with a full-day tour of the nearby villages of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. Each of these towns is located in the mountains that surround Cuenca, about an hour outside of the city.