El Cajas National Park

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.

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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.

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Guided Tours

Hiking

What to Bring:

Comfortable hiking shoes, warm clothing, hat, sunscreen, waterproof jacket, bottled water.

What's Included:

Transportation, tour guide, entrance fee, and lunch.

Transportation
Transportation

Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “More Time and Rates” for full details.

What to Bring:

Comfortable hiking shoes, warm clothing, hat, sunscreen, waterproof jacket, bottled water.

What's Included:

Transportation, tour guide, entrance fee, and lunch.

Transportation
Transportation

Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “More Time and Rates” for full details.

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