South America Living

Cajas National Park in Southern Ecuador

Cajas National Park Near Cuenca, Ecuador

Most people would agree that a highlight of visiting Cuenca, Ecuador is taking a trip to the nearby Cajas National Park.

  Travel Guide to Cuenca

This spectacular national park is just a 30 minute or so bus ride from Cuenca (35 km/ 22 miles). It is characterized by páramo flora and fauna plus features over 230 glacial lakes and lagoons; beautifully stunning to hike through.

Fifteen different hiking trails weave through Cajas’ hills, valleys and ravines, with most routes lasting two to six hours. It is also possible to arrange multi-day trekking trips with camping or to stay at the park’s refuge.

Cajas National Park can be visited with a guide or independently, though it is recommended to have a guide, especially if you are visiting it alone or are not an experienced hiker.

A Tourist Walking Through Cajas National Park on a Cloudy Day

Anyone susceptible to altitude sickness must keep in mind that the park’s altitude varies from 3,156 to 4,450 meters above sea level. The weather is often cold and damp—temperatures rarely reached above 60°F and sometimes dip below 30°F.   Information on Altitude Sickness

Other popular activities in the park include sport fishing and bird-watching (Cajas National Park has over 150 different bird species).

Visitors may come across interesting endemic plant species, including forests of quinua “paper trees,” orange-blossomed Chuquiraga plants and Frailejon plants, as well as wildlife like condors, llamas, pumas and wolves.

Photograph of ‘Tourist Walking Through the Park’ by travel writer Jena Davison, all rights reserved.

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