El Cajas Overview

El Cajas National Park, located in the highlands of southern Ecuador near the city of Cuenca, is a stunning natural sanctuary that spans approximately 285 square kilometers (about 110 square miles). Established as a national park in 1996, El Cajas is renowned for its rugged terrain, characterized by a dramatic landscape of glacial lakes, tundra vegetation, and jagged peaks. The park’s elevation ranges from 3,100 meters (about 10,170 feet) to 4,450 meters (about 14,600 feet) above sea level, creating a diverse ecosystem known for its unique flora and fauna.

The park’s most distinctive features are its more than 200 glacial lakes and ponds, set against the backdrop of the Andean páramo, a type of high-altitude grassland. This environment is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Andean condor, spectacled bear, and various species of hummingbirds and foxes. The park’s plant life is equally diverse, with a range of endemic species adapted to the cold, wet conditions.

El Cajas National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its extensive network of trails offers opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and photography, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty. The Inca Trail, part of the Incan road system that once spanned South America, runs through the park, providing a historical context to the stunning landscapes.

The park’s unique geomorphology and hydrology also make it an important water source for the surrounding region, including the city of Cuenca. The conservation of El Cajas is crucial for maintaining the quality and availability of water for local communities.

El Cajas National Park is not only a place of breathtaking natural beauty but also a vital ecological and hydrological resource. Its preservation ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from its extraordinary landscapes and biodiversity.

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Park Map
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El Cajas National Park Pictures