Landscape Photo Opps Abound in Ecuador's Cajas National Park

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Ecuador's Parque Nacional Cajas (Cajas National Park) features over 150 square miles of flora and fauna on a rolling tundra that's ideal for hikers, rock-climbers, birdwatchers, campers, and nature-lovers of all stripes.

Credits: tanjaladen

Cajas National Park is nearly 20 miles northwest from of the city of Cuenca, where the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its historical architecture.

Credits: tanjaladen

But up here, at nearly 3000 feet above sea level in the Occidental Mountain Range of the Ecuadorian South Andes, nature still prevails.

Credits: tanjaladen

El Cajas is a network of mountains, lakes, and winding hiking trails like the one surrounding Zorrocucho Llaviucu — an impressive body of water with towering vistas of the surrounding jagged mountains as well as occasional views of wildlife like the blue-beaked Andean Ruddy-Duck.

Credits: tanjaladen

The name Cajas is derived from a Quichua word that translates to gateway to the snowy mountains and may be derived from the Spanish word for boxes.

Credits: tanjaladen

At Cajas National Park, it rains up to 4.5 feet a year. The climate is cold but humid, with low atmospheric pressure that helps contribute to the region’s highly fertile soil.

Credits: tanjaladen

The history of the region goes back 16 million years, when the land mass was first formed. 15,000 years ago, melting glaciers created what are now glacial valleys that divide the area of Llaviucu into the differing ecosystems of high grasslands and forest.

Credits: tanjaladen

Llaviucu also boasts its fair share of llamas and alpacas who hang out around an abandoned brewery. The animals act as a visual reminder of just how pristine and untouched El Cajas really is, even with “newer” additions like the camelids and the dilapidated brewery, which actually has a charm of its own, too.

Credits: tanjaladen

To get to the Cajas National Park, take the Transporte Occidental in the South Terminal at the Feria Libre area to La Toreadora refuge, or take an hourly bus marked Cuenca-Guayaquil through Cajas from the Land Terminal. To get back, take any bus marked Cuenca.

written by tanjaladen on 2014-01-22 in #world #locations #unesco #cajas #landscape #andes #escape-from-the-city #azuay #ecuador #cuenca

One Comment

  1. yonosoydeaqui
    yonosoydeaqui ·

    Thanks for sharing, I was there many years ago, it was kinda gloomy and remote, I wish I could find the slides I had

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