The Cajas National Park in Southern Ecuador
The Cajas National Park is located in the province of Azuay in southern Ecuador; where the Andes is older, less volcanically active, and without the high peaks that are so common further north. In this area, the mountains form large, beautiful plateaux where large quantities of water accumulate.
Since 2002, and through an agreement with the Ministry of Environment, the National Park is administered by the Municipality of Cuenca
The Cajas National Park General Information
The Cajas National Park is a high-altitude andean forest formation, west of Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s known for trails through evergreen cloud forests and hundreds of lakes, such as Laguna Toreadora. It’s also home to rich wildlife including Andean condors, giant hummingbirds and raccoon-like coatis. Just outside the park, the Santuario de la Vírgen del Cajas is an outdoor pilgrimage site where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared.
Map of the Cajas National Park
How to get there?
The Cajas National Park is located in the province of Azuay, in southern Ecuador.
The Toreadora Lagoon can be reached from the Cuenca – Molleturo – Puerto Inca Road, about 40 kilometers from Cuenca. Here you’ll find an administrative office, an interpretive center and access to the various trails.
To get to Llaviucu, take the Cuenca – Molleturo – Puerto Inca road. 7.5 kilometers on from the “Y” at Sayausí on the left is the entry road. From this point, continue along the road for 2.5 km until you get to the entrance of the park.
Where to Stay?
Things to do
The Cajas National Park is full of water bodies: there are about 165 lagoons that are over 1 hectare and 621 that are smaller than 1 hectare. In total there are 786 water bodies.The condors which soar over the area must get an amazing view of this; a green and golden carpet of wrinkled valleys that all guard their own lagoons, which are interconnected by small streams. Due to the large number of lagoons, the presence of migratory birds and the importance for water capture, storage and provision of water to the nearby villages, the National Park is recognized as a Ramsar site, or Wetland of International Importance.
The majority of The Cajas National Park is a mix of moorland and wooded areas of paper trees (known locally as Quinoas) and lagoons. In the lowlands, around 3,200 meters, Andean forest predominates. Records include 600 species of vascular plants
The Mammals of the Cajas National Park you can find several endemic Ecuadorian Mammals such as Mountain Mice, the Ecuadorian Cotton Rat and Porcupine. There is also the endemic El Cajas Watermouse. Other mammals in the park include Rabbits, Mountain Wolves, White-tailed Deer and Pumas. In Total The Cajas National Park has 43 mammals listed.
The Birds of the Cajas National Park is diverse, you can see Andean Condors, Amazon Parrots, Andean Toucans, Andean Guans, Mountain-Tanagers and Hummingbirds. In the lagoons there are water birds like the Andean Ducks, gull Diver and Andean Gull. The TitLike Dacnis and the Giant Conebill live only in the Cajas tree paper forests and its surroundings. The Cajas National Park has 157 birds (including 24 hummingbirds).
The Cajas National Park has 17 amphibians and 4 reptiles.