"Parque Nacional Cajas" Cajas by MalenaN

Cajas Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 103 photos

Cajas National Park is situated just west of Cuenca. The park has an area of 285 sq km and it lies between an altitude of 3100 - 4450 metres. Most of the park consists of Páramo, a high grassland ecosystem, with rugged mountains and over 250 lakes. There are also a few small forests with Quinoa trees (Polylepis) and in the lover part of the park, at Laguna Llaviucu, there is a humid cloud forest. Within the park there are 19 plant species endemic to Cajas.

In the end of 1990s llamas were reintroduced to the park. The chance to see them is much larger than the chance to see other larger animals present in the national park like the Spectacled Bear, Puma and Oncillas. There are also many different bird species in the park, among others hummingbirds, toucans and Condors.

The views over the mountains, valleys and lakes are stunning, that is if you can see it. Cajas is a very wet and foggy place so sometimes, or actually very often, visibility is not so good. The driest months are between August and January, but also then it can often rain. As Cajas National Park is situated at a very high altitude it can also be very cold. At night temperatures can drop below freezing. So bring many layers.

At many places in the park remnants of the old Incan highway, and tambos (way stations), can be seen. The name Cajas probably comes from the Quichua word caxas, which means cold.

There are three main recreational areas in the national park, Laguna Llaviucu, Laguna Cucheros and Laguna Toreadora. They all lie quite close to the Cuenca - Guayaquil road, which passes through the park. At all these places you will find signed trails of different length. At Laguna Toreadora there is an info centre where you can pay the admission for the national park, and get a free map over the area. If you plan to go further into the park you must register at one of the control stations. Besides hiking you can fish trout at some places and go bird watching in the park.

I visited on a guided day tour from Cuenca and I was very happy that we were lucky with the weather (before that sunny day it had rained for two weeks). Laguna Toreadora is situated 34km from Cuenca and as the visitor centre lies just next to the highway it is easy to go there on your own by public transportation.

  • Last visit to Cajas: Jul 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (5)

Comments (8)

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Certainly looks like you did get lucky with the weather, Melena. This was a place we missed while in Cuenca and looks like a good reason to return!

    • MalenaN's Profile Photo
      Apr 10, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Hello Richie! It was beautiful in Cajas NP and I wish I could have done some longer hikes than just a daytrip.

    • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
      Apr 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      That was my feeling and why I didn't go but after seeing some photos, I realize a little bit can be better than none at all.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 28, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    We drove through here on our way to Guayquil and I was disappointed that there wasn't time for more than a brief photo stop. So I've really enjoyed reading about your longer visit and seeing all your photos. How lucky you were with the weather too!

    • MalenaN's Profile Photo
      Sep 28, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Thank you for visiting Sarah! It was a lovely day in the national park. But even from the road you get great views. The intro photo is actually taken from the road.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Sep 28, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      True - I was happy with my photos even though I was also wishing to explore further!

  • Redang's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Another excellent page with fantastic pics!

    • MalenaN's Profile Photo
      Jan 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Thank you Santi! It was a beautiful day and the views were great!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Nov 1, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    What beautiful scenery you saw on your trek. Enjoyed your travelogues too!

    • MalenaN's Profile Photo
      Nov 1, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      Thank you Dee! It was beautiful and I'm glad it wasn't rainy and cloudy which is often is in Cajas.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Looks like an excellent day trip into a beautiful, natural area. Great pictures!

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    The daytrip to Cajas National Park was wonderful. I quite agree with you Malena, the views over the mountains, valleys and lakes are stunning there.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 29, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Great that you could do some hiking in this beautiful area, and even had good luck with the weather.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Malena, lovely little page about your daytrip to Parque Nacional Cajas. It looks like you had a great day there.

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