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Parc national cajas

Parc national cajas (Ecuador)

Practical information on Parc national cajas

  • Mountain
  • Lake
  • Essential
4 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
1 hour and 30 minutes by bus from Cuenca
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Parc national cajas

Seasoned Traveller
75 written opinions

El Cajas national park is 35 km from Cuenca on the road to Guyaquil and has lots of beautiful hikes which nature lovers will adore.

My suggestion:
Be careful, you aren't in Cuenca any more! At 4,000 metres above sea level it is much colder and you could well have altitude head aches...Don't rush, save your energy and take plenty of water before you start walking.
My review

El Cajas national park is an absolutely magnificent place! And it was a real pleasure to walk on marked trails, without the risk of getting lost or meeting aggressive dogs... I got off the bus from Cuenca in the middle of the morning, next to the park's main entrance, near the Interpretation Centre where you have to register before going on any hikes.

I went on the "Lakes Path", a 4 hour long circular walk, during which I didn't meet many people...It's superb: the lakes (originally glacial) just kept coming. I walked through forests of really strange trees and ate lunch beside some streams.

In the end it took me less time than expected to finish the walk so I extended it a little by adventuring down other paths, but as I was beginning to get a bit lost I wisely went back to the original path...I didn't want to wait for the bus and met a couple of Ecuadoreans who took me back down to Cuenca by car for a well earned rest...and a vicious headache because of the speedy change in altitude!

The many lakes of El Cajas national park
Seasoned Traveller
168 written opinions

A magnificent park situated a few kilometres from Cuenca, notable for its many lakes.

My suggestion:
You can go there alone with no problem: public bus (south terminal) and marked trails. However, I believe that a guide is obligatory for groups of more than 4 people.
My review

My visit to Cuenca remains my best memory of Ecuador and the excursion to the superb El Cajas National Park is certainly part of the reason for this. 

After a full week spent discovering the city and the surrounding villages, I took a backpack full of dehydrated food, warm clothing (NB: the altitude is often above 4000 metres, so it gets cold at night) and other rain equipment. The idea: to camp in the park that is close to the most charming city of Ecuador and to walk among its 200 lakes. I have to admit that I didn't see them all!

Apart from the unusual landscapes, an excursion to Cajas is a pleasure because the park is so well organised. Many trails are available for hikes lasting from 2 to 6 hours. And the big advantage is that you won’t be rubbing elbows with other tourists - I came across a total of two groups!

Note: contrary to what people may tell you and what you might read, park entry is free (which was not the case a few years ago). On the agenda: numerous lakes, sparse vegetation ranging from yellow to green, seemingly enchanted forests, lamas, alpacas and company... in short, don't miss it during your visit to Ecuador! 

One lake among hundreds
An overall view
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