El Cajas National Park Ecuador

Located at a distance of ±30km from Cuenca, Cajas National Park is approximately 29,000 ha. With more than 230 pools and lakes, Cajas National Park has been nominated a "Ramsar Wetland of International Importance" and it is the most lake-rich national parks of the entire Andes . At a distance of a one hour's ride from the city of Cuenca over new highway that connects Cuenca with Guyaquil, Cajas National Park is the best accessible paramo park and one of the most scenic one of the most scenic areas of the 45 national parks of Ecuador, an absolute must to visit. We organize Cajas National Park Ecuador tours that start with the pickup from your hotel early in the morning that first take you to a beautiful lake and Andes forest at the lower elevations of the national park and after that to the visitor center at the mountain pass at 3,979 m. From there we take you on a hike through beautiful paramo landscape with lakes and remnants of high elevation Polylepis reticulata forest.


The highway connecting Cuenca to Guayaquil has been very controversial for its impact on the national park, but as it now exists, it provides visitors with access to beautiful landscapes that were previously only accessible to the most roughest hikers who could endure hiking for several days at elevations of more than 4,000 m. Now any tourist in a healthy condition can enjoy a hike through one of the most beautiful high Andes parks in the world. Before Cuenca was accessible by road, disassembled cars were carries in across the Inca trail from Guayaquil by Indians.


Hi, our website gives you information about the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, our Cuyabeno Lodge, and Ecuador in general. Our lodge is located on a small seasonal island in Lake Cuyabeno and thus it is in the most beautiful spot in the most beautiful Amazon reserve of all the Amazon countries. Here you find our program. Our website shows you hundreds of photos and valuable information about Cuyabeno and Ecuador. Clicking on the thumbnails opens the photos in very high resolution.


El Cajas National Park Ecuador is the main source of drinking water for the City of Cuenca and therefore the national government has made a management agreement with the city's drinking water administration to manage the park on its behalf.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: El Cajas National Park Ecuador Map



Like on any paramo in Ecuador, the weather is extremely variable, and it can change very rapidly from a bright blue cloudless sky to a chilly drizzly rain in a mountainous fog. When that happens, don't be discouraged, as the landscape is absolutely fabulous and mysterious under any condition. Remember, this is an extreme elevation wetland, and humid conditions are more common than sunshine. February - July is the wet season with more rainfall and fog, while August - January is likely to have more sun, but windier. At night, the temperature drop below 10 degrees, while they may rise above 20 degrees when the sun is out, but may stay around 15 degrees on a cloudy day. These are average conditions however, and any time of the year one may encounter sun or clouds. Click here for more information on climate zones in Ecuador.



El Cajas National Park has the following primary ecosystems:

  1. The Montane evergreen broadleaf forest from its limits up to about 3,500masl;

  2. Lower lake marshes and lake water, primarily populated with introduced trout and some species of the preñadores, a native fish of the Andes with a penislike genital in the male;

  3. Paramo or Andian meadows with hard grasses, low perennial plants and dwarf shrubs, above 3,500masl;

  4. High elevation lakes and marshes above 3,500masl with very little life other than some species of amphibians and introduced trout;

  5. Altimontane Polylepis reticulata forest, between 3,700masl and 4,000masl.


Download detailed biological description of the park in Spanish.

CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Paramo gentianaCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Scarlet licopodiumCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Yellow flowers with the Laguna Toreado in the background

During the rainy season, the paramo is clad with the most colorful flowers and Licopodium with the Laguna Toreadora at the background.



Cajas National Park entrance.

Cajas National Park visitor center.


Lower Elevation Lake and Cloud Forest

CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: cloud forestCAJAS National Park Tour: Lower lake and cloud forest

Visitors enjoying the view at the lake with dense high elevation Andes forest on the mountain sides.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Andes lake in U-shaped glacial valleyEl Cajas National Park Tour: Andes mountain range in Ecuador

Lakes have developed in U-shaped valleys formed by glaciers during the last ice-age.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Andes Mountains Red Angel's Trumpet

CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Red Ange'ls Trumpet, Andes Mountains, Ecuador


Red Angel's trumpets are beautiful native Andes shrubs that are common at the lower elevations of Cajas National Park.




High Paramo at the Pass in the Park


Paramo lake, Laguna Toreadora, at a bright sunny day. Always put on sun block, even on a cloudy day as UV light even penetrates the clouds.


The lakes clad paramo on a misty day showing its mystic shades.

CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Paramo Tulip, Gentianella hirculisCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Andes tulip, Gentianella hirculus

Locally called tulips are minuscule delightfully bright gentians in the park's paramo.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Puya Clava Herculis, Giant Hercules Club flower, Andes Paramo, EcuadorCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Giant Hercules Club in the ParamoCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Rosette of the Giant Hercules Club bromelia in the mountains of the Andes

CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Giant Hercules Club bloomiing in the Mountains of EcuadorCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Spiky leaved bromelia

Giant Herculas Club ,Puya Bromeliads, are members of the oldest representatives of the Bromiad family. They are fascinating plants with prickly leaves and enormous flowering stems with little blue flowers in the compound spike.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Paramo trip in the Andes of EcuadorEcuador National Parks Tour: El Cajas National Park

A non-strenuous hike through the high mountains of El Cajas' paramo can be made by anybody in good health. Boots are provided for the hike.


CAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Polylepis reticulata high mountain forest of the AndesCAJAS NATIONAL PARK, ECUADOR TOURS: Polylepsis reticulata forest of the Paramo in Ecuador

In many parts of the country the high Andes of Ecuador, Polylepis reticulata forests, an endemic tree species of Ecuador, have been eliminated, but some tall groves have survived in El Cajas National Park and in El Paramo del Angel Reserve. Small groves can now slowly recover under the full protection of the parks. The Polylepis genus has 28 species, all of them endemic to the Andes mountains. It is the world's highest growing genus, usually growing between 3,000 and 5,000m with the lowest recorded species still growing above 1,800m. Contrary to other members of the Rose family, Polylepis species are mostly wind-pollinated.


EL Cajas National Park Tours

Our El Cajas National Park Ecuador tours and are almost daily available. Our Andes Trek, Ecuador program includes the best National Parks of Ecuador in the Andes as well as the famous cultural highlights.  Please contact us for information and bookings.


Cuyabeno Lodge:

Shyris Park Building, Av. de los Shyris N36-188 & Av. Naciones Unidas, Office 608, 6th floor, Quito

Phone Office: (++593) (0)(2) 292 6153

Cell (mobile) phone: (++593) (0)999 80 3395

Email: info@cuyabenolodge.com.ec