Are you thinking about hiking in Cajas National Park, Ecuador?
Thirty km to the West of Cuenca, Ecuador lies the Cajas Park, a true gem, and home the Tomebamba River.
This park is in the highlands of Ecuador with an altitude ranging from 3,100 up to 4,450 meters.
The nearby town of Cuenca is the ideal place to launch your Cajas National Park excursion.
Hiking Cajas National Park, Ecuador
Cajas national park is home to nearly 300 glacial lakes and ponds dating back thousands of years spanning an area over 70,000 acres.
Many say how safety in Ecuador is one of the best for traveling around by bus. Getting to Cajas National Park from Cuenca is relatively easy with a few popular options.
You can take the public transportation, taxi, or a guided tour to the park entrance visitor station or further up the road past the visitor’s station to reach the more remote trails.
Cajas National Park
Let’s take a look at what you can get up to whilst spending time at the Cajas National Park, Ecuador.
Hiking the Trails of Cajas National Park
Hiking the Cajas National Park trails is a unique experience.
Before you begin hiking along the trails of the park you’ll need to register at the park office, be sure to carry your identification.
Cajas park is situated at a very high altitude ranging anywhere from 3,100m to 4,450m.
The climate in this area tends to be wet, windy, and cold with occasionally muddy trails.
No doubt you’ll already have some hiking shoes but if not I have reviewed some decent pairs that wont break the bank.
There are eight marked trails and seven unmarked trails in Cajas. The various trails range from 1km up to 30km in length.
Cajas National Park Map
See the map of Cajas Park below to get a better look at the landscape.
During your trek through this paramo, you’ll experience breathtaking sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Like many of the hikes in South America, exploring the trails of Cajas is a physically strenuous activity due to the high altitude.
Camping in Cajas Park
A high altitude camping experience that’ll leave you speechless.
After exploring the trails of Cajas head over to the campgrounds and set up camp before nightfall as it gets incredibly dark there.
Spending the night out in the raw, untamed wilderness of the Andean mountains is an experience unlike any other.
As night begins to fall and the daylight fades, the temperature drops and thousands upon thousands of stars will appear in the skies.
You have the option of either camping alone or with a guided tour.
Most of the guided tours start with 2-day excursions that launch in the nearby town of Cuenca. Camping in Cajas National Park is a serene experience far removed from the hustle of the city.
Cajas National Park presents unique photography opportunities. The entire park is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities waiting to be exploited.
From its various trails, lakes, wildlife, plants, and landscapes, you’ll be sure to capture something of interest on your camera.
Whether you carry an inexpensive travel camera or some more elaborate. You’ll not find it difficult to get some beautiful shots of the landscape.
Many people report that taking pictures near lakes and waterfalls brings out the majestic beauty of the surrounding landscape.
You can hike to a nearby cliff overlooking one of the many lakes before sunset or sunrise for the most magnificent scenery in Ecuador.
You will need to bring a few flashlights as it gets incredibly dark at night. Proper safety preparations should be taken due to the remote locations in the park.
Photographers of all ages and skill levels take pictures at Cajas.
Fly Fishing the Glacial Lakes
How about learning to fly fish on the glacial lakes of Cajas?
Aside from camping, hiking, and taking pictures, fly fishing is another popular attraction at Cajas National Park for tourists.
Several companies can take you out for a fishing expedition of one of the many lakes populating the area. All equipment is included, as well as food and other amenities.
The primary type of fish you’ll catch is trout. Though trout fishing in Cajas can be a rewarding experience, many people enjoy the scenery while fishing and often spot llamas roaming freely.
When you go fishing, it’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of dry clothing in case you take an unexpected dip.
Toreadora Lake is the most visited lake within the park.
Ranger Station and Visitor Center
As you’ll have guess there are many protected areas inside the park.
Everyone stops at the visitor’s center to register. The ranger station and visitor center may not be the tourist attraction you were expecting.
However, stopping here is a must before embarking on your journey through the park.
Be sure to bring your photo ID and cash as there is a small fee to enter the park.
The visitor station is open from 6 am to 5 pm. Here you will find maps of the various trails and parks, as well as information about some of the native wildlife and vegetation.
The visitors center has a small cafe serving food and drinks. The ranger’s station and visitor center have safety signs regarding individual plants in the park.
Go Horseback Riding
Experience horseback riding through the tranquil landscapes of Cuenca. Though not currently available in Cajas National Park, horseback riding is a very popular activity in Cuenca.
One horseback riding tour company that keeps popping up and receiving excellent reviews is Terradiversa Tours in Cuenca.
Horseback riding in and around Cuenca is a mesmerizing experience.
You’ll see a lot more without getting tired, and the views are absolutely fantastic.
All equipment and lessons are provided. Terradiversa has English and Spanish-speaking guides, so it’s easier for tourists to enjoy their horseback riding experience.
Horseback riding through Cuenca is a mesmerizing experience.
Travel Insurance for Cajas Park
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Cajas National Park (Final Thoughts)
A trip to Cajas National Park in Ecuador may not be everyone’s ideal destination. For those brave, adventurous souls exploring this unique landscape, it’s an experience they soon won’t forget.
Whether it’s horseback riding, camping, or fishing keep in mind that it’s all high altitude, above 10,000-feet.
The park covers a vast area, so being adequately prepared is essential.
When you’re done exploring the park you can take one of the busses or a taxi back to Cuenca for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
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