Cajas National Park

Cajas is a popular destination for hikers of all levels and is on our list of places you must visit if you are in southern Ecuador. This guided hiking tour takes travelers from Cuenca to Cajas National Park to hike through its breathtaking scenery. Make sure your camera is fully charged for this spectacular adventure.


Description

Only 30 minutes from Cuenca, Cajas National Park will be one of the highlights of your travel in Ecuador and is a paradise for both birdwatchers and hikers alike.
 
Our Cajas National Park hiking tour will begin with an easy 1-hour walk in lower cloud forest. This section is particularly abundant in birds. This will be followed by a moderate 3-hour hike around a glacier lake. This hike will take you through tundra vegetation and a Polylepis forest which almost feels like a setting from Lord of the Rings.
 
The tour will conclude with lunch at a delicious local restaurant to give you the opportunity to taste locally sourced trout, as well as other delicacies, before taking the van to a enjoy a panoramic view of Cajas National Park and heading back to Cuenca.
  
In order to take part in the group tour and avoid holding up the rest of the group you must be fit enough to take part in a moderate hike. If you’re taking a private tour, we can cater to your particular interests and fitness level. Contact us if you have any particular requirements.
 

This tour includes

· A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide
· Private transportation
· Pickup and drop off from particular meeting points (at your hotel for private tour)
· Both a 3-hour and a 1-hour hike in different sections of the park
· Lunch at a local restaurant
 

This tour does not include

· Travel insurance
· Tips
· Any other service not mentioned herein
 

Packing tips

The weather can be unpredictable in Cajas with glorious sunshine one minute and sudden mist or rain the next.
 
· Dress in layers: t-shirt, sweater/sweatshirt and rain coat
· Hat and gloves
· Proper hiking boots
· Rain gear
· Sun protection
· Sun glasses
· Water bottle and snack

Highlights

Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park is located about 33 km west of Cuenca in Southern Ecuador. The park covers about 285 km2 at an altitude of between 3100m and 4450m above sea level. It is famous for its characteristic tundra vegetation covering hills and valleys. There are about 270 lakes and lagoons throughout the park. The name of the park comes from the Quichua word cassia which translates as gateway to the snowy mountains, though some link it to the Spanish word cajas meaning boxes due to the hundreds of lakes.
Polylepis trees
Also known as Quinoa or the paper tree, Polylepis trees grow above 3300 meters and shed their bark in thin layers to prevent growth of parasites.
Birds
With over 150 species identified so far, Cajas National Park is a birdwatchers paradise. If you are looking to do some bird watching there are plenty of hummingbirds, including the giant hummingbird. Other birds known to live in the park include the Andean Condor, Curiquinga, the violet-throated metaltail, the great-horned owl, the gray breasted mountain toucan, the powerful woodpecker, turquoise jay, Andean ruddy duck and the caranculated caracara.
Mammals
Cajas National Park is home to a wide range of animals including endemic and endangered species. Within Cajas National Park you might have the chance to see the American rabbit, the common South American fox, white-tailed deer, the domesticated lama and alpaca, different kinds of opossums, cats and bats, pumas, coatis, weasels, skunks, porcupines, shrews and the Cajas water mouse.

Rates

Tour type # passengers Price (per person)
Group $50
Private 1 $123
Private 2 $105
Private 3 $78
Private 4-5 $69
Private 6-7 $59
Private 8-9 $53
Private 10-15 $52
Private 16-25 $51
Private 26+ $49

 

Group Tours in Ecuador

We’ve created a selection of group tours with regular departures for those traveling around Ecuador on a budget.