Cajas National Park is a high-altitude area west of Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s known for trails through evergreen cloud forests and hundreds of lakes, such as Laguna Toreadora, where our second hike began. It’s also home to rich wildlife including Andean condors, giant hummingbirds and raccoon-like coatis. The number of orchids and flowering plants alone make this a destination worth visiting.
The name “Cajas” is derived from the Quichua word “cassa” meaning “gateway to the snowy mountains” or “caxa” (Quichua:cold). It has also been linked to the Spanish word “cajas” (boxes).
Keep in mind that the average altitude during our day exploring the park was around 12,500 feet. Cuenca, where we lived for about 7 weeks, sits at a perfect 8,399 feet. That’s quite a jump. Hiking at that altitude feels like moving through molasses and the air is about as thick. It’s really as if the oxygen disappears.
I wish words could adequately capture the beauty of Cajas National Park. But since they pale in comparison, allow me to take you on a photographic/video journey of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Be sure to keep scrolling to see the videos Jeff put together!