Cajas National Park Tour and Lunch, daily, private
A short distance from Cuenca is the Cajas National Park lake district. Starting at 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level, this lake district is the aftermath of intense volcanic activity and glaciation. The highest point is reached on the road at Three Crosses, where waters divide with a part running to the Pacific and another part down to the Atlantic. Scenery is splendid and walking and hiking amongst the clouds is a rewarding experience.
A jacket and walking shoes are necessary when heading for the area of El Cajas, 19 miles (30 Km.) west of Cuenca. El Cajas is a lake country, a protected 28,800-hectare area starting at 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level; the region shows remains of intense volcanic activity and glaciation. The highest point is reached on the road at Three Crosses, the water divide of those than go to the Pacific and to the Atlantic.
The wind and drizzle can make it very cold, but the scenery surrounding these 230 lakes is splendid, for walking and hiking, for observing flora, fauna and bird life. The vegetation includes small forests of quinua trees, a high protein grain. These dwarf forests are home to many species of birds like hummingbirds and the gray-breasted mountain toucan. The cold lakes of El Cajas are full of trout, and a visit to a trout-breeding hacienda is included, where lunch will naturally feature delicious fresh trout.
- Round trip transportation and guide
- Entrance Fee to Cajas National Park
Our recommendations for the best possible experience
- Entrance fee to Cajas National Park is included.
- Warm clothing is needed, dress in layers,
- It is quite windy, consider gloves and ear protection
- windstoper, bring a flees jacket.
- Put on Sunblock (SPF 40) even if the day is cloudy.
- Good walking shoes,(no sandals) warm and nice socks,
- don´t forget your camera (wide angle lens), binoculars and Sunglasses.
- Altitude:2,550 meters (7,750 feet) to 3,000 meters (10,000 feet)
- Average Temperature: Day: 5° to 20° C /40° to 68° F - Night: 5° to 9° C / 40° to 49° F.
In the Highlands of Ecuador, with an altitude between 2,100 and 3,000 meters (7,000 to 10,000 feet) the weather is surprisingly comfortable all year round. The days are warm and nights cool. In the highlands the dry season extends from July through October with temperatures in the 70s F (20s C) during the day and in the 50s F (10s C) after the sun sets. During the rest of the year, you can expect showers in the afternoon. However, at El Cajas, due to its elevation and local weather patterns, it is cold and breezy all year around, even though you can expect some sunny, slightly warmer spells in the daytime.
Dressing in layers is ideal in the highlands. Dress is generally informal for travelers. Lightweight wools are recommended for day; a sweater or a warm jacket after dusk. Good walking shoes are essential.
The hotels, country inns and haciendas used on our tours are the best available at each location. Although rooms at haciendas may not have all the amenities, they are located on superb ground evoking a bygone age. All have private facilities and hot water.
Because Ecuador is located right on the equator, sun rays are direct. Fair-skinned persons should always use sun protection in the highlands, even if the weather is cloudy, and wear sunglasses. A hat or cap are highly recommended.
Although most hotels and cities have perfectly suitable water, to avoid stomach problems, don't drink tap water and don't eat uncooked vegetables or fruit you cannot peel. Bottled mineral water, with or without carbonation, is available at all hotels/haciendas. Travelers with heart conditions or high blood pressure should check with their doctor about high-altitude travel.
Some Special Highlights
One of the world's most perfect foods, has been consumed for thousands of years in South America. This grain comes from the Andes Mountains of South America, and its origins are truly ancient. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinua was known then, and still is known with respect, as the mother grain. Its small nutritious seeds resemble millet and is very versatile to a variety of cooking styles, inviting seasonings from mild to wild.
Quinua seeds are naturally coated with a bitter-tasting saponin that protects it from birds and insects, and they have to be washed and rinsed before cooking. Quinua flour, ground from whole seeds, has a delicate nutty flavour. A gluten-free product, it is suitable for anyone afflicted by wheat allergies.
Quinua contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Some varieties of quinua are more than 20 percent protein of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal ... similar to milk.
Besides its unique protein, quinua also provides starch, sugars, oil (high in essential linoleic acid), fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Quinua can be eaten as hot breakfast cereal; an infant cereal; a rice replacement; a nutritional thickener for soups, chilli and stew; in salads, casseroles, desserts and more.
Ecuador's most beautiful city maintains its Hispanic atmosphere in the flowery plazas, cobblestone streets and wonderful museums. Ecuador's most beautiful city, Saint Anne of the Four Rivers of Cuenca, is located in the valley of Guapondelig (meaning “plain as wide as the sky”). At an altitude of 2,550 meters (7,650 feet) above sea level, Cuenca enjoys a mild climate and a fabulous geographic position. Surrounding the city of Cuenca are hills like Cullca to the north and Turi to the south, which are great lookout points. Cuenca has the placid atmosphere of a small city, both deeply religious and artistic, which fascinates the visitor. The beauty of its landscape combined with the harmony between old and modern architecture, has prompted, UNESCO to name Ecuador's third largest city, Cuenca, a World Cultural Heritage Site
Why is this tour so special?
- There is the chance to see birds of this zone.
- To eat a delicious fresh trout is a good option.
- There are 230 lakes that is the reason why this landscape is unique.
- It is an excellent opportunity to visit one Ecuador`s National Parks and perceive the ecosystem in the zone.
- There are a big diversity of orchids, ferns and moss.
- There is a chance to visualize the Andes bird, the condor.
||Rates per Person (US$)
|PRICES PER PERSON 2013
||4 - 5
|6 - 9
||10 - 15
||16 - 20
Cuenca Ecuador Tours & Hotels
With the placid atmosphere of a small city, Cuenca fascinates its visitors
Ecuador's most beautiful city, Saint Anne of the Four Rivers of Cuenca, is located in the valley of Guapondelig (meaning “plain as wide as the sky”). At an altitude of 2,550 meters (7,650 feet) above sea level, Cuenca enjoys a mild climate and a fabulous geographic position. Surrounding the city of Cuenca are hills like Cullca to the north and Turi to the south, which are great lookout points. Cuenca has the placid atmosphere of a small city, both deeply religious and artistic, which fascinates the visitor. The beauty of its landscape combined with the harmony between old and modern architecture, has prompted, UNESCO to name Ecuador's third largest city, Cuenca, a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Houses stretch down the slopes along the Tomebamba, one of the four rivers that cross Cuenca, whose banks are covered with multicolored laundry under the riverside willows and linden trees. Both the Hispanic colonial downtown and the new homes in the residential neighborhoods, show how Cuenca keeps traditions of bygone eras close to its heart, but accepts the presence of modernity that abound in the city: new hotels, banks, art galleries and shops. Cuenca's cobblestone streets, graceful balconies, blossoming gardens and religious art treasures invite you to visit it, on foot and at a leisurely pace.
Cuenca's handicrafts are outstanding in variety, color and quality. These treasures, inspired by local imagination are created in straw, horn, cloth, embroidery, knit, clay, wrought iron, leather as well as gold and silver jewelry.
The region of Cuenca was already inhabited nine thousand years ago. The Cañari people settled here due to its favorable climate, abundant water and ideal land for cultivation. Extraordinary pieces of ceramic of this period, notable for their design and technique, are to be found in the museums. In the middle of the 15th century, the Incas came to this area and founded the city they called Tomebamba and a few years later, in 1557, the Spanish claimed the city and renamed it Cuenca.
Additional excursions surrounding Cuenca include the impressive Cajas lake district, the subtropical valleys of Paute, Gualaceo and Yunguilla, plus the legendary Inca ruins of Ingapirca.