Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cajas National Park Ecuador

We spent a day visiting Cajas National Park, near Cuenca.  Most of the park is at high elevation and consists of a grasslands known as paramo.  The park also contains over 200 lakes, most of them small and shallow.

We drove up to the ridiculous elevation of 4150 meters to stand on the continental divide, only 100 km from the Pacific but 5000 km from the Atlantic.  We retreated to the slightly more sensible elevation of 3750 meters to begin our hike.

The scenery was very unique, and luckily for us there was no rain, as it rains about 80 percent of the days up there.  The diversity of plants in the paramo was also impressive, with mosses, lichens, and many types of small and pretty flowers.

The part we enjoyed most was the Quenua, or paper tree forest.  Apparently these trees grow at high elevations in South America, but only in this park do they group together to form forests.  They are delightful little forests, full of moss, that reminded us very much of Grimm's fairy tales.

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