Some thirty kilometers west of Cuenca – and 1500 meters up in elevation – lays the ethereal paramo (high Andean grassland) of Parque Nacional Cajas. Low hanging clouds and fog, windblown grassy plains, countless shimmering lagoons, and dramatic mountain peaks combine to give the chilly park an otherworldly aura.

Cotocachi

Cotocachi is a small town, which is most known for the nearby lake and natural park. The town doesnt have a lot to offer travellers, but the huge craterlake makes for an excellent destination for hikers. The hike around the lake is pretty tough if you are not used to the altitude yet, but it is definitely worth your time if you are willing to make the effort. The hike will take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours, depending on your condition and ability to deal with the altitude.

The spectacular Reserva Produccion Faunistica Cuyabeno is comprised of over 6000 protected square kilometers surrounding the Rio Cuyabeno in Ecuador's northeastern corner. The flooded forest, which receives up to 4000mm of rain per year, is home to a vast array of aquatic and bird life, along with an incredible array of plant species for example the huge ceiba trees which poke up from their underwater bases, making the reserve's black water lagoons, rivers, and tributaries a truly unique sight to behold.

Quilotoa

The petite town of Quilotoa at first look appears barren with small clusters of hostels operated by ambitious Ecuadorians, but as one mounts the trail just beyond the avenue of hostels a spectacular expansive emerald lake obliterates any doubts of the quaint village’s beauty. Patches of anamorphic shapes glide across the water, originating from the bulbous billowy clouds above. Laguna Quilotoa is not a ghost town but a community whose economy centers on the bounty activities stemming from the lake. Quilotoa is the highlight destination of the Cotopaxi circuit/loop named after it. The loop begins in Latacunga and travels through the market town of Zumbahua to Quilotoa, and through Sigchos.

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