Travel from Cuenca to Guayaquil via the picturesque El Cajas National Park.
Most of El Cajas lies above 3,000 metres altitude, with páramo covering most of the rugged terrain. Frost and ice above 4,000 metres altitude try their best to deter the thriving of hardy vegetation such as the tiny quinoa tree, clinging to life higher than any other tree in the world. Look for these 200-year-old specimens tucked up against hillsides in pockets of primary forest, clothed in a green palette of mosses and ferns and fighting each other for sun-light.
Whilst in the park, there is a good chance of seeing the wild llamas that were reintroduced to the park in the late 1990s. The park’s other animal inhabitants, such as the spectacled bear, puma, and tigrillo, are more elusive. A long bird list includes hummingbirds, toucans, and Andean condors.
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