Parque Nacional Cajas

Days: 261

Total distance travelled: 49,976.1 kilometres (31,041.06 miles)

Shoes… check!

Scarf… check!

Waterproof coat… check!

Wet and overcast morning… check!

Sounds like the perfect scenario for a walk in the mountains surrounding Cuenca, doesn’t it.

Still, that’s exactly what we did, getting ourselves on board a bus and heading to a rather dull looking and damp feeling Parque Nacional Cajas.

It was a brave call from Sarah, who’d spent the past couple of days feeling basically like shit (to put it bluntly), yet she dragged herself out on a dull day that promised to be one full of effort, as we went for a hike around what we hoped would be a stunning national park.

It felt a fairly steamy bus ride into the mountains, a combination of the warmth inside and the chill out making for some pretty foggy windows throughout the hour or so long trip.

Unsure of where exactly we needed to alight, we simply followed the crowd, by which I mean followed the fellow Gringos, who were possibly doing the same.

Still, we all managed to get off at the right spot, thanks to the conductor who made sure we knew we were there.

Suddenly, it was a case of rapidly donning our layers, as the air was indeed crisp!

We made our way to the office, signed into the parks visitor register, before a quick bathroom stop.

This wasn’t to relieve the bladder, rather an opportunity for us to shed our jeans and don our thermal leggings (over which the jeans were then worn. We weren’t prancing around going for a thespian look).

Yes, it was that cold.

Finally, we got the chance to appreciate our first view of the park…

A stunningly bleak welcome to Parque Nacional Cajas (Click on image to enlarge)

A stunningly bleak welcome to Parque Nacional Cajas (Click on image to enlarge)

Not a bad introduction indeed!

The trails initiate near the shores of the nearby, rather picturesque lake, and not knowing which direction was ideal, we began to do a circuit in a clockwise fashion.

Thankfully at this point the rain remained at bay, indeed there was even the odd glimpse of blue sky, but the air around us did retain a bit of a chill, I’m sure aided by the nearby lake and very damp ground upon which we walked.

It was a mixture of jutting rocks, muddied paths and puddles (which we did our best to avoid), but most of all it just felt and looked wonderful!

Such a stunning location for a stroll amongst nature

Such a stunning location for a stroll amongst nature

Initially we’d been veering slightly away from the lake, following in the footsteps of a couple of young girls who’d motored on ahead.

Eventually however, we found our own way, opting for a branch in the path that brought us back closer to the shore.

When we later spied the same girls, now behind us as the scrambled down a muddied slope, we felt further vindicated in our decision.

It felt like we’d been plonked into my imagination, a Tolkien-esque meets Scottish highlands kind of setting.

Just us, the very occasional gringo sighting, and the odd small rodent that scurried away whenever I tried to take a picture.

A landscape reminiscent of a Tolkien novel...

A landscape reminiscent of a Tolkien novel…

It had to happen, but thankfully when the rains did return, we’d managed to build up a head of steam and so didn’t truly feel the cold as much as we otherwise may have.

Our planning for this outing had us settled on the lesser of the available trails, but it was about an hour, maybe a little more, when we were probably about two thirds of the way through circumnavigating the lake, that we discovered the actual starting point of this particular trail!

Turns out we should have turned left at Albuquerque, or at the very least, at the office when we started our walk.

The rain may have brought a bit more chill, but made the views a little more mystical

The rain may have brought a bit more chill, but made the views a little more mystical

We felt that we’d had a pretty good workout by now, I was also mindful of how Sarah was feeling, then some looming clouds, darker than anything else that we’d spied for the day, made our decision for us.

It was time to wrap up this walk, amongst this admittedly stunning landscape.

As this new front rolled through, visibility also plummeted so it was a decision that we made without any further regrets.

Ending the day on a damp note...

Ending the day on a damp note…

It was cold, it was damp, but it was also stunning!

We truly enjoyed our brief stroll through the Parque Nacional Cajas



* The bus each way from Cuenca (which deposited us at Terminal Terrestre despite our departure from a bus station on the south side of town) cost $2.00 US per person.

* Park entrance is a very generous FREE!

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12 Responses to Parque Nacional Cajas

  1. marycharietwomonkeystravel says:

    Wow! Very fascinating trip you did! I love nature, and travel through it instead of cities.

  2. Kally says:

    The title is captivating and lure me to read more of this post and I’m glad I did. Applause for the well written piece. Looking forward in reading more of your future posts! See you around! πŸ™‚

  3. Himanshu says:

    Great views. Thanks for intrducing a new place, i never heard of earlier.

  4. I suppose you need it to be this wet sometimes to be so lush! Hope Sarah is feeling better, no fun being ill on the road.

  5. Mar Pages says:

    This does not look like South American judging by the photos πŸ™‚ how interesting

  6. jusztravel says:

    oooh I am not much of a hiker which is the reason why I miss views like this!

  7. Karrie says:

    What a beautiful scenery, Chris!! πŸ˜€

  8. evankristine says:

    This is seems to be a good trip. Hope Sarah is okay πŸ˜€

  9. Elizabeth says:

    What country are you in? Did I miss that somewhere? It look lovely.

  10. Too bad the weather was bad but despite that it seems like a really good place to see. It gave a different atmosphere to the pictures too.

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