Hiking in El Cajas National Park: the best trek in Cuenca

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One of the best parks in South America is the El Cajas National Park, located in Cuenca, Ecuador. So, can you imagine hiking in El Cajas National Park? But well, you will already have this in mind if you are a hiking enthusiast and want to visit the Ecuadorian territory.

If you need some ideas to complete your travel itinerary in Ecuador, here you have a 10 days in Ecuador guide where you will find this park and many more places.

But now, let’s focus on your hiking in El Cajas National Park. If you’re undecided about which route to take in it, don’t worry. Today we tell you about the routes of El Cajas, the best hiking in Cuenca.

Complete trek through El Cajas

The trekking that we recommend the most is the most complete hiking in El Cajas National Park. We are talking about the one that begins in Cuenca and is 2 days in El Cajas.

The first day we depart from Cuenca to the Tres Cruces area. From here we will take the wonderful route of the lakes Negra, Larga, Luspa and Togllacocha. Each one of them more impressive.

We will arrive at Laguna Mamamag where we will camp and spend the night. We will be able to enjoy the immense starry sky and be in the heart of the park.

The next day we wake up in the middle of nature, have breakfast and get full of energy to start walking through the nearest forest. The route reaches Llaviuco. An immense lagoon where you can observe different birds and several archaeological remains.

This route is coming to an end, from Llaviuco we turn around until arriving where the adventure began, Cuenca 🙂

The landscapes of this route and the amount of living beings that you will be able to see, hear or feel nearby is a unique experience. There is no better way to discover El Cajas National Park.

Mount El Cajas National Park

Tres Cruces

One of the favorite routes for hikers is Tres Cruces. We are talking about an area at more than 4,000 meters of altitude. That’s why you’ll find fog in much of the forest.

You will walk along the old trail, García Moreno, which leads to Guayaquil to climb Tres Cruces Hill. Here you can see the borders of several regions of the territory, the summit of San Luis and the Luspa Lagoon.

Hiking in El Cajas National Park: Llaviuco trek

The Llaviuco route begins at kilometer 15 of the road between Sayausí and Molleturo (Cuenca, Ecuador). You hike for 2.8 kilometers (45 minutes) along a well-defined trail and, as a final touch, you will come across the wonderful Llaviuco Lagoon.

You can camp perfectly around the lagoon, in addition to enjoying nature in its pure state, you know that El Cajas National Park is known for its immense virgin vegetation.

Lagoon in El Cajas National Park

Your memories near Llaviuco will be impregnated with the smell of valerian and orchids and lots of birds! And this area is the best in the park to observe these animals. Many are endemic and are full of colors.

La Toreadora Route

Another way to enjoy the scenery and life of the park is to hike the La Toreadora trail. This route lasts approximately 3 hours and is made up of two trails.

Regardless of which trail you decide to discover, the start of this trek is at kilometer 31 of the Sayausí-Molleturo road and the beauty of the scenery is unbeatable. This area is a deer refuge.

On the one hand, if what you want is to get into the Polylepis (paper tree) forest, hike through San Luis and end the excursion at the Unidas and La Toreadora lagoons, the first trail is all you’re looking for.

On the other hand, the second trail directs you to the Totoras and Potoquinuas lagoons.

El Cajas hiking route

The great Inca Trail

The Qhapaq Ñan Route or the great Inca road was built by the Incas with the purpose of connecting all their territory (Tawantinsuyu). The different trails of this great route reach territories such as: Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

And this route crosses the El Cajas National Park. What they intended was to connect the highlands and the coast. For this very reason, the road begins in Tomebamba, the current Cuenca and ends in the walls of Molleturo (outside the park).

These archaeological walls are the footprint of one of the Inca villages.

We hope we have been helpful, after all the information. Do you already know which route you are going to do?


Lucia's life motto is "go with the flow". She lets herself go with the flow and joins any plan.

She has been lucky enough to travel to many different places, but her perfect trip is any place with sun, sand and sea. Indecisive by nature, she would not know how to choose between the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands in Spain, or between Mexican and Peruvian food. Maybe that's why she will never say no to a trip... She has to find answers!

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