Moving Day and Parque Nacional El Cajas

Before plunging into the eerie beauty of  Parque Nacional El  Cajas just outside of Cuenca, I’ll mention that we’ve moved to new digs: an apartmentCalle Larga - Front Door On Left - Sports Bar On Rightcalle-larga-up-the-steps-2 a bit closer to the Centro Historico (historic center and you’ll remember that Cuenca is a UNESCO world heritage site?).  This is a view from the street – not to prepossessing I’ll admit but in the style of Spain inherited from the Moors who exited Spain in 1492.

The moors (Arabs) beat feet out of Spain as Isabela and Ferdinand were funding that slightly misguided world traveler who aimed for the spice lands of India but bumped into the New World several thousand miles before that.  The great discoverer found indigenous people who’d beat him here by fifteen thousand years or so. Apartment KitchenetteSleeping Area

There’s also a courtyard, another downstairs aparment with Jim from the US and the owner’s house – took a tour today and it’s quite beautiful and modern inside.  The building is 2 years old and the approval process took an additional two years.

Well, I digress and various souls have asked for more pictures and presumably less written matter.  I’ll take that as encouragement that my pictures are even more beautiful than my words.

More pictures of the apartment here (Check the rooftop panorama for why we moved!)

Parque Nacional  El Cajas

El Cajas In The Mist

Starting at the lake Lluviuca, El Cajas lies about 30 miles west of Cuenca and starts at about 10k feet.

Lluviuca Lake - El Cajas 10,300'

We walked around Lluviuca’s nicely laid out trail, over boardwalk and past the old prohibition era German or Austrian brewery and saw just about nothing in  the animal kingdom although our guide said it was a good bird watching site and so indicated the signs along the path.  We got there a tad late – maybe 930am, so maybe the birds were on siesta.Orange Flower

Please don’t ask me what these flowers are called

Orangey Flower

Yellow, orange, purple

lavendar-flower-cajas-2Gorgeous upright 16″ lavender color

Yellow Flower

Gaping like a snapdragon

Did see a couple nice flowers and the lower dwelling polylepsis trees.  At this altitude there are other trees and shrubs as well as the tracks of an “Andean Wolf” which is more fox than wolf.

Brewery Ruins

To our eyes these plants appear normal, temperate forest things even if you haven’t seen one just like them before.  That changes, however.


More interesting after an hour and a half around Lluviuca (pron. Yoo-vee-YOO-ca) were the upper moorlands, above all the trees except the native Polylepsis, highest growing trees in the world we were told.

At 3979 meters and another 45 minutes up the mountain roadway plants become much different – stunted, closed in, spikey, smaller but nonetheless very beautiful.  One of the striking things is the great similarity in leave structure, shape and coloration at this altitude.  The overall impression (and temperature) is of coldness, sparseness of plants although the ground is covered with.  Lots more birds, too though a bit wary for yours truly to take pictures. Well, here’s one…


And a bird called Chlorides…


The landscape at nearly 14,000 feet below at Laguna Toreadoracajas-toreadora-lake-3979m-2

The upper of 3 lakes: Toreadora


Flowers that never open.  How do they pollinate, I wonder?


Wicked spiny yucca-like plant 6′

cajas-ground-cover-2And flowers…two-blue-flowers-cajas-2

Low lying blue beauties


And the nicely named “Finger of God”

inca-trail-cajasWalking down the ancient inca trail past lakes…

lower-lake-cajas-2Past lichen, fungus and goodness knows what-all


And grey lichen…

grey-lichen-cajas-2And wild llamas munching on the groundcover…four-wild-llamas-cajas-2

Terry and Chiyemi-El Cajas - Dressed Warmly

And us

And back to the van where we proceded to the trout farm for lunch.  En route we passed the president of Ecuador Correa’s party of a couple dozen jeeps, dozens or more policia and assorted hangers on.  Luckily for us, el presidente didn’t eat at the same time as our lunch was scheduled.  Must say that the trout from the farm were absolutely deliscious – ours steamed with a nice canelazo (cinnamon and aguardiente served hot) topped the day off.

Up next – Carnaval…

BTW – here’s a link  to Flickr pix of  El Cajas (those above and others)

8 Responses to “Moving Day and Parque Nacional El Cajas”

  1. 1 Suzanne
    March 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Amazingly beautiful photos! The flower that never opens is like a candy flower in Willie Wonka! Thanks for the vicarious travel and doing all the walking!

    Paul & Suzanne

  2. 2 Linda Gamble
    March 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I am vicariously enjoying your adventure!

    • 3 terrydarc
      March 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks, Linda! The support Chiyemi’s getting from the girls is very nice, too. Sad to hear of Amy Cipes passing. Seems something like this always happens when we travel or maybe it’s just traveling that we feel more helpless – literally – and not able to help. We’ll be back in about two weeks and look forward to seeing all our friends again.
      =Terry & Chiyemi=

  3. 4 Bernie and Maki
    March 14, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Great photos and dialogue.

    • 5 terrydarc
      March 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks, Bernie!
      It’s not everyone who’s attacked by a tigrillo and survives, eh? Saw a nice white roach in the oriente. Tried to take pictures of the little devil but am afraid he was more of a ghost than specimen. Cuenca is even nicer (tho busier) than we remembered. Very much looking forward to softball when I get back. Have been running 25 minutes with interval training on the side of the river – nice, picturesque run there. See you in a couple weeks with the rest of the (so far) 2000 photos that have not shown up on the web, esp. after trip south to the jungle with Chris.
      =Terry & Chiyemi=

  4. 6 Barbara Bradley
    March 12, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Have loved sharing your adventure. Armchair travel is fun- kind of like being in two places at once. What a great time you and Terry are having and speaking in Spanish –which I am sure you do every day. Have loved your dialogue- too. Keep me on your list– I am thoroughly enjoying your vacation.

  5. 7 Barbara Keen
    March 8, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Beautirul flora and fauna, including the two gringos at the end of the slide show. Your apt. is adequate and neat, quaint, although not too spacious. Glad you’re having a great time, and happy to hear that Christopher is joining you! That’s neat!!!!!

  6. 8 Bonnie Umphreys
    March 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    The blog definitely makes a big difference…along with the photo’s.

    Keep up the good work and I may just hire you as our travel guide.


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