National Parks in Ecuador 

This article seeks to highlight the different national parks that offer the most amazing adventures and experiences.

In Ecuador, the issue of environmental conservation is becoming increasingly important, not only because of the obvious benefits of taking care of nature and the great biodiversity of its geography, but also because of the contribution that the tourism sector has made to the economic revival of a country that, despite the restrictions resulting from the Pandemic, is focusing its efforts on improving every day to provide visitors with a unique experience. A few days ago, Ecuador celebrated the Day of National Parks, that is why, this article seeks to highlight for tourists, the different parks that with their magic and splendor are ready to offer them the most pleasant of adventures and experiences.

Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas covers more than 18 million hectares (13. 64% of the national territory) spread over 62 conserved areas. These territories are made up of national parks, wildlife refuges, reserves, among other areas with their own conservation and management categories. The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is the largest with about 12 million hectares, followed by Yasuní National Park (YNP) with about 1 million hectares; Sangay National Park (SNP) is the protected area with the largest number of ecosystems (about 19), followed by Podocarpus National Park with 12 ecosystems.

Below, we present a summary of the TOP 10 National Parks of Ecuador megadiverse

Yasuní National Park:

The Park covers an area of more than 10,000 square kilometers, is located at the eastern end of the equator between the provinces of Pastaza and Orellana, is one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet where the tropical cloud forest stretches between rivers and the low plains of the eastern Andes Mountain range. This territory is home to the Waorani people, where they carry out their hunting, fishing, and farming activities amidst the lush vegetation. The extraordinary greenery of the forest protects the rich flora and fauna that develops in the layer of leaves, branches, fruits, and trunks that cover the Amazonian soil.

Cajas National Park:

This Reserve is in the south of Ecuador in the province of Azuay, 33 km from the city of Cuenca. This is one of the largest and most biodiverse parks in Ecuador, it has about 270 water bodies, which constitute the supply of the vital liquid for much of the population of the region.

The pajonales, the great humidity and the altitude at which this nature reserve is located, allow unique species of birds such as the Condor, variety of hummingbirds or the Curiquingue, to find in these places their natural habitat, where together with deer, foxes and rabbits complete the life cycle of the Andean moor.

Cotopaxi National Park:

The proximity of this park to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, determines that it is one of the most visited, both by national and foreign tourists. The Cotopaxi National Park includes part of the provinces of Pichincha, Cotopaxi, and Napo and in the center is located the highest active volcano in the world (5,897 meters above sea level).

Galapagos National Park:

This Park was declared a Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and has generated the amazement and curiosity of the most important scientists such as Charles Darwin and Humboldt, who carried out part of their research in the Archipelago. More than 2,900 species can be found in the reserve, 25% of which are endemic to the archipelago. There are also 24 species of marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and sea lions. 

Machalilla National Park

This Park of great natural value includes a variety of ecosystems that are conserved in about 42,000 hectares on the mainland, where dry and semi-dry forests, along with the beaches of the coast, and 430 hectares of sea, show another facet of one of the most biodiversity-rich countries on the planet. This Park, full of landscapes and routes ideal for adventure, has also an important cultural value, as it is the origin of human settlements that founded the development of the native populations of this part of the planet (Valdivia, Manteña or Huancavilca) with more than 5,000 years of history that can be discovered by visiting the different archaeological sites that can be found throughout the park.

Parque Nacional Cayambe Coca

This Park is located just 50 minutes from Quito and combines both Andean landscapes and those of the humid forest of the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountain range and the crystal-clear rivers that, through multiple ravines and canyons, look for their way to the mighty Napo River. Towards the west side are the causes of the River Esmeraldas that reach the Pacific Ocean.

Llanganates National Park

This Park is not only known for its fascinating Andean flora and fauna with moors and humid forests, but also for the origin of legends of the Inca Atahualpa and its treasure that is supposedly hidden in the steepest mountains of the Llanganates. These legends and secrets have attracted many expeditionaries and adventurers who so far have only been able to find the wonders of a magical and unique natural environment.

Podocarpus National Park

The Park, located in Loja and Zamora Chinchipe, owes its name to the Podocarpus tree, characteristic of the lowlands of the region, whose magical roots and the water that seeps through them, are said to be the cause of the longest-lived populations of the country.

Sangay National Park

This Park contains two active volcanoes located in the provinces of Morona Santiago, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, and Cañar. This vast territory is extremely bio-diverse, and the pronounced dislocation of its geography has allowed the development of important power plants such as the Puate River. In this vast territory you can find pre-Columbian and pre-Inca ruins, such as the Inca Road or Andean Road system that goes from Colombia to Chile. The archaeological centre of Ingapirca is a must-visit ceremonial site for visitors.

Sumaco National Park

This Park is home to the only volcano located in the Amazon, the Sumaco volcano, from whose foothills the most important rivers of the region such as the Payamino, Pucuno, Suno, among others.

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