The Andes in Ecuador
The Andes in Ecuador cross the country from North to South, creating natural regions and a wide range of life zones.
Antisana Ecological Reserve
Antisana is a majestic and mysterious volcano on the western mountain range. It is the nucleus of this protected area in which we find moorlands and western Andean forests. Volcanic activity, glacial processes, and evolution have created amazing scenery along the way and a very diverse wildlife. Mirroring the volcano we find the Mica lagoon, where part of the water of Quito comes from. Aside from the lagoon there are also swamp areas where water collects during rainy season, forming seasonal lagoons such as Santa Lucia or Mauca Machay. There are several rivers that are born within the reserve which then slide through the western slopes and feed the rivers Coca and Napo; in the valley of Tambo there are hot springs. A few years ago it was a difficult place to access, but now it is one of the easiest places to visit from the capital and other surrounding areas.
Cotopaxi National Park
The Cotopaxi volcano, an almost perfect snow cone that rises to 5,897 meters is unique in the world and is perhaps, next to Galapagos, the greatest symbol of our natural geography, recognized worldwide.
Thousands of climbers from all nationalities have achieved its peak and many others dream of doing it. Because it is located in the center of the inter-Andean corridor and close to several cities such as Quito and Latacunga, Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most visited and where many people probably first touch snow.
The imposing Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, dominates the landscape of the protected area, which also includes two smaller volcanoes close by; Morurco (4,880 m) and Rumiñahui (4,722 m). Cotopaxi is located in an area called “Avenida de los Volcanes”(Avenue of the Volcanoes), named by German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in 1802 referring to volcanoes of the central and northern Ecuadorian highlands. The predominant ecosystem in the park is moorland, with its own unique flora and fauna. Vegetation is principally scrub and small, low shrubs.
Cajas National Park
The Cajas National Park is located in the province of Azuay, in southern Ecuador where the Andean cordillera (range) is older, less volcanically active, and without the high peaks that are so common further north. In this area, the mountains form large, beautiful plateaux where large quantities of water accumulate. El Cajas is full of water bodies: there are about 165 lagoons that are over 1 hectare and 621 that are smaller than 1 hectare. In total there are 786 water bodies.The condors which soar over the area must get an amazing view of this; a green and golden carpet of wrinkled valleys that all guard their own lagoons, which are interconnected by small streams. Due to the large number of lagoons, the presence of migratory birds and the importance for water capture, storage and provision of water to the nearby villages, the National Park is recognized as a Ramsar site, or Wetland of International Importance. Since 2002, and through an agreement with the Ministry of Environment, the National Park is administered by the Municipality of Cuenca