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El Cajas National Park

About 30 km away from the capital of Azuay there is one of the most beautiful national parks of Ecuador, the Cajas National Park.
 It has an extension of 28.500 hectares and has elevations from 3.200 to 4.450 meters high.  The average temperature is of 10 degrees and the precipitations range from 1.200 to 2.000 mm.
 At the beginning, in 1979, the Cajas National Park had the category of National Recreation Area, and by 1996 it was promoted to the category of National Park, which enforces a more rigorous control for the protection of this unique ecosystem in the country. Due to its beautiful landscapes, archaeological values, wealth in endemic flora and fauna and its approximately 230 lakes, the PNC is studying at the moment the possibility to elevate its category to World Heritage Natural Site by the UNESCO.
Most of the PNC is made up of Sub-Alpine Pluvial Forest  and of Moor.  The grounds of the moor are carpeted by highland straw, in addition to a great variety of smaller plants that are of great help to the natural water reservoirs. There is a Forest of Quinoa or Polylepis, more commonly called "paper tree" since its bark is made up of thin layers. The height of these trees is from 8 to 10 meters and these are located close to lakes, small gorges or rocky places and are the only trees that survive over 4.000 m.a.s.l. Their trunks are twisted and covered with moss. This demonstrates the natural value of the park and its species, since these trees only live in specific microclimates.




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Cuenca - Ecuador
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