Established in 1996, Llanganates National Park is known for its abundant cloud forests, vast paramos, and mystical lagoons. Located in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Napo, Pastaza and Tungurahua, the park covers diverse ecosystems and is home to some of the country’s most interesting species in flora and fauna.
Besides… legend says that upon the conquest of the Spaniards, Inca leader Atahualpa buried his treasures under the hills of Llanganates. Many explorers have come to Llanganates on expeditions in search of the hidden gold, digging tirelessly for the treasures of the Inca Empire, which have never been found.
Treasure or not, this area is truly special and magical to explore. Stretching from the western paramos to the eastern cloud forests on the flanks of the Amazon, there are other wonders to keep an eye out for!
Standing at 4,571 meters above sea level, Cerro Hermoso is the highest peak inside Llanganates. Besides the beauty of the hill itself, its surroundings make it truly impressive. Magnificent flora such as polylepis (paper trees) forests, Andean bamboo (Zuros) and thousands of frailejones bring life to the silent paramos and from the summit, the Llanganates Mountain range stands at a distance. Furthermore, on the foothills of Cerro Hermoso, you can find Brunner or Cable Lagoon.
Lagoons, rivers, streams and waterfalls:
Did you know? Over 30 lagoons are found inside the park, and they are one of the most important sources of freshwater in the region.
But Llanganates National Park is also known for the beauty of its waterfalls, rivers and streams! Important river basins such as Jatunyacu, Machay, Piautas, Verde Chico and Yanayacu, are imposing, majestic and transmit energy and vitality to anyone nearby. Besides, the innumerable streams in the area are great for water sports such as rafting, kayaking and fishing.
Because of the extensiveness of the park, there are various routes and entrances that take you to different areas within the reserve. If you enter Llanganates via Latacunga, you can visit Salayambo Lagoon, while from Salcedo you can visit Anteojos Lagoon, from Pillaro you can visit Pisayambo Lagoon, and from Patate you can visit Púlpito Hill, and Calaveras or Skull Cave.
What to Do:
Hiking: beautiful natural and established trails take you to explore the cloud forests, or the vast paramos. Whether you want an adventure in the mountains or an adventure in the slopes of a humid forest, the park has everything to offer.
Horseback riding: there are several horseback riding tours that take you through the highlands and towards the lagoons for an incredible picnic day!
Jungle Excursion: trekking or walks through the cloud forest are a true delight. Orchids and bromeliads hang from the trees around you and the sound of frogs and insects escort you on your way.
Camping: camping in the paramos of the Llanganates is often accompanied by peaceful landscapes, great lagoons, and the whisper of chilcas swaying in the wind. Withstanding the cold weather seems a little price to pay when experiencing such a majestic setting.
Flora and Fauna:
Fauna: the park is home to nearly 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 23 species of reptiles and amphibians and 1,000 species of plants. Some of these animals include: spectacled bears, andean tapirs, white tailed deer, mountain rabbits, vicuñas, alpacas and llamas.
Flora: valerianas, sunfo, frailejones (taller than anywhere else), chuquiraguas, chilcas and orchids.
How to get there:
From Quito: Via Ambato. Take highway from Quito to Ambato (132 km) where you will find a route guiding you towards Pillaro. Continue your path until reaching Dos Acequias, drive past San Jose de Poalo, and you will reach Sunfopamba refuge ahead.
Via Salcedo. Take Via Quito Salcedo (104 km), until you reach Parroquia San Miguel and continue, for 24 km (approx. 45 min-50 min) to Panzarumi refuge.
From Tena: The Pano-Talag road will take you to Talag where you will find a checkpoint. Follow the road for about 4km to find a park entrance.