National Park Cajas (parque nacional Cajas) is located in the Ecuadorian Andes west of Cuenca. In Spanish Cajas means boxes *. This is a striking name as the area is characterised by large outcrops of bedrock. This is called knob and kettle geomorphology and results in a spectacular landscape, where the outcrops alternate with lakes. The lakes and rivers are famous for their trout and pure water. The park is about twenty nine thousand square hectares large and ranges in altitude from 2800 meters to more than 4400 meters above sea level. The exact limits of the park are not known so the surface is an estimation. The western boundary of the park is not well defined but mainly west of the water division between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. The northern boundary is a mountain range, the southern boundary is the valley of Soldados and the eastern boundary is not well defined but can be considered as the valley of the tomebamba.

On the right is a terrain map of Ecuador showing the city of Cuenca on the right, the area of Cajas National Park in transparent blue, the Cuenca Guayaquil road in red and the ranger station.

The Guayaquil-Cuenca road cuts through the northern part of the park. Along this road there is a ranger station that is used as a starting point for most of the tracks. Besides the splendid flora the park lodges rabbits, lobo de páramo, condors and many other animals. The large extension of the park, its absence of settlements, the easy access by the very good road and the spectacular landscape make it a popular but also dangerous park for tourists.

* More explanations of the name of the park exists.

The Instituto Geográfico Militar in Quito sells topographic maps with a 1:50.000 scale to civilians. Those maps are of high quality and the best there is. Although the scale is a bit small (I prefer to walk on 1:25.000) they are very accurate. Cajas covers four maps namely: Chiquintad (CT-NV-F2), San Felipe de Molleturo (CT-NV-F1), Chaucha (CT-NV-F3) and Cuenca (CT-NV-F4). For day tours around laguna Toreadora the Chiquintad is sufficient. The Cuenca map in combination with the Chiquintad can be used for daytours in the surrounding of Laguna laviuco. For tracks in the surrounding of laguna Luspa the San Felipe de Molleturo and Chiquintad map can be used.