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Protected Areas in Ecuador: Exploring Nature’s Hidden Treasures

The Protected Areas in Ecuador are well known for an echanting beauty ready for those willing to discover it. From the picturesque landscapes of Podocarpus National Park to the wildlife encounters at Machalilla National Park, these protected areas offer unforgettable experiences. Delve into the wonders of Cotopaxi National Park, observe diverse flora and fauna at Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve, and experience thrilling adventures in Cajas National Park.

Podocarpus National Park

Located between Loja and Zamora Chinchipe, this natural park is a paradise for photography enthusiasts, hikers, and nature lovers. The park offers exciting activities such as biking tours, horseback riding, and camping, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings.

Podocarpus National Park, along with other nearby areas like Yacuri National Park and Cerro Plateado Biological Reserve, has been designated as part of the Podocarpus-El Cóndor Biosphere Reserve since 2007, a recognition bestowed by UNESCO. The park operates from Monday to Sunday, between 08:00 and 17:00, with mornings being the recommended time to visit.

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Hiking time
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Oso de Páramo

Machalilla National Park

Situated in the southwestern region of Manabí, spanning the cantons of Jipijapa, Puerto López, and Montecristi, Machalilla National Park is one of the most visited protected areas, which is also part of the Spondylu’s Route. This is due to the presence of humpback whales, which migrate from the south to mate or give birth in Ecuadorian waters.

Entrance to the park is free, and it is open every day from 08:00 to 16:30, offering ample opportunities for visitors to witness these magnificent marine creatures.

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The dance of the humpback whales
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Sunset time

Cotopaxi National Park

Apart from its iconic volcano, Cotopaxi National Park boasts six tourist sectors of great interest, such as the Caspi Viewpoint, the Páramo Trail, and the Limpiopungo Lagoon. It is important to note that the park operates from Tuesday to Sunday, starting at 08:00 and closing at 15:00. Due to recent volcanic activity, it is advisable to check official portals beforehand to ensure that there is no considerable ash presence in the surrounding areas.

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Wild Horses in the Cotopaxi

Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve

At Los Ilinizas Ecological Reserve, visitors can indulge in activities like hiking, observing diverse flora and fauna, and taking a kayak ride on the Quilotoa Lagoon. The reserve is open from Tuesday to Sunday, between 08:00 and 15:00, providing an ideal opportunity to explore its natural wonders.

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Flora in Los Ilinizas
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Quilotoa Lagoon

Cajas National Park

Situated in the Azuay páramo, Cajas National Park is renowned for its adventurous sports, wildlife spotting opportunities, and stargazing at night. With more than 600 picturesque lakes. You can also discover the wonders of the Ecuadorian Inca Trail which once connected the Incan empire’s with the city at its heart, Cuzco, Peru. The park welcomes visitors from Tuesday to Sunday opening its doors at 08:00 and closing at 15:00.

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One of the many lagoons
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Part of the Inca Trail

By visiting these protected areas in Ecuador, you will not only be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and rich biodiversity but also contribute to their preservation and sustainable tourism practices. Don’t miss the chance to explore these natural wonders and make unforgettable memories during your vacation. Remember to check our Top 10 Places to Visit in Ecuador and check the official websites for any updates or additional information.

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