Three magical places to camp in Ecuador, an experience that combines adventure and nature.
Camping in Ecuador
Words & Photos: Jairo Cabrera – / Mapa: OpenStreetMap
Adventure is an underrated need. There are people who have never left the town they were born in. They have never experienced the feeling of “let’s go and explore and see what is here or there”.
Even if you are the most urban of creatures, the need to get out of the city and go camping can take hold of your imagination at any time. Getting out of the comfort zone and considering camping is something we should all consider at least once in our lives. Camping under the stars is an amazing cure for many ailments that everyday life, stress or pandemic times have made us lose the meaning of life.
Ecuador is a biologically diverse place where nature, adventure and culture go hand in hand, and it is hard not to find this combination in every corner of this wonderful country. However, if this diversity leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed about where to go camping, do not despair. We are here to tell you about some of the most fascinating places Ecuador has to offer.
Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park
The national park is located in the province of Azuay, in the south of Ecuador. Here the Andes are older, with less volcanic activity and no high peaks. Its mountains contain lake systems in the form of huge interconnected boxes.
This is an exceptional place to get away from the noise and open your senses to nature. The Cajas is full of water. This is an exceptional place to get away from the noise, open your senses to nature and contemplate it. The Cajas is full of water. The Cajas has an incomparable value of water, there are 165 lakes of more than 1 hectare and 621 of less than 1 hectare, in total there are 786 bodies of water. The most photographed and famous lakes are Toreadora and Llaviucu.
Temperatures in the national park range from -2°C to 18°C. The weather is erratic, with frequent frosts, drizzle, fog and days of intense sunshine.
The best way to get there is to take the Cuenca-Molleturo-Naranjal road, which crosses the northern part of the park and gives access to most of the lakes in the area, as well as to the Visitor Centre on the banks of Lake Toreadora. Another alternative route to consider is the one in the south of the park, known as Soldados-Angas.
Early morning and dawn are the best times to watch the sky, listen to the birds and feel the presence of animals.
Situated in the province of Cotopaxi, Lake Quilotoa is considered one of the 15 most beautiful volcanic lakes in the world by Twistedsifter. Because of its beauty, it is also considered one of the best places to camp in Ecuador.
Quilotoa is located in the crater of the volcano of the same name and is around 3 kilometres in diameter. From its rim you can see its close neighbours: Cotopaxi and the Illinizas twins.
There is also a 12km (approx) trail around the lake. The descent from the crater rim to the lake and back is via a track, the longest part of which is sandy. It is advisable to walk around the site with appropriate walking shoes.
Minerals have given the surface a greenish, bluish hue in the sunlight. Inside there are springs that can be seen from the shore as bubbling trails rising to the surface.
According to Mothes/Hall, 1998. The last eruption took place about 800 years ago (12th century), producing large pyroclastic pumice flows and a fallout deposit distributed throughout the north of the country. It is worth noting that this ash buried several pre-Columbian agricultural areas, apparently forcing the migration of the indigenous peoples who inhabited them.
Volcán El Altar - Valle de los Collanes.
El Altar Volcano.
The central region of Ecuador offers an impressive camping site. Unlike the previous ones, this site is difficult to access due to its complexity and the arduous hours of hiking required to reach the site.
This is the Collanes Valley, an area of 40 hectares that extends to the foothills of El Altar volcano. This area is part of the Sangay National Park, one of the largest in the country.
Camping in the valley next to El Altar, called ‘Kapak Urku’, which means ‘Lord of the Mountains’ in Kichwa, is an impressive natural setting in the eastern cordillera. The highest peak of El Obispo, at 5,319m, caresses the sky above.
The walk to the Collanes Valley is 7 km long. In this area it is advisable to spend the first day camping and the second day walking 2 km to Laguna Amarilla (Yellow Lake). An impressive landscape that seems jealously protected by its glaciers, which give symmetry to a horseshoe of peaks. Its 6 main peaks have ecclesiastical names: The Altar, The Canon, The Brothers, The Tabernacle, The Little Nun, The Monk.
The valley is a biodiverse place, ideal for camping, hiking, trekking, mountaineering and other outdoor activities.