Parque Nacionál Sangay, Ecuador – The invisible

Was this necessary? Another road crossing the Eastern Cordillera? It’s the fifth meanwhile. Admitted, it makes travelling and living for the people here easier. It’s problem-free to change between highland and the Amazon Basin. This newest traffic-wise achievement is now mainly paved and cuts the National Park Sangay in two halves. What is counterproductive for an intact flora and fauna is a delight for travellers, particularly as the pass traverse offers an access into the before extremely difficult accessible nature reserve.

Short after Macas the park begins with the subtropical jungle of the Amazonian highlands with uncountable meandering creeks. Ascending slowly the Andean mountain range we find cooler cloud forest where long skinny Wax palm trees stick their dainty top into the clouds. Numberless waterfalls divert the collected rainwater. In altitude trees give way to dense green-brown grasses and scrubland and release the view to the Atillo lagoons that nestle between the surrounding peaks. The páramo lake area is the highlight of the Sangay National Park that is accessible by road.

The 5,230 m / 17,160 ft high Sangay, one of the most active volcanoes on the entire American continent, isn’t visible from the road, at the most with a long hike or from far with a lot of fortune from Baños, the Pan Am or from Macas. The other volcanoes and mountains in this national park like the Altar or the Soroche, which bears the pretty as proper name “altitude sickness”, cover themselves.

The best place to sleep is at the lakes; either on the parking lot at the viewpoint (S 02°10’34.8’’ W 78°30’12.1’’) or a bit further west at Campamento Atillo with better view. Here you can park at a gravel place beside the road or better and way quieter one floor deeper, accessible via the dirt track leading down: S 02°11’16.2’’ W 78°31’14.3’’. There shouldn’t be safety doubts, but at the second site we are even in sight of the village. Best photos of the lakes can be taken at night or at sunrise when clouds disappeared.

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