How to avoid an untimely death in Parque Nacional Cajas

Tres cruces, Cajas National Park

Tres cruces “Three crosses” is a monument to the people who have died in Parque Nacional Cajas. Historically, people died in passage from the port of Guayaquil to the sierras. Now people die going on long hikes, getting lost in the fog and rain with poorly marked trails and freezing. Won’t happen to me? Think again, it happened to me! Except the part about dying. Here’s my tips to have a pleasant and non-fatal trip to Cajas:

  • Be acclimatized! I went with a couple friends on route #3, a couple days after I’d returned from visiting parents at sea level in the US. Bad idea.
  • Leave very early in the morning, especially for hikes over a couple hours. It rains most habitually in Cajas in the afternoons.
  • Wear hiking shoes not sneakers for the longer hikes. I fell over and almost twisted my ankle a dozen times. And I’d like to think its not innate clumsiness. I’m a dancer after all!
  • Wear warm clothes, preferably waterproof
  • Look out for the trail markers. The trail markers are painted rocks. You look for the color corresponding to the route you chose.
  • Low risk tolerance? Chill out at low elevation, there are walking paths, much more oxygen, and trout fishing. Or, take a short hike around Laguna Toreadora by the tourist office. Impossible to get lost.
  • Zero risk tolerance? Go with an organized tour. This is what I did the third time around.
  • Don’t forget food, or you can have the local specialty fried trout at the tourist center
  • Wanna see more? Check out my Youtube video tour!

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