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Bani Amor explores the dwarf forests, clear lakes, and rolling tundra of Andean Ecuador.

LAST MONTH, I spent a weekend hiking in what locals call Parque de Mil Lagos, or “Park of a Thousand Lakes,” because though Cajas National Park actually harbors around 270 glacial-melt lakes and ponds, when you’re hiking in this backcountry their count seems infinite. The vast wilderness of El Cajas encompasses a unique mix of biodiversity — from high-alpine páramo to cloud forest and humid wetland — which is one of the reasons UNESCO has designated it a Natural Heritage Site candidate.

Both the Inca Trail and the Continental Divide cut through Cajas. The name of the park comes either from the Kichwa word cassa, meaning “gateway to the snowy mountains,” or simply caxa: “cold.” The Spanish word cajas translates to “boxes,” which probably refers to the compartmentalized bodies of water sprinkled over the land like shards of glass reflecting the sky, and which flow to both the Pacific Ocean and Amazon River.

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About The Author

Bani Amor

Bani Amor is a queer travel writer from Brooklyn by way of Ecuador. She left high school at 15 to travel the States, South America, Canada and Asia alone, and currently self-publishes the travel zine Everywhere All The Time from the road in South America. She's been published in Bluestockings Magazine and Viator, among others.

  • Monica A. Villarreal

    breathtaking…i miss you…i love you…i am so proud!

  • Anonymous

    Gracias hon.

  • Florian Lasnes

    very nice…

  • Mischa van Reenen

    Hey Bani Amor, nice pictures and stories!
    I work at a small tour operator in the Netherlands called Your Planet. Last year I went to Ecuador around this time in 2011 and this will be a new destination for us in the future. Do have any tips for doing this trip?

  • Gina Vallejo Campozano

    espectacularrrr.. felicitacionessss

  • Angelica Martinez de Moscoso

    Querida sobrina Felicitaciones! hermosas fotos, hermoso todoo! Lindo mi Ecuador.

  • Bani Amor

    Thanks everyone!

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