Llanganates National Park is a protected area of Ecuador, known for its cloud forests, páramos, lagoons and vast biodiversity. Located within the Andean páramo as well as the montane forests on the eastern flanks of the Andes, it is also famous for the "Treasure of the Llanganatis."
Llanganates National Park
Llanganates National Park is a protected area situated in the Cotopaxi, Napo, Pastaza and Tungurahua provinces of Ecuador. Covering some 219,707 ha (542,907 acres), it is known for its cloud forests, páramos, lagoons and vast biodiversity.
Cerro Hermoso, a 4,571 m (14,996 ft) peak is located within the park and is a popular hiking destination. Much of the landscape however, is virtually untouched by humans, with large portions of the park yet unmapped.
Llanganates National Park is also known for the beauty of its waterfalls, rivers and streams including the river basins of the Jatunyacu, Machay, Piautas, Verde Chico and Yanayacu.
Altitudes within the park range from 1,200 m (3,937 ft) to 4,571 m (14,996 ft). The variation in altitudes gives rise to extremes in climate, with annual precipitation ranging between 1,000 (39 in) and 4,000 mm (157 in).
The park is divided into two ecological zones:
The western zone is located in the Andean páramo, high above the eastern zone. Here, visitors find a deserted landscape of mountainous peaks and high valleys. The area is populated mainly by South American camelids such as the vicuña, llama and alpaca.
The eastern zone is located on the eastern flanks of the Andes, with montane forests characterized by a rich diversity of plants and animals among the twisted forests of the upper Amazon. This area is highly unreachable, and is usually traversed only by foot.
The large number of rivers, emptying out the Andes also makes this area difficult to cross. In recent years, several new species of plants have been discovered here, including several species of rare Andean Magnolia.
Llanganates National Park is home to nearly 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 23 species of reptiles and amphibians and 1,000 species of plants.
Mammals include the spectacled bear, andean tapir, white tailed deer, mountain rabbit, vicuña, alpaca and llama. Flora includes the valeriana, sunfo, frailejone, chuquiragua, chilca and orchid.
Treasure of the Llanganatis
Llanganates National Park is famous for the "Treasure of the Llanganatis," a tale which refers to a huge amount of gold, silver, platinum and electrum artifacts, as well as other treasures, supposedly hidden deep within the Llanganates mountain range by the Inca general Rumiñahui.
According to local legend, Rumiñahui hid the renowned treasure of Atahualpa or El Dorado in the region. This remarkable legend has resulted in many explorers venturing into the depths of the Llanganates National Park's challenging terrain.