Updated: Dec 2, 2018
• location: Cajas National Park • Country: Ecuador • Region: Southamerica
Out of over 230 impressive lakes at Cajas National Park, Llaviucu (also Zorrocucho o Surocucho) Lake is one of the most gorgeous, as well as one of the easiest to visit. It is located in the valley of the same name, in the eastern border of the National Park. It takes only 35 minutes to reach it by car, from the city of Cuenca. The lake is surrounded by a mountain forest at 3.160 meters above sea level, in the Andean region of South Ecuador. However, the forest's humidity and exhuberance resemble that of an Amazonic forest. There is a very easy wooden circular path (the "Uku" path) that goes around lake, and takes you into some sections of the forest. It takes around one to two hours to complete it. However there is also another path ("San Antonio" path) that you can follow to the end of the valley, which is more demanding, and you should ask the park rangers for instructions before taking it.
Once you get there, you feel yourself surrounded by gigantic impressive mountains in a narrow valley with an impressive scenery. Llaviucu is one of the lowest points of Cajas Park, at 3.160 meters above sea level, which can reach up to 4.450 meters above sea level. The whole park is a majestic natural system that captures and regulates water streams, and Llavuicu Lake represents the last of a sussecion of interconnected lakes, where the water streams take the final form of a river, and flows towards Cuenca city, crossing it, and after a long path through Ecuador reaches the Amazon river, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.
Because of its high birds diversity, at Llaviucu Lake you can find Andean toucans, Andean gulls, ducks, different specieses of hummingbirds, tangaras and more. Provided that you wake up very early in the morning, or stay until the end of the afternoon (which here happens between 5:30 and 6:30pm all year round), you will be able to see an intense bird "air traffic".
The valley and the lake have a glacier origin, which means that the present landscape was not formed by vulcanic eruptions, but for the pressure and later retreat of the huge ice layers that covered earth's surface, around 10.000 years ago, after the last glacier period ended. This is why when you visit Llaviucu Lake you will be witnessing the traces of the origin of earth's shape as we know it today, and simultaneously the origin of modern life thanks to its function as water source.