These stunning lagoons are the ideal place for a quick getaway into nature.
Ecuador’s Azuay province boasts enchanting destinations with magical lagoons that beckon both locals and visitors seeking a nature-filled getaway during vacations in the Sierra and Amazonia.
These lagoons hold special significance for the inhabitants, who consider them sacred, and they also serve as a captivating tourist attraction.
From sailing and fishing to hiking and camping, Azuay offers diverse activities in and around these mesmerizing bodies of water.
Here are five remarkable lagoons that should top the list of places to explore:
Lagoons of the Cajas National Park
Nestled within the Cajas National Park, the lagoons are a favorite among tourists in Cuenca, located less than an hour away from the city.
With over 200 lakes and lagoons, including popular spots like La Toreadora and Llaviucu, this park is the source for most of Cuenca’s water supply.
To get there, take the Cuenca – Molleturo – Puerto Inca road. About 35 kilometers from Cuenca, you will come to the first and most popular lagoon, Toreadora.
Adventurers can explore seven authorized trails, with varying durations and difficulty levels, for an up-close encounter with these natural wonders.
Admission to the park is free. However, to enter the most remote lagoons, it is recommended to have a guide and follow the instructions of ETAPA, the company that manages the National Park.
While walking, hiking, and bird watching are popular pursuits, the lagoons remain untouched by boats, preserving their pristine beauty.
Situated in the southern part of Azuay, in the San Fernando canton, Busa Lagoon welcomes visitors with its lush green surroundings and dairy farms producing delicious yogurt and cheese.
To get there, take the Cuenca-Girón-Pasaje road approximately 50 kilometers out of Cuenca.
This lagoon provides an ideal setting for relaxation and recreation. Visitors can indulge in water and extreme sports, hiking, horseback riding, and camping.
The lagoon offers various amenities, including boat rentals, barbecue areas, restaurants, and accommodation facilities, making it a perfect spot for an extended stay.
In addition, it is one of the best places to camp in Azuay. But you will need to wear warm clothes as the temperature does drop at night.
Near Busa is another tourist option, the San Pablo hill, where you can practice climbing, mountaineering and paragliding.
Tres Lagoons in Chordeleg
Located 25 kilometers from Cuenca, the Tres Lagunas (Three Lagoons) are in the Chordeleg canton, a magical town in Ecuador.
Note: Access to this natural reserve requires authorized native guides to accompany visitors.
The walking journey takes around three hours and rewards travelers with breathtaking waterfalls, vibrant flora, and sightings of Andean wildlife, such as tapirs and deer.
There are also five shelters where visitors can rest or have a picnic and recharge their batteries to continue the walk.
After a walk of several hours, visitors are rewarded with a unique scene: three large, crystalline lagoons that are connected to each other and form a kind of steps, surrounded by large hills.
The Three Lagoons are considered sacred by the population that lives in the area.
Legends speak of ancestral gold discovery in these waters, a tale that resonates with Chordeleg’s fame for artisan jewelry.
Roughly, 120 kilometers from Cuenca, perched at an elevation of 3,820 meters in the Pucará canton, Ñariguiña Lagoon boasts awe-inspiring beauty. The cold weather and strong winds add to the mystique of the place.
Fed by a waterfall and with an impressive length of 800 meters and a width of 400 meters, the lagoon draws visitors seeking tranquility and fresh air.
The Pucará canton houses other appealing lagoons, including San José de la Betania, a prime location for fishing, as well as the Mesarrumi and Verdecocha lagoons, which offer panoramic vistas of the Andean páramo.
Girón, located 44 kilometers south of Cuenca, enchants travelers with its waterfalls and lagoons. Among the notable lagoons are Curiquingue, San Martín, and Zhogra.
Curiquingue, nestled between Girón and Nabón cantons at an altitude of 3,100 meters, provides a picturesque view and opportunities for hiking, canoeing, and fishing. It is administered by the Chunasana ancestral community.
The Zhogra lagoon is located 9 kilometers from the center of Girón and although regarded as “annoying” by the locals, captivates visitors with its alluring landscape, suitable for fishing and camping.
In the San Gerardo parish, the San Martín lagoon is undergoing development efforts to promote tourism, with road enhancements, tree planting, and general maintenance.
These magical lagoons in Azuay offer a serene escape, where visitors can connect with nature, immerse themselves in breathtaking landscapes, and experience the spiritual significance held by these sacred bodies of water. Whether it’s an adventurous hike or a peaceful retreat, these destinations promise unforgettable experiences for every traveler seeking a touch of magic in Ecuador’s natural wonders.