It can be quite cold, to below ten degrees Celsius and the wind and rain can be fierce. The rock formations and peaks are gigantic. The new park Yacuri is beautiful but difficult to access. The only way to get there is a 2 hour drive from Amaluza in the canton of Espindola in the province of Loja. Few Ecuadorians will know this canton. Tourists rarely, if ever, come there. The extreme point where they sometimes stop is the “Valley of the Centenarians” in Vilcabamba. But that may change now that Yacuri has become a national park.
The park consists of 73,300 ha of protected forest (the Bosque Protector Colambo-Yacuri), cloud forest and paramo (high plains) with numerous lagunas (the laguna Yauri, Lagunas Negras, Laguna Cox, Lagunas de Jimbura, …). The park is located at an altitude of 3800 meters, in an area where several rivers have their source and flow both to the east and to the west and provide the drinking water for Catamayo-Chira and Chinchipe-Mayo. Yacuri is located in the south of the province of Loja, on the border of the Amazon province of Zamora Chinchipe, just on the Peruvian border.
Not far from Yacuri is the more famous National Park of Podocarpus, the reserve Yacuambi and across the border on Peruvian territory the Santuario Nacional Tabacones de Namballe. That is why it is being considered to connect these four nature areas with each other and to create a kind of protected “corredor”. This would benefit the preservation of some mammals that live in the area but are endangered, such as the spectacled bear.
The proclamation of Yacuri National Park actually came at the initiative of the population, especially small farmers, who hope that this will enable them to generate extra income from ecotourism. Particularly in the villages of Amaluza, Santa Teresita and Jimbura (in the province of Loja) and Palanda, Valladolid and San Andres (in the province of Zamora Chinchipe), people are actively promoting the initiative. Training courses on conservation and the training of 4 park rangers and guides have begun. The Ministry of the Environment allocated a budget of USD 144,000 for 2010 to this end.
Information: monthly magazine “vzw Esmeraldas”