(information based on article in Terra Incognita magazine, issue: julio 2011)
This is Ecuador´s newest national park. It was established on 30 December 2009. An interesting aspect is that it came about largely as an initiative of local communities and civil organizations who wanted to protect the páramo, their source of water.
In 2002, at their request the Environment Ministry designated 73,000 hectares of land on the mountain range as protected forest. It is known as Columbo Yacuri after the biggest hill and lake respectively. Then in 2009 a smaller area of 43,000 hectares was given national park status.
The area sounds interesting with lots of lakes to visit and some unique bird species. The easiest lakes to visit are the lagunas de Jimbura (from the Espíndola –Chinchipe road). Yacuri is a 6 hour trek from the Barrio Mareola in Amaluza.
This park is located in the far south of Ecuador in the province of Loja and it is definitely not on the tourist track. You have to make an effort to get there but you can see an interesting part of the Andes.
The organizations involved in promoting and protecting the area are Grupo de Trabajo de Páramos de Loja, Ecológica Arco Iris (http://www.arcoiris.org.ec ) and Fundación Naturaleza y Cultura (read article about threat to water sources here http://www.naturalezaycultura.org/spanish/htm/ecuador/areas-watersheds.htm ).
I haven´t visited yet and I don´t have my own photos so here are 2 from other sources: