El Condor National Park - Home to the Magnificent Andean Condor
The impressive size and grace of the Andean Condor has instilled awe and respect in millions of observers over the centuries. Despite its somewhat unattractive facial features, this fascinating black and white bird has a wingspan of 274-310 cm (108-122 in) which enables it to soar effortlessly over the Andean mountains. Admiration for this ‘king of the skies’ has resulted in the naming of several places after the Condor. The Condor Mountain Range, where the birds seem to enjoy nesting, is certainly an example of this. The El Condor National Park was named for the Condor Mountain Range which falls within the park’s boundaries. The Condor Mountain Range is generally regarded as being older than the Andes and it enjoys a certain amount of prestige as such.
The El Condor National Park is a small nature reserve that covers an area which is approximately 2 440 hectares in size. The park falls into the Zamora Chinchipe (Peru) and Morona Santiago (Ecuador) provinces and is commonly viewed as being a national treasure for both Peruvians and Ecuadorians. It was established by both governments who decided that it would be beneficial to create a protected area here instead of continuing to argue over which country the area should belong to. The decision was not just a peaceful one – it resulted in the conservation of some of the richest and most diverse flora in the region. It has also helped somewhat to conserve the Andean Condor which is a near threatened species. The fact that the Condor Mountain Range is even older than the Andes means that the vegetation found here is older, better established and more valuable.
The El Condor Park lies within a ‘reserved zone’ between Peru and Ecuador. Though its borders actually fall within the borders of Ecuador, it is commonly combined with the Zone of Ecological Protection (5 400 ha) and the Santiago-Comaina Reserve Zone (1 642 570 ha) – both of which are in Peru – to form a mega-reserve of subsequent importance. The area is rich in cloud forest and is filled with large numbers of endangered animal species that have not been adversely affected due to the inaccessibility of the area. Some examples of these include the long-haired spider monkey, the white-chested swift, the spot-winged parrotlet, the Traylor’s forest falcon and the golden-plumed conure. If you are able to manage it, a trip to the park is unparalleled by anything else in Ecuador.