Sangay National Park - A Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sangay National Park is a very important protected area located across the provinces of Tungurahua, Morono Santiago and Chimborazo of Ecuador. In fact, it was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1983. The park covers some 517 765ha of varied ecosystems, encompassing all types of habitats from glaciers to rainforests, plains to volcanoes. A number of vital indigenous species reside within the bounds of the park, thus its protection is vital. In 1992 Sangay National Park was declared to be in danger because of major road construction and poaching in the vicinity. However by 2005 the situation had improved in leaps and bounds and the park was no longer considered to be under threat. Located 160 km from Quito, 20km from Riobamba and 15km from Macas, Sangay National Park is a fantastic ecotourism destination.
The National Wildlife Reserve of Sangay was created in 1975 and was later declared a National Park in 1979. Originally encompassing 271 925 ha, it was expanded to 517 765 ha in 1992, but only the older section is considered a World Heritage Site. The altitude of this exceptional natural area varies between 900m and 5 319m. As previously mentioned, the national park features a number of ecosystems. There are, in fact, three main zones, namely: the alluvial fans, eastern foothills and volcanic High Andes. Sangay's two volcanoes, Sangay and Tungurahua, are still active and occasionally spew out volcanic material. In the Sangay National Park there are several rivers that empty into the Amazon Basin. These rivers are the Palora, Llushin and Upano, each with a number of tributaries. Laguna Pintada is an impressive 5km long lake. In general the park of Sangay enjoys a temperate and subtropical climate with variances in precipitation and temperatures across the various landscapes.
The sheer vastness and diversity of Sangay National Park's terrain means that flora is just as varied and abundant. There are more than 3 000 plant species divided amongst the alpine, wet forest and montane cloud zones. Botany enthusiasts will be delighted by the wide selection of vegetation. All this vegetation provides homes and food for a wide variety of fauna in the region. Animal populations are distinctly distributed according to the vegetation zones. Whilst touring the area you stand the chance of seeing Andean fox, spectacled bear, mountain tapir, puma, giant otter, ocelot, jaguar, brocket deer, pudu and much more. Avid birders will also not be disappointed with approximately 450 bird species to watch out for - some of which are endemic. Bird watchers can look forward to marking the following species off their list: redfaced parrot, little woodstar, masked mountain tanager, spot-winged parrotlet, giant hummingbird, king vulture, condor, swallow-tailed kite, plus others.
Sangay National Park offers visitors fine facilities, including a tourist center, accommodation, hiking trails and hot springs. Mountaineering is certainly one of the most popular activities in the park. Why not make a point of visiting Sangay National Park while in Ecuador so that you can immerse yourself in the beauty of this unique natural area? You won't regret it!