Sangay National Park

Sangay National Park is a national park located in the Morona Santiago, Chimborazo and Tungurahua provinces of Ecuador.

In 1992, it was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to illegal poaching, extensive grazing, unplanned road construction and encroachment of the park’s perimeter.

It was removed from the UNESCO list of endangered sites in 2005.

A high diversity of vegetation types are present, ranging from alpine zones of the high paramo to the subtropical rain and wet forests of the upper Amazon Basin.

The principal physical factors influencing vegetation are altitude and rainfall, with more luxuriant vegetation growing on the wetter eastern slopes.

Alpine rain tundra has formed at the highest levels below the snowline, and is dominated by lichens and bryophytes.

A subalpine rain Paramo zone occurs below this.

Montane wet forest is found in valleys to the west.

At lower elevations, there is a greater variety of small trees and shrubs. Montane rainforest has developed on the wetter eastern slopes and occurs below 3,750 m.

The vegetation of the upper half of this zone attains approximately 5 m. Below 3,000 m, the vegetation develops into forest up to 12 m high; between 2,000 m and 3,000 m lower montane rainforest occurs on steep-sided valleys.

Subtropical rainforest occurs below 2,000 m where temperatures range from 18 °C to 24 °C and rainfall may reach 5,000 mm annually.

The building of this road from Guamote in the mountains to Macas on the plain across the south end of the Park continues to be the main threat.

The High Andes zone is in the intermediate and upper Cordillera Oriental, an area of rugged topography with deep steep-sided valleys, abundant cliffs and many rocky jagged peaks.

There are three subzones: subglacial, from 2,000 m to 3,000 m which is unglaciated; a glaciated subzone between 3,000 m and 5,300m, with arêtes, cirques, and U-shaped valleys with meandering rivers, and a volcanic subzone dominated by lava and volcanic ash deposited during more recent times on the cones and flanks of the three volcanoes.

In 1992, the site was placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger because of the construction of a road by the Ministry of Public Works across the south end of the Park from Guamote in the high Andes to Macas on the plain to the southeast.

Although the site is only crossed by the road for 8 km, it is severely affected by the construction impacts: pollution of the Upana River and nearby lakes, use of dynamite, and destruction of biological corridors, microclimate changes and indirect effects: new settlements, cattle ranching, poaching, and logging.

The construction has also worried local people about their rights to land.

The first stop on the cultural tour of the area is the Museo Arqueológico Municipal, a tiny museum housing local artifacts like traditional clothing, weapons, and small handicrafts.

The best part of all is that entry is absolutely free.

Another noteworthy destination is the Tienda Fundacion Chankuap, a shop that sells handmade crafts and organic food products from local Achuar and Shuar communities.

Almost everything sold in the shop is made entirely out of local plants and herbs.

Items for sale include bags, spices, coffees, jams, jewelry, cosmetics and other handmade artifacts.