This park covers 146,280 km² and includes part of the Andes descending down towards the Amazon to the east. About 85% of the park is in the province of Zamora Chinchipe and the remainder in the province of Loja. There are several distinct ecosystems – an area of páramo, with over 100 lakes, and areas and evergreen mountain forest and cloudforest.
The park is named after the podocarpus or romerillo tree. This is a giant coniferous which has adapted to survive in a tropical Andean forest. They can live up to 1000 years.
Altogether there are between 3000 and 400 plant species in this territory and over 500 bird species including the endemic Jocotoco Antpitta.
The park has two main entrances. Cajanuma is 11km south of Loja on the road to Vilcabamba. Bombuscaro is in the low zone, near to the town of Zamora. From the refuge in the Cajanuma zone there are four trekking routes you can explore, including to Sabanilla and an all day 9 mile trek to the Lagunas del Compadre.
It costs $2 for Ecuadorian and foreign visitors to enter the park. Under 16’s and over 65’s pay 50 cents. Children under 2 years old don’t have to pay. You pay once and then you are free to enter the different zones.