During the quaternary,
the Chiles Volcano has deposited volcanic materials, including andesites,
basalts, fine ashes, which, consolidated, is known as cangahua.
Volcanoes Chuzalongo (3,960 masl), Los Socavones, Yanacocha (4,000 masl), Chiles
(4,218 masl) and Orifuela (4,213 masl), and Loma del Morro all are part of the
The eastern boundary of
El Angel Ecological Reserve, Ecuador passes through Tetillas (3,819 masl), Tola Alta
(3,821 masl), Voladero (3,815 masl), Altos Gradones (3,844 masl), El Bejucal
(3,765 masl) and Loma Seca (3,760 masl).
In addition there is the Loma el Mirador and Loma de Puyurcu
(3,769 masl), the
Cuchilla del Mayordomo,
and the Chizaltón Hill.
To the west are the El Alto Hill, the summit
of the Filo Cacho de Venado and the Chuzalongo Hill.
The climate is chilly, with average temperatures varying between
7-11 ° C. Maximum temperatures
range from 0-18 ° C. Annual
precipitation varies from 1,000 to 2,500 mm. The natural vegetation is dominated by grasses, with moss covering the soil
in between that retain large quantities of water, reason for referring to
the reserve as a sponge.
The reserve is drained by the following creeks are:
Ángel, Bobo, Grande, Chiquito, Plata, Morán, Chilquiyacu, Huarmiyacu, Cariyacu.
To the south are:
Baños, Cariyacu, Puerta de Piedra, Puenal,
Curiquingue o Chimbo y Rosario, y el Río Mal Paso.
All these streams form the upper parts of the watersheds of the Carchi and
Mira Rivers that are used for irrigation and drinking water for the villages in
the coastal regions.
The Voladero and Portrerillos Lakes are located on a poorly
drained plain at 3,700 masl, which are covered by extensive marshes.
Lakes Voladero and Potrerillos.
Located at the southern slope of Cerro Negro, of 120 m wide, at an elevation of
4,100 masl, with a temperature of about 5 ° C.
Laguna del Crespo: It is located at an elevation of 3,900 masl, with an
average water temperature of 6 ° C.
Lakes: five lakes at 3,850 masl, at the southern slope of the Chiles
Volcano. The water contains sulfur and are colored by chlorophilic algae, giving
the lakes a turquoise color.
Lake El Arquitecto.
Río Ayora: Located on the banks of the
river are wells of water and natural gasses.
About 275 North of Quito at the border
with Colombia, most of the
reserve is an Andean paramo with lakes and marshes connected by some outstanding
August 5, 1992 by executive decree A-415 and published in the Official Register
on September 8, 1992 r. O. No. 21. Its surface is
15,715 ha with an altitudinal range between 3,644 - 4,768 masl.
In exceptional cases, the administration of protected areas is not
carried out by the Ministry of the Environment;This is the
case of the El Angel Ecological Reserve which is co-managed by the Provincial
Government of Carchi and the Municipal Governments of Tulcán, Mira, Bolívar, San
Pedro de Huaca, Montufar and Espejo.
The Communities "La Libertad" and "July 23rd" have land titles within the
reserve which together cover more than two-thirds of the territory of the
Reserve. These communities have developed
management plans focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of natural
resources within the area.
The main tourist attraction are the frailejones plants.The vegetation contrasts with the beautiful lakes, such as Lake El
Voladero and Verdes, as well as Mirador, Chiles, among others.
You can visit the reserve throughout the year.
During the dry season from June to October, the chance to enjoy a sunny day is
much better, although you have to be prepared for strong winds. The rest
of the year the sky is overcast most of the time with frequent rains and
drizzles and temperatures occasionaly dropping to the low tens ° C.
From the main entrance 25 km north of the town El Angel is the main entrance,
Access trails to the El Voladero Lakes;
Self-guided trails (leaflets);
areas and ranger station.
Located at an hour from
Tulcan, the reserve is an ideal destination for hiking.
The road to
the main entrance is not asphalted, but in good condition.
The new visitor center
provides information on the flora, fauna and geology of the reserve.
The trails are
in good state of repair and accessible to anyone in a regular physical
Along the trail are several
A covered picnic area along the
Salado: Located 45 km from Tulcán
and 4 km from San Gabriel. Services: Camping and visitor
A 120 m wide lake located at the southern slopes of Cerro Negro, where you can
go birdwatching and trout fishing.
Laguna del Crespo: It is the ideal
place for picnic.
Named after the green color of the water, you reach the sulfuric lakes along the
On the banks of the Ayora River are water and natural gas wells, supposedly with
Los Arrayanes de Santa Martha
de Cuba forest: Located 22 km from Tulcán and 11 km
East from the town of San Gabriel, located in a shallow gully surrounded by
myrtle trees at 2,800 masl.
Ecotourism complex of Tufiño:
Located 22 km from Tulcán and 8 km from Tufiño. It is a spa characterized by the
medicinal springs of stinking waters with a high content of sulfur and average
temperature of 50 ° C. It has a restaurant, a swimming pool, selfguided natural
trails by the paramo of the Chiles Volcano.
At 13 km from the town of El Angel in the buffer zone of the reserve, at 3,300
masl in the sector of the Colorado Canyon. Even though the Polylepis incana
forest is not unique in the world, its excellent conservation status with old
trees make it a very special ecosystem. Inside the forest is an inn with the
same name which offers cabins with private bathroom, hot water, a fireplace, a
restaurant and bar, sport fishing and ecological excursions on foot or on
horseback. The entrance fee is rather high at $ 40 per person.
Located 20 km from the town Mira just before San Nicolás turning into a
secondary road. Its main feature is the quality of its waters.
A natural area located 1½ km from the West side of Tulcán, dating from 1953, at
the location where the Rio Bobo forms a natural island. Considered ideal place
for ecological walks, rowing in canoe, picnic and excursions.
Balneario la Calera: Located at
11 km from the town of El Angel, in a valley south of the parish of San Isidro,
surrounded by natural forest that includes small vestiges of a petrified forest
. Its thermal waters are rich in mineral salts and have a temperature of 28 ° C.
Baños de Tufiño: Located at 45 km
from Tulcán in the direction of the town of Maldonado. There are 45 ° C hot
springs, known as "Stinky Waters" because of their high content of sulfur.
The páramo of
the El Angel Ecological Reserve is different from most other paramos of Ecuador
by the dominant presence of frailejones, Espeletia pycnophylla ssp.Angelensis, a composite that can grow 7 m heigh, with very
hairy leaves.The páramos of the province Carchi have some of
the most extensive frailejones paramos in Ecuador.The genus
Espeletia is very diverse in the páramos of Colombia and Venezuela,
crossing the western cordillera towards the province of the Carchi and in the
Eastern mountain range from the border with Colombia to the National Park the
Llanganates.In most areas where these
plants are found, at least part of the original forests has been cut down and as
such they can be considered a pioneer or restoration species.
Contrary to common belief, the
paramo is not a diverse ecosystem. It is estimated that between elevations
between 3,000 - 4,000 masl no more than about 250 species of plants occur. The
most representative families are Asteraceae and Poaceae. Also important are
Araliacae, Bromeliaceae, Rosaceae, Orchidaceae and Scrophulariaceae.
Located on the border with
Colombia, many species endemic to Ecuador are not likely to be found, but there
are probably some endemic to this bi-national area: about 50 species of vascular
endemic plants that are grouped into 39 genera and 18 families, Of which 26
species have been confirmed within the reserve.
13 species of lichens are known to
the Reserve having their greatest diversity at 3,900 masl.
The evergreen high montane
forest (2,900-3,400 masl) hardly exists anymore in the
reserve, although in some gullies, a few groves of Polylepis sericeae,
of the genus Polylepis, which forms the highest growing forests in the world.
The forest floor tends to be
covered with a dense layer of moss and cushions of vascular plants. The trees
are gnarled, with trunks branched into all directions and in some cases so
inclined they almost grow horizontally.
A Polylepis woodlet with gnarled trunks and
moss-covered forest floor.
El hipericum is a shrub of the herbaceus paramo.
The herbaceous páramo
(3,400-4,000 msnm): In its lower parts, this ecosystem
has developed after deforestation of the evergreen altimantane forest after
which the ecosystem went through te process refered to as paramization.
Especially in this part is the area inhabited by the
Frailejones are composite that can grow up to 8 m tall.
frailejones grow in the lower parts of the herbaceous páramo, that in its
natural state, at least in part used to be Evergreen altimontane forest.
The herbaceous páramo is dominated by the Andean grasses,
Calamagostris efusa, and Festuca sp., mixed with other herbs like
Gentianella sp., Gentiana sp., Halenia sp.; Lupinus kunthii, Valeriana
sp. and Bomarea glaucescens, as well as small shrubs like chuquiragua,
The Hercules Club, Puya-clava herculis, is a fascinating tall
bromeliad of the paramo.
Mixed among the frailejones grows the purple Senecio
Cyrtochilum auropurpureum is a bright
yellow orchid bush of the lower paramo.
Yellow Slipperwort, Calceolaria ssp., is common in the lower paramos in
the bufferzone of the reserve.
Orange Sunset, Bomarea hirsuta is a common
shrub of the lower paramo.
Pampas Grass, Cortaderia jubata, is very common in the
bufferzone of the reserve.
Passiflora mixta is a beautiful
pink Passion Flower of the lower paramo
Ecuador has 13 species of Berberis.
Halenia weddelliana is an Andean
The Superpáramo or Gelidofitia (4,000-4,700 msnm):
only present on the highest mountains in the reserve.In this type of páramo the vegetation only occurs in patches over
the bare soil.The flora is
characterized by xerophytic vascular plants that lose little water by and are
resistant to high radiation, along with mosses and lichens.
Wildlife of the reserve corresponds to the high Andean
zoogeographic region. The number of mammals present in the reserve is
unknown, but the following species can be mentioned:
Andean Fox, Lycalopex culpaeus, Long-tailed weasel, Mustela frenata,
White-tailed Deer, Puma, Puma concolor, Odocoileus virginianus,
Red Brocket Deer,
Mazama rufina, Ratón Marsupial, Tate's shrew opossum, Musaraña,
equatoris, Dark Fruit Bat, Sturnira erythromos, Histiotus montanus,
Brasilian Cottontail, Sylvilagus brasiliensis,
Montane Oldfield mouse, Thomasomys paramorum, etc.
The Andean Red
Brocket Deer is
omnipresent and rather common in the Andes, although permanent persecution keeps
Pumas are widely spread
throughout the highlands and the Amazon, but they keep a safe distance from
humans and are rarely seen.
The Andean Fox is rather common
in the reserve but shy and not often seen.
The Brasilian Cottontail is an
important source of food for the Andean Fox.
throughout the Americas, the White-tailed deer is found in almost all protected
areas of the country.
skunk, Conepatus semistriatus, is also quite common but because it is
nocturnal, it is not seen frequently.
species of birds have been recorded, including endangered species such as the
Andean condor, Vultur gryphus, as well as species endemic to the Central
North Andes: Tangara Dorsipurpurina, Iridosornis porphyrocephala,
Margarornis stellatus and Eriocnemis derbyi.
Other species are: Anas flavirostris, common in ponds and
marshes, Merganetta armata, Phalcoboenus curunculatus, Falco
sparverius, Vanellus resplendens, Tyto alba, Eriocnemis
vestitus and Phrygilus unicolor.The reserve is
very important for the winter distribution of neotropical migratory birds,
including: Buteo platypterus,
Empidonax alnorum, Catharus ustulatus, Piranga rubra, Reinita, Dendroica fusca
The Andean Lapwing is a typical
The crested Caracara is one of
the different Caracara species that frecuent the Andes.
With some luck
you may see some condors flying over the paramo.
Little is known about the
diversity of amphibians and reptiles, but some species worth mentioning are:
Eleutherodactylus ocreatus, E. thymelensis, Osornophryne bufoniformis, E. Leoni, the Marsupial Toad, Gastrotheca espeletia and the lizard,
Like almost all the paramos lakes, the ones in El Angel are have Rainbow Trout
and the Brown Trout, introduced many years ago. They have displaced the native preñadilla species, Astroblepus regani
and A. ubidiai, which are now only found in shallow places between the
water plants along river and lake shores.
In spite of the residence of the trout, a new species of fish was recently
collected at 3,680 masl in the El Voladero Lake: Grundulus quitoensis sp. nov. It
lives in water plants along the shore, in spite of being an easy prey for trout.
The Cuyabeno Loop explores the breathtaking scenery of lower
Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the
amazing birds and wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing
Cofan Indians in the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of
comfort in the famous Cuyabeno Lodge.
The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden creeks and lakes
is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador! Discover Indian
tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths, Dolphins. No other
Amazon rainforest in any of the Amazon-Andean countries
can match the wildlife viewing of Lagartococha!
The Cuyabeno Lake Programs explores all the wild places
surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake. Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia
trees with the whispering of the mysterious prehistoric
Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and Yellow Macaws. Our
Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location, because we were the
first and chose the best location on a seasonal island in
the Cuyabeno Lake itself.
Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a taste of some of
the best Andean National Parks, visiting the highest
groves in the world: the Polylepis trees, the highest
mountain in the world calculated from the center of the
Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and Lamas, the
highest active volcano in the world, the Cotopaxi.
Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic journey along the best possible
sample of Andean and coastal parks. They have been designed to complement
Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places,
particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days,
it is possible to make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes and
A fabulous program for visiting the most famous cultural
highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
At the same time it serves as the Lima hub for the Peru
National Parks Tour. This module is an extension to our
National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park
and/or Amazon Cruises.