The Ecological Reserve El Angel is located in the province of Carchi in the Espejo district.
The reserve has an area of 15,715 hectares, a temperature around 0-18 degrees and an altitude range that varies between 3644 and 4768 meters above sea level. The reserve was created by Ministerial Agreement No. 415 on September 8, 1992.
The Reserve EL Angel is the only wilderness area in Ecuador that has the specie frailejón (Espeletia). It is a type of flowering plant that is part of the ecology and biodiversity of the moors of Venezuela and Colombia too. The frailejón is an erect plant with many leaves that form a rosette on the top. This plant can reach up seven meters and represents an emblem for the northern highlands of Ecuador. In the same way, this chacacterístic of the frailejon forest, place it among the most attractive mountain scenery in the Andes.
Before the Spanish conquest, the Pastos culture inhabited the regions from southern Colombia to northern Ecuador, including the area now forms the reserve. After the conquest, the distribution of new territory started. Then the populations were resettled in form of Reducciones on Tambos or shelters.
During the year 1575 the first farms appeared and its large expansion occurred in 1880. These farms had many cattle. The farmer process caused the displacement of the Indians into the wilds of frailejones. In 1793 was established the present community La Libertad, as single modality of communal free property, liberated of the control of labor and farmer production. This is an indigenous community that comes from the ancient settlement of Pasto.
In 1930 were determined the current boundaries, which cover a large area extended from La Libertad boundaries to the area of the moors. In 1991, the lower area was parceled out and in 1992 was created the Ecological Reserve El Angel, which belongs much of the highlands of the moor of the Commune.
Between 3,400 and 3,900 meters above the sea level is the Very Humid Montane forest, with variances temperatures around 6 and 12 Celsius degrees. A vegetation of grasses is predominant and makes up the moors. The lower land is inhabited by species like the puma maqui and capulí. Characteristics of the area are the presence of chuquiragua (flower of the Andes) and Alchemilla (type of plant that belongs to the Rosaceae family).
In the lower parts of this zone, important residual forest surfaces highlight, this is the case of an almost continuous stretch of forest located on the top of the populations of Santa Marta de Cuba, San Gabriel and the Road to Voladero Lake in La Rabija.
One hundred meters above is located the Subalpine moor rain with a temperature of 3 to 6 Celsius degrees with vegetable species like the gentian plant. This is the life zone located on the top of the Reserve, over the 3,900 meters. The limit of 4,000 meters also marks the disappearance of Espeletia and most shrub species, wich are replaced by grasses.
In the same way, there are wonderful natural attractions: the lakes of Voladero, located at the south of the reserve. These glacial lakes have an altitude of 3,800 meters and are divided into: two lakes of El Voladero, and the lagoon Potrerillos. The area is characterized by an annual average rainfall of 1,027 mm in the basin of the Angel River.
Soils have volcanic origin. The characteristic vegetation is composed 85% by frailejón, among other species such as Colorado, which provides the only timber source for fuel in the moor. in a similar way, there are four types of vegetation in the lakes of El Voladero: upper evergreen montane, evergreen forest, grassy moorland, frailejones wasteland, and montane lacustrine grassland.
One of the entrances to the Reserve of El Angel is located near the town of El Angel, in the Carchi province.
Just 20 minute driving by the highway El Angel-La Libertad-Cobos you can access to the lake El Voladero.
Another trail is from Tulcán on the road to Tufiño towards the way to Lagunas Verdes.
There are several ways to go to the various attractions in the Ecological Reserve, for this reason you should use your travel agency or tour operator of choice.
You can also use the local offices of “Ministerio de Turismo” in El Angel, located just steps from the Central Park.