Galapagos PRO Recommendation: El Angel Nature Reserve

Tour/Activity in Otavalo, Ecuador

About this activity

Nature reserve El Angel with its fascinating Polylepis trees

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Natural reserve El Angel

Galapagos PRO-recommendation: This excursion should not be missed in your Ecuador experience.

Today, you can take a full-day excursion to the El Angel Nature Reserve, in the vegetation zone of the High Páramo (3,600m+). In the lower parts you will find a sea of hard Andean grass, stubby trees (Polylepis) and hard-leaved perennials with leathery leaves or woolly hair (xerophytes). At higher elevations only lichens, mosses, cushion plants and some orchids thrive.

In a valley of the park there is a fairytale forest of polylepis trees. The oldest of these extremely slow-growing trees are 1500 years old. To protect against moss, parasites and cold, these plants shed constantly and throw off orange, parchment-thin bark. The locals call the Polylepis tree "paper tree".

On the mountains strange shrubs known as Frailejones grow up to 5m high, stretching their felt-like leaves toward the sky. With a black skirt of dead leaves, these rare shrubs look somewhat priestly standing in the fog, earning them the nickname Friars. They defy the icy cold of the Andes with their moisture-storing leaves.

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