A fairytale land of Frailejones & Polylepis

Posted by Marianne Salmans

“At more than 3.500 meters altitude in a landscape sculpted by volcanos and glaciers”

During my travels through Ecuador I recently visited National Park El Ángel. Here I discovered enchanting nature that I had never been able to admire before. With more than 20% of its territory declared protected natural reserves, Ecuador boasts some amazing landscapes to discover. Ecological Reserve Parque El Ángel is a beautiful example of natural wonder.

At 4,5 hours’ drive north of Quito, in the Carchi province that borders with Colombia, you will find extraordinary plants and a unique ecosystem. 

The páramo of El Ángel

The moorlands at El Ángel are very humid and have many lakes that provide water to much of the Carchi province. Here, at more than 3.500 meters altitude in a landscape sculpted by volcanos and glaciers, the magical Frailejones grow. An enormous velvety plant that has an important function in the capture of moisture for the region.

Also, visit the Polylepis forest. The Polylepis (or paper tree) is the highest-growing flowering tree in the world. Its intertwining branches, rust-red bark of paper-thin layers, and tiny green leaves will make you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale.

Polylepis Lodge

I spent the night at Polylepis Lodge. In a private reserve with Polylepis trees, directly adjacent to the national park, lies this cosy accommodation. I had a wonderful cabaña with a jacuzzi. The cabañas have large windows overlooking the fascinating nature. There is a central area with a bar, sofas and a heart-warming fireplace, and there is a dining room where good meals are served. In addition, the lodge has an annex with sauna facilities.

Do bring a warm sweater and a rain jacket! With temperatures never rising above 18 degrees and rapidly changing weather patterns you will need both. After a hike, you can warm up in the hot tub of your cabaña with the marvellous view of the surrounding area or take a nice hot beverage by the fireplace in the central lodge.

Interested to also experience this magical area? Contact us and we will ensure to include these and other natural wonders in your journey.

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