El Angel Ecological Reserve, Protected Areas, Tourist Attractions
El Angel Ecological Reserve, created in 1992, is located 170 miles north of Quito in the Province of Carchi and is made up of 15,715 hectares of land. It is in the northernmost province of Ecuador and lies 11,950 to 15,640 feet above mean sea level. Temperatures in the reserve range from 5° to 18° Celsius (41° to 64° F) during the daytime. The moorlands that you find in El Angel can only be found here and in the south of Colombia, making them rather special protected areas.
The Humid Moorlands of El Angel are filled with huge Frailejones (Espeletia pychnophyla), which grow as high as 20 feet and feature a flower that is similar to the sunflower. The leaves of the plant are hairy and serve to protect this interesting plant from the very cold climate that hits this region. Other beautiful flowers found in this area are the El Angel Flowers (Senecio sp.), which look very similar to the Frailejones with its hairy leaves and yellow flowers. Another interesting plant is one that looks similar to a pillow and captures a large amount of water.
The mountains of the Ecological reserve have remains of deciduous forests on them. These forests are made up of Pumamaqui, Aliso, Alder (Almus sp.) and Myrtle (Luma apiculata) trees. The Paper Trees (Polylepis incana ssp.icosandra) are so named because their thin bark can peel off. Like the Frailejones and El Angel flowers they are protected naturally from the extreme cold with layers of bark that provide insulation for the tree. They grow up to twelve meters and have reddish-brown bark.
The El Angel Ecological Reserve is also provides water for the entire province through the many rivers that flow down the mountains and later form the Mira and El Angel rivers. Lagoons, like the Green Lagoon and El Voladero Lagoon, are also popular and provide homes and food to many animals and birds. While exploring the reserve you can look out for the paramo wolf, wild rabbit, deer as well as the condor and carunculated caracara. The lakes are full of trout, gulls and ducks.