International travel enthusiast and expat from New Zealand, currently living in Germany. https://indie-road.com
Published March 7th 2017
Rabbit ears and hiking
While you are travelling in Ecuador, if you fancy going somewhere truly unique and fantastic that seldom even the locals know about, then make your way to Reserva El Angel, situated in the north of the country towards the Colombian border. Although getting here is by no means easy without a study 4X4 vehicle of your own, it's well worth the effort.
The park is inhabited by frailejones - rare, endemic and surreal looking plants with fuzzy leaves and thick trunks, sometimes referred to by the locals as "rabbits ears" because of the texture. There is a 1-2 hour loop which passes a large lake and includes a couple of lookout shelters (perfect for a quick photo stop and sandwich) and some uphill sections. While not too steep, the park sits above 3400m in altitude so the oxygen is a little thinner, and you will notice this when ascending up to the top of the hill from the lake.
To get here, it is best to spend a night in the township of El Angel, which does not offer so much to see apart from some rather original hedge art in the centre and a large church. If you have your own vehicle, you can brave the ninety-minute drive up to the reserve, or you can hire a taxi who will drive you there, wait while you complete the track, and then drive you back to the town for roughly $35. From El Angel it is easy to travel southwards to Otavalo or north to Tulcan to carry on your adventure.