It takes less than two hours from Quito to find yourself in the middle of the wilderness, enjoying the pure mountain air and the tranquility of the lagoons: welcome to the Antisana and Cayambe-Coca ecological reserves, I’ll take you on a tour and discover them.
This morning, I’m standing in front of one of Ecuador’s most surprising places: the Antisana volcano.
First I pass the Condor des Andes, an ancient petrified flow known as Antisanilla, at the foot of the volcano. It is home to one of the largest communities of the world’s largest flying bird and symbol of Ecuador: the Condor.
The first expedition of the weekend will be to the shores of Laguna Mica.
A large lake that provides Quito with fresh water.
We’re off for a 3-hour walk to observe the rich flora and fauna of this protected reserve.
This reserve is home to many large animal species, including the famous Condor and the spectacled Andean bear. Deer and rabbits may cross your path, even if you’re not looking for them.
It’s an ideal spot for birdwatchers: bandurrias, caracaras, condors, falcons and more. Some locals come here to fish for trout, while other visitors explore the hiking trails (of varying lengths and difficulty) around the lake.
Andinists wishing to take up the challenge of reaching the summit of Antisana, Ecuador’s 4th highest volcano at 5753m, also visit the reserve.
After the effort, the comfort, I head for my accommodation for the night. I’ll be sleeping in a cave.
This cavern was sculpted by Álvaro Bustamante, a man who had a strong connection with nature and wanted to isolate himself from the city to build his home on a hill. Later, his descendants turned it into a hotel to share the story. In every nook and cranny of this cave, we discover a new anecdote about this adventurer and explorer.
A hacienda just a stone’s throw from the city, but with a unique sense of well-being.
Second expedition, on the other side of the Quito-Papallacta road, south of the Cayambe-Coca reserve, in an area known for its lakes.
Today’s weather isn’t the best: very cloudy, damp, rainy, just like Breton weather! But that’s not going to discourage me. On the contrary, it makes the adventure all the more fascinating.
We’re off for a 4-hour hike on the “Agua y Vida” (Water and Life) trail through a very surprising landscape of Ecuadorian moorland (paramo).
The trail is very muddy throughout, making for slow progress. The landscape is swampy and slippery. Despite this, I try to keep my eyes on the ground, and I can see that the clouds come and go, giving way to the beauty of the lakes. It makes you forget the difficult conditions of the day.
I start to see the end of the trail and the checkpoint that leads down into the valley to the village of Papallacta. At the same time, the sun returns! The joys of the Quito region’s very random climate.
Papallacta is the best place to combine adventure and relaxation. This region has a unique geographical location: it’s the start of the eastern descent from the Andes to the Amazon. It’s also a volcanically active area, and it’s this energy that heats the natural thermal pools that have made the small town of Papallacta famous.
The best part is that the walk can end with a bath in the delicious hot springs, surrounded by hummingbirds… an unforgettable experience.
Contact our team if you’d like to find out more about trekking in Ecuador.