Nature Reserves and Mysterious
Carchi, home to towering mountains such as Volcano Chiles (4,768 m) and
an alpine climate with an average temperature of 12 degrees centigrade,
is Ecuadors northernmost province. The province is home to some of
the nations most impressive protected areas, such as El Angel Reserve, and
several interesting and colorful towns. One of its major attractions is
the Gruta de la Paz (the Grotto of Peace). Carchi also has a domestic airport
with connecting flights to various cities throughout Ecuador and a handful
of flights to southern Colombia.
Tulcán - A Very Special Cemetery
Tulc?n is home sights well known throughout the world, such as its Municipal
Cemetery, known for its cypress hedge sculptures. Other points of interest
include the provincial capital's Culture House and Colegio Bol?var's
Archaeological Museum, which houses remnants of the ancient Carchi culture.
Points of interest outside of the town itself include the Pre-Colombian
ruins of Chap?es Hill, the Tres Chorros Hot Springs, and Las Canoas, a great
place for a boat ride or horseback riding.
Chota Valley - Afro-Ecuadorian Traditions
Largely populated by the descendants of those who arrive in colonial times
to work the sugar cane harvest, Chota Valley and the village of Juncal are
home to many Afro-Ecuadorian communities who live a traditional way of life
very different than that of the rest of Ecuador. Popular events such as
the Banda Mocha (musical group playing traditional, locally made
instruments) and the Bottle Dance (women dancing with bottles on their head)
The traditional food here is made up of potatoes, beans, corn on the cob,
pork, guinea-pig, and chicken. There are several local dishes, the most
well-known being the hornado pastuso (roast pork with potato cakes,
beans, and small potatos).
El Angel Ecological Reserve
The paramos of El Angel Reserve, located just a few minutes from the settlement
of the same name, has a cool climate and is home to a variety of flora,
such as the unique frailej?n plant. Home to a large number of highland
lakes and forests, the Reserve is the habitat of a variety of mammals, such
as deer, rabbit and the paramo fox, and a slew of endemic bird species.
AWA Ethnic and Forest Reserve - Ethnography and Ecology
In the western part of the province, 145 km from Tulc?n along the road that
joins the villages of Maldonado and El Chical, is the Tobar Donoso settlement.
The settlement is a great launching point for an excursion to the AWA Ethnic
and Forest Reserve, an area of natural forest that is home to several interesting
species of flora and fauna such as the palet?n, the macaw, the trogon,
and the red flower (anturio) as well as chandul and guaiacum trees. The
AWA indigenous group, who still preserve their traditional way of life,
also inhabit this state-protected area.
Another of Carchis attractions is a group of hot springs whose waters
rise from Volcano Chiles and are said to have strong medicinal properties.
Five small lakes make up theLagunas Verdes (Green Lakes) complex.
Surrounded by frailej?n paramo and home to animal species including
bears, deer, rabbit, and foxes, this spot is a great place for adventurers.
The area is also home to the El Voladero lakes, at an altitude of
3,700m, where you can fish for enormous trout.
To the north of the province, near the Tufiño-Maldonado road, this
4,768 m volcano is a popular destination for mountaineering.
The Santa Martha de Cuba Myrtle Forest lies seven km from the village of
San Gabriel. With a reddish trunk and thick foliage and covered in moss
and orchids, these trees cover an area of about 40 hectares and is a great
place for hiking and bird watching, alike.
Located just 4 km from San Gabriel, the Paluz River drops an impressive
30 m down a breathtaking waterfall of the same name. The areas exuberant
vegetation is reflected in the waters of this awe-inspiring river.
Gruta de la Paz (Grotto of Peace)
Twenty three km from San Gabriel lies a cave formed by the Apaqui
River. This is where the sanctuary to Our Lady of Peace can be found.
Every week, thousands of pilgrims come to this spot and bathe in
its thermal springs.
Map of Carchi, Ecuador