At a high altitude of 3700 to 4800 m (12,000 to 16,000 ft), the humid grasslands (or páramo) of El Angel, north of Ibarra in the Province of Carchi, is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna, much of which is only found in northern Ecuador and southern Colombia. The temperature varies between 5° and 18° C (41° to 64° F) during the day. The reserve is considered a live ‘sponge’, providing the entire Carchi province with water. It’s also the source of several rivers which contribute to the Mira and El Angel river basins. The El Angel reserve has many lakes of different sizes, teeming with trout, which were introduced several decades ago.
This reserve is known for its unique frailejones (Espeletia pycnophylla), bushes that reach up to six feet high, with long hairy leaves. Animal life found in the reserve includes deer, rabbits, and wolves, several species of mice – among them a marsupial mouse–, weasels, wild cats and Andean pumas. Among the birds are caracaras (curiquingues), gulls, ducks, glossy-black thrushes (Turdus Serranus), doves and quail.