Hey, YapaTree fam! Jason here, and today we’re diving into the wonders of the Antisana Ecological Reserve, just a stone’s throw from Quito. Get ready for stunning landscapes, a peek at a volcano, wildlife galore, and some cool history. Vamos.
Getting There, Exploring Casa de Humboldt
Planning a visit? It’s about an hour from Quito to Pintag, then 45 more to La Mica Lagoon. Alternatively, head to Tambo, catch the Quito Papallacta route, hit Valle de Tambo, and hop onto Ruta del Condor. Oh, and check out Casa de Humboldt, a spot where a certain explorer once hung his hat.
Volcano Views and Timing Tips
Whilst on a clear day it’s hard to miss the Antisana Volcano, standing proud at 5,758 meters, on cloudy days it can be difficult to spot even if it’s right in front of you. Pro tip: book ahead with a National Park guide to get up close. And, a heads up, enter before 2 PM! We learned the hard way, missing it by 15 minutes. Those guards mean business.
Lava Flows and Cultural Layers
Marvel at lava flows from Muertepungo crater’s explosion 300 years ago as you make your way to the La Mica Lagoon. The landscape tells tales of pre-Incan territories, colonial ranches, and recent integration into protected areas. Cattle and wild horses roam where sheep once did.
Don your walking boots for a biodiversity bonanza. 418 bird species, 73 mammals, and 61 amphibians and reptiles call this reserve home. Bears, pumas, and the mighty Andean Condor are the A-listers.
La Mica Lagoon and Solo Loop
Check out the La Mica lagoon, a hotspot for diverse aquatic life and birds. And yes, I had to go solo on part of the loop—Michelle, Abuela, and Billy felt the altitude effects. Lesson learned: altitude + family health = solo trek.
Food, Accommodation, and Nature’s Beauty
Options abound for food and rest around Laguna Mica. Trout and Locro de Papas soup are must-tries. We’ve crashed at Tambo Condor—a solid choice starting at $30 per person. Nature’s beauty here is simply rejuvenating.
What to Wear and Vulcan Antisana’s Elusive Charm
It gets chilly, folks. Warm clothes, hiking boots, and a thermos with coffee are lifesavers. Oh, and say hi to Vulcan Antisana—even if the clouds play hide-and-seek.
Signing Off from Antisana
And that’s a wrap! If this video added some spice to your Quito plans, give it a thumbs up. Share your thoughts in the comments, and remember, your adventure is just a nature stroll away. Ciao ciao!
View full video transcript
Antisana Ecological Reserve – Vlog 3 (Transcript)
Hola, welcome back to the channel. I’m Jason and today we’re checking out the impressive Antisana Ecological Reserve just outside of Quito. We have breathtaking landscapes, a volcano, diverse wildlife including condors, and a fascinating history. Vamos.
And how to get to the Antisana Reserve? If you’re coming from the heart of Quito, it’s about a one-hour drive to Pintag, and from there it’s about another 45 minutes to the La Mica Lagoon entrance. Another option is to head to Tambo and follow the Quito Papallacta route until you reach Valle de Tambo.
From there, connect to Ruta del Condor and the reserves control booth, and here’s the Casa de Humboldt. This is where the explorer stayed when he first was checking out the area – I don’t know exactly when. I’ll do a bit of research and I’ll put the dates when he was using this house.
Note, that you won’t be allowed to visit the volcano itself unless you have booked ahead with one of the National Park guides. We aren’t doing this today, but even so, we will get a wonderful view, hopefully of the volcano if these clouds do tend to make way. We’ll definitely be coming back to get a lot closer to the volcano on a different trip.
Just be sure to enter the park before 2 PM. We made the mistake of coming at 2:15 pm two days ago and the guards would not let us in. We tried to beg and plead with the guard, but he was having none of it. And then he pointed to the security cameras and he mentioned that they’re quite heavily monitored, so obviously he was not going to let us in and get in trouble.
The Antisana Volcano stands tall at five thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight meters. One of our favorite features is the lava flows that you can see along the way. The Muertepungo crater’s explosion 300 years ago left a considerable dent in the landscape which is visible on the way to the La Mica lagoon. Check out all these volcanic rock piles and the unique vegetation shaped by Lahadas.
There was also a rich cultural history in the area. These Moorlands once belonged to the pre-Incan territories before belonging to the ranches during the colonial era. Only fairly recently have these lands been integrated into the national system of protected areas, and you can see cattle and wild horses graze where thousands of sheep once roamed.
Looking at the vastness of the landscape, perhaps you’d be surprised to know that this reserve is a biodiversity magnet. There are 418 bird species, 73 mammals, and 61 amphibians and reptiles that call this reserve home. Some of the crowd favorites include Spectacle Bears, Pumas, and the national symbol of Ecuador, the Andean Condor.
Lace-up your boots because there is a lot to see. The most popular walk is right next to the La Mica lagoon you can see the lagoon behind me and Micaloma is an easy 3-kilometer trail offering, bird watching and scenic Moreland views. Now even though they describe it as easy, the altitude is quite high and there is a decent hill that you need to walk up, so you still may find yourself out of breath very quickly. So take your time and make sure you drink a lot of water along the way.
So behind me is the Antisana Volcano. Well, that’s where it should be, but obviously, we’re not really going to be able to see it today, at least not from here. Hopefully on the drive back we’ll be able to see it. If not, we’ll just have to come back another time. C’est la vie.
The glacial waters of La Mica Lagoon are nutritious and support a thriving ecosystem where you can see ducks, chupiles, and gallaretas swimming. You can also find ligles, bandurrias, and some migratory birds such as the long-legged plovers and straight-beak sandpipers flying around and of course the famous condor. The lagoon is also responsible for supplying a large amount of Quito’s drinking water,
So you’ve probably noticed that I have dropped Michelle, Abuela, and Billy. Not on purpose, it was just a little bit too high for them. Both Michelle and Abuela have been a little bit sick over the past week and so they were really feeling the effects of the altitude and just walking up the hill so here I am finishing the loop solo.
For food and accommodation, you will pass several easy-to-access options along the way to Laguna Mica, especially around the Laguna Secas area. For food, we generally recommend trying the trout and a nice warm potato soup called Locro de Papas. We have stayed at the Tambol Condor in the past and they have good options for bird watchers or just the general public as well. Accommodation starts at around $30 per person per night. They also have several quality bird-watching options, like a telescope set up for condor spotting, an area targeted for capturing those spectacular hummingbird shots, and other options closer to the river as well. But there are several other options for accommodation too. This one is very well set up for camping just remember to bring your own tent.
Just how freaking beautiful is this? How green? How fresh? Yes, maybe it’s a little bit cold for everyone’s liking, but you just can’t beat it. At less than two hours from Quito. Spectacular. I absolutely love it. Just recharges everything. Recharges the mind, recharges the body. We sleep well. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how good it is just being out and about in nature again.
And what to wear? You’ll notice that it really is quite chilly and we probably didn’t do a great job with little Billy. You can see that Abuela had to make him basically a makeshift gorra or beanie, I guess, as I would call them – like one of these things. And so we really should have been a little bit more prepared with more warm clothes, warm hiking boots and obviously making sure that we’re bringing a lot of water and I personally would not be able to do this trip without some nice warm coffee. So if you’re like me, make sure you bring a little thermos along with you as well. You’ll definitely appreciate it.
And this is as close to the Vulcan Antisana as we’re going to get. You can see the clouds are hiding her today, but we can see a little bit of snow just peeking through there.
And that’s a wrap for our Antisana adventure. If you did get some value from this video, maybe it helped with your Quito travel plans. Do feel free to give it a cheeky little thumbs up. And we would absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, so please do share those. Thank you very much for watching and we’ll catch you in the next video.