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RESERVE OF ILLINIZAS

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ECOLOGICAL RESERVE OF ILLINIZAS


The Quilotoa lagoon is an emerald incrusted in a crater. This singular natural accident located in the ecological reserve Ilinizas, created in December of 1996, is still ignored by many nature lovers.

The area of Ilinizas, located between the counties of Pichincha and Cotopaxi, is an inexhaustible spring for the basin of the Esmeralda river, formed by the beds of the Toachi, the San Pedro and the Pilatón. The reserve, of 149.900 hectares, is like a sponge because its two elevations form a geologic barrier that condenses the humidity of the coast.

Due to the difficulty of the access, the biological diversity of Ilinizas is still a mystery. The reserve is divided in three sectors. The first one conformed by the mountain ranges of Zarapullo and of Tenefuerte, the hills Ilinizas and Corazón and the Toachi river. The second one, is located at the south and has an extension of 23,600 hectares. The last sector, is a small area that covers an extension of hardly 800 hectares and it corresponds to the lagoon Quilotoa.

Climbing the summit of the Iliniza is a fascinating experience, but it is recommendable to do it between August and December, in order to avoid the rains. It is also recommended to be accompanied by a guide to enjoy the following tourist attractions:

The sector of the Ilinizas (south and north): The starting point is a deviation of the Panamericana highway, close to Machachi. Then, at the Andean village El Chaupi, you begin a walk of one hour and a half. The path becomes sandy and sheer, until the base of the Ilinizas, at almost 4,000 m.a.s.l.
In the first refuge, a privileged location to observe the North Iliniza and the South Iliniza is located. The first one is a glacier, while the second is presented more defiant. A true challenge for the experienced andinistas.

The closer one gets to the Ilinizas the more inclined and rocky the road becomes. For that reason, there is a place baptized with the name of "The step of the death" because going by this narrow path can produce vertigo.

When reaching the summit of the North Iliniza you can contemplate, in the distance, the amazing image of the Cotopaxi volcano, surrounded by spongy clouds. You can also observe the panorama conformed by 30,800 hectares of moor.

When getting to its summit at 5,116 meters high, one realizes that in that small space, there is only space for six people. To ascend until the summit produces an inexpressible sensation. It is to arrive up to where strength and perseverance can take you.

The Quilotoa lagoon: It is a salt water lagoon of volcanic origin of more than 3 kilometers of diameter. There are 440 meters between the level of the water and the superior border of the volcano.

The legend says that a man took the cattle of his patron to a hole formed after an explosion. Here he buried panela (sort of black sugar), vanilla and a quintal of salt and left. When he returned the well had been covered by water.

In the surroundings of the lagoon they grow cows, sheeps and donkeys that have altered the flora of the crater. This imbalance in the ecological chain has harmed the fauna of the area.

This lagoon -a celestial jewel- is and ideal place for taking pictures at the break of the day and when the night falls too.

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