New, Mountain biking at Piman!

The closest town to the Hacienda is the capital of Imbabura Province, Ibarra, known as the White City for its white-washed colonial quarter. It’s a handsome, old-fashioned town of white-walled colonial buildings and peaceful squares filled with flowering trees. The odd horse-drawn cart still clomps along cobbled streets. Its altitude of 2,210 m (7,366 ft) gives the city a refreshing, comfortable climate and its population of 150,000 creates enough activity without making it too busy.

From Ibarra, the restored railway line departs for the coast – a fun ride on the rails with an interesting community-tourism component. From lush green valleys and towering volcanoes, the train from Ibarra to Salinas takes its passengers through landscapes that are as diverse as they are picturesque. The train, renovated to carry tourists to and from the Northern Andean villages of Ibarra and Salinas, is a popular weekend trip.

The 30 kilometre (18.5-mile) trip takes about two hours each way and promises to charm passengers with breathtaking scenery. The track stretches across valleys, passes over bridges and climbs mountains.

To the north, one of the country’s most fascinating ecosystems extends over the protected páramo El Ángel, a high-altitude forest of paper-bark trees and wild expanses of intriguing frailejón plants.

Nearby, the Afro-Ecuadorian communities of El Chota make for an unexpected cultural twist here in the Andes. These live mainly from agriculture (cotton, sugar cane, fruit for wines), retaining many African traditions such as the ‘bomba’ music and dance. A small museum can be visited and cultural encounters arranged.


Polylepis El Angel (left) / El Angel Reserve Domink Hamilton (right)

∞ Practical Information ∞

What to Pack

  • Sunblock and sun hat
  • Light-weight rain coat
  • Light-weight fleece or sweater
  • Walking boots
  • Water bottle
  • Binoculars
  • Insect repellent