Duration: 4 days – 3 nights
Walking distance: 54km
Altitude: Minimum Altitude 2850 m; maximum altitude 4000 m
Best time to visit: September through February are the driest months. April through June can be very wet.
Observations: This is a very challenging and physically demanding trek not only because we will be increasing in altitude but because it’s a humid area and it can rain constantly and the road can be very muddy, adding some extra difficulties to it. Also it’s a very cold place, and you can be prepared for snow and below-freezing temperatures overnight. Even under the more ideal conditions water streams keep parts of the route muddy all year around, and we will be crossing some rivers. Therefore, raining boots and waterproof clothing are a must. We will walk in the company of arrieros (mule drivers) and mules, which will carry the gear, equipment and food. However, pack animals only get up to a point, and from then on we will carry our own equipment and food.
TREK DESCRIPTION: El Placer, meaning pleasure, is a broad valley located in the heart of Sangay National Park, our destination to find soothing hot springs set in lovely, mature secondary-growth forest. This is a humid area, and there will be large chances of finding rain and fog, in addition to being a very cold place especially at nights. We will encounter plenty of water streams, rivers and waterfalls along the way, making it a very beautiful place to be in. The area teems with life, ranging from tapir and Spectacled Bear through abundant mixed-species flocks of cloud forest birds to butterflies. The equally impressive flora includes native trees such as the pumamaqui, fical, and alder, a variety of orchids and other colorful flowers, mosses, lichens, mushrooms, and a great many ferns. In this trek we will start at 3200masl in Alao, ascend up to 4000masl to Laguna Negra, and then descend again to 2850masl at El Placer. In our return we will climb up to Laguna Negra and descend back to Alao to complete the hike.