The páramo is the high tropical mountainous ecosystem above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snowline.  It exists in the northern Andes of South America and southern Central America and is found at elevations from 3,000- 3,500 meters (9,800-11,500 ft) to the snow line at 5,000 meters (16,000 ft). 

Here is a compilation of photos from several hikes I have taken in the paramo.  Most of the photos are mine, some were taken by hiking companions.  Many of you may recognize some of the same family of plants from North America, yet in the paramo, the grasses, flowers and ferns are all mixed in with cactus, succulents and tropical looking plants too. 

This is my favorite picture!  I feel like a Pixie in the Paramo!
Laguna Mojanda

Indian Paintbrush

So far, this is the highest I’ve climbed at over 15,000 feet, and I didn’t even get to the 
top of this mountain, Iliniza Norte.
How did I do it?  
Step, Step, Breathe.  
This is a Refugio – magically it appeared out of the fog and someone was waiting inside
to serve us hot tea.  (I love this country!)  It also has beds inside and serves as a base camp
for climbers who want to summit early in the morning. 

These petals formed little shoes 
Asters are prolific in the paramo

This is a trail.  Do you see it continue up the hill?  Watch your step though, the mounds of grasses make the paramo an ankle-twisting adventure.

A dry lake bed
A year-round laguna in the collapsed summit of Volcan Cubilche 
From the crater, I can see my neighborhood in the valley below
On my way down from hiking the paramo around one volcano, another snowcapped volcano appeared out of the clouds in the distance – Volcan Cayambe.  
This is a photo of Volcan Chimborazo.  Technically, because of the bulge at the Equator,
this mountain is closest to the sun and is considered the highest mountain in the world.
I did not attempt to summit, but I did climb up to here.
Thanks to the fog and sleet, I didn’t see anything except the lovely grasses… 

But I did sleep in the Paramo in style!

Although technically not in the Paramo, I found this guy on my way up
to the Paramo and decided I should include him here.  After all,
this is easily the most iconic Ecuadorian photo I’ll every take.