El Lechero

El Lechero, Otavalo: Address, El Lechero Reviews: 4/5

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.0
44 reviews
Excellent
9
Very good
17
Average
16
Poor
2
Terrible
0

makwa55
Watertown, WI132 contributions
I know this place has importance to some of the local population and offers some nice views of the surrounding countryside but there are nice views pretty much everywhere you go around this area - you're up in the Andes mountains of Ecuador! This is a tree in a field on a hill that looks pretty much the same as a thousand other trees in the area. Don't understand why anyone would want to take the time to see this specific tree! Not worth the time to see in my opinion.
Written May 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dan
9 contributions
Solo
Unfortunately El Lechero was destroyed by strong winds a week ago and has been reduced to a fraction of the original size.
Written January 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

5smiths2014
New Jersey9 contributions
Family
Important to the locals, but not so much younger kids. Ok views, it's worth the 5 minute stop if you're heading to the Condor Parque.
Written April 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chuck L
Patate, Ecuador34 contributions
Couples
November 6, 2018

I visited the historic tree known as El Lechero (Sapium glandulosum) located on a hill 9,340 ft. (2,847 m.) above sea level overlooking Otavalo in northern Ecuador. The tree has been an important ceremonial tree for the indigenous community of Pucará Alto and the greater indigenous population of Otavalo for many generations. Otavalo is well-known for its Indian market and the high quality, hand-made weavings and textiles produced there. El Lechero is also a significant tourist stop for visitors to Otavalo. Unfortunately, about a year ago El Lechero was damaged by a fire built next to the trunk and has been in decline.

The site on the hill where El Lechero is located is wind-blown and cool. Although near the equator, the high altitude keeps the average annual temperature at 54 degrees F. (12 degrees C.) with daily high temperatures rarely exceeding 72 degrees F (22 degrees C.). The soil is a silty clay with some sand and has been compacted by years of foot traffic by tourists to look at the tree and indigenous people performing ritual ceremonies. The upper 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) of soil is heavily compacted making rains more likely to run off the site than soak into the soil.

The relatively small size of El Lechero is probably not a true indication of its likely age. Conversations by community leader Sr. Andrango, who has spoken with older Indigenous residents about their conversations with their ancestors, can trace back rituals performed at El Lechero many generations. The size of El Lechero is more likely a result of less than ideal growing conditions.

I evaluated the tree’s health and separately the tree’s structural condition. Both health condition and structural condition are completely separate and independent conditions. Tree health is measured by leaf quantity, leaf color and overall crown opacity as well as the amount of sprout growth in each growth flush. Tree structure is evaluated by the absence or presence of structural defects such as cankers, cavities and the arrangement of branch connection at forks.

The tree’s health condition is fair with sparse foliage and low opacity (about 33 percent), but the tree has produced a significant number of new epicormic sprouts and relatively strong new growth. Foliage color is good and recent growth flushes have been consistent.

The structural condition of El Lechero, however, is poor because the trunk is so extensively compromised that it is in danger of falling apart. The trunk is a hollowed out half moon shape with a wall of live tissue that is approximately 4 to 5 cm thick (1.75 to 2 inches).

Fortunately, the community leaders realized the stability problems during the past year and have provided supports with posts made of living lechero wood. The rather magical trait of freshly cut lechero posts, even large posts, is that they easily root and become living posts. Living fences in the Andes are often made of lechero posts stuck in the ground. Consequently, several of these branch support posts placed around El Lechero have begun to root and grow. I demonstrated how to expose the cambium on the live posts and the live branches being supported and secure them together tightly to encourage the posts to graft onto the lateral branches. This technique would create a living support network of younger lechero trunks supporting the mother trunk (Figure 4).

Ideally, the lechero support posts would be of the same genetic material as the main trunk. I understand sprouts recently taken from El Lechero are currently being rooted (cloned) as replacement trees of the same genetic material as the main trunk. However, these cuttings are still small. The instability of the main trunk is so delicate, in my opinion, that lechero posts are needed right now even if they are not the same genetic material as the main trunk and branches. Later cloned posts from the mother tree can be added as support, rooted and grafted onto lateral branches.

In addition to providing support for El Lechero’s trunk, soil and root conditions have to be improved. Putting down a layer of organic mulch is the best and also least expensive way to improve the root space and provide more resources for the roots in the form of increased organic matter, humus and biota. The mulch material can be any organic matter in the form of wood chips, leaves, pine tree bark. But do not use any organic components from eucalyptus trees which can give off toxins that may harm El Lechero. This mulch layer should be approximately 5 to 7 cm. (2 to 3 inches) thick and should not be piled up against the trunk of the tree. As this organic layer decomposes, it will slowly improve the soil and provide a very subtle and gentle level of natural fertilizer for El Lechero. Too much mulch can inhibit the movement of rainfall into the roots. So be careful not to make the mulch layer too thick.

The mulch layer will not only help in reducing soil compaction but will also help cushion the soil from further compaction when there is occasional foot traffic near the trunk of El Lechero.

Avoid chemical fertilizers or even strong natural fertilizer concoctions commonly used in Ecuador. These mixtures normally stimulate foliage growth and can cause an imbalance between the root system and the foliage. Strong fertilizers, whether natural or chemical, can cause more damage to El Lechero than benefits. The problems El Lechero has are not fertilizer issues. Too much fertilizer can only complicate the recovery.
Written December 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

_julian_land
Mainz, Germany16 contributions
Solo
Quite a nice walk of roughly 5 km mostly uphill, but the tree really is a majestic being. You can really feel why it´s holy to the indigenous people, especially great when visiting in good weather. You will see the Lago del Pablo in the background, it really makes a nice picture.
Written November 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anna T
5 contributions
Great spot for a picnic. Even better if you have local friends who can share the legends of the landscape.
Written October 31, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

sburkerd
Valencia, Spain219 contributions
Couples
Make time for this spot before taking in the 11:30 am show at Parque Condor. You can walk 360 degrees around the sacred tree and see Imbabura and Cotacachi.
Written May 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tiese E
Tampa, FL9 contributions
Friends
My friends and I took a cab here from our hotel La Posada del Quinde ($4) to visit this tree. However, when we got there, the views of the lake and Imbabura mountain were honestly more impressive. It was a little chilly when we visited at sunset but the view was worth it. On Sunday, it's hard to find taxis that will take you back down the mountain unless you have a drivers number. You might want to choose a different day to visit.
Written July 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jolka27
Houston, TX58 contributions
Couples
This place is not easy to find, but often visited for couples asking for eternal love and happiness. Beautiful view around
Written June 28, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Catherine S
California122 contributions
Couples
El Lechero is worth seeing if you're in the area because it is sacred to the local people and there are legends associated with it.
Written March 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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