14 miles east of Pereira can visit the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, a protected area of 489 hectares characterized by rainforest vegetation and sub-Andean forest.
The Otun Quimbaya Fauna and flora Sanctuary is immersed in a major corridor called the coffee-producing axis eco-region. Its peaceful mountain slopes and forests provide the habitat for fauna and flora of exceptional beauty and biological importance. Tranquil scenery.
The Sanctuary features typical wet forest and sub-Andean rain forest vegetation with a variety of orchids and bromeliads. The mists that frequently cover the mountain tops and sides lend the area an enigmatic and mysterious aspect. Otun Quimbaya is the perfect setting in which to observe a diverse range of birdlife, butterflies and mammals. The terrain is very varied with hillsides where the visitor can observe the typical flora of the region and its sparkling, singularly beautiful springs.
The vegetation cover is the product of years of pressure on natural resources, the introduction of foreign species and natural regeneration, which have combined to substantially alter the original scenery around the Sanctuary, creating an enormous spatial mix in an area of just 489 hectares. It includes wetlands, forest plantations, natural woodlands at different stages of growth due to the differences in the timing of timber extraction, and mature woods.
The Sanctuary’s drainage system comprises five micro-basins, La Mula, La Hacienda, La Suiza, Corozal and Palo Blanco, all of which both rise and end in the protected area. The general hydrographic system is made up of numerous springs and tributary streams of the River Otun.
The Fauna and Flora Sanctuary forms part of a mosaic of both young and mature forests in which 259 species of flora have been identified, prominent among which are the oak, the cedar, the Magnolia lenticellata, the Magnolia gilbertoi, the wild cherry, the romeron, the passion flower tree, the cumin tree, the culefierro, the macana palm, the laurelpeludo and the molinillo.
Prominent among the fauna species are birds, including the cauca guan, the multicoloured tanager, the gold-en-plumed parakeet, the red-winged tinamou, the crested eagle, the torn de monte, the torrent duck, the sole-dad de montana and the blue-crowned motmot.
The presence has also been recorded of mammals such as the mountain tapir, the howler monkey, the pacarana, the night monkey and the crab-eating fox.
The Otun basin and, in general, the former Caldas, were colonised mainly by immigrants from Antioquía, who came in search of Indian treasures, of new lands to cultivate and areas far from the violence that characterised the period. When these colonisers from Antioquía reached the basin, they were welcomed by mountains and dense forests. Subsequently, the forests were transformed by the extraction and sale of noble woods, charcoal production and the creation of pasture land for extensive dairy farming.
These transformations substantially modified the original landscape and led to the decline in the biological wealth of the basin. For this reason, in the late nineteen-forties a set of measures was adopted for its recovery and conservation, backed by Colombian envionmental legislation. Many of the measures, moreover, were the initiative of civil society. Thanks to such protection action, the basin became one of the most important regional, national and worldwide scenarios for the conservation of biological diversity and the generation of environmental services.
- Established: 1996
- Area: 489 hectares
- Altitude: Between 1,750 and 2,250 metres above sea level
- Climate: Cold and wet
- Average temperature: 16°C
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
- LOCATION: The Otun Quimbaya Fauna and flora sanctuary is located in the Eje Cafetero (coffeegrowing) eco-region in the municipality of Pereira, capital of the Department of Risaralda. Specifically, the park lies in the districts of La Horida and La Bellow on the western flank of the Cordillera Central.
- HOW TO GET THERE: From Pereira to the settlement of La Suiza, 14 kilometres east of the town (the last 5 km are unmade road).
- WHERE TO STAY: The Sanctuary has two buildings (Cacique Otun and Cacique Quimbaya), which provide accommodation, a lecture room and a restaurant, all built in the local architectural style of the coffee-growing region.
- WHERE TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION: The nearest hospital is in Pereira.
- WHERE TO EAT: There is a restaurant with capacity for 70 diners serving typical regional cuisine.
- HOW LONG TO STAY Three days and two nights.
- WHEN TO GO: The heaviest rains fall in the months from March to June and from September to November, while the months of July and August and from December to February are drier.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PARK:
The beauty of its scenery makes the Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary one of the busiest eco-tourism destinations in the National Natural Parks System, The Sanctuary has gradually become a major eco-tourism destination in the Eje Cafetero, and in particular in the mid-altitude and higher reaches of the River Otun, The interpretative guides service is provided by the Yarumo Blanco community organisation.
Various interpretation trials exist, allowing the visitor to enjoy activities like hiking, observation of the wildlife and flora, photography and video filming, and environmental research and education while visiting some of the Sanctuary’s main attractions, the El Rio trails, El Humedal and Los Bejucos.
WHAT TO VISIT IN THE SANCTUARY:
Visitors will enjoy tranquil walking along the bridle paths to Laguna Negra, Laguna Verde, Laguna Maria Pardo, Laguna del Otun, Penas Blancas, La Pastora, El Jordan, Vereda El Bosque, the Los Frailes waterfall. Protected areas near the Otun Quimbaya Sanctuary include the Campo Alegre Municipal Natural Park, the Barbas Bremen Regional Natural Park and the adjoining Los Nevados National Natural Park.
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