Otun Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, located in the mid Otun River basin, has been a reference point for sustainable tourism in Colombia for many years and won various international awards. Their development of nature-focused tourism, managed and delivered by the local community, has set a benchmark that many communities in Colombia have chosen to follow.
Established in 1996 and now holding national park status, the 489ha reserve protects a number of micro-basins that feed the Otun River, which in turn provides the drinking water for nearby Pereira an hour downriver. The ecosystem is mainly sub-tropical cloud forest which elsewhere has been cleared for agriculture and coffee production.
For wildlife watchers, Otun has many attractions. The easy, winding jungle trails showcase various important species, none more so than the endemic cauca guan, a focal conservation priority for the sanctuary that was hunted to the brink of extinction. The bird has now bounced back, with Otun its national stronghold for the continued revival of the species. Other species of note that can be found with relative ease include the otherwise rare red-ruffed fruitcrow, endemic multicolored tanager, crested ant-tanager and Stile’s tapaculo.
The sanctuary, which includes a large plantation of harvestable Chinese ash (indicating previous land usage prior to the creation of the reserve), also has a healthy population of red howler-monkey. An endangered mountain tapir roaming along the road early in the morning in search of food is also not an uncommon sight in the reserve.