From Nevado del Ruiz volcano we drove around through the city of Pereira to the nearby SFF Otún Quimbaya (fauna and flora sanctuary). This small area, at 1800m above sea level, is just below the eastern side of the Los Nevados park and protects some vulnerable Colombian wildlife. It was once a cattle ranch and then became a training centre for an environment agency. The original Villa Amparo of the ranch is preserved and the large training facility buildings now provide basic but clean and comfortable accommodation for visitors to the sanctuary. Although the park is administered by the National Parks Authority, ecotourism is run by the local community. The garden area is very pleasant with plenty of peace and quiet, a commodity in short supply in Colombia!
The forest runs alongside the small and fast-flowing river Otún and is a mix of old-growth Andean forest with some more recently planted trees, including non-natives. The area supports a wide variety of bird species, especially some that are rare elsewhere. Some are hard to see in the thick foliage and it was worthwhile to spend a few hours in the early morning with a local guide, Diego, and to learn a little from his impressive knowledge of the many different bird calls.
Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis), a type of nightjar, are very vocal around the accommodation area garden. I've been trying to see one of these that lives near our apartment in Bucaramanga for months, but as they are only really active after dark, it's proved fruitless. They tend to call whilst sat on the ground in the open. In Otún Quimbaya I was almost tripping over them and they sometimes would stay in a torch beam long enough to let me get a good look. I heard what seemed to be other nightjar species calling frequently which I think were Swallow-tailed Nightjar (Uropsalis segmentata) but I didn't see them.
I picked up a few other very good lifers including male Booted Racket-tail Hummingbird (Ocreatus underwoodii) a tiny bird with a very long tail tipped with rackets which makes it unique in Colombia. I also saw a number of very colorful Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii), Sickle-winged Guan (Chamaepetes goudotii), Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (Leptopogon rufipectus). In the river there were several pairs of White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus) and after some searching I located a pair of Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata) further downstream.
There are a few mammal species in the reserve including Puma and Ocelot. The groups of Red Howler Monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) make plenty of noise which can sound like the wind in the distance. Apparently night monkeys are also in the reserve. I got good views of a small Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous) around the accommodation buildings one night, but sadly my camera flash failed to go off. The grass area seemed to have plenty of holes which I was told were dug by groups of Coatis searching for worms.
Overall it was a very enjoyable stay in the reserve and there was plenty more to see. I'd recommend Otún Quimbaya to anyone wanting to see more of Colombia´s fantastic wildlife.