Los Nevados National Natural Park is a nature
reserve situated in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes in
the Quindío and Tolima departments of Colombia. It covers a total
area of 58,300 hectares (225 sq mi).
The park includes the thermal floors corresponding
to cold, wasteland, and freezing, so its main ecosystems are the
Andean forests, moors and glaciers. It also includes the river
basins of some rivers, such as the Otún River, Quindío River,
Totarito River, Molinos River, Azufrado River, Lagunillas River,
Campoalegre River and Guali River, among others.
In the park
are located the snowcapped Ruiz, Tolima, Santa Isabel, El Cisne,
Quindío and the Paramillo de Santa Rosa, being the first three
permanent snowfalls and the last occasional, given the loss of
glacial ice in them.
The geological nature of the park,
supposes that it is one of the largest volcanic complexes in the
country, with 6 stratovolcanoes over 4,600 meters high, as well as a
numerous formation of hot springs. The geological origin of the park
is due to the subduction of the Nazca plate with respect to the
Pacific tectonic plate, so its volcanoes belong to the Pacific's
fire belt. In the park there are three of the six glaciers that are
preserved in Colombia in 2019, so it has gained tourist relevance
nationally and internationally. Given the presence of the different
thermal floors of the park, it is possible to observe the
transformation of the landscape as it rises. Above 3,000 meters
above sea level, it is possible to see glacial erosion, typical of
countries such as Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, to name a few.
This erosion is evident from the recurring U-shaped valleys,
moraines and ancient glacial tongues, which form circuses and faint
valleys now covered by the vegetation of the moor. This is due to
the fact that in the last glaciation, in Colombia the perpetual
snows reached an altitudinal range between 2,800 and 3,100 meters
above sea level, thus demonstrating an erosive process typical of
latitudes close to the earth's poles.
The park can be
accessed by vehicle from Manizales and Villamaría, with the aim of
climbing to the lunar valleys of the Ruiz or the Santa Isabel Snowy
(Consejeras-Potosí sector) for those who wish to have contact with
the snow. The other accesses in Santa Rosa de Cabal and Pereira, are
to ascend only to the Santa Isabel Snowy through the Florida-Otún
sector. The accesses in the departments of Quindío and Tolima, are
to ascend only to the Nevado del Tolima through the Cocora Valley
sectors in Salento and Combeima, respectively.