Sumapaz Páramo is considered the most extensive moorland in the world. The Sumapaz National Natural Park protects this high mountain grassland ecosystem in the Altiplano Cundibohyacense mountain range within the Colombian Andes.
Sumapaz Páramo is considered the largest moorland ecosystem in the world. This high mountain grassland biome is located in the Altiplano Cundibohyacense mountain range within the Cordillera Oriental, the easternmost ridge of the Colombian Andes.
The area was considered sacred for the Muisca (or Chibcha) civilization. These indigenous people flourished in the region between 600 and 1600 CE, although there is evidence in the area as far back as 1500 B.C.E.
The climate here is inhospitable due to its alpine tundra location, with elevation ranging from 3,500 - 4,000 m (11,500 - 13,000 ft). Temperatures range from −10 °C - 17 °C (14 °F - 62 °C) and can change quickly. Humidity is high.
The landscape is often wet, covered with shallow bodies of water ("Chupaderos" or "Chucuas"), which often are hidden under dense vegetation.
Sumapaz National Natural Park
In 1977, approximately 178,000 ha (440,00 acres) of the Sumapaz Páramo was declared a National Natural Park of Colombia due to its importance as both a biodiversity hotspot and source of water. With lakes formed by retreating glaciers, the area is also one of the largest water reserves in the country.
It is located in five municipalities of the department of Cundinamarca (Pasca, Arbeláez, San Bernardo, Cabrera and Gutiérrez); six municipalities of the department of Meta (Acacias, Guamal, Cubarral, El Castillo, Lejanías, and Uribe), one municipality in the department of Huila (Colombia) and two districts in Bogotá (Usme and Sumapaz).
Flora and Fauna
The Sumapaz National Natural Park is an essential reservoir of Colombia's biological, ecological and genetic diversity. It contains a high presence of endemic plants and animals.
Over 200 species of vascular plants are native to the area, with a substantial amount of endemism. The most representative plants of the site are the Espeletia, commonly known as 'frailejones' ("big monks"). The encenillo tree and tibouchina are the dominant species in the canyons areas.
Sphagnum moss covers vast areas of Sumapaz, which increases the soil's capacity to hold water and nutrients.
Fauna includes the endangered Spectacled Bear, Little Red Brocket Deer, tapir, coati, golden eagle, torrent duck and Páramo duck.