At dawn, the warm lights born with the cloudless Andean days envelop the most striking summits. One of them is the one in the photograph, with orange colored slopes. It is the Paramillo de Santa Rosa, a group of peaks with an average altitude of 4600 meters above sea level that emerges, at a far distance, over the western brim of Lake Otún.
It is located in the Los Nevados National Natural Park on lands belonging to the Department of Risaralda. Lake Otún, at 3950 meters above sea level, is mainly replenished by the constant thawing of the ice cap that gives the Santa Isabel peak its snow-white splendor. Far below – we must remember – this water supplies the aqueduct of the city of Pereira.
Its scientific name is Anas Andium. It is commonly called “paramo duck”. It is, we could say, a mountain duck that roams between 2600 and 4300 meters above sea level. Besides Colombia, it also lives in northern Perú, in Ecuador and in northwestern Venezuela. In Lake Otún waters, its diet consists of some specific aquatic plants and small invertebrates that are also typical of the lake.
Among Lake Otún’s many treasures, it is worthwhile to highlight its crammed populations of frailejones, many located on the western slopes that demarcate part of this hydric reservoir. The frailejones there seem to have found that cramming together is the best way to keep warm and tolerate the extremely low temperatures.
The adaptive capacity
After the dawn's under zero degrees centigrade temperatures, this plant will suddenly have to tolerate the strain of a morning sun that will thaw it and embrace it. And later it might also have to resist the attack of the paramo rains alternated with sporadic moments of sun and of frigid wind. This image is an eloquent example of the amazing and remarkable adaptive capacity of the species to survive the extreme conditions of life in this place.