Eastern Plains
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Eastern Plains

Los Llanos Orientales or eastern grasslands of Colombia make up over a quarter of Colombia's landmass yet have just a tiny proportion of the population. Located on the Orinoco River Basin that runs between Colombia and Venezuela, these rich tropical grasslands  are limited by the Andes in the west, the Venezuelan Coastal Range in the north and the Amazon in the south.

Since colonial times, the Spaniards started to herd cattle on these grasslands; the “Llanero” was originally a mixture between Spanish and Indians. The term “llanero” (plainsman) became synonymous to  “cowboy” who took care of the herds, and has some cultural similarities with the “gauchos” of the pampas or the “vaqueros” of Spanish and Mexican Texas.

The culture, music and food of the “Llaneros” is unique and distinct, and their cowboy lifestyle is a hard, traditional one. During the year, the Llaneros have to drive cattle great distances. During the winter wet season, they have to drive the cattle to higher ground, as the poor drainage of the plains means that the annual floods are extensive. Conversely, they have to drive the cattle towards wet areas during the dry summer. The Llaneros show their skills in coleo competitions, similar to rodeos, where they compete to drag cattle to the ground. Llanero music is distinctive for its use of the harp, the maracas and a small guitar called a cuatro. The joropo, a Llanero dance, has become the national dance of Venezuela, and of the Llanos of Colombia.

Los Llanos is home to an incredible wildlife, with more than 100 species of mammals and over 700 species of birds; during the rainy season, from May to October, parts of the Llanos can flood up to a meter. This turns the woodlands and grasslands into temporary wetlands, attracting around 70 species of water birds like the Scarlet Ibis, the white-bearded Flycatcher, the yellowlegs, and  several species of sandpipers.

The Llanos harbours one of the most critically endangered reptiles on Earth, the endemic Orinoco crocodile, that reaches 23 feet in length. Other endangered species in Llanos include the Orinoco turtle, the giant armadillo,  the giant otter,  the black-and-chestnut eagle and several species of catfish. In the wet and flooded savannas lives the largest rodent in the world, the capybara; and the anaconda, the largest boa in the world, over 23 feet long, has made these grasslands its home.

Los Llanos extend like an ocean as far as the eye can see….Whether it be to visit a cattle hacienda, a “coleo” show, to admire its rich wildlife, or feel the “llanero” culture through its music and tradition, you will love this region of Colombia of beautiful sunsets and amazing night skies…

Let us know if you wish to visit Los Llanos and we will tailor a trip for you.