Colombia’s eastern plains are called Los Llanos Orientales, a vast, flat expanse of tropical savanna, gallery forest, seasonally flooded wetlands and small hillocks. There are distinct wet and dry seasons, the latter lasting from late November through to late March and the best time to visit. During these drier months, roads are passable and the wildlife is concentrated into smaller areas as the watering holes begin to evaporate.
Possibly best known for their contribution to the independence war of the 19th century, the Llanero cowboys are a hardy people who work at rearing cattle across these expanses, often wading on horseback through chest-high waters during the monsoon-like wet season.
The acidic soil is unsuitable to most agriculture so that the Llanos has very low population density, meaning wild animals are free to roam with startling results. Flocks of scarlet ibis mixed with imposing jabiru storks, surveyed by soaring king vultures flying over multitudes of cayman and capybara: these are just some of the species that can be found here with relative ease. Immense anacondas, Latin America’s largest predator, are found here, as are Orinoco crocodile, giant anteater, puma and jaguar, all of whom enjoy an abundance of their favourite food.