#1 Llanos Experience near to Bogotá: The Llanero Dawn Route in Meta

Also called the Meta River Tourist Route, the Ruta del Amanecer Llanero, or Llanero Dawn Route, is one of the four special destinations the Meta department has to offer to its visitors.

Here I will tell you everything you can do in the Amanecer Llanero Route in Meta, just a 20-minute flight from Bogotá.

Llanero Dawn Route (Amanecer Llanero)

If you want to know the path that leads to the Sun, this will be your route! You will see the Sun reflected on the waters of the Meta River, which sustains the fishermen, or warming up the sandy beaches of Cabuyaro, and finally you will see it set from the Manacacías River boardwalk.

And of course, you will see the Sun rising: before six o’clock in the morning you will witness an orange and red disc inflaming the sky. You will then know that you are on the Llanero Dawn route (Amanecer Llanero Route).

Location

The Amanecer Llanero route includes the municipalities of Cabuyaro, Puerto López and Puerto Gaitán in the department of Meta, in the Llanos Orientales (eastern plains) of Colombia.

Amanecer Llanero Route or Llanero Dawn Route

Weather

On this route, you will find an equatorial climate. It is usually (very) hot, humid and rainy all year round. The average annual temperature is 19°C, reaching maximums of up to 35°C depending on the season.

On the other hand, the average annual rainfall is 1216 mm, and it is also very humid, with an average relative humidity of 83%.

What to do in the Llanero Dawn Route

The route begins in Villavicencio, in the piedmont plains, on the road that leads to the municipality of Puerto López. Before crossing the bridge over the Ocoa River and leaving the urban area, it is recommended to stop at the Chorillano sector and enjoy the famous chorizos, empanadas, and fast food that have made the city famous.

Tiuma Park

Tiuma park is a theme park and hotel located in Villavicencio at Km 15 via Puerto López. It is focused on a nature and adventure theme and has spectacular scenery.

There you can do activities such as canopy at 120 feet, horseback riding, attend shows of Vaqueria and the culture of the plains, rappelling, herding cattle and Llanero work, and ecological walks, all under the supervision of trained personnel.

Additionally, this place offers glamping type accommodation, being one of the pioneers in offering Glamping in Villavicencio. These accommodations have air conditioning, Jacuzzi and a private bathroom. They also have a view of the lake, where you can observe animals of the region, the Llanero sunset and sunrise, and the unique landscape of the savannah plains.

Puerto López – Obelisk

86 km after leaving Villavicencio you will arrive at the municipality of Puerto López located on the banks of the Meta River. In Puerto López, you can visit the Monument to the Canoero, which honors the fishermen of the region.

Creative Commons Licence – Ph. Mateo Luna De Mateo Luna – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Obelisk is known as the belly button of Colombia for being the point that demarcates the geographical center of the Colombian territory. When arriving in Puerto López, you can see Alto de Menegua, where the obelisk stands. The obelisk is 30 meters tall, and there you can observe the sun in all its splendor at noon.

There you will find the Mirador Matapalo Tower, 50 meters high, from where you will have the most spectacular view of the Llanos Orientales of Colombia, just in the geographic center of the country.

Cabuyaro

Cabuyaro is a town with fabulous landscapes and whose main attraction is the majestic Meta River. Throughout the town, you can find beautiful Morichales typical of the savannah landscape surrounded by great beauty. The “morichales” constitute a very common and representative ecosystem of the Orinoco region, and are mainly formed by individuals of the moriche palm (Mauritia flexuosa).

Cabuyaro Beach

In Cabuyaro, the natives have designed a peculiar way to travel the Meta River in boats and canoes, and they also offer fishing instruction.

Likewise, this territory has a great variety of festivities that make it one of the best vacation destinations. There are, for example, the Regional Harp Festival and the Plains Sunset Beauty Contest, held in November; and the Beach and River Festival, in February.

Ostrich Park (Parque Avestruz)

Parque Avestruz is located 1.5 km from the Obelisk and only 4 minutes away, on the road to Puerto Gaitán in the Colombian plains.

There you will have a guided tour to interact with the ostriches and learn from them. You will be able to touch and feed the ostriches. Also, you will be able to take pictures and videos of these exotic birds that can reach up to 3 meters high.

COLOMBIAFRANK at the Ostrich Park in Meta
COLOMBIAFRANK Feeding Ostriches at the Ostrich Park in Meta

The park offers exotic ostrich meat in hamburgers and grilled, as well as dishes prepared with ostrich eggs. You can also find products such as ostrich skin for the manufacture of luxury items including cowboy boots, handbags, wallets, briefcases, belts, clothing, furniture, and car accessories. Ostrich oil, which is supposed to have countless health and skincare benefits.

Shoes made with ostrich skin at the Ostrich Park in Meta
Ostrich Oil at the Ostrich Park in Meta

You will also find ostrich feathers, crafts, leather goods, and ostrich eggshells formerly used as cooking bowls or canteens.

Earrings made with ostrich feathers at the Ostrich Park in Meta

Hotel & Bioreserva Lagos de Menegua

Lagos de Menegua is located 17 kilometers ahead of Puerto López, department of Meta, on the road to Puerto Gaitán.

Morichal at Lagos de Menegua

Lagos de Menegua is a natural reserve to enjoy the beauty of the rolling savannas of the eastern plains. It is an ideal place to enjoy a safari with your family. There you will be able to do bird, reptile, fish, and primate watching. Its main attractions are the Macaw Lake, the sunsets that can be seen from the El Morichal viewpoint, and also the sunrises.

Kayak Trips at Lagos de Menegua

There is no excuse to stay only at the pool because you can go on bike or horse rides, kayak trips, or walks through the preserved forest. There are also the ponds where thousands of mojarras and cachamas are farmed, as well as the Lake of Silence, where you can fish for pavon fish and yamu fish, among others.

Mojarras at Lagos de Menegua
Fishing Mojarras at Lagos de Menegua

Finca Hotel Mururito Nature Reserve

Mururito is a 2000-hectare nature reserve in the Orinoco, with a high-quality hotel farm at its heart and several guided activities and safaris. To get to the farm you need 4×4 transport. However, you can also arrive by charter flight, or enter via the Manacacías River.

Exploring the Savannah on horseback at Mururito Nature Reserve

There you can take daytime and nighttime walks in the forest or in the savannah. You can go out by bike or on horseback to discover the farthest places in the reserve, its pastures, its marshes and its lagoons. You can also learn the work of a cowboy, and participate in the activities of the farm.

Walks in the forest at Mururito Nature Reserve
In the photo two forest foxes (Cerdocyon thous), one of the species that has been increasing its population thanks to conservation in Mururito.

On the other hand, you can take a bath in the waters of Caño Tigre or in the Manacacías River. Also, in the lagoons or in the river you can fish piranhas and other fish.

Manacacías River at Mururito Nature Reserve
COLOMBIAFRANK enjoying his trip along the Manacacías River in Mururito

Mururito is also considered one of the hotspots for bird watching in the department of Meta. Birds from the Amazon and the Orinoco region have been recorded there.

Golden-headed Manakin – Ceratopipra erythrocephala
Swallow-winged Puffbird – Chelidoptera tenebrosa

Puerto Gaitán

Leaving the Obelisk in Alto de Menegua you continue the route 112 km through the plain leading to the municipality of Puerto Gaitán. The beaches of the rivers Manacacías, Yucao, and Meta are an alternative for rest and recreation. In the mouths of the Manacacías river, you can appreciate the Pink Dolphins, here known as “Toninas” (Inia geoffrensis).

Manacacías River at Puerto Gaitán, Meta

Ethno-tourism project

This project will allow you to participate in the life of the local indigenous people, learn about the customs of the Piapoco community, and integrate yourself into the ancestral ritual of the Dance of the Anaconda. Likewise, you can be guided by the community through ecological trails in their reserve.

Visiting the Piapoco’s territory in Meta

Where to Stay when you Visit the Llanero Dawn Route

If you are a nature lover and you like to be away from civilization, Lagos de Menegua and Mururito are the best options to stay when you visit the Llanero Dawn Route.

Hotel & Bioreserva Lagos de Menegua
Mururito Nature Reserve

The easiest place to visit is Lagos de Menegua because the entrance is on the main road that leads to Puerto Gaitán. On the other hand, to get to Mururito you need to go into the plain on an unmarked and uncovered road. You can only get to Mururito by direct indication, but not on your own.

If you want to know more about Lagos de Menegua and Mururito, visit our entry Complete Guide to the Best Eco lodges in Colombia. Also, if you are looking for the best safaris in Colombia please visit our entry Booking a Safari in Colombia? Find here the Best Options!

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours, or want to visit the Llanero Dawn Route (Ruta del Amanecer Llanero) in Meta, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


References


About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

#1 Birding Hotspot in Meta: Bosque Bavaria. Only 5 min. from Villavicencio!

The Bosque Bavaria in Villavicencio is one of the main hotspots for bird watching in Colombia and the first hotspot in the department of Meta. It is considered a place of ornithological interest due to the high concentration of bird species in a relatively small area. In this place more than 350 bird species have been registered.

In this place is located the Proaves Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus) Bird Nature Reserve which, together with the forests of the former Bavaria beer company headquarters, preserves the forest in the piedmont plains of Los Llanos sheltering bird species in a gradient between 200 and 1100 meters above sea level.

Guatiquía River Canyon (IBA)

Bosque Bavaria Hotspot is part of the Important Bird Area (IBA) Guatiquía River Canyon. The Guatiquía River Canyon is located on the eastern slope of the Eastern mountain range of Colombia, in the Llanos piedmont. Guatiquía IBA is part of the department of Meta and covers an area of 450 square kilometers.

The Guatiquía River Canyon goes up from the Bavaria bridge in Villavicencio, at 400 meters above sea level, to the Chingaza paramo, at 3,000 meters above sea level. It crosses towns such as Montfort, San Francisco, El Calvario, Santa Teresa, Candelaria and San Juanito.

Guatiquía River and Bosque Bavaria Birding Hotspot

The fairly wide altitudinal gradient of the IBA Guatiquía River Canyon favors the presence of fauna and flora belonging to different thermal floors. Globally threatened species, restricted-range species and biome-restricted species are found in this area.

Among them, it is worth mentioning the Band-tailed Guan (Penelope argyrotis), Blue-throated Starfrontlet (Coeligena helianthea), Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus), Brown-breasted Parakeet (Pyrrhura calliptera), Cundinamarca Antpitta (Grallaria kaestneri), Andean Siskin (Spinus spinescens), Ochre-breasted Brush-finch (Atlapetes semirufus), Pale-naped Brush-finch (Atlapetes pallidinucha) and Moustached Brush-finch (Atlapetes albofrenatus).

It is possible to do a bird watching daytrip from the paramo to the lower part of the piedmont, you just need a good guide and a 4×4 truck.

Bosque Bavaria Location

The Bavaria forest is located five minutes from the city of Villavicencio, Meta, in the vicinity of the old Bavaria brewery warehouse. You can find it on the left side of the road that leads to the municipality of Restrepo, shortly before crossing the bridge over the Guatiquía River.

Bosque Bavaria Birding Hotspot at 5 minutes from Villavicencio

The forest is part of a transitional piedmont forest fragment between the mountainous part and the adjacent plains. Bosque Bavaria is a tropical humid forest formed by slightly altered primary and secondary forests.

It is located at an altitude ranging between 467 and 651 meters above sea level and is the boundary between the bird species present in the low areas of the Orinoco and the species typical of the mountainous forests of the Eastern Mountain Range.

Bosque Bavaria Weather

Bosque Bavaria has an average annual temperature of 27°C and an average annual rainfall of 3,663 mm (IGAC, 1996). Besides, the first period of rain occurs between April and May and the second between September and November; 62% of the total rain falls during these five months. Also, September and October are the rainiest months while January and February are the driest.

Birding in Bosque Bavaria, Meta

The tour is made along an unpaved road that connects several farms with the city. During the tour, you can observe the canyon of the Guatiquía River from the observation balconies offered by the steep forest slopes that surround the road.

Double-toothed Kite – Harpagus bidentatus. Ph. Sara Colmenares

Among with the Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus), there are other interesting birds such as the Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus), Speckled Chachalaca (Ortalis guttata), Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota), White-chested Puffbird (Malacoptila fusca), Golden-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala), White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus), Sooty-capped Hermit (Phaethornis augusti), Moustached Antwren (Myrmotherula ignota), Amazonian Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus ornatus), Dwarf Cuckoo (Coccycua pumila), Green Manakin (Cryptopipo holochlora), and Striolated Manakin (Machaeropterus striolatus).

Unfortunate picture of the Striolated Manakin – Machaeropterus striolatus. Ph. Sara Colmenares

Besides birds, you can also find mammals such as the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), along with other animals such as turtles, and amphibians, butterflies, etc.

Butterfly Watching in Bosque Bavaria

The list of butterflies that live in Bosque Bavaria is composed of about 470 species. This region is the best sampled in butterflies in the entire Eastern Cordillera and has a high potential for butterfly watching tours.

Here are some of the butterfly species you can find in Bosque Bavaria:

Fig. 1. Morpho telemachus iphiclus . Fig. 2. Morpho achilles patroclus . Fig. 3. Morpho achilles phokylides . Fig. 4. Morpho marcus intermedia . Fig. 5. Morpho menelaus occidentalis . Fig. 6. Antirrhaea philoctetes philaretes (Salazar et al. 2017).
Fig. 15. Parides anchises nielseni . Fig. 16. Coenophlebia archidona . Fig. 17. Pterourus zagreus f. bacchus . Fig. 18. Eueides tales cognata . Fig. 19. Methona confusa confusa . Fig. 20. Hamadryas chloe chloe . Fig. 21. Brevianta ematheon . Fig. 22. Semomesia croesus lacrimosa . Fig. 23. Cyrenia martia ssp. . Fig. 24. Callicore lyca bella . (Plates G. Nielsen) (Salazar et al. 2017).

Where to Stay near Bosque Bavaria Hotspot

There are several option to stay near Bosque Bavaria, either you stay at Villavicencio or in a nearby town called Restrepo.

However, for birders and nature lovers, I recommend Rancho Camaná Natural Reserve as the nearest place to stay when you visit Bosque Bavaria. Besides, from Rancho Camaná you can also visit other birding spots as Camino Monfortiano, Caney Alto, and Upin Salt Mines along the piedmont plains.

Recommendations

  • Wear boots, a raincoat, and a mosquito protection.
  • Disinfect shoes with hypochlorite or Clorox to prevent the dispersion of the chytrid fungus (one of the main causes of death of amphibians in the world).

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours, or want to visit Bosque Bavaria or Guatiquía Canyon in Meta, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


References


About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Piedemonte Llanero: Birdwatching, Wellness and Horseback Experiences

The piedmont plains (also known as Piedemonte llanero) is one of the most interesting regions to visit in Colombia. The Piedemonte llanero is a geographic strip that limits the Andean mountain ranges and the Llanos Orientales. It covers a wide range of biomes along the eastern edge of the eastern mountain range of Colombia.

It comprises an ecological transition zone between the mountain forests and the highland savannas. For that reason, the soils are very fertile in this area. Soil fertility is important in ecological and agricultural aspects. Paradoxically, this ecosystem is threatened by soils being heavily exploited for crops and livestock.

Here I will tell you everything you can do in the Piedemonte Llanero Route in Meta, only a 20-minute flight from Bogotá.

Piedemonte Llanero Route

If you want to know the factories of “Pan de Arroz” (rice bread, yes!), the “a la llanera” steakhouses, take a bath in hot springs, ride in one of the best horse stables in Colombia, watch incredible birds and rest in serene places, this is the route for you!

Location

The piedmont plains include part of the departments of Arauca, Boyacá, Casanare, Meta and Caquetá.

The “piedemonte llanero” of the Meta department is located between the municipalities of Restrepo, Cumaral and Barranca de Upía to the east of Villavicencio.

Piedemonte Llanero Route – Google Maps

Weather

The piedemonte llanero has two periods of rainfall that reach their maximum in April and September. It has an average annual temperature of 26 °C. It is a region with high relative humidity, ~ 80%, so you must be careful with pieces of equipments such as cameras, microphones, phones, etc.

Also, if you leave your room for more than a week without ventilation, you will probably find a fungus film covering everything when you are back. Be careful with this, and always ask for extra clean bed clothes and well-ventilated rooms. The fungus can create allergies or even settle in your ears.

What to do in the Piedemonte Llanero Route

The starting point is the city of Villavicencio, taking the bridge Mi Llanura over the river Guatiquía, in the Troncal del llano road.

Visit Bioparque Los Ocarros

The first point of this route is the Bioparque Los Ocarros. This park is a sanctuary of fauna and flora of the Eastern Plains. It has an extension of 5.7 hectares which are divided into seven sectors around a central lake.

The bio park recreates the natural environment of almost 600 animals that live there. There are mammals, reptiles, and birds. There is also an aquarium with more than 50 species of freshwater fish, the largest in the country.

Additionally, you will find a butterfly farm, a large collection of turtles, and a serpentarium with species such as rattlesnakes, boas, anacondas and rainbow boas. It is an excellent place for children, and to visit as a family plan.

Ocarro – Priodontes maximus picture Bioparque Los Ocarros Website

Birdwatching, horse riding, and organic products at Restrepo

Then, continuing the route, you will find the municipality of Restrepo. Restrepo is known as the salt capital of the department of Meta, because of the artisanal exploitation of salt.

Salt was first exploited by the Guayupe indigenous community. You can visit the Upin Salt Mines, and the salt water springs. There you can observe the process of watering, collecting and transforming this precious mineral.

Restrepo is also known as the “Green Municipality” of Meta because of its natural wealth and landscapes. Also, it is the “World Capital of Rice Bread” (Pan de Arroz).

Pan de Arroz – Rice Bread ©https://www.noticiasdelmeta.com.co/aprenda-a-elaborar-pan-de-arroz-gratis/

At Restrepo you can visit the hills of the Caney Alto tourist corridor and watch the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, visit the Rancho Camaná Natural Reserve for birdwatching, visit the La Cosmopolitana farm which offers 100% organic products, as well as Campo Ecológico Gramalote for horseback riding.

Andean Cock-of-the-rock – Rupicola peruvianus, male at Altos del Caney, Restrepo, Meta

At Campo Ecológico Gramalote there are three routes to ride in natural settings and live the experience of the Llanos. These rides can last between one and two and a half hours.

The participants receive basic lessons in a barouche, are attended by the guides of the field, and have the possibility, at the end of the tour, to attend an equestrian show.

Horse riding at Campo Ecológico Gramalote, Restrepo, Meta

Work of the Llanos, Dairy, and Mamona at Cumaral

On the way to Cumaral, at km 21, you can enjoy one of the best factories of dairy products in the region: Lácteos La Catira. There you can learn how to make cheese, and also try the best yogurts and cheese bread you can imagine.

Continuing the route you will find the municipality of Cumaral, a typical llanero town where you can experience the work of the llanos, visit the Manga de Coleo, and enjoy the meat “a la llanera”, popularly known as “Mamona”, a typical dish of the eastern plains.

“Mamona”, is meat from a calf less than 9 months old. This meat has a tender texture that is very pleasant for the palate. Its preparation is relatively simple, the meat is marinated with beer, salt and other seasonings.

Once it is ready, it is threaded into large wooden sticks, which are placed around a fire to guarantee its uniform cooking. The meat is accompanied with yucca, potato and plantain, and with beer or the popular Refajo (Colombian soda with barley beer).

Mamona picture by Cumaral City Hall

The World Meeting of Vaquería (Cowboys) is held in Cumaral. It takes place in the “Manga de Coleo” Hernán Braidy Braidy. Coleo is the main sport of the Llanero man. It is made up of a trilogy of rider, horse, and bull. The rider’s objective is to knock down the bull by pulling its tail.

This sport is practiced in a track called Manga de Coleo. Many animal lovers are against this tradition. But it is part of the daily tasks of a cowboy in the Llanos when he has to handle the cattle in the great plains.

When leaving Cumaral, you take the road that leads to the Cundinamarca municipalities of Paratebueno and Maya, on the route to reach the municipality of Barranca de Upía in Meta. In Barranca de Upía you can try famous dishes such as: “carne a la perra”, “sancocho”, “carne asada”, “muchacho relleno”, “carne de marisca”, among others.

Also, in Barranca de Upia you can visit the Cerro Mirador, the Guaicaramo Hot Springs, and Aguas Calientes. There are natural water pools which, according to the locals, help to improve different illnesses due to the minerals they carry.

The water heats up on the surface due to a geological rift in the foothills of the Eastern mountain range, between the municipalities of Villavicencio and Barranca de Upía. This natural phenomenon has become a tourist destination known as Termales de Aguas Calientes, a private nature reserve located 102 kilometers from Villavicencio.

There you can enjoy Turkish baths made of wood that collect the steam from the high temperatures. Also, you will find cold springs, hot springs, a hot pool, a mud therapy area and a waterfall. All these attractions are natural formations. You will also be able to know how small oil springs emerge from the ground and water streams.

Where to Stay when you Visit the Piedemonte Llanero

During the entire trip there is a permanent offer of hotels, including a five-star hotel. I will recommend three places that offer completely different but equally fulfilling experiences.

Hacienda Las Mercedes

This is a private accommodation, with a swimming pool and access to the Campo Ecológico Gramalote. It is a Spanish style house with a central patio and ample rooms with private bathrooms.

There you can relax, take walks around the hacienda, go horseback riding, enjoy the pool, and be in an environment just for you and your family or friends.

Hacienda Las Mercedes

Ecolodge Cosmogénesis

The Ecolodge Cosmogenesis is an agro-eco-touristic, therapeutic, and formative center that will provide you with moments of harmony with nature and will contribute to your optimal spiritual, mental, and physical state.

This is a place that has for you an exquisite healing energy and that will provide you with everything you need to live a unique stay.

Ecolodge Cosmogénesis

Rancho Camaná Nature Reserve

Camaná means Carlos, Martha, and Nathalia. Since 1993 they have transformed a livestock area into a small civil society nature reserve.

Rancho Camaná offers lodging services, all under strict sustainability protocols. It is the number one place in the region, and one of the most recognized in the country, for its commitment to the environment through conservation, education, and waste treatment.

Rancho Camaná Nature Reserve

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours or want to visit the Piedemonte llanero route in Meta, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


References

  • Briceño Vanegas G. Evolución de la integridad estructural de ecosistemas lóticos del piedemonte llanero frente a la intervención antrópica. Acta biol. Colomb. 2015; 20(2):133-144. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.15446/abc.v20n2.42307
  • http://www.turismometa.gov.co/
  • http://www.cumaral-meta.gov.co/

About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

The Ultimate Llanos Orientales of Colombia Bucket List

Over the last few years, Los Llanos Orientales has become a top favorite nature destination in Colombia. Travelers have fallen hard for the incredible landscapes, the safari experiences, the culture, and food.

With 16-17 million ha in the country, there is a long list of things you want to see and do. So I put together a bucket list with some of the most remarkable Colombian Llanos travel experiences and destinations.

From Caño Cristales in La Macarena to rafting in the Güéjar River Canyon, bird watching in Restrepo, aero-safari in Altagracia, horse riding and cowboy experience in El Encanto de Guanapalo, cocoa experience in Arauca, sport fishing in the Bita river in Vichada, glamping in the Corocora Camp to boating along the Manacacias River chasing dolphins in Meta— The Llanos Orientales is full of incredible adventures!

Here’s our ultimate Colombian Llanos Orientales travel bucket list!

Meta

Meta is one of the top bird watching destinations in Colombia. The multiple ecosystems you can find in Meta offer some of the most varied bird species checklists from the paramo to vast plains with echoes of the Amazon forest and parts of the Guiana Shield.

It also offers more than 47 festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The International Folkloric and Tourist Festival of El Llano is one of the most important and has the Cuadrillas de San Martín horse exhibition, which is Cultural Heritage of Colombia.

Another highlight for Meta is the Caño Cristales river, along with wonderful natural landscapes and adventure destinations. In Meta, you will have incredible gastronomic, cultural, wellness, nature and adventure experiences just a 20-minute flight from Bogotá. It is a great destination for those who have little time, or for those who travel with their families.

Top Experiences in Meta

La Macarena Mountain Range (Sierra de la Macarena): Caño Cristales Route

Caño Cristales – Creative Commons Wiki

Piedemonte Llanero Route: Birdwatching, Wellness and Horseback Experiences

Undulated Savanna – Mururito Nature Reserve

Llanero Dawn Route (Amanecer Llanero): Safari and dolphins

Manacacías River

Llanero Spell Route (Embrujo Llanero): Rafting at Rio Guejar Canyon

Travesía Aventura, Rio Guejar

More Bucket List Experiences in Meta

  • Birdwatching at UNAMAS Nature Reserve: Amazon jungle transition Orinoquia-Amazon
  • World Cowboy Meeting
  • 51st International Joropo Tournament.
  • Los Ocarros Biopark
  • Lomalinda Regional Natural Park
  • Guaicaramo Hot Springs (Barranca de Upía)
  • Ostrich Park
  • Las Malocas Park
  • Obelisk of Puerto Lopez

Casanare

Casanare is one of the top safari destinations in Colombia. The multiple nature reserves in the flooded plains of Casanare offer some of the best wildlife viewings in northern South America, especially during April and December.

Another highlight of Casanare is the cowboy’s rich culture. Discover the Cowboy culture in the Ranchón del Llanerazo, a museum that invites you to live the life of the Llanero man. There you will know the “Cantos de Trabajo del Llano”, which is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of the world.

Top Experiences in Casanare

Aerosafari in the Colombian Plains

Aero safari – Altagracia Nature Reserve

Colombian Cowboy Experience

Cowboy Experience – Hato Los Deseos

Safari at Nature Reserves and Hatos

Safari in truck – Hato Matepalma

More Bucket List Experiences in Casanare

  • Birdwatching at La Primavera
  • Visit Corocora Camp for Luxury Glamping
  • Wildlife Photography tours
  • Gastronomy
  • Horseback Riding Expedition
  • Culture & Traditions
  • Conservation Experiences

Vichada

Vichada is the biggest department of the Colombian Llanos and is blessed with an incredible richness of water. It is the place where the Orinoco River forms its natural border between Colombia and Venezuela. From the spectacular El Tuparro national park to the mighty network of rivers, lagoons and canals and abundant wildlife – it’s the perfect destination for anglers and nature lovers.

To get to Vichada, you need an air connection since there is no direct road in good condition. You will find the airport of Puerto Carreño its capital, and also other airfields in other places in the department. You can also get there by boat, through the rivers that run on its territory: Orinoco, Meta and Vichada.

Top Experiences in Vichada

Tuparro Natural National Park

The Eighth Wonder of the World Tuparro Natural Park Colombiaamazinglandscapes / CC BY-SA

Streams of Maypures and Ventanas

Streams of Maypures and Ventanas © FishIn Colombia

Sportfishing at Bita and Tomo Rivers

Fishing in Puerto Carreño © FishIn Colombia

Bojonawi Nature Reserve

Bojonawi Nature Reserve

Pink river dolphin at Meta, Bita, and Orinoco Rivers

Bita River © FishIn Colombia

More Bucket List Experiences in Vichada

  • Hills of Casuarito
  • Orinoco and Bita Rivers beaches
  • Streams of Tuparro
  • Azul and El Pañuelo lagoons.
  • Peinillas Canal
  • Mesetas Canal
  • Rancho Barú and Rancho Wisi
  • Tomo, Tuparrito, and Tuparro rivers
  • Pedro Camejo Island
  • Guahibos and Cuibas Tribes
  • Maipures Indigenous Cemetery
  • El Unuma Indigenous Reserve
  • Gaviotas Center
  • Marandúa Project
  • Trekking

Arauca

Arauca is a diamond in the rough for nature and adventure tourism in Colombia. Its poor development is related to the presence of illegal armed groups. Here oil and livestock play an important role in the national economy.

In 2018, this area of Colombia was supported as a Tourism, Peace and Reconciliation zone with Creata Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and USAID collaboration. However, despite the efforts, it is still a conflict zone in the country.

Its attraction lies in the richness of its landscapes. Its territory is divided into a mountainous part, an alluvial plain of the Orinoco, and the foothills of the plains with vegetation of savanna and tropical forest. Thus, the contrasts between mountains and plains offer you exotic landscapes and a great diversity of flora and fauna.

Top Experiences in Arauca

“Cotizas” of Arauca – handmade shoes and handicrafts

©Creata

Arauca Birding

©Creata

Cacao Experience

©Creata

Llanero Experience and Vaquería Songs

©Creata

La Barcaza: Boat trip on the Arauca River

©Creata

More Bucket List Experiences in Arauca

  • Cravo Norte
  • José Antonio Páez International Bridge
  • Las Toninas Aquapark
  • Arauca River
  • Los Morichales Park
  • El Alcaraván Experimental Farm
  • Rondon Port
  • Saravena
  • Tame

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours, or want to visit the Llanos Orientales, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


References

  • www.mincit.gov.co
  • SITUR Meta
  • http://www.vichada.gov.co
  • Fundación Omacha

About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.[/vc_column_text]

 

#1 Rafting and Natural Pools Destination in Colombia: The Güejar River


Many foreign travelers and even Colombians have no idea about the hidden treasure that the Canyon of the Guejar River isNestled in a remote zone of the Meta department, in the Colombian Llanos, the canyon formed by the Guejar river is just starting to be explored by adventurous travelers.

Some years ago, it was not possible to access the zone due to Guerrillas settlements, but now there is nothing to worry about, the place is safe and boasts incredible beauty. Turquoise waters that form natural slides, pools, waterfalls, and Jacuzzis, shaped by huge polished rock formations and surrounded by lush vegetation -these are the reasons to travel to the Guejar River in Colombia. 

In this post, you will find all the information you need to know to travel to the Guejar River, such as what the charm of the Guejar River is, how to get there, the best time to visit, and what to do there. 

Discovering the Guejar River 

As already mentioned, the Guejar river is a natural treasure that remained hidden for many years until the 2010s. The view is stunning. A long river makes its way between big rock formations that easily beat the 20 meters high. 

Some of these rocks are among the oldest on the planet, because they belong to the millenary Guiana Shield, which is born in Venezuela, crosses the La Macarena mountain range, and reaches Ecuador and Brazil. 

The forest surrounding the stunning canyon is still pristine and undiscovered. The canyon is part of the special management area of La Macarena National Natural Park; hence it hosts amazing wildlife and flora. Birds and butterflies of all colors flying around you all the way. Sometimes, otters, sloths, and monkeys are spotted next to the river. 

During the tour along the river, you will find refreshing natural pools, fun slides, waterfalls, and even JacuzzisIf you like to watch wildlife in their habitat, go birdwatching, venture out into the wilderness to hike and explore rivers, mountains, forests, and plains so you have a deep connection with nature, the adventure activities, and interact with local cultures, the trip to the Guejar river is for you! 

How to get to the Guejar River 

 

There are two routes you can take to get to the Guejar river. Both pass by Villavicencio, the capital of Meta, but differ from the town you arrive in to stay the night and start your trip to the river. 

Bogotá – Villavicencio 

Depending on where you’re staying in Bogota, there are 2 highways you can take, both to the south of the city. From the southern city limits, there is 105 km (65 mi) until the city of Villavicencio, a trip of a bit more than 2 hours. 

Route Villavicencio – San Juan de Arama 

From Villavicencio, getting to San Juan de Arama means traveling 120 km (75 mi) on a paved road, a trip that takes about 2.2 hours by car. You have to take the Ruta Turística del Ariariwhich allows you to see the vast plains on both sides hosting different kinds of birds and even the Macarena mountain range. 

There are 2 tolls on the road. You can stop by any establishment to taste the local delicacies. Once in San Juan de Arama, it just takes 15 minutes to get to the starting point of the rafting tour by the Guejar river canyon, which is within the village of Mesetas. Local guides take the visitors to the Limonar bridge in their 4×4. 

Route Villavicencio – Lejanías 

The route from Villavicencio to the village of Lejanías has a similar distance to the route to San Juan Arama, 126 km (78 mi) or 2.2 hours. A popular stop, 1.5 hours from the village, is Finca El Diamante, a small lodge where you can camp, stay the night in a cabin or just eat something before the adventure.

To get there you must pay a local to take you in a 4×4 or a motorcycle since the road is very bumpy. Once there, you have the advantage of only having to walk a few minutes through the forest to be facing the Guejar river. 

Where to stay 

San Juan de Arama  

  • Hotel Palacio Real, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 

Lejanías  

  • Finca El Diamante in the “Maravillas del Guejar” viewpoint offers accommodation in cabins or camping. The price per person per night is COP 50,000 in a cabin and COP 7,000 in camping. Although the cabins can accommodate up to 6 people and the overall price is COP 100,000. 

Cubarral

  • Hotel Casa Blanca Cubarral, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 

Best time to travel to the Guejar River 

There are no seasons in Colombia, at least the traditional 4 seasons that you have in North America or Europe. However, there is a rainy and dry season. During the rainy season, which goes from late March to November, you can see the Caño Lajon waterfall in all its glory.

The access road, though, gets more complicated to travel along and, since the water flow rises, it is riskier to bathe or practice rafting in the river.

During the dry season, from December to Marchyou observe the color of the river get more vibrant, plus the cool water will be well appreciated because of the heat you’ll be standing.

To sum up, we consider that the best time to travel to the Guejar river is during the dry season. 

What to do there 

It is said that you can witness 5 marvels in the Guejar River, in no specific order: 

Río Guejar Canyon experience courtesy Travesía Aventura.

Pozo Escondido is found by surprise on an ascending hike. It consists of natural pools of green waters that cannot be more refreshing. 

Caño Lajón waterfall is a wonderful sight, especially when the river flow is high you can enjoy a mighty stream falling of rugged stones covered in moss. You can even stand behind the falls and freshen up with the mist. 

Sliding down the slippery stone slabs is so much fun! You can find several natural slides that flow into turquoise pools 

At another point in the river, you can get a free massage in the natural Jacuzzis of the river, areas with a strong flow of water and small falls that offer pure relaxation. Water at this point is more crystalline and seems turquoise. 

Caño Jordán waterfall is also called ‘El vómito’ -the vomit, because of the shot that can be achieved from a precise angle in the viewpoint. This fall is a wonderful sight because of the intense green that frames it. 

Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

You can meet all these marvels on a hiking tour. However, rafting in the Guejar river canyon is the to-go option for the courageous travelers who want a rush of adrenaline in wild Colombia! A rafting tour takes about 5 hours, the distance to be covered is 17 km, 10.5 mi rowing with the hope of not falling off the boat. 

The river is classified as level 3 out of 5 in difficulty. A big plus: midway through the journey, you find ‘the Titanic’a sharp oval stone that seems like the front of a ship that has run aground in the middle of nature. This is the first stop, where there is time for having a snack, a talk, and a rest. Depending on the agency, the cost will be around 160,000 COP (40 USD) per person. 

The Titanic – Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

What to consider for your travel to Guejar River? 

For you to have an unforgettable experience in the Guejar river and no setbacks, consider the following aspects: 

  • Wear light and comfortable clothes, long pants if you want to avoid mosquito bites and scratches. But shorts are fine. 
  • Wear trekking shoes or shoes with grip soles that can get wet. Walking along the river is risky due to the slippery stones, so not wearing any shoes is not an option. 
  • Wear a hat or cap, plus sunscreen. Also, bring insect repellent. 
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit! 
  • If you prefer, bring a towel and a change of clothes. 
  • A GoPro is the most suitable equipment to record your experience, but if you bring any other device, make sure you have airtight plastic bags too.  
  • Respect the environment, do not leave trash nor remove fauna or flora from their habitat. 
  • Always book your tour with local guides and certified agencies to practice extreme sports. 

This is all you need to know to travel to the Guejar River Canyon. If you are planning a trip to Colombia, we are happy to help you have an unforgettable nature experience! Contact us!

References 
About the authors

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.