The Eastern plains (Llanos) of Colombia are vast tropical grasslands plain found east of the eastern Andes. These plains are dissected by large east flowing rivers originating from the eastern Andes. During the rainy season, the low lying areas are inundated and as they dry, they become dotted with shallow wetlands where an amazing array of wildlife congregates.
At the Hato La Aurora (Hato is the local name for Ranch), located north of Yopal we will experience Colombia's Llanos in its entire splendor. The ranch encompasses 16,000 hectares of grasslands, gallery forests, wetlands and rivers where wildlife coexists with traditional livestock ranching.
The Hato is teeming with birdlife and as we explore our surroundings on foot, jeep, horseback, or boat , we will also see the fantastic wildlife of the plains, including howler monkeys, giant anteaters, capibaras, white-tailed deer, caimans, iguanas and turtles.
During our visit, we will be staying at a very comfortable hacienda-style house, where we will savor traditional meals, while listening to the sounds of the music of the region played by our gifted hosts and watch colorful birds feasting on plantain bananas.
While at the reserve we will also participate in traditional llanero (plains' cowboy) activities, fishing, swimming and relaxing on the hammocks as we watch the magical sunsets of the plains.
Day 1. Bogota- Transfer to Yopal.
We will take a short flight from Bogota to Yopal, the capital city of the department of Casanare. Here we will spend the day exploring the surroundings and enjoying the cuisine of the plains.
Day 2. Yopal-Hato La Aurora
After an early breakfast we will travel either by 4X4 or by Boat to the hato (4 hrs). The mode of transportation will be decided based on the season. Either method will reward us with spectacular scenery of the lush vegetation, traditional towns, and abundant wildlife. Once we arrive, we will eat a traditional lunch and take a brief tour around the facilities. We will return to our accommodations in time to enjoy the famed "llanos" sunset.
Day 3. Hato la Aurora (Main Ranch)
On this day, we will travel to the ranch headquartes using a 4x4 vehicle. On this 1.5 hour trip, we will see abundant fauna all arround us, including Capibaras, White-tailed Deer, Caimans, and a large number of bird species. Once we arrive, we will witness the way of life of the plains' cowboys. At midday, we will have a typical lunch featuring an asortment of meats, cassava, plaintain, and other delectable foods. We will have a chance to explore the surroundings and in the afternoon, we will head back to our accommodations. After dusk, we will be treated to a demonstration of the plains's music by our gifted host.
Day 4. Hato La Aurora
We will rise early, and after a hearty breakfast, we will travel on horseback or on foot along the many trails in the gallery forests to learn about the many plants and their uses. During our travels we will surely have an opportunity to see howler monkeys and a great number of forest bird species. We will also have the option to fish in one of the various streams and have a true llanero picnic on the shore of our fishing site.During the ranches' working season, we will have the option to become a plains cowboy for a day, where we will be able to work on the ranch on various ranching-related activities.
Day 5. Hato la Aurora-Bogota.
Travel back to Bogota depends mainly on flight departure times home or to other destinations in Colombia. If time permits, we can make short walks around the area before our departure.
WHAT TO EXPECT AND WHAT TO BRING:
When visiting the Casanare, you can expect hot days both during the rainy and dry season. In order to be comfortable, we strongly recommend that you dress with light, fast-drying clothes. The sun is strong in the plains, therefore a good hat, sunglasses, and good sunscreen are a must. Hikes and other activities are moderate in effort.
Other items to bring include: