Casanare – Wildlife and Colombia Cowboys
Casanare is a unique destination, known for its extensive savannahs, forests, wide rivers and traditional cattle farms.
Casanare is now one of the major safari destinations in Colombia. The nature reserves on the flooded plains of Casanare offer some of the best wildlife viewings in South America, especially during April and December.
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Your journey takes you from Yopal to one of the most traditional hatos (farmhouses) in Casanare, El Encanto de Gauanapalo.
Located 110 km/68 miles east, it has been in the same family for generations and who have preserved the natural wealth, traditions and culture of the llaneros (cowboys). A feature of Casanare is the llaneros-rich culture.
Today you will stay in comfortable rooms, enjoy typical llanera food and live the life of a llanero.
The Llanero Safari includes hiking and bird watching, boating and fishing while being able to travel either by Jeep or on horseback.
This is a deep wild, raw and earthy experience. Appreciate the region’s culture, natural habitat and endless wildlife.
Get all the information you need to start planning your trip to this magnificent destination, check the weather and climate facts of Casanare here!
A ride of about an hour and a half brings you to your hato, which will be your home for your time in the Llanos.
There are also two other hatos which are in different settings, so you could in fact stay in a different one each night, depending on how many nights you are staying.
By now you are ready for lunch, which is served in traditional Llanero style – mamona a la Llanera a typical barbeque of the region.
Now fully charged, you set off by Jeep on your first safari in search of capybaras, white-tailed deer, spectacled caimans, various species of anteaters, monkeys of all sorts, tortoises along with incredible birdlife including Orinoco geese and the great horned owl.
Those who prefer can safari on horseback, learning to become a true llanero.
*Nature lovers will also love going on a tour to Guaviare, where you can learn about the history and see lots of animals in the wild and even swim with pink dolphins!
You will return to your hato in time to freshen up and prepare to never again see a sunset in the same light.
The Eastern Plains of Colombia provide sensational sunsets like no other. Sunsets that will delight your senses can only be found in this region of the country.
A traditional dinner with pasillo (dried meat), hallacas (tamales), duck sancocho (soup), roasted cachicamo and Criolla hayaca rounds off a wonderful day.
For those so inclined, an early morning coffee sets you up for the dawn chorus.
Birds are the undisputed stars of your tour. Casanare alone is home to hundreds of bird species. The open grasslands and wetlands of Los Llanos, with few forests, make wildlife observation easy. Many of the species sport brilliant colours, making them easy to spy.
Returning for a sustaining breakfast, you will then be ready for the first of today´s safaris.
If you are travelling during the wet season from May to October, food and water are aplenty with birds of all sorts busy nest building, mating and raising their young. Some species form great nesting colonies, notably wood storks, scarlet ibises, various types of herons, roseate spoonbills and cattle egrets that come together in the thousands to nest in colonies.
On the other hand, from December to March the Llanos landscape turns the savanna yellow and brown, with waterholes and rivers petering out to reveal abundant fish and crustaceans. Migratory birds arrive from all parts of the Americas most particularly sandpipers, snipes, black skimmers, fork-tailed flycatchers and eastern kingbirds.
So, no matter what time of the year, there is plenty of activity and excitement.
The afternoon will see you mounting your trusty steed to scan the savannah for wildlife.
It is not just birds that make Casanare such a special place. Hato El Encanto de Gauanapalo is one of the best places in Colombia to see a jaguar. At the same time, a visit can produce unforgettable encounters with anacondas, tamanduas, giant anteaters, pumas, giant otters, white-tailed deer, caiman, crab-eating foxes and capybaras.
Personally, this is absolutely the best region in Colombia for wildlife watching.
An evening with a bonfire and a sumptuous dinner will conclude an amazing day.
Early the next morning breakfast is served, which includes generous portions of fruits, juice, hot chocolate, coffee, locally produced cheese, eggs, bread and as much as you could want. Delicious.
Your mode of transport today is either a canoe or a horse. Either is wonderful.
The marshes are brimming with capybaras, alligators, deer and an endless stream of birds. There is arguably no better place in Colombia to catch a glimpse of the surreal giant anteater and its smaller, shyer cousin the tamandua. An early morning safari across the plains of Guanapalo often leads to remarkably close encounters with these two sought-after species.
It is also a superb place to come across anacondas, while you may even spot the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile.
*While Casanare may be the best place to see animals in their natural habitat in Colombia, places like Leticia, part of our 11-Day Nature of Colombia Tour and 23-Day Ultimate Colombia Tour make for great nature destinations in Colombia!
As the evening falls, nearby there is a lake, where the egrets and the legendary red ibis nest for the evening. This is a scene from paradise: the golden sunset over the translucent lake. A family of capybaras placidly swimming, palm trees swaying on the horizon and crocodiles catching the last rays. Suddenly a flock of white egrets descend onto a tree and another and another. Without notice, an orange cloud of scarlet ibises arrives at the same location, which by now is at full occupancy. For the next hour, this becomes the most magnificent spectacle.
This is Los Llanos at its best.
Soon the night comes and a chorus of insects, cicadas, dragonflies and all the sounds of nature descends over you. The sky becomes the venue for masses of stars, like thousands of celestial eyes winking at you and you truly feel embraced by the magic of this place.
*Make your trip around Colombia your dream time and check our 7 Travel Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Colombian Adventure
You wake up with the song of the macaws, and for the final time today, you can lose yourself in the surreal beauty of Los Llanos. Big skies, wetlands and exotic wildlife are yours to revel in.
Start the day off with a traditional breakfast and wind your way on horseback to wherever it leads you.
Meet up again with the llaneros to see them working the ranch, listen to them singing traditional songs, track an anaconda and navigate the savannas as you please.
After a day of total freedom, sunset is the most amazing moment of the day, as the sky is filled with spectacular colours.
The evening is to be enjoyed around the bonfire with the amazing llanera cooking.
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