Los Llanos and Amazonia

Shutterstock/47297914/FOTOMIROA look at a map of Colombia reveals that an immense area east of Bogotá, with barely a town or road to be seen, makes up more than a quarter of the country's land mass. This is the Llanos, vast tracts of fertile cattle plains that stretch from the edge of the Department of Boyacá almost as far as the Amazon river and from the mountains of Bogotá as far as Venezuela (and beyond). Yet this region contains just a fraction of Colombia's population and much of the area is inaccessible by road. The Llanos' isolation has provided effective and convenient cover for guerrillas and cocaine-production factories and it is here that the war with armed groups such as the FARC continues. But impressive gains by the government in the last few years have made some of this cowboy country safe to visit again, particularly Villavicencio and its immediate surroundings.

Further south, the grassy pastures make way for seemingly infinite hectares of pristine jungle, accessible only by boat or plane. The city of Leticia sits on the Amazon river and forms a three-pronged frontier with Brazil and Peru. This is the gateway to the Colombian Amazon and national parks such as Amacayacú and the impressively neat village of Puerto Nariño will give travellers the opportunity to observe some of this majestic river's wildlife at close range. Even better is a quick excursion to the Yavarí river in Brazil, whose private nature reserves provide excellent facilities for birdwatching, sports fishing and dolphin and caiman spotting.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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