The city of Barinas is the “capital” of the vast Venezuelan savanna Llanos. It is located on the western edge of the savanna at the foot of the Cordillera de Mérida mountain range. Barinas has an airport that connects the city with the capital of Venezuela – Caracas. Tourists arrive in Barinas wishing to travel through the vast plains of the Llanos.
According to Cellphoneexplorer, Llanos occupies about 1/3 of the territory of Venezuela. The Orinoco River flows along the southeastern border of the savannah, and its tributaries flow along the savannah itself. All types of hunting are prohibited here, there are no industries and large cities, there are practically no roads, therefore nature is preserved in its original form and animals are absolutely not afraid of people. It is in Llanos that the difference between the two seasons is most noticeable: wet and dry. During the rainy season (April – November), all vegetation comes to life, and most of the savannah is flooded with water. At this time of the year, Llanos is almost impossible to move around, because most of the roads are flooded. During the dry season (December – March) the vegetation is much sparse, however, a large number of birds and animals accumulate near the reservoirs for watering, this is the best time for observing wildlife.
In Llanos, there are 320 species of birds (ibis, herons, cormorants, jacans, moorhens and snake birds), more than 50 species of mammals (deer, capybaras, peccaries, tapirs, opossums, ocelots, jaguars and monkeys), Amazonian dolphins, anacondas live in the rivers and crocodiles, including the rare Orinoc caiman. A tributary of the Orinoco River – Apure – divides the region into two parts: the northern – Llano Alto (“elevated” plains, where, in addition to tall grasses, the spurs of the Andes, covered with forests) – and the southern – Llano Bajo (“lowland” plains). Scattered throughout Llanos are livestock ranches – ato (Hato), where tourists are offered a variety of excursions during which you can watch the wildlife of the Venezuelan savannah. Tours are conducted in small local trucks, jeeps, canoes, boats or horses.
Hato Pinero is located in the Cojedes state on the southern outskirts of Llano Alto. The area of the ato is 80 thousand hectares, there are 11 guest houses. Ato Pinero is famous for its variety of birds (about 400 species). You can also go fishing for piranhas from here. In this part of Llanos, the small Hato Corozopando is also interesting . From June to January, boat and canoe tours are organized along the local rivers (tributaries of the Apure River). During the trip you will see dolphins, crocodiles and many birds. Adjacent to the ranch is the Orinoco Alligator Sanctuary.
Ato El Cedral (Hato El Cedral) is located in the Apure state in the southern part of Llanos – Llano Bajo. This is one of the best places in Llanos for wildlife watching, with hundreds of species of animals and birds living in its vicinity. The area of the ranch is more than 56 thousand hectares, there are 25 guest houses and a swimming pool. Nearby is located Hato El Frio (Hato El Frio) with an area of 80 thousand hectares, where there are 10 guest houses. The local International Biological Station is one of the few places on the planet where rare Orinoco crocodiles breed. Guanare is located 70 km north of Barinas. Guanare is the capital of the state of Portuguesa. Guanare is called the “spiritual capital of Venezuela”, as there is a temple of Virgen de Coromoto, named after the patron saint of Venezuela. The temple was built in 1996 on the spot where, according to legend, the Saint appeared in 1652. At the entrance to the temple, there are two towers 75 m high with observation platforms, to which stairs built into the towers lead.
From the west, Llanos is bordered by the mountains of the Cordillera de Mérida. Here, 200 km from Barinas along the highway, the city of Merida is located – one of the most popular places in Venezuela for hiking, ecotourism and paragliding.