Passing what seems infinite wild savannas mixed with the occasional neatly cleared pasture, we suddenly turn right. Here, around one and a half hours from the province's capital Yopal, between two little trees, awaits the entrance gate of El Boral, a simple green metal gate with white letters announcing the name of the place. A bumpy five minute drive takes us to a second gate and from here - depending on the season - we will either have to drive across a deep dried out river bed or leave the car behind and board a canoe to paddle across the stream. Either way, Indiana Jones fans will love this part already.
Crossing the river feels a little like falling into the rabbit hole. On the other side we find Wonderland. Grand oil trees are dotting the savanna as far as the eye reaches. The horizon melds with the sky and flocks of birds flutter about as we reach a pink house set right in the middle of all the beauty. Perhaps we see a herd of cattle being round up by hollering cowboys or a small anteater as it makes its way to its favourite sleeping place, a little cave in an oil tree near the house. We probably see piglets suckling on a huge sow, chicken and ducks wandering and chattering about along with flocks of noisy parakeets, toucans, oropendolas and caciques, the latter busy on stocking up on building materials for their woven hanging nests that look a bit like Colombia's famous "mochilas", artesanal bags. There always seem to be several things going on at the same time at Hato El Boral.
When I close my eyes and think of Llaneros, I see all the afore-mentioned people with their smiles and open arms, their generosity and sense of humour, their wittiness and charme. It is people like these that make a stay in los Llanos the ultimate Colombian experience.
a place for nature photographers
January-April: The height of dry season with swirls of dust, yellow "Africa style" savannas and spectacular sunsets and sunrises, dried out lagoons and river beds - great for wildlife and bird-watching. It is the hottest time of year with hardly any mosquitos. Perfect to explore the savannas by jeep, too.
May-August: Rain season, with regular refreshing monsoon showers, spectacular thunderstorms above the prairies, beautiful mirror reflections in the lush wetlands and great horse riding experiences across those. Temperatures are moderate and pleasant.
September-December: The beautiful transition months from rain season to dry season feature fire flies at night, lush sceneries, green savannas, sunny days and beautiful skies.
Things to Do:
- Jeep safaris during the dry months
- Horse riding
- Watch the cowboys work the cattle or round up some cattle yourself
- Birdwatching and nature photography
- Walks and hikes on forest trails and along the lagoons - great to stalk wildlife
- Visit other hatos nearby, if you have a few days
- Boat tours during the wet months
- Visit San Luis de Palenque, the nearest village, about 40 minutes drive away
- Relax in the "campechana", a typical leather hammock, and observe the farm life