New Yopaleños come from all parts of the country and are positively surprised with the department’s natural treasures. “I love it here! I can walk my dog up the hills early in the morning, then set out for longer hikes into the mountains on weekends, bath in the Rio Cravo Sur and enjoy the country’s best meat to round up a perfect day”, says my local tailor, originally from Bogotá.
Having lived in both Bogotá, a buzzing mega city of 8 Million (and counting), and now in Yopal, a village in the tropics that rapidly has grown to a 150,000, I can see why one would prefer Yopal over other cities. While it has the usual benefits of a small town over a large city (its core is easily explored by foot, there are no large traffic jams etc.), it’s really its surroundings that blew me away: lush mountains, roaring rivers, mountain biking tracks, waterfalls and natural pools in abundance, endless prairies, zebu cattle herds and authentic fincas, on which one is likely to meet capuchins, the giant anteater, tortoises, exotic birds and capybaras.
The Llanos make a large part of Casanare’s geography. These vast prairies are the link between the Amazonas and the Andes and thanks to this boast with an impressive fauna. Culturally they are home to the ‘llaneros’, cowboys comparable to the Argentinian gauchos. Their music, food, legends and strong character are famous across South America. It is here that Colombians plotted their siege over the Spaniards to gain independence.
With so much to tell you about Casanare, this will be the first post of a long series on the region’s food, culture, history, people, wildlife and scenery along some practical tips about where to stay, what to visit, do and see in Casanare, Colombia. For now here are some images to introduce you to a real hidden gem on the South American continent: Casanare – a place of wild beauty.