Posts Tagged ‘Los Llanos’

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Jim: Los Llanos excursion

June 29, 2010

Interesting weekend. We took a trip to los llanos. While in Venezuela, I’m living in Mérida—which is the capital of Mérida state (better site, but non-English)—in the Andes, so the altitude keeps the temperature bearable. Hot, but not unreasonably so. Los Llanos are a grassland area—sort of a cross between jungle & savannah, depending on where you are. The particular llanos we were in are in the state of Apure (another non-wiki but non-English option), South of the Andes & West of the Orinoco. To get there took a ten hour jeep ride. Once there, we got around largely by boats or on horses. This is about one mile closer to sea level, and it is the rainy season , so between the two, temperatures were quite a bit higher than they are in Mérida. Oh well, nobody melted, so it wasn’t too bad.

Since it is the rainy season, there is much less dry land than the dry season, in fact, much of what would have been dry was covered in up to 3 feet of water! Because of this, it can be more difficult to find many of the animals this time of the year, although that really did not seem to be too much of a problem. Living at the camp were a macaw and an anteater—besides quite a few more traditional pets & animals that would be more familiar at home. There were cebu & burros in many places, horses & pigs too, but again, they are a little more familiar. As far as wild animals (the interesting part?), we were not disappointed there at all. We saw several caiman (even caught one!), many capybara—and this surprised me a little. I thought that capybara were somewhat rare and elusive, but we saw them fairly often, even herds of them. I guess some people think they are very tasty, but most of the people we traveled with kind of thought the idea of eating a rodent was repulsive (I would have tried it…). We also caught an anaconda. The snake we caught was about 3.5 meters, so it was noticeably bigger than the garter snakes back home, at least most of them. While on the river, the trees were full of iguanas, really full of them. Some trees would have three or four of them. I don’t know why this surprised me, I just didn’t expect to see so many big lizards in the trees. Occasionally they seemed to fall out, but I guess they would jump. I don’t know why, apparently it would be time for a dip. We saw a few different kinds of turtles & a couple fresh water dolphins, although I never did manage to get a picture of the dolphins. We also fished for piranhas. They look an awful lot like sunfish—tasted like them, too.

As usual I’ll leave you with a nice PHOTO ALBUM.

I’m sure there is more that I’m forgetting, but that’s enough for now. Feel free to comment or ask any questions.


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Erica: Los Llanos 4

June 27, 2009

This was the utterly breathtaking midsummer sunrise that I woke up to. I needed to go to the bathroom, and stepped outside to this magnificence.  There was also a chorus of birds and frogs to welcome the day. This was the only sunrise I’ve been awake to see here, and definitely the most amazing one of my life thus far.

n1597560085_30223988_7418462And here we are on the river tour, this fancy beetle decided to have a little visit on my shoe.

n1597560085_30224009_3178130Owl that we saw on one of the jeep tours.  I was surprised it was out that early.

n1597560085_30223982_618775Here we can see the frog that our guide found and decided to put on my back.  It was a good little friend.

n1597560085_30223934_3565539We saw some howler monkeys too. Pretty neat to see their arboreal acrobatics in the wild.n1597560085_30223921_6471076

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Erica: Los Llanos 3

June 26, 2009

Here are the local R.O.U.S.’s  (for those of you unfamiliar with The Princess Bride, that stands for “rodents of unusual size”). They are called Capybara and they travel in these herds all across Los Llanos. They have webbed feet too, and can swim really well.  Some of the bigger ones were the size of a labrador.

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Here is another one a little more close up, they’re adorable.  And kind of ridiculous.

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This was my super-high-tech fishing utensil for catching piranhas. That’s a piece of beef on the end. I didn’t end up catching any, but it was fun trying anyway. And after some people caught one or two, they just chopped up the pirana and used that as bait for the other ones. While we were fishing the pink river dolphins came and gave us a visit too. That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. We didn’t get a great look at them because they don’t jump out of the water like ocean dolphins do, but we saw the hump on their back (they don’t have dorsal fins) and I saw one poke its head out of the water to peek at us. There is lots of local folklore related to these animals, and even some new-age-healing-swimming-with-the-dolphins therapy in Brazil.

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This is a crazy turtle that our guide jumped into the pirana-infested waters to show to us.  Pretty weird looking, it’s head goes in to the (our) left to hide.  It’s sideways and weird, but impressive and old.

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And finally, this shows the small area we had to work with in our boat tour.

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Erica: Los Llanos 2

June 26, 2009

Here is where we began our river tour on Sunday.

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There was an ocelot that hung around the farm where we started the river tour. It was really great seeing one wild/partially domesticated and not in a cage. But one dude wanted a picture with it and tried to hold it next to him but it growled and he had to let it go or suffer the consequences. Serves him right. Respect the feline. However, after it growled at him the ocelot walked over to me and briefly rubbed at my legs, so I got to pet it. I felt blessed.

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Gorgeous sunset coming back from Saturday’s jeep safari adventure.

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I don’t know why we were so fascinating to these cows, but they couldn’t stop staring at us.  And this picture makes me laugh, it’s currently the background on my laptop.

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Erica: Los Llanos 1

June 26, 2009

Los Llanos was absolutely amazing. It didn’t get as hot as I thought it would, and I had enough bug spray to avoid the worst of it.

Here are some of the other students that came with, we went horseback riding for about three hours last saturday. It was great, my horse was exactly how I needed it to be.  It normally liked to walk and follow the crowd, but it would gallop when I wanted it to and was generally responsive to my commands. It was also nice being in a bigger group with so much area, because we could stray a little away from the trodden path if we chose to.  And it was absolutely gorgeous. We saw lots of wild horses, and I guess all the horses they have at the “ranch” we stayed at were taken from the wild and “broke in”.DSCI0150.JPG

This is a picture of our shower. The running water was from a well, and it was the perfect temperature. However, this shower only had three sides (the non-wall part was facing the fence in this picture). Needless to say I only took one shower, and it was at dusk.

DSCI0138.JPGProbably one of the highlights of this trip was being able to sleep in a hammock.  You wouldn’t think it would be very comfortable, but if you sleep more diagonally it’s actually quite cozy.  There were eight of us here, each with our hammock in this small rounded building.  Really nice for visiting.

This is the view from the restaurant we stopped at on the way to Los Llanos.  We had an amazing BBQ and lots of different kinds of birds came around to eat the fruit we put out on the ledge.  Saw a hummingbird, too.

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