Los Llanos was not a trip I initially wanted to take.
Three nights spent in the middle of nowhere, outside, sweating and getting dirty. We’d only have electricity for a couple of hours in the evening, most people would have to sleep in hammocks, and oh god there would probably be bugs. None of this was anything I’d ever have considered “fun”.
Yet, for some reason, I booked myself on the trip anyway. And guess what? I had a blast, and came away with some of the best stories to tell.
While the exact itinerary for a trip to Los Llanos will vary depending on the tour company, the guide, and the accommodation, most of the activities will be the same.
Here’s a general idea of what you can expect to experience during a visit to Los Llanos.
How to get there
There are a few tour companies based around Plaza de las Heroinas that offer tours to Los Llanos. I booked with Yagrumo Tours. If you can, ask for Falcon to be your guide. He’s a badass guy from Germany who now lives in Venezuela, leading tours into the wilderness.
Transportation to Los Llanos is typically in the form of a Jeep, and leaves from outside the tour agency around 8 am. The drive is scenic, winding through the Andes mountains, but well over 12 hours in length, and includes a few stops for snacks, lunch, and bathroom breaks.
Accommodation is advertised as a “typical Llanero camp”. The accommodations are owned by sweet, hardworking families who own farms with various animals, including buffalo.
Meals are included in your Los Llanos package, and are made by the family each day. The meals are simple, often carb-heavy, but contain delicious, fresh buffalo mozzarella.
All bedrooms open straight to outside, and there’s also a hut filled with hammocks. Bathrooms are located in a separate building, a bit of a walk away from the main block and require a head torch to get to at night. Oddly enough, at the camp I stayed at, the bathroom window was just a big open space on the wall, facing the rest of the camp, right in front of the shower. Perfect.
Did I mention there were frogs in the bathrooms?
Guys, the regret began to set in almost instantly.
Activities are broken up between the morning and afternoon by lunch and a siesta back at camp. Temperatures soar well over 40 degrees C during midday, and dry heat with no breeze is not the weather you want to be out doing stuff in.
Day One: Anacondas and Piranhas
Day one of activities during my trip to Los Llanos was water-themed. We set out early in the morning after a delicious breakfast to trek through a nearby swamp in search of anacondas.
We walked around for about an hour and were ready to give up and head back to camp anaconda-less when our eagle-eyed guide Falcon spotted two anacondas wrapped around each other in the swamp.
They were, uh…fornicating.
Falcon managed to unwrap them from each other and pulled the smaller one, the male, out of the swamp water to let us interact with him (sorry, snake). We all nervously posed for pictures individually before releasing him back into the swamp.
(Note: It was through starting this blog that I began to explore the ethical impacts of travel, and this trip was pre-blog for me. I know that some people reading this may be thinking “uhhh, you call yourself an ethical traveller?” I’ve been open enough to admit that I made some irresponsible travel decisions through my trip to India, and this experience does make it onto that list of things I know now that shouldn’t have done. However, I decided to leave it in this article as I want to provide prospective travellers to Venezuela a true idea of what to expect should they visit Los Llanos.)
Satisfied from our anaconda expedition, we piled back into the Jeep and made a short drive to a nearby lake.
Here, we took a 90 minute boat ride through the lake surveying the wildlife. Dozens of types of beautiful birds, sitting in trees, flying through the sky, or swooping down in front of us to catch a snack from under the water.
This trip was pre-blogging days for me, so I spent the entire boat ride in awe of the animals I saw rather than snapping as many photos as possible. I don’t regret that at all, but I do wish I had a photo of the pink river dolphins that we saw to show you.
By this point in the day, the sun was beaming down nearly at full strength. We headed back to camp for lunch made by the family and a (sweaty and uncomfortable) siesta.
After a bit of sleep and a couple of cold beers, we had cooled off enough to get ready for the last activity of the day. We were headed to another area of the lake to catch our dinner: piranhas.
So in this moment I had a bit of a moral dilemma. I’m a vegetarian, and while I knew that I would probably never have another opportunity to do something as ridiculous as piranha fishing again, I couldn’t bring myself to kill an animal.
I went along with the group anyway and sat on the grass (getting eaten alive by mosquitoes) while my roomies were standing at the shore fishing. Thankfully, they gave up fairly quickly. The three of us headed back to the Jeep where we climbed onto the roof and reveled in how incredible the setting was while we waited for the rest of the group to finish up.
We also ended up being the subjects of some gorgeous photos.
Day Two: Touring the Area
Day two began with a slightly later morning and another delicious breakfast before heading out to learn more about the area and the people who live there.
This morning was relatively tame compared to the one previous. We visited a few neighbouring farms to learn what daily life is like and got a quick lesson on making buffalo mozzarella!
After lunch and another siesta, we saddled up a few horses (and mules) and set out for a tour of the area on horseback!
We got to view another breathtaking sunset while exploring through forests and wide open fields.
The feelings of freedom and peace in those moments were invigorating.
We headed back to camp early that evening for yet another incredible meal and one last night of chatting and bonding with the group before returning to Merida.
The above was based on my personal experience on the trip. It was similar to others’ experience and so should be a fairly accurate representation of what your trip might look like.
Los Llanos in a nutshell: Two days of ridiculous outdoor fun that will make you say “what is my life?”