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Llanos and Selva

The Llanos (eastern plains) and Selva (jungle) constitute over half of Colombia’s territory. Steeped in the history of the Spaniards’ lust-driven quest for El Dorado, the regions’ wilderness succeeded in keeping most out, except for the most hardy.

The Llanos, also known as the Región Orinoquia, encompasses the Colombian Departments of Meta (capital, Villavicencio), Casanare (Yopal), Arauca (Arauca), Vichada (Puerto Carreño) and Guainía (Puerto Inírida). This area makes up part of the Orinoco River basin and borders Venezuela. The Selva, or the Región Amazonía, also is made up of five Departments: Putumayo (capital, Mocoa), Caquetá (Florencia), Guaviare (San José de Guaviare), Vaupés (Mitú) and Amazonas (Leticia). The most famous of these is Amazonas, where Leticia is the crossroads for the Amazon River, with connections to Peru and Brazil.

Roads weave through the Llanos, connecting it with Bogotá and other cities on the western side of the Cordillera Oriental. River travel also exists, and one ageless dream of travelers is to journey down the Río Orinoco into Venezuela. In the Selva where one goes is dictated by transportation. In most of the region there are no roads, save those radiating out from Leticia and one connecting Puerto Asís and other Putumayo towns with population centers in Southern Colombia. Otherwise travel is by boat on the many rivers lacing through the jungles.

The mystique of the llanos and selva remains today. It is yet an unfathomable region—not only because the lush vegetation that blankets it, but also because it is the very center of Colombia’s civil war. It was here Farclandia existed, a demilitarized zone under guerrilla FARC control at the turn of the millennium. It is also where the heaviest fighting continues to occur as the Colombia military recovers the territory bit by bit. Some places, though, are fine to visit now, such as Villavicencio and Puerto López in the llanos and Leticia with its neighboring villages and the Putumayo towns Sibundoy and Mocoa. Other areas are once more coming within scope of the travelers’ route. Keep informed and your ear to the ground to find out where we might next be able to explore of this region.









By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

17 Mar 2011

VIVA Colombia

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Leticia

114288Welcome to the last outpost of Colombia, on the far southeastern corner of the country. Leticia forms part of the triple frontier, along with Tabatinga, Brazil, and Santa Rosa, Peru. Twenty-five ...
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Villavicencio

At the end of day, the sun paints a mango sky over the flat lands of the llanos, or eastern plains of Colombia. As dusk falls, the birds and wildlife silhouette against the now-indigo heaven. The ...
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Puerto Nariño

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Puerto López

From Villavicencio, traversing the Ruta del Amanecer Llanero due east 78 kilometers (47 miles), you arrive at Puerto López. This is Meta Department’s principal port on the broad Río Meta. From ...
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Sibundoy

Heading from Pasto eastward, the highway passes through Laguna de la Cocha and then enters the Putumayo and continues to that department’s capital, Mocoa, before turning north toward Pitalito, near ...
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Mocoa

142553Where the Cordillera Oriental plunges into the Amazon forest is Mocoa. This Putumayo Department capital tucked in an emerald-green landscape is a pleasant stopover for travelers roaming from San ...
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Florencia

Another city where a taste of the jungle may be savored is Florencia, capital of Caquetá Department. Florencia is located on the eastern side of the Cordillera Oriental, just where the mountains ...
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