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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 water of a pond splashes with the retreat of a babilla. How do you enter this world of the llanos that few travelers ever visit? The gateway is Villavicencio, just on the other side of the Cordillera Oriental, two hours from Bogotá.

The highway from the nation’s capital to Villavicencio is quite an exhilarating experience in and of itself. The 86-kilometer (52-mi) superhighway climbs out of Bogotá to an altitude of over 3,100 meters (10,168 ft). It then plunges down over 50 bridges and through five tunnels to Villavicencio at 467 meters (1,532 ft) altitude—a descent of almost 2,600 meters (8,530 ft). Túnel de Boquerón, the second tunnel, is 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi) long, and the last one, Túnel de Buenavista, is over 4.5 kilometers (2.7 mi) long.

Once arriving in Villavicencio, you have entered what villavos (residents of Villavicencio) call the Territorio de Paz, or Territory of Peace. On the banks of the Río Guatiquía, it is the most important cultural and commercial center of the Colombian llanos. Villavicencio is a town of simple pleasures and complex history. Many of the men wear traditional llanero clothing: a poncho folded over one shoulder, hat and boots. You have come to Colombia’s version of the wild west, right down to the rodeos.

(Altitude: 465 m /1,525 ft, Population: 275,511, City Code: 8)

Neighborhoods in Villavicencio : Near Villavicencio,

Other places nearby Villavicencio : Mocoa, Puerto Nariño, Florencia, Sibundoy , Puerto López and Leticia .

By Lorraine Caputo

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

30 Aug 2011

VIVA Colombia

Top Places to Stay

Hotel Savoy

The Hotel Savoy is a popular place with business travelers looking for a finer hotel at a comfortable price. The large lobby is beyond the reception area, which creates a sense of exclusivity. The ...
Villavicencio , Colombia

Hotel del Llano

Hotel del Llano has for years been considered one of the finest and most respected luxury inns of Villavicencio. Its rooms are spacious, with comfortable beds, private baths, cable TVs and other ...
Villavicencio , Colombia

Hotel Tabary

Hotel Tabary is probably the best of the cheaper inns in Villavicencio. The rooms, for the most part, are large. The ones in front have plate glass windows overlooking the street. All come with cable ...
Villavicencio , Colombia

Hotel Inambu

Disponemos de 28 habitaciones amplias y confortables, aire acondicionado, Televisión por cable, Cajilla de seguridad, minibares, agua caliente, servicio de Room Service, Restaurante y Bar, Mirador ...
Villavicencio , Colombia

Things to See and Do

Bioparque Los Ocarros

123211Following the zoo trend of creating natural spaces for its resident animals, Bioparque Los Ocarros teaches about the creatures of the Orinoco River Basin. Spread throughout 5.7 hectares (14 ac), it ...
Other Activity
Villavicencio , Colombia

Ruta Piedemonte Llanero

123219Ruta Piedemonte Llanero follows the eastern edge of the Cordillera Oriental. On one side, the mountains scrape the sky, and on the other, the endlessly flat land merges with the heavens. The route ...
Other Activity
Villavicencio , Colombia

Ruta del Amanecer Llanero

Sunsets and sunrises blaze over these eastern plains. The Ruta del Amanacer goes deep into the flatlands, teeming with cattle farms and wildlife. Upon leaving Villavicencio, you will pass the ...
Other Activity
Villavicencio , Colombia

Ruta del Embrujo Llanero

The Route of Llanero Enchantment begins its southward journey on Highway 65 from Villavicencio. The first town of note, Acacias (Km 22), is the tourism capital of the Meta Department and has a ...
Other Activity
Villavicencio , Colombia

Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena

Those few travelers who ever make it to Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena describe crystal-imbedded rock outcroppings from the Cenozoic Era that glitter in the Llano sun. The mountain ...
Other Activity
Near Villavicencio, Villavicencio , Colombia
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