We got an early start and were on the road by 7 am today in order to avoid Bogota’s horrendous Saturday traffic. We made pretty good time and made it to our hotel near Puerto Lopez in about 4 hours and 15 minutes.
As soon as we were out of Bogota, the scenery changed dramatically to green and gorgeous. Lush mountains with streams and waterfalls running through them. Once again we were reminded why roadtrips are so fantastic in Colombia – the scenery is always spectacular!
On the way to Puerto Lopez, we drove through Villavicencio, a town of about 600,000 people, which is considered the gateway to the Llanos. This is where the mountains give way to the plains. And what can I say? Maybe it’s because I spent my formative years living in the suburbs of Chicago (think flat and miles and miles of corn fields once you are out of the metropolitan area), but I just can’t see how all this flat land can compare in beauty to the gorgeous Andes Mountains.
We checked into our hotel in Puerto Lopez and were pleasantly surprised. The rooms were very clean and air conditioned and the pool was gorgeous and very inviting in the mid-day heat. Even the restaurant menu offered some pasta dishes alongside the usual Colombian staples of fried fish, chicken and beef.
After refreshing ourselves in the pool for a couple of hours, we took a spectacular afternoon horseback ride through the hotel’s finca. I finally understood what all the fuss about the Llanos was all about. The views were breathtaking – jungle, hills in many shades of green, big blue sky perfectly reflected in crystal clear lakes. And the wildlife! We saw monkeys frolicking in the trees, foxes running in the fields, caiman slipping into the water on their bellies (and scaring our horses!) along with a fish farm and all the domestic animals you can imagine. Our ride culminated on top of a hill where we watched the sky turn many shades of pink, purple, red and orange as the sun set. Gorgeous!