Discover Los Llanos Orientales, the eastern plains of Colombia, on this week long trail. The llanos is a vast tropical plain made up of savannas, woodlands, and grasslands which you'll explore on board responsive and willing horses. You'll travel from the highlands around Bogotá to the eastern plainsriding along the ancient pathways and experiencing the many different climates and cultures of Colombia. This ride is for those with a keen sense of adventure who want to experience a Colombia rarely covered in guidebooks.

The trail takes you from the high plateaus of the altiplano to tropical open plains, teeming with wildlife. Visit thermal pools to rest weary muscles and stay in local, authentic haciendas and hotels. One day is spent observing the locals gather cattle on the ranch and one night is spent in a hammock to top off the llanos experience. This is an adventurous trip; some of the accommodation is basic  and riding days can mean between 6-9 hours in the saddle so a reasonable level of fitness is required. You'll see how real Colombians live in this part of the world and will explore a truly hidden region rarely visited by tourists.

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Day 1: Arrival in Bogotá, ground transportation to Macheta

After collecting all riders in Bogotá, we will drive to Machetá, a town located one hour and a half from Bogotá, where we will spend the night at a nice small hotel with a relaxing pool of thermal water .   The drive will be besides the old  -Camino Real-  (Royal Road made of cobbled Stone by indians and slaves during the spaniard colonial period) used for hundreds of years  to comunícate the highlands with the Casanare llanos.  This road was used to bring cattle on foot from the plains of Casanare to Sisga until the midlle of the 20th century, in a 2 weeks walk.  The trip was so hard for the animals that they had to put on their feet  a kind of shoes made of fique – a vegetable fiber – so they could finish.

The mountains are astonishing and the change of vegetation and climate almost every hour is very special.

Day 2: Macheta - Chivor

After a short visit to a coffee plantation besides the hotel,  will continue descending to Tenza valley following the Camino Real, with a spectacular view of the mountains and the towns of Guateque, Somondoco, Guayatá and Almeida, a region well known for emeralds mines.

Lunch will be at a local´s house in the countrysude, very traditional homestyle food and in the afternoon after washing the horses in the Somondoco river, will get to a nice hotel besides Chivor dam where we can enjoy the pool.

Day 4: Chivor - Sabanalarga

We will cross the 15 tunnels besides Chivor dam by car (horses in a truck) enjoying a beautiful view of the dam and surroundings and mount again to take and old trail through tropical forest used in the past by guerrillas and paramilitary to  avoid main roads. Will enjoy lunch at a local´s house, with very interesting stories to hear about the violent past times.  In the afternon we will cross the Upia river on horseback and arrive in a farm to have a delicious local meal (ternera a la llanera) and a concert of typical music played by local musicians.

Day 5: Sabanalarga - Monterrey

We will head to Monterrey through a beautiful valley and have lunch besides a river with a natural pool, sometimes can be very hot in this point at noon. In the afternoon will cross the hills that separated us from the huge oriental grasslands that go deep into Venezuela (around 400.000 km2, 200.000 km2 in Colombia) and have one of the most wonderful views of the trip from this hills, to arrive in the afternoon to a comfortable hotel with a wonderful pool.

Day 5: Monterrey - Tauramena

We will ride through the open Sabanas of Casanare leaving behind the mountains we crossed the previous days, with a faster pace and will start observing the llanos wildlife and vegetation, to arrive in the evening to a 2.000 Ha. hato (ranch) where we will spend the night and will have another night of local flavor and the opportunity to practice sleeping in hammock as we learned on day 3!

Day 6:  Tauramena

We will wake up early to enjoy  a magnificient llanos sunrise, have breakfats and ride along with llaneros in their cattle work routine, observing during the ride different species of birds and wildlife (Ant bears, deer, wild pigs, chiguiros, caimans). After this unique experience will stay another night in the hato and enjoy a show of typical dance in the evening.

Day 7:  Tauramena – Yopal - Bogota

We will head from the hato to Yopal in the morning to visit  local tack shops and chinchorrro manufacturing workshops, will have a goodby lunch at a famous local restaurant and return from Yopal  to Bogota in the afternoon by plane (dinner not included).

Day 8: Bogotá Transfer Hotel / Airport.

End of this great adventure.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are 16 horses available for riding, ranging in height from 14hh-15.2hh. All the horses have some Colombian Criollo in their blood, even the Anglo Arabs used in 80 and 120km endurance rides, and of course Anglo Arabs crossed with Colombian Criollos, which makes them particularly suitable for several day, long distance rides. English tack is used although there are also some trail saddles. Some of the terrain is tough and includes river crossings, you should also be confident at negotiating steep ascents and descents. There are opportunities to trot and canter but the pace is not overly fast.



Guides are professional and multilingual (fluent in English and Spanish). The guides are equipped with mobile phones, 2 ways radios and sattelite tracker so they can call for assistance if needed. Groups comprise a minimum of 2 riders and maximum of 12 riders.


Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident at all paces, over tough terrain (including mountainous and river crossings) and expect long hours of riding. There are 4 days on horseback with between 6-9 hours riding per day.

Riders mustn't exceed the weight limit of 85Kg. The minimum age is 12 years old, children must be accompanied by an adult. Riding hats are mandatory for under 18s and are available to borrow.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Nights will be spend in authentic, clean and comfortable hotels and rural haciendas with private bathrooms and good food, but do not expect luxuries such as air conditioning during the ride. Please also be aware that cold showers are normal in Colombia. On Day 4 of the trail you'll spend the night in a hammock on a terrace like the locals. The hammocks are provided and are known as “chinchorros”; made of very fine thread which makes them very comfortable, and are part of  llanero´s (llanos cowboys) equipment. They carry them in their saddle bags as the plains have very few people, farms are huge and distances very long, so often they have to sleep in the open which is where the hammock comes in useful! The facilities on Day 4 are basic with a hose shower and shared bathrooms. The trail travels through remote areas of the country, with very little tourism, you can expect diverse landscapes, mountain scenery and wonderful people. 



Plentiful home-cooked meals are provided on some days, giving a taste of Colombia's traditional cuisine. Other days you will eat in a local restaurant. Some of the most common ingredients are beef, fish, chicken, goat, cassava, potatoes, rice, plantains, tropical fruits, corn cakes, vegetables. Tea, coffee, beer and soft drinks are all included but wine and spirits are not although you will be able to purchase these separately when dining in a restaurant.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:
British nationals can enter Colombia for up to 90 days as a visitor without a visa at the discretion of the Colombian Immigration Officer on arrival. You may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel. Check the latest entry requirements with the Colombian Consulate General in London before you travel.
You may be able to extend your stay once you are in Colombia by up to 120 days by applying at the immigration office Migración Colombia. As a visitor, you can’t remain in Colombia for more than 180 days in any 12 month period. Don’t overstay your visa.
If you’re a British-Colombian dual national, you must enter and leave Colombia using your Colombian passport and Colombian identification card (Cedula).
If you enter Colombia by land from either Ecuador or Venezuela, make sure you have your passport stamped by the immigration authorities. Failure to do so may result in a fine on departure. If the immigration office on the border is closed, seek help at the nearest office of Migración Colombia.

Passport validity: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Colombia.

Colombian Consulate in London:
3rd Floor, Westcott Place
London W1B 1AE.
Tel: 020 7927 7123 - Fax: 020 7637 5604


British Consulate, in Bogota:
Cra 9 No. 76 - 49 piso 9
Bogota-Colombia
Email: consular.bogota@fco.gov.uk
Tel: (+571) 3268300

Climate Summary

This ride travels to the central eastern plains of Colombia, known as Los Llanos. There are two defined seasons, a dry season between December and March and a wet and rainy season between April and November. The daytime temperature of day 2-3 is between 18-25 degrees Celsius and between 15-20 degrees at night. It gets warmer by Day 4 -6 and you should expect daytime temperatures up to 35 degrees and up to 25 degrees at night. Pack some warmer clothes for the first and last night in Bogotá which is much cooler.

Climate Chart

Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.
Travellers should ideally arrange an appointment with their health professional at least four to six weeks before travel. However, even if time is short, an appointment is still worthwhile. This appointment provides an opportunity to assess health risks taking into account a number of factors including destination, medical history, and planned activities. For those with pre-existing health problems, an earlier appointment is recommended.
Most travellers are recommended to vaccinate against Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended.
There is a risk of altitude illness when travelling to destinations of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) or higher. There is a point of elevation in this country higher than 2,500 metres. An example place of interest, Bogota 2,644m.
Travellers should spend a few days at an altitude below 3,000m.
Where possible travellers should avoid travel from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day.
Ascent above 3,000m should be gradual. Travellers should avoid increasing sleeping elevation by more than 500m per day and ensure a rest day (at the same altitude) every three or four days.
Acetazolamide can be used to assist with acclimatisation, but should not replace gradual ascent.
Travellers who develop symptoms of AMS (headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and sleep disturbance) should avoid further ascent. In the absence of improvement or with progression of symptoms the first response should be to descend.
Development of HACE or HAPE symptoms requires immediate descent and emergency medical treatment.

Health (ride specific)

There are no vaccinations required and there is no malaria in this part of Colombia.

Film and Camera Equipment

•Voltage: 110 V
•Frequency: 60 Hz
•Power sockets: type A / B

In Colombia the standard voltage is 110 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A / B. In towns and villages there is mobile Internet access and phone coverage everywhere. During the riding trip full time coverage is not guaranteed and there is almost no internet access.

Packing List

Valid international passport
Travel Insurance
Pocket money (you can change EUR/£/USD in the airport)
Riding hat (available to borrow)
Raincoat
4 or 5 T-shirts and 2 shirts with long sleeves.
Jodhpurs or jeans to ride in
Riding shoes or boots / riding shoes with mini-chaps or long chaps
A second pair of shoes for the evening
Swimsuit, comfortable clothing + a Hat (a nice Colombian hat can be bought on location)
One towel
Toiletries
Insect Repellent
Sun Cream
Camera
Head torch
Lip sunscreen
Saddle bags are 2 x reuseable water bottles are provided.

* It is recomended to put your luggage in a soft travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. 10 bags are easier to get in the backup vehicle than 10 suitcases,

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with riding on 4 days available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2021: March 4; June 3; September 2; December 2.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Please note that single rooms are subject to availability.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4double pp1,499
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4single supplement per night30
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7449
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-3825
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4double pp1,725
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4single supplement per night30
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7299
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-3749
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4double pp1,735
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4single supplement per night35
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7519
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-3955
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4double pp1,995
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4single supplement per night35
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7349
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-3865
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4double pp1,999
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4single supplement per night40
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7599
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-31,099
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4double pp2,299
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4single supplement per night40
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-7399
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-3999
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4double pp17,749
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4single supplement per night355
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-75,325
2021 - 4 - 11 March8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-39,765
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4double pp20,415
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4single supplement per night355
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 4-73,549
2021 - 7 nights8d/7n4supplement for group of 2-38,875
Recommended Reading

Reading List

We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.



100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The defining novel of magical realism, this is a family chronicle revolving around an imaginary village. The haunting strangeness of the Colombian interior, as it must have been perceived by the first Spaniards, is beautifully conveyed in the course of a journey in which the village's early settlers encounter a Spanish galleon mysteriously stranded in the middle of a jungle. The rest of the book develops into what can be interpreted as a poetic history of Colombia; a timeless classic.



La Vorágine” (The Vortex)  by José Eustasio Rivera, a Colombian classic of the early 20th century, telling the story of a couple trying to escape Bogota´s society to live in the Eastern plains and Amazon forest during the rubber fever. There are translations of this novel in English, German, French and Russian.



The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found   A young Englishman who travelled in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, in part to trace the fascinating story of his great grandfather's adventures in Central America a century ago. There is a great twist at the end, which we won't spoil.


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bogotá Airport (BOG)
Transfer:
Return transfer to Bogotá airport included.
Flight Guide:
London (LON) - Bogotá (BOG) around £530
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