Boat trip on the Orinoco River

In the most eastern part of Colombia, towards the border with Venezuela, you will find one of Colombia’s most remote national parks: Parque Nacional Tuparro, a vast, barely explored wilderness of savannah, jungle, gallery forest and rivers. It is situated in the Colombian province of Vichada, also called The Eastern Plains (Los Llanos Orientales).

Typical shaped stones, Orinoco River

Typical shaped stones, Orinoco River

The border with Venezuela is a natural one: the famous Orinoco river, running all the way down to the Amazon rainforest. Imagine wild rapids, freshwater dolphins that accompany you during parts of your boat trip, the most colorful orchids, beaches as river banks, incredible views over the savannah of Los Llanos and lots of large rocks – most of which are revealed during dry season when the river tide is lowest.

The name of the national park, Tuparro, is derived from the Cerros del Tuparro, giant rocks that formed part of South America’s oldest mountain range millions of years ago (Macizo de Gauyana or Guiana Shield). North of the Tuparro National Park, on the banks of the Orinoco, lies Puerto Carreño, the capital of Vichada. When following the Orinoco river southward, three main rivers flow inland into the Tuparro National Park: the Tomo, Tuparro and Vichada river. These rivers are full of exotic fish, which makes it a great spot for fishing enthusiasts.

German geographer, explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) navigated the Orinoco in order to map the extensive network of waterways and to check rumors that the river would lead to the Amazon. At that time, it was believed to be scientifically impossible, because another river that was connected to the Amazon river flowed into it from the opposite direction. Von Humboldt proved the scientists wrong: the rumors were true. He described his journey in his memoirs as ‘exceedingly beautiful’.

Llanos landscape

Llanos landscape

Nowadays, the Orinoco is an important river for transportation purposes. However, due to two areas of strong rapids, los raudales de Maipures and Atures, it is not possible for cargo ships to use the river. But it is possible for you to visit what Von Humboldt once marked as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”: over 70 giant smooth granite rocks in the wild rapids of Maipures, an incredible natural spectacle and one of the most impressive scenarios of the Vichada department.

Besides the freshwater dolphins, this region is a paradise for many other animals, though you will not see all of them as they know how to hide. Think of birds, tapirs, capybaras, pumas, otters, foxes, monkeys, anteaters and snakes. The rivers also used to be a paradise for caimans. However, due to the hunt for their skin to make shoes, bags, belts and wallets, they are know threatened with extinction. In order to increase the caiman population, the Tuparro national park started a program of breeding and reintroducing caimans in the rivers of the park. When visiting, rangers are eager to tell you more about the program. If you want to see lots of wildlife during your holiday, we recommend you to take a look at destination Casanare, also in the Los Llanos region.


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