The Orinoco Plain (La Orinoquía or Llanos Orientales)
The llanos orientales are a vast territory of 285.437 km². These are the great prairie plains of Colombia with a lot of pasture land in the west of Colombia.The main city is Villavicencio. It lies down hill and means descending the eastern ridges, and in comparison with Bogota a hot climate. The climate in the llanos orientales is tropical-savana. With a clear marked rainy (may-september) and dry period. With altitudes between 200m -800 m .
The vegetation is characterized by plants that are adopted to the dry grounds: In the high areas gallery forests of trees of different types (including pines & palms) and in lower areas disperse trees, bush and grassland. In the wet-seasonsrain water that is collected in the Andes and the Guyana plateau which causes flooding of the lowland parts of the plain and feeds the rivers on this plain like the Orinoco and Meta river.
The llanos orientales is a region traditionally characterized by cattle breeding. Besides this the llanos orientales are very important for the economy because of its oil deposits, and forestry . The two latter in recent years threat the ecology and nature of the area.
Caño Cristales once was an art of nature only seen by a view as a consequence of armed of conflict. Now with peace more and more people have the chance to discover this masterpiece of nature in the department of Meta on the Orinoco plain. In 2009 with the arrival of peace in the region the doors of this park opened. Since then the river of the five colors attracts some 12000 visitors annually.
Caño Cristales lies in the natural park Sierra de La Macarena not far from the town of Macarena in the Llanos Orientales. Here is there where the Amazon, the Orinoco plain and the Andes meet. The weather is hot & humid. It is where the hot winds of the Amazon hit and accumulate against the Andes range.
In the waters live unique plants that give the water its beautiful colors. It is a bit of a paradox but armed conflict in the region although it caused a lot of suffering it prevented large scale exploitation of the area out of economic interests, and now in times of peace now & then claims to win oil in the region arise causing concern amongst environmentalists and people that work in the touristic sector in the area. Tourism gives an income to the families and community in the area. The Caño cristales can be visited from June to December. Off season the plants and ecology have time recuperate.