In the vast territory of Colombia, a region known as the Eastern Plains or the Orinoquia stretches majestically. With a diverse landscape comprising 75% savannas and 25% forests, this region is a natural paradise of expansive plains and abundant wildlife.
The Orinoquia covers an area of 285,437 square kilometers, equivalent to 18% of Colombia’s national territory. Despite its vastness, it has a population of approximately 1,681,273 inhabitants, making it sparsely populated. The predominant climates are tropical dry and monsoonal, creating an interesting variety of ecosystems. Additionally, the region is home to four national parks that safeguard its rich biodiversity.
Departments of the Orinoquia
The Orinoquia region is composed of four departments, each with its beauty and unique characteristics:
1. Arauca, with its capital, Arauca.
2. Casanare, known for Yopal.
3. Meta, home to Villavicencio.
4. Vichada, with its capital in Puerto Carreño.
The Colombian Orinoquia is divided into various natural subregions that enhance its diversity
1. Piedemonte Llanero: The area where mountains meet the plains.
2. Mesetas del Meta: Large expanses of highlands contrasting with the savannas.
3. Llanuras del Guaviare: Vast plains that extend through the Guaviare department.
4. Pantanos de Arauca: A region of wetlands and aquatic biodiversity.
Extensive cattle ranching is the primary economic activity in the Orinoquia, leaving a deep mark on llanera culture. From work practices to music and dance, life in this region is imbued with cattle ranching influence. “Coleo,” a sport where a rider brings down a bull by grabbing its tail, is a common practice in the Orinoquia. Furthermore, llanera music, with its harps, cuatros, and maracas, awakens the spirits of Colombian cowboys.
Cuisine of the Eastern Plains:
Beef is the undisputed star of Orinoquía cuisine. Here are some typical dishes:
1. “Ternera” or “Mamona” a la Llanera: Beef in four cuts roasted over a wood-burning stove.
2. “Hervido de Gumarra”: Soup made with Creole hen, potatoes, yucca, pumpkin, green plantain, and cilantro.
3. “Cachama Asada a la Llanera”: Cachama fish grilled over a wood-burning stove.
4. “Chigüiro a la Brasa”: Marinated and grilled capybara meat.
5. “Arroz Llanero”: Rice seasoned with oxtail.
6. “Tungo de Plátano”: Mature plantain dough.
7. “Hallaca”: Corn dough wrapped around meat, vegetables, and more.
8. “Palo a Pique”: Beans cooked with meat and spices.
9. “Cachapa”: Yellow corn tortilla.
10. “Conejo en Vino”: Rabbit meat cooked with herbs and white wine.
Music of the Orinoquía:
Music in the Orinoquia is a profound expression of Colombian culture. With Spanish and Indigenous influences, llanera music is characterized by its harp, cuatro, and maracas. “Joropo,” a dance involving energetic footwork, is a typical expression of the region. “Galerón” and “pasaje” are also musical styles that stand out in this land of vast plains.
The Colombian Orinoquia is a region of natural and cultural beauty waiting to be explored. With its unique cuisine, vibrant music, and vast landscapes, this region offers an authentic and enriching experience for those who wish to discover it.