GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Known as the "Serengeti of South America," Los Llanos is an alluring destination for anyone interested in wildlife. Covering nearly a third of Venezuela's total area, the sprawling grasslands of Los Llanos are just a short flight away from Caracas—through San Fernando de Apure or Barinas—but they feel a world away from the bustling capital. The air sings with birdcalls instead of car
horns, and the unpaved roads are more likely to carry iguanas searching for a sunny spot than commuters looking for a parking space.Los Llanos (literally "the Plains") has two distinct seasons, each offering opportunities to see a wide variety of animals and birds. From May to November the plains are inundated with water and crisscrossed by powerful rivers, forcing land animals to scramble for higher ground as the rains unleash their fury. Flooding submerges the smaller roads, making it a bit more difficult to get around. This is the best time, however, to observe the large river otters, and to see clusters of capybaras and troops of howler monkeys gather in small patches of gallery forest. This is also the time when Los Llanos cools off; daytime temperatures hover above 90°F, but the evenings are comfortably mild.