|We travelled down to Los Llanos via the highlands, stopping to look at an incredible stone chapel (and to have hot chocolate!) in Mucuchíes, to visit some condors, and to walk down to Laguna Negra, where we saw a deer, lots of ponies, and some special ducks. We stayed the first night in Barinas, in a lovely posada with a very sweet puppy, and that evening went for a swim at some local waterfalls and pools. The next morning, we set off to finish the journey to Los Llanos, arriving at our camp 5 hours later to be greeted by a tame capybara! Everyone had a rest, except Tara who helped our local guide get the horses ready for our afternoon ride (and nearly missed lunch in the process!). Los Llanos is a huge, flat grassland with lots of rivers and pools. In the wet season a lot of it is flooded, but now (near the start of the dry season) the pools are smaller, and the numbers of animals - birds, caiman and capybaras particularly - is incredible. Our afternoon ride was a very enjoyable introduction to an incredible place, and in the evening we saw another side of it on a night safari: we sat on the roof of our 4x4 and watched the red glow of hundreds of caiman's eyes lookin back at us! The next morning, we went out in a motorised canoe, and were awstruck at the numbers and diversity of birds: scarlet and black ibises, spoonbills, savannah hawks, ospreyes, different types of kingfishers, storks, herons, a little owl, and lots of others whose names we can't remember! We also saw LOTS of river dolphins playing and fishing around the boat, the ever-present caimans, iguanas, and capybara families, a shy coatie, and a wild great anteater (who was incredible!!). In the afternoon we went in search of an anaconda (which Gran will be pleased to hear we didn't find!!). Tara went with the guides on their search (and saw a ferdinand snake a little closer than she would have liked!), and Darius and the rest of the group went piranha fishing (he caught a grand total of zero - and lost his hook!!). We tried the piranha for dinner (it tasted like fish), and that evening a hand-reared giant anteater visited the camp. Seeing her so close was incredible: they are amazing animals, with huge waterproof palm-leaf-like tails that they curl over themselves when they sleep, and enormous upper forelegs and front claws a couple of inches long. On our last day, we travelled back to Merida... very, very slowly, and with lots of breaks because our engine kept overheating.