Monday, April 12, 2010
Los Llanos (meaning 'the plains' in Spanish) is a vast tropical grassland plain situated at the east of the Andes in northwestern South America. Its main river, the Orinoco, forms part of the border between Colombia and Venezuela and is the major river system of Venezuela. The Llanos plains slope gradually away from the highland areas that surround them and the elevation never exceeds 200 meters above sea level.
The climate change of the Llanos is extreme. The dry season is a prolonged drought during which nearly all of the water disappears, leaving water behind only in estuaries, lagoons, and ditches. During the rainy season from May to October, torrential rains often cause rivers to flood most of the savanna - parts of the Llanos can flood up to a meter. This turns the forests and grassland into a temporary wetland and makes the area unique for its wildlife. When the savanna floods, fish move into the flooded areas. As the waters recede, they return to the rivers, though many are trapped in small bodies of water until the rains return.
The Llanos are sparsely populated and the terrain is rough. The foliage includes thick brush, Morichal Palms, and mango trees. The roads in the region are raised and lined with deep ditches to prevent them from being flooded.