12 julio, 2024

7 Customs of the Orinoquía Region (Colombia)

The customs of the Orinoquía region in Colombia are related to its peculiar geography and history. Orinoquía is one of the six most important natural regions of the Colombian territory.

Also known as the Llanos Orientales, this region covers most of the area of ​​the departments of Arauca, Casanare, Meta and Vichada. It is south of the Arauca and Meta rivers, west of the Orinoco river, and north of the Amazon jungle.

The Spanish presence was left to the missionary orders, especially the Jesuits. At that time, despite a poor agricultural climate, the llaneros herded millions of head of cattle.

Some customs of the Orinoquía region


One of the most deeply rooted customs of the Orinoquía region is the coleo. This kind of rodeo is a sports and cultural event that is practiced in the eastern plains of Colombia, but particularly in the surroundings of the city of Villavicencio.

Coleo is a competition in which two cowboys on horseback are tasked with bringing down a young bull by getting behind the animal and pulling on its tail until it loses its balance and falls.

The fall is important, since the more dramatic and sensational, the more points are earned. On the other hand, this practice differs from rodeo in the United States and Canada in that it does not involve riding and tying the horns.

Similarly, unlike the Spanish bullfight, neither the Colombian coleo nor the American rodeo participate in a matador-bull duel to the death.

However, many of these animals, when seriously injured, are sent to slaughter.

joropo dance

Another of the popular customs of the Orinoquía region is the joropo dance.

The joropo is a type of music characterized by the use of the llanera harp, which generates a unique sound for this regional style of music and dance.

As for the dance, it is performed in pairs. They only separate to dance the araguato and the cow or the little bull.

In the first, the dancers scratch their ribs imitating that South American monkey. For the cow or little bull, the woman attacks her partner as bulls do.


The most famous dish of the plains is carne asada (barbecue). Large cuts of meat are skewered on six-foot metal poles that lean vertically into smoldering hardwood embers.

Six to eight hours later, the fat has turned into a crispy shell, while the meat is very tender and juicy.

Seasoning is very sparse, almost always just a pinch of salt and perhaps a brew of beer.

The gangs of San Martin

This traditional festival is a tribute to the patron saint and takes place every November 11.

These groups, which represent the different Colombian ethnic groups, perform a choreographic dance. In total, there are ten figures: guerrilla, snail, snake, among others.

the slave driver

As of December 8, some groups stain their skin and wear clothes from the colonial period. Each person is assigned a role: king and queen of Spain, princesses, duchesses and others.

Then, after taking office “under oath”, a ritual dance begins and the participants go from house to house. This celebration is held until the day of La Candelaria.

the liquid liquid

Costume that is born in the Llanos, between Venezuela and Colombia. It is a masculine suit used for social events, important events and parties. The suit consists of a jacket with a round neck (mao style), pants and espadrilles.

Some llaneros also complement it with a guama hat, as a symbol of purchasing power. As a curiosity, the great writer Gabriel García Márquez, dressed in a liqui liqui suit in the collection of his Nobel Prize for Literature.

black coffee

The llanero, due to his activity with cattle, gets up very early. Usually the first thing they will do is drink a strong black coffee. No milk or anything. It will be the first thing they do and they will repeat it throughout the day, since coffee is very important in Orinoquía, as in the rest of Colombia.


Kline, H.F. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Colombia. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.
LaRosa, MJ and Mejía, GR (2013). Colombia: A Concise Contemporary History. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Otero Gómez, MC and Giraldo Pérez, W. (2014). Cultural tourism in Villavicencio Colombia. In A. Panosso Netto and LG Godoi Trigo (editors), Tourism in Latin America: Cases of Success. New York: Springer.
Martin, MA (1979). From llanero folklore. Villavicencio: Lit. John XXIII.
López-Alt, JK (2010, September). Barbecue and Fried Fish: Foods of the Colombian Llanos. retrieved on October 24, 2017, from seriouseats.com.
Ocampo Lopez, J. (2006). Colombian folklore, customs and traditions. Bogota: Plaza y Janes Editores Colombia.

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