Ode to the Anteater
Have you ever seen an anteater? They are brilliantly bizarre-looking, with a strange long nose, sticky tongue and giant boisterously bushy tail, almost cartoon-like. On my recent trip to Colombia while staying at the excellent Corocora Camp, with the help of my eagle-eyed local guide, I was able to see one of these bafflingly otherworldly creatures for myself.
As the midday heat began to cool, we rode on horseback through the sweeping savannah of Colombia’s relatively untouched Los Llanos region (a land of vast open spaces and cowboys know as llaneros), criss-crossing termite mounds, meandering over small streams, battling through bushes in search of the elusive anteater. As the day began to wane, without an anteater in sight, we were neither phased nor fatigued as this area is ripe with wildlife, so while the search continued, we were able to spot a myriad of different birds, as well as deer, capybaras, howler monkeys, and even caiman. Suddenly our guide galloped ahead of us to take a closer look at something. Being a llanero (that indefatigable Colombian cowboy) who has grown-up in this region, and in keeping with tradition, he rides his stallion barefoot (a sight to be seen), and finding an anteater is in his blood. Without missing a beat, he came galloping full speedback through the bush with the good news, he had indeed found what we’d spent much of the spectacular day looking for.
We set-off galloping across the open steppe, our eyes scanning the wide open plains, until our coveted prize came into view. As the anteater raised its long slender nose in the air (they have terrible eyesight–poor dears), we knew it had caught our scent, so we changed tack and quickly moved downwind so we could get a better look at the fascinating creature. We hopped off our horses and quietly tip-toed in for a closer look. We watched as the anteater took it’s mighty claws and tumbled over termite hill after termite hill, using its long tongue to collect its delectable feast. We stood in silent awe as we watched him move about, unaware of the adventure we had just pursued in hopes of this exact moment.
With our anteater-admiration intact, it was time to return to the caress of the camp. The light had hit that magical golden hour, just as dusk descends and a crepuscular glow appears, so we hopped back on our trusty steeds and headed home. As the sun began to dip down below the world’s edge, the moment was made even sweeter when we arrived at the camp to a surprise bonfire and some much-needed and rather swell sundowners. A perfect day.