World Travel

Venezuela

Caracas ¤ Merida ¤ Canaima/Angel Falls ¤ Ciudad Bolivar ¤ Los Roques

Wooden Venezuelan Jesus from the Merida Region
Wooden Venezuelan Jesus from the Merida Region

(If you'd rather just see my favourite pictures of VENEZUELA, click here!)

Venezuela is a relatively large country, by far the largest of our trip. We were unaccustomed to such large distances between sights and resorted to frequent local flights for the first time. Luckily, there are quite a few available and are mostly affordable. 

I found Venezuela to be a very diverse country, with the high peaks of the beginning of the Andes in Merida, the lowlands of the Orinoco area and the spectacular Tepui landscapes in the Canaima region. Los Roques has a very special coral island, almost Maldivian feel, with spectacularly blue water, beautiful fish and extremely colourful houses in Gran Roque. 

Venezuelans in Caracas seemed rather unfriendly and uncaring compared to all the other countries we had visited and the hotels were bad value. [Addendum: Oops, I received a number of protest mails to the contrary! Decide for yourself] Crime is present in Caracas and we were advised to stick to the main streets, especially at night. 

Love hotels were a new and interesting phenomenon for us. Pirated CD's and Sony Playstation games were being sold everywhere in Caracas and Merida.

This trip was from 12.5.2001 to 27.5.2001.

Damian from Venezuela wrote: "If you ever come back to Venezuela, be sure to visit Maracaibo, it is a city in west Venezuela, the second biggest city in the country, with the biggest lake in South America and the most badass bridge in Latin America, it has great places to visit, and has a lot of landmarks. Also, try to go to Falcon state, specially the northern side, the beaches are beautiful and sometimes late at night you can see Curaçao's lights. And Margarita is a great place to visit too"

Our route through Venezuela

Our route through Venezuela

My favourites of Venezuela

  • Unique Caracas topology, with local houses clustered on hills
  • Efficient Caracas Metro
  • Being sick for three days in Hotel Cristal
  • Watching customer couples checking into Caracas Love Hotel
  • Flight from Caracas to Merida, especially the shaky turbulent landing due to hefty winds, was marvelous
  • Highest and longest cable car in the world from Merida to Pico Espejo (4700m)
  • Guinness book of records Ice Cream Parlour in Merida with most flavours in the world!
  • Nice colourful houses in Merida
  • Andean Plants (Frailejón) near Merida
  • Hike to Laguna Negra which we never got to see due to the mountain mist in spite of being very near
  • Hike to Laguna Fria from Cable car and walking back soaked by surprise shower
  • Our special American-Venezuelan lady guide to Pico Aguilar
  • Travel Agent in Merida speaking German and cajoling us to visit Angel Falls
  • Colourful religious-art-souvenirs in wood near Merida
  • Complicated journey from Merida to Canaima
  • Sunset in Ciudad Bolivar over wide Orinoco river and only bridge over it
  • Lovers kissing and holding everywhere in parks
  • Hassle fetching my video tape from hotel room in Caracas en route from Merida to Canaima
  • Seeing original plane of Jimmy Angel outside of Ciudad Bolivar airport
  • Flight in 5-seater Cessna 172 from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima with me in the front seat
  • Discovering and sitting under thundering devil's waterfall in Canaima
  • Impressive and unusual Tepui  (table mountain) landscape around Canaima region
  • Thundering Canaima Falls
  • Furious trips in long local boats from Canaima to Angel Falls and back
  • Boat navigation in low water situation during trip to Angel Falls
  • Being bitten by sand fleas on the way to Angel Falls
  • Bare bones living with sleeping in Hammocks for two nights in Angel Falls camp
  • Seeing magnificent, awesome Angel Falls from below
  • Swimming in the cold lagoon at the base of Angel Falls
  • Seeing distant but impressive La Cortina waterfall at Auyan Tepui from base of Angel Falls
  • "Helpful" uniformed crazy young woman in Ciudad Bolivar airport
  • Freezing bus-ride from Ciudad Bolivar to Caracas
  • Arranging Los Roques Trip at Caracas airport
  • Colourful Los Roques houses
  • Seeing solitary giant barracuda while snorkeling in Los Roques
  • Los Roques snorkeling and beach days

The diary

12.5 Panama City to Caracas
13.5 Caracas
14.5 Caracas
15.5 Caracas
16.5 Caracas to Merida
17.5 Merida, Jaji
18.5 Pico Espejo, Pico Bolivar from Merida
19.5 Merida
20.5 Pico Aguilar, Laguna Negra
21.5 Merida to Ciudad Bolivar
22.5 Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima Camp
23.5 Angel Falls
24.5 Canaima Camp to Ciudad Bolivar
25.5 Caracas to Los Roques
26.5 Los Roques to Caracas
27.5 Caracas to Zurich

Tips

  • Take an official taxi at Caracas Airport. Although we didn't, I've heard so many stories of people being fully robbed in non-official taxis to not take any chances.
  • We thought staying in Caracas for more than about 2 days unnecessary: It's not that interesting and expensive compared to the other highlights of Venezuela, especially hotels. [I received some Caracas natives' protests about this]
  • Plane travel is an interesting alternative to long bus trips; The flight to Merida from Caracas was a wild, adventurous ride over the Andes for us
  • Teleferico to Pico Espejo from Merida is a must if you are there. Take the first trip up in the morning to avoid mist. We heard that if the mountain with the long horizontal top in front of Pico Espejo is visible in the morning, there shouldn't be mist at Pico Espejo
  • The walk to Laguna Fria from the 2nd Pico Espejo cable car station is nice if the weather's good. Check out the directions on my diary page
  • A tour of the surrounding Andes (Pico Aguilar) when in Merida is nice, with beautiful scenery
  • The whole Angel Falls trip is a unique experience. It's was worth it because we had relatively good weather and saw the falls; you might have bad weather and not see anything. Or the river might not have enough water to allow going there by boat, then try flying past by plane
  • Take a look around Ciudad Bolivar if you're there anyway, it has nice colonial buildings
  • Los Roques Islands are a turquoise-water-and-fine-sand island paradise. You can rent a boat to Francisqui islands and snorkels at a booth just after the airport for a day of individual island exploring. They're expensive to stay at, though and the only way there is by plane
  • Long distance bus travel can be extremely cold. At least 2 sweaters (honest) are helpful to keep yourself halfway warm, especially overnight
  • Venezuelans get friendly out of Caracas. Hardly any beggars or pushy hawkers
  • Bargaining is generally possible (taxi, hotel)
  • Exchanging money, especially traveler's cheques is not possible in every bank. Italcambio is the money changer who handles most anything.

Start reading the trip report