Caracas to Merida
16. May: We take the Metro to Parque Central and then the bus from there to the airport. This would save us an expensive Taxi ride. We check in at the 'Avior' counter for the flight to Merida and then go to talk with some other agents who are offering trips to Los Roques and to the Angel Falls. Our Avior plane is a new 'Beechcraft 1900 Series' twin engine, with two single rows of seats with an aisle in the middle. While we're still on the ground it's sweltering inside, but gets better as soon as we reach some altitude. We fly partially over the sea, which I couldn't really understand, since actually our course to Merida was SEE.
Then there were mountains to be seen and it was a spectacular flight between them. I reckoned our plane was flying at about 3'000 m and the mountains were of about the same height! There was some bad turbulence, which I guessed was because there were strong wind currents between the mountains we were flying through. I enjoyed the feeling of our aircraft being tossed about, almost like a leaf in a storm! The mountains themselves were partly black, with very craggy peaks making them look cold, threatening and mysterious. The mountains we the beginning if the Andes, the gigantic mountain chain stretching lengthways all the way down the South American continent.
We finally have a smooth landing in Merida, get our luggage and take a local bus for the ride into town. We walk to the group of Posadas recommended by the LP guide. We decide on a room at 'Posada Bucares' which had quite pleasant rooms for 13000 Bs. per day. Merida is elevated at around 1600m above sea level and is supposed to be cool, but it was warm enough. Merida was surprisingly large, and mostly built on a plateau mountain. You can see this on a picture I took from the cable-car to Pico Espejo.
We then go out in search of lunch and eventually land up in an ok place. It takes ages to get a coke, and long enough for food as well. We then walk back to our room to have a snooze and then venture out to find a tourist office for some trips to the surroundings.
The first one we land up in has a very friendly and helpful girl from Ticino, Switzerland, who informs us about everything we're interested in: Jaji, Teleferico, Los Nevados, Pico de Aguilar, La Cunita. We decide to take the Teleferico (cable-car) the next morning to Pico Espejo, which at 4800m is just next to Pico Bolivar which is the highest point in Venezuela at 5007m. There is a problem though. Clouds from the other side of the mountain usually envelop the peak in the later stages of the morning leaving everyone at the top without a view. She says we should watch the flat peak in front of it in the morning: if was visible, then the view from the peak would probably be good as well. She recommended that we take the earliest possible cable car to minimize cloud risk.
That settled, we walk a bit around the Teleferico, which affords a great view over the surrounding mountains and valleys. We have dinner at a place near the Teleferico, it's not good value. Back at our Posada, we get some beers from a restaurant right next door advertising 'good European food'. Annewien's not feeling too good and we decide to call it a day.