A country of amazing beauty – Snowy peaks and table topped mountains rise up from the plains with waterfalls tumbling down them, fabulous beaches dot the 1,700 miles of coastline where the Caribbean Sea meets the land and the Amazon basin and Orinoco Delta are home to masses of wildlife and indigenous tribes.
Venezuela was first colonised by Spain in 1522 and became the first Spanish American colony to gain independence in the early 1800s. The capital, Caracas, sits on the coast almost central to the north of the country and there are flights from the UK via various European hubs. A holiday here combines well with Brazil or Guyana. Towards the Barinas, enjoy stunning mountain scenery of the Andes and explore the plains areas by jeep or horse back.
On the coast there are great areas for diving and snorkelling, including Los Roques archipelago where you can stay in simple posadas and enjoy the laid back way of life. Tourism generally in Venezuela is still just beginning and accommodation is generally rustic and simple. The driest season is November to May but you can visit all year round with most regions enjoying a temperature averaging 28 – 30c. Wet season is the best time to see the waterfalls.
This is a fantastic destination for the adventure traveller. You can climb the ‘tepuys’ the huge table top mountains and visit the waterfalls of the Gran Sabana region, including the Angel Falls in Canaima National Park, the highest in the world. These strange mountains that rise vertically off the plains were formed back when South America was still joined to Australia and Africa and the landscape here gave rise to Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’.
Wildlife habitats are diverse ranging from the mountains of the Andes to the west and the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south to the Orinoco River Delta in the east. The delta is one of the largest in the world and is a maze of islands, mangrove swamps, channels and wild forests. The delta’s inhabitants are the Warao Indians who use the variety of palms found here to provide materials for their homes, tools, food and wine making. Living mostly from fishing, these people have been isolated from the modern world and still live in traditional huts which are raised on stilts on the riverbanks. In the middle of the country are the vast Los Llanos plains which is a great wildlife destination with Capybara, Spectacled Caiman, Giant Anteaters, Anaconda, Armadillo, monkeys, piranhas, Ocelots, River Dolphins and the elusive Jaguar. Around 360 species of birds are found here including masses of water birds.
Many Caribbean islands including Trindad and Tobago are close to the coastline and make an ideal extension to any holiday to Venezuela. Ask me about a tailor made holiday to include the Dutch Caribbean islands just off shore of Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao.