Venezuela Tourism...
Exploring the "Little" Venice of the Caribbean

Roraima National Park. Venezuela
Roraima National Park by Luis Castro

Our first Venezuela tourism experience was in the early days of 1977 coming from the West Indies, namely Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.

Actually, we started that journey in London, via Brussels and Azores.

My wife and I needed to return to Argentina after a couple of years away, but the idea of having some adventure travel instead of flying direct to Buenos Aires was too enticing to let it go without second thoughts.

Can't describe in words what we went through - not only us but the rest of the expedition we were part of.

It was certainly there where we learnt what a truly unique South America travel experience looked like.

After seeing the eternal ice at the very bottom of the South America continent - shared by Chile and Argentina alike - this was a mind-blowing experience, where I finally visualized the savage beauty the continent is made of.

Found Caracas to be an impressive city but it was at Ciudad Bolivar - on the South bank of Orinoco river - where I began to feel the great South America wilderness.
Crossing the Gran Sabana and the Guyana region was the perfect introduction to the mighty Amazon rainforest I was about to discover for the first time in my life.

The funniest thing ever happened to us in our Venezuela tourism experience was that we all ended up in jail at some point, including the driver.

We were all tired, dusty and willing to have a real bed and a good shower the night we arrived to the jungle town of El Dorado. At the time there wasn't any facility to host us all but the local policeman kindly opened the jail and invited us in, an offer we couldn't refuse, and proved to be the right move as well.

We had a great party that night! Even when beds weren't precisely the kind we all had in mind, dinner was great. It was watered down with a bottle or two of Caribbean rum and plenty of music to get us in the right mood. I've never been so happy in jail!...never tried it again either.

Before moving on, let's have a look at some quick Venezuela facts and figures...

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Venezuela Facts

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Capital: Caracas
Language: Spanish (official), plus numerous indigenous dialects
Population: 26,023,528 (est. July 2007)
Area: 912,050 square kilometers .
Currency: Bolivar Fuerte (VEF). It replaced the Bolivar (VEB) in January 2008
Exchange Rate: 1.00 VEF = 0.465116 USD (Nov. 2009)
Religion: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
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Venezuela Top Destinations:

Venezuela tourism is without doubt one of the best South America vacations you could ever have in this part of the world. It has an outstanding variety of landscapes ranging from Caribbean beaches and islands (Margarita island and Los Roques as a superb example on this), mountains, forests, jungle, vast plains (Los Llanos), savannah (Gran Sabana), majestic rivers (Orinoco river) and waterfalls (such as the astonishing Angel Falls).

In fact, the country is divided in four distinctive regions...

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Venezuela's North coast stretches for about 2,800 miles (4.000 km) conforming the largest Caribbean coastline to be found in any other nation. Needless to say that Venezuela travel is paradisiacal for the adventure and water sports oriented traveler, from swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving to windsurfing, paragliding, fishing and more.

Some of its most famous beaches to the West of Caracas include Macuto, Marbella, Naiguata, Leguna and Oriaco. Other famous coastal resorts that can be reached via Portechuelo Pass are Cata, Ocumare de la Costa, Morrocoy, Chichiriviche and Puerto de la Cruz.

Mount Bolivar. Highest peak in  Venezuela
Mount Bolivar. Highest peak in Venezuela. © Feny Kepez/Istockphoto

Venezuela tourism in the highlands is best represented by the city of Mérida, in the Sierra Nevada (Venezuelan Andes).

Mérida is distinguished for its colonial architecture, universities, a rich cultural life and for having the highest cable car in the world: Mirror Peak, at an altitude of 4.270 meters (14,000 feet above sea level) and the highest peak in Venezuela: Mount Bolivar (5,007 meters).

The Llanos region extends to the East of Cordillera de Mérida and to the North of the Orinoco river.

It's Venezuela's cattle country par excellence, with the historic Barquisimeto as its capital.

Full of wildlife, Venezuela tourism in Los Llanos is the region for safaris, horseback riding, birdwatching and other options for the outdoor sports enthusiasts.

Your Venezuela tourism experience should include a visit to the city of Maracaibo (second largest in the country). It was founded three times, first time being in 1529. Maracaibo (and the whole Zulia State for that matter) is notorious for its historically independent spirit, great universities and for having huge reserves of crude oil, making Venezuela the fifth oil producing country in the world.

It's there where we find the largest lake in South America: Lake Maracaibo, first only to Titicaca, with an extension of 12,210 square kilometers. As a mother of fact, Maracaibo is not a lake, but a bay, connect to the Gulf of Venezuela by the Tablazo Strait. However, it was originally a true lake.

On top of all Venezuela tourist attractions to admire and discover, Venezuela's women are not short of beauty either. In fact, Venezuela has received six Miss Universe titles, plus the world record of having it won twice in a row on its latest edition.

Venezuela's World Heritage Sites

Los llanos. Venezuela
Los Llanos, Venezuela by Gunther Wegner - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Out of its forty three national parks there is one that stands out as one of the most striking Venezuela attractions: Canaima National Park (Parque Nacional Canaima).

With an extension of 30,000 square kilometers, it's the second largest in the country after Paraima-Tapirapecó.

What makes it absolutely unique is the profusion of tepuis (table-top mountains) dating back to the ancient times of Gondwanaland (when Africa and South America were part of the super-continent).

Canaima National Park covers almost the entire Gran Sabana region, in Bolivar State, border with Brazil and Guyana.

It's home to the indigenous Pemon Indians, part of the linguistic group of the Carib Indians and their name means "Spirit of Evil". Actually , the Carib - together with the Arawak - were the original dwellers until the advent of Christopher Columbus in 1498, when it was annexed to the Spanish Crown.

Canaima's most imposing tepuis are Mount Roraima and Auyantepui (Devil's mountain), where we find the world's highest waterfall: Angel falls, known to the Pemon as Kerepakupai merú , meaning "fall from the deepest place".

Angel falls have the impressive height of 979 meters (3,212 feet) and were first known to the Western world in 1933, when "discovered" by aviator Jimmy Angel, hence its name. However, they were truly discovered earlier, in 1910, by Venezuelan explorer Ernesto Sanchez La Cruz. To give you a clear picture, they are sixteen times higher than Niagara Falls, in USA.

Venezuela tourism has all the ingredients to make your South America vacation a truly unique travel experience you will never forget..

Mount Kukenan. Venezuela
Mount Kukenan by Gunther Wegner - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Where to Stay:

For the independent/solo traveler, budget accommodation (hostels) is the most affordable option to experience Venezuela tourism. Book hostels in Venezuela here.

If on a family vacation trip, on business, or simply looking for higher levels of comfort and services, Find and compare best hotel rates in Venezuela .


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