DAYS 170 – 195: VENEZUELA
Crossing the border from Brazil into Venezuela through the only land border joining these countries you will travel to Santa Elena, which will be your home for the next couple of nights. Those of you who are feeling energetic can choose to climb Mt. Roraima (2810mtrs), the flat topped Tepuis that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ and where Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana meet. The walk can take 5 days or so and hikers would make their own way to Ciudad Bolivar on a bus to catch up with the group. Other shorter walks are available, as well as white water rafting and paragliding for those needing an adrenaline rush!
Continuing your overland adventure you head north in to La Gran Sabana (Great Savannah) where an endless sky extends over a wide open grassland. Waterfalls appear along your route, falling majestically from the Tepuis and you will have time to stop and explore. It may be possible to hire a local guide to take you in a canoe to the base of some of the falls, where you can swim in the pools.
After 2 nights camping rough in La Gran Sabana, you will appreciate a few home comforts of a proper campsite, as you pull in to Ciudad Bolivar. You will spend the next 3 or 4 days here. The city itself has a rich history and an interesting day can be spent wandering the colonial quarter of Casco Historico (Historic Centre) and along the waterfront of the Rio Orinoco. However, the main reason to stop off in Ciudad Bolivar is to visit the beautiful Parque Nacional Canaima and the famous Angel Falls – the highest waterfall in the world at almost 1km high. Various trips are available to suit different budgets, and you will have time for those wanting to, to take optional excursions including: flying over the Falls, visiting Canaima or taking a boat trip (if the water levels are high enough).
Crossing the Orinoco River, you continue north-west, camping along the way, to the Caribbean Coast where you visit some of the best beaches in Venezuela and take the stunning drive into Parque Nacional Henri Pittier. For the next couple of days you have the option of enjoying the secluded sandy beaches, soaking up the sun or heading off on some of the coastal trails in search of the local Criollo – a virtually bitter free delicate tasting chocolate! You may also be able to hire a guide and hike up in to the cloud forest on one of the trails.
Driving south west and camping where you can, you make your way towards the wetland area of Los Llanos. With luck you’ll have time for a quick stop off in the spiritual centre of Guanare, which attracts almost half a million visitors each year.
You will be based for the next few days in Venezuela’s snowy peak lined adventure capital, Merida. There are excellent opportunities to hike and trek the mountain trails linking the many remote villages surrounding Merida, as well as paragliding, canopy tours, zip-lining, canyoning and white water rafting. Merida is also home to some of the best nightlife in Venezuela, as well as having a wide selection of well priced restaurants.
Merida is also the gateway to Los Llanos, the immense savannah wetland that is home to a jaw dropping diversity of bird and animal life. Here you hope to see caiman, capybara (the world’s largest rodent), anaconda, anteaters, tapirs and possibly a jaguar, amongst other wildlife. Optional 2, 3 and 4 day trips leave Merida on a regular basis.
Your last night in Venezuela is spent in San Cristobal, also known as the Friendly City.