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Travel Notes: Latin America - Venezuela Travel Notes.

Venezuela Travel Notes

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Venezuela Travel and Tourism on Travel Notes


Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Venezuela's untamed wilderness, from white-water rafting in the Orinoco River to trekking in the remote Andean highlands.

About Venezuela

Columbus sailed along the shores of Venezuela on his third voyage in 1498, and rightly guessed that he had reached a great land by the huge volume of water flowing out of the Orinoco estuary.

Countries neighbouring Venezuela: Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.

Travel Map Mapping Venezuela

Map of Venezuela

Map of Venezuela

Arriving From The Caribbean

From the Caribbean coast, the bulk of the continent rises instantly and green like the bulging muscles bursting through a comic hero's shirt.

To the Spaniards, everything would have seemed wild and yet to be controlled.

Water crashed from the world's highest cataract like a fury in hell rather than Angels falling.

Even today, much of the interior is still to be settled.

Venezuela Overview

Despite its challenges, Venezuela remains a country with immense potential, boasting natural beauty, cultural richness, and a resilient population.

However, addressing its economic and political issues will be crucial for the country's future stability and prosperity.

Capital and Major Cities

The capital of Venezuela is Caracas, which is also the largest city in the country.

Other major cities include Maracaibo, Valencia, Barquisimeto, and Ciudad Guayana.


Venezuela has a rich cultural heritage influenced by indigenous, African, and European traditions.

Venezuelan music, dance, and cuisine are vibrant and diverse.

Traditional music styles such as joropo and salsa are popular, and Venezuelan cuisine features dishes like arepas, pabellón criollo, and hallacas.


Historically, Venezuela's economy has been heavily reliant on its vast oil reserves, which are among the largest in the world.

Over-reliance on oil has led to economic instability, especially when global oil prices fluctuate.

Venezuela has struggled with hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, and economic recession in recent years.


Venezuela is bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west.

The country has a diverse landscape, including the Andes Mountains in the north-west, extensive plains (llanos) in central Venezuela, and the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south.

Natural Resources

Apart from its significant oil reserves, Venezuela is also rich in other natural resources such as natural gas, gold, iron ore, bauxite, and hydroelectric power.

However, the exploitation and management of these resources have been subject to controversy and criticism.


Venezuela has experienced significant political turmoil in recent decades.

The country was ruled by various military dictatorships throughout much of the 20th century.

In 1999, Hugo Chávez was elected president, ushering in the 'Bolivarian Revolution', which aimed to establish a socialist state.

Chávez's policies were continued by his successor, Nicolás Maduro, who has faced widespread domestic and international criticism for authoritarianism, human rights abuses, and economic mismanagement.

Social Issues

Venezuela has faced numerous social issues, including poverty, crime, corruption, and political polarisation.

The economic crisis has exacerbated these problems, leading to widespread poverty, food and medicine shortages, and mass emigration.

Visiting Venezuela

It's essential to consider the current situation in Venezuela before planning a visit.

As the country has faced economic challenges, political instability, and safety concerns in recent years, it's always advisable to research travel advisories from reliable sources and consider consulting with locals or experienced travellers for the most up-to-date information and safety tips.

Having a good grasp of Spanish can enhance your experience in Venezuela, as it's the country's official language.

Venezuela Highlights

Angel Falls

Visit the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, and listen to the angel's calling.

Seeing this natural wonder up close is an unforgettable experience

Canaima National Park

Besides Angel Falls, Canaima National Park boasts breathtaking landscapes, including tabletop mountains known as tepuis, dense rainforests, and indigenous Pemon villages.

Los Roques Archipelago

Explore the pristine beaches, coral reefs, and clear blue waters of this stunning national park.

It's perfect for snorkelling, diving, or simply relaxing on the beach.


This Andean city is known for its charming colonial architecture, vibrant culture, and nearby opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, paragliding, and visiting the Mérida Cable Car; one of the longest and highest cable car systems in the world.

Morrocoy National Park

Discover beautiful mangrove-lined beaches, crystal-clear waters, and small islands perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing.

Angel Falls

The highest uninterrupted cataract in the world is on the Rio Churun in the rain-forest of the Guiana Highlands.

American aviator, James C. Angel, discovered the falls in 1935.

The Spaniards found no gold when they arrived to search the rivers, but the source of the pearls that the Admiral reportedly saw on the Indian women, during his men's first encounter with them, led to the foundation of a settlement called Nueva Cadiz on the island of Cubagua, in 1509.

Discovering The Americas

Amerigo Vespucci sailed as a privileged passenger on a number of the early Caribbean expeditions and had the insight to recognise that the Europeans had discovered a new continent, and could justly claim it as a new world.

Columbus died in 1506 with little to show for his efforts, and as if to add insult to injury, the following year a German cartographer published a map of the continent with the name America upon it.

Columbus may have found the way across the ocean, but Amerigo Vespucci explained what it was they had found. The new continent still posed an obstacle to the Orient, and a way round, or through it, had to be found.


The capital of Venezuela, near the Caribbean port of La Guaira, was founded in 1567 as Santiago de Leon de Caracas; after the Caracas Indians who once inhabited the fertile valley of northern Venezuela.

Map of Caracas

Map of Caracas

The visitor looking for a postcard of Caracas will find many of motorways crossing and weaving through concrete towers; only at night did Caracas look acceptable; when darkness hides the towering poor excuse for architecture, and neon takes over.

From a moving vehicle on one of the motorways, there's a mystery behind the yellow and green. The shining lights from the hills that accommodate the poorer residents, sparkle like a mass of skiers on a torchlight descent.

Near Caracas

Just 40 miles away from the capital and you find yourself in the rain forest.

Founded in 1843, by a few hundred pioneers, the beautiful Colonia Tovar Village is the only German colony in the region.

Margarita Island

Many visitors to Venezuela hop over to this island in the Caribbean, off the northern coast of Venezuela.

The capital of Isla Margarita is La Asuncion, although the largest town is Porlamar and most ships arrive at Pampatar.

Maracaibo - Little Venice

Before the Venezuelans dared look out of the bus window that was about to cross the long, arching bridge spanning Lake Maracaibo, they had to cross themselves and ask for the safe passage from Mother Mary.

Only then could they take in the bright orange glows flickering through the darkness from the lanterns of distant fishermen.

When Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda first saw the pile dwellings of Maracaibo and named the land Little Venice, they could never have dreamt that the discovery oil would liken the place to a little Brunei.

I had the terrible thought that future generations might only read about the Spaniards in history books, and subsequently forget them as the Indians themselves are becoming a distant memory.

Surely Venezuela could not be thought of as the result of oil-wealth to an otherwise green country - those miles of multi lane roads and high metres of living quarters in steel-reinforced concrete.

There were obvious advantages to living over the water for the early fishermen, but the principal reason was probably to escape the mosquitoes that infested the marshy shores of the lake.

The Paraujano Indians who lived entirely by fishing, would trade part of their catch for maize and cassava grown by the Boures, who lived on the land to the south of them.

Other coastal tribes would trade with more advanced groups to the west, and display the ornaments of gold that they gained from the exchange.

Simon Bolivar

Venezuela's famous son, Simon Bolivar, was born in Caracas and his body is buried in the National Pantheon.

Bolivar dreamt of liberating Venezuela (along with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) from Colonial Spain and forming a unified Gran Colombia.

The Plaza Bolivar contains a bronze statue of the South American statesman and revolutionary leader, on horseback.

Museum of Colonial Art

The Museum of Colonial Art is a hacienda-style property, set in the cool shade of the lower foothills behind modern Caracas.

The house was the residence of a general in the Venezuelan War of Independence. Simon Bolivar also spent some time here.

The man, whose name was to be used for the Venezuelan currency, and most of the country's town squares (plazas), could wander in the garden undisturbed and look back at the removal of the Spanish.

Such a grandiose planner would have been served on porcelain from China, eaten off silver from Mexico, and sipped coffee introduced from India.

All the furniture and fixtures were the best of the European periods, large works of art focused on religious themes, and a private chapel provided personal access to the guiding spirit of the Almighty.

The bathroom had a mountain stream flowing into the sunken tub, which meant no laborious task of drawing fresh water.

Negroes were always on hand to serve, and the stables had carpentry facilities and a blacksmith's forge.

In the kitchen food would always be warm and ready to eat, cocoa was ground on the premises, and water was filtered and chilled by passing it through a specially sculptured piece of stone.


Founded as the first permanent settlement by Europeans on the mainland, in the early 1520s, Cumana has suffered numerous earthquakes, and it shows.


Juan de Ampues founded Villa de Santa Ana de Coro in 1527.

The original cross, made of cuji (sponge tree), is still said to be in the exact position that the founder placed it for the first mass.

Coro is better preserved than Cumana, and is proudly offered as a museum exhibit that lives.

The motorcar seems somehow out of place. Rubber tyres roll noisily along the cobbled streets while an old man in a straw hat walks his wooden cane through the 20th century.

There was a moment when he reached the middle of the colonial road that no modern machinery appeared in his close proximity. Like before the coming of the silent movie, the scene became a perfectly composed photograph of old age; all the elements of a former time were captured for five hundredths of a second.


A country that claims 2,800 km of Caribbean coastline, fertile lowlands, the highest waterfall in the world, the Orinoco River, and an extensive area of grassy highlands near Guyana, also adds the northern tip of the Andes to its portfolio.

The ascent to Merida can not be likened to the Alps of Switzerland. The tropical vegetation on the lower slopes include bananas, while long, thin cacti plants make an appearance when the soil becomes drier at higher altitude.

Merida is one of Venezuela's most popular tourist destinations. It's safe, fun, economical, and the semi-tropical weather is great all year. Good food, like arapas, cachapas and baked mountain trout stuffed with ham and cheese. Plus there's a panaderia-bread and pastry shop on every street. Bring comfortable loose fitting clothes, and enjoy!

Travel by Bus in Venezuela

There are few trains of note in Venezuela although they're working on expanding the network.

For many, travel is carried out on long distance, night buses. These buses that seem to stop all too frequently when you try to curl up and sleep, continue to cut up the black void when you feel nature calling.

Without a tin door at the back of the bus that no-one wants to sit beside, you have to focus your mind on something else. To concentrate on anything than what is trying to occur.

The eternity seems too long, and you eventually drag yourself up to the driver, with some paper from the last hotel concealed in your pocket.

In terrible Spanish you make an attempt to say that you need the bano. To which the driver tries to shrug you off like an annoying mosquito buzzing around his ear.

He then utters the name of a town and motions towards the darkness. You see nothing but the occasional headlight and make a pitiful attempt at feigning malady; which you find quite easy to do.

An oncoming car highlights your sorrowful features, but the driver is still indifferent.

"Aqui?" he motions to the passing verge.

Aqui there is better than aqui where you stand, and a sigh of relief is uttered as you take cover in the long grass to the rear of the coach.

The other passengers pay scant regard to the event. A few heads stir, but the interior light stays off.

All is right with the world as you head towards the name, even though you brush the occasional sprawled limb as you return to your seat.

The Venezuelan budget traveller misses little by travelling at night, and saves on a night's accommodation.

On either side of the road are trees and long grasses, the only variant being their occasional retreat from the roadside, and the chance to view the distant rolling green.

There are no quaint villages where whole families appear at the window of a hut, or groups of children approach the bus with food and drink for sale.

Transport is from bus station to bus station, with the occasional service station to break up the journey.

Buses compete with each other on the inclines, and race off down the other side. Maybe a blue sky delights the passengers, but gathering clouds on distant peaks can soon lead to scorn as windows are shut and the rains arrive.

The Orinoco River, the Angel Falls, some select Caribbean coves; all surrounded by trees. You can not attempt to name them, but the towering green seems perpetual.

Even the Spaniards ignored much of the interior, after their attempts to pan for gold proved futile, and pushed on towards the rumour of wealth in neighbouring lands.

Venezuela Travel Guides

Lonely Planet South America (Travel Guide) Bolivar: The Epic Life of the Man Who Liberated South America

Venezuela Travel Guides - Venezuela Maps.

Weather in South America:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Latin  America.

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