Spend 15 days traveling across rolling, grassy highlands, remote inland towns and through the wildlife filled plains. See the worldï¿½s highest waterfall and visit the Andes. Lose yourself in the depths of diverse Venezuela.
Day 1 Arrive Caracas
Arrive in Caracas at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city however you will have a welcome briefing this evening. Contemporary Venezuela has been strongly influenced by oil money, which has turned the country into one of the wealthiest nations in South America. As a result, Venezuela has a good road network, spectacular new architecture and a developed tourism infrastructure. Yet deep in the countryside, people still live traditional lives. A number of Indian groups remain unconquered by encroaching civilization, including the mysterious Yanomami along the Venezuelan-Brazil border, whose Stone-Age culture seems lost in time.
Day 2-3 Mérida
Mérida's past dates as far back as 1558 when its predecessor was founded by the renegade Spaniard Juan Rodríguez Suárez. Due to its isolation and a devastating earthquake Merida did not start to develop until the 1800s with the majority of its growth occurring only within the last few decades. Located in the Venezuelan Andes it is now a routine stop for outdoorsy travellers who appreciate the number of activities such as biking, hiking, canyoning and rafting that can be found. The nightlife is not bad either with up to 50 000 university students who consider Merida their home, at least during the school year. We spend two nights here so that you can take your pick of what you would like to enjoy.
Day 4-6 Los Llanos (3 B, 2 L, 2 D)
Los Llanos is an area of vast, flooded plains similar to the Pantanal in Venezuela. With a spectacular array of wildlife this region is naturalists paradise but also home to the Venezuelan cowboys who might now always share the same views. Piranhas, capybara (the world's largest rodent) caiman and innumerable bird species call Los Llanos their home. We will spend two full days in this area trying to take in all that is on offer.
Day 7-8 Maracay
Take a night bus to the city of Maracay. Home of Juan Vicente Gómez, Venezuela's leader in the beginning of the 20th century, this city boasts an opera house, a bull-fighting ring and zoo. It is also the jumping off point for Henry Pittier National Park where more than 600 species of birds can be found.
Day 9-10 Cuidad Bolívar
Founded in 1764, Ciudad Bolivar is a hot colonial city steeped in revolutionary history and set on the bank of the Orinoco River about 420 km (260 miles) from the Atlantic. It was here that Simon Bolivar, known as El Libertador for his role in the liberation of most of South America from Spanish rule, set up his base 1817 for military operations against the Spaniards. Sitting on a on a rocky elevation at the narrowest point of the Orinoco River, hundreds of miles away from any important centres of population, the town spent much of its history as a sleepy river port. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the town became a spot where much of the country?and the continent?s?history was forged. Once Bolivar?s base was established here, the British Legionnaires joined his forces before all set off for a long and strenuous march across Los Llanos and up the Andes to bring independence for Colombia. In 1819 a Congress convened in Ciudad Bolivar and gave birth to Gran Colombia, a unified republic comprising Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Today, Ciudad Bolivar is a city of 300,000 inhabitants, and the capital of Venezuela?s largest state, Bolivar. It has retained the flavour of an old river town, and some architecture dating from its 50-year colonial era still remains. It?s a popular stop on travelers? routes, partly for the city itself and partly as a jumping-off point for Angel Falls.
Day 11-13 Canaima National Park / Angel Falls / Cuidad Bolívar (2B,2L,2D)
Take a light aircraft to the heart of Canaima National Park for an overview of the world?s highest waterfall. Angel Falls boasts a total height is 979 m (3211 feet), as well as the world?s greatest uninterrupted drop at 807m (2647 feet), 16 times the height of Niagara Falls. Our 2 days in the area allows us time for maximum enjoyment on the beautiful river beaches and plentiful walking paths. Canaima Park is famous for its incredible scenery, tabletop mountains (tepuis) and breathtaking waterfalls. These tepuis are all that remains of the original sandstone that covered the region millions of years ago. As the sandstone eroded only these "rock islands" were left. The tepuis are surrounded with native grass, bushes and flowers in the vast, wild, grassy highland, and each mountain has developed its own characteristic plant life. Consequently, the area has highest percentage of endemic flora to be found anywhere in the world. Angel Falls spills from the heart-shaped mountain Auyantepui, one of the largest of the tepuis, with a flat top of about 700 sq km. The waterfall is in the central part of the tepui and drops into Cañón del Diablo (Devil?s Canyon). The fall is not named, as might expected, after a divine creature, but after an American bush pilot, Jimmie Angel, who landed on the boggy top of the tepui in 1937 in his four?seated airplane in search of gold. The plane stuck in the marshy surface and Angel couldn?t take off again. He, his wife and two companions trekked through the rough, virgin terrain to the edge of the plateau, then descended more than a kilometre of almost vertical cliff, returning to civilization after an 11-day odyssey. We will return to Cuidad Bolívar for the night of Day 13. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (By flight)
Day 14 Caracas
Venezuela?s capital Caracas grew at a relatively slow pace for most of its history. Then came the oil boom, and everything began changing at the speed of light. During the last 50 years, the city?s population grew from about 350,000 to nearly five million. Oil money has been pumped into modernization, successfully transforming Caracas to a modern city, with dramatic contrasts between wealth and poverty. Caracas is set in a spectacular valley amid rolling hills. Its relative altitude of 900m (2952 feet) gives the city an agreeable, relatively dry and sunny climate with a mean temperature of about 22C (72F). Return to Caracas for some last minute shopping, a visit the city?s museums or churches, or a stroll through historic Plaza Bolivar. Approximate Distance: 591km Estimated Travel Time: 9 hours