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Signature Venezuela: Highlights of the Lost World

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It is not on most people’s radar as a holiday destination but you will fall in love with Venezuela, a Latin republic with a Caribbean beat and a strong indigenous presence. On this varied holiday you’ll start off with an adventurous canoe expedition to the foot of Angel Falls, the longest drop in the world, where the stream of water breaks down into a veil of misty spray. Then move on to the spidery network of waterways in the Orinoco delta where the indian Warao communities practice their simple lifestyle.   

Travel on to the country’s portion of jagged, snow-capped Andean mountains, where the upland plains shelter quaint Spanish colonial towns and offer active adventure sports. Finally descend to the extensive savannah grasslands and on to the marshy llanos where capybaras, caiman and anteaters jostle for space and the skies are full of parakeets, toucans and macaws. If you have time after all this exploration, we suggest you spend some time on Venezuela’s glorious Caribbean coastline, where there are laid back barefoot and family resorts, nature reserves and a sprinkling of coral islands with beaches of dazzling whiteness.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Caracas. Transfer along the coast to your hotel.

Day 2

Fly to Canaima and embark on canoe expedition.

Day 3

Arrive at the foot of Angel Falls.

Day 4

Fly to Puerto Ordaz and on to the Orinoco delta.

Day 5

Rainforest excursions from jungle lodge.

Day 6

Fly back to Caracas.

Day 7

Fly to Mérida; guided excursion to village of Jaji.

Day 8

Guided excursion in Andean countryside, overnight.

Day 9

By road to ranch in the llanos plains.

Days 10-11

Wildlife safaris in the wetlands.

Day 12

Fly to Caracas.

Day 13

Transfer to Caracas international airport.

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Places visited on this holiday

Signature Venezuela: Highlights of the Lost World

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Caribbean coast and islands
Los Roques Venezuela

Along with its coral archipelagos, larger islands, and offshore national marine parks, much of Venezuela's Caribbean coastline is completely undeveloped and in its natural state: pearl white through to burnt gold, soft sand beaches are closely backed by coconut groves and steep lumpy hills swathed in tropical vegetation. It’s a wonderful secret just waiting to be discovered. Of course there are some better known corners: Margarita Island has long been a popular package tour destination – but the majority of the little resorts, rustic ports, rocky, sand-speckled bays and underwater marine theatres are still unexplored by foreign visitors.

When to go

The Caribbean coast is consistently dry and hot with plenty of sun. Most rain falls between Nov-Jan.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Bolívar Fuerte. Banks will offer advances on a credit card.  Money exchange offices and many hotels will happily buy US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor). Obtain your local currency before heading to the coast.

Time difference

GMT -5.5 hours (yes, really).

Combines with
A tour in Colombia to the west, with daily flights from Caracas to Bogotá taking just 1hr 45mins; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (daily flights Caracas to Lima take 4hrs).      
Getting there
There are regular short domestic flights between Caracas and Cumaná (for the eastern beaches) and Los Roques. The drive from Caracas to Choroní through the hilly Henri Pittier National Park (170km); or to Morrocoy takes 3.5hrs. 
Key events
Carnival, countrywide, Feb-Mar. Most Venezuelan urbanites enjoy a 4-day weekend and choose to vacate the city and head for the beach. 
Easter (Holy Week), countrywide, Mar-Apr. Many Venezuelans spend this week away at the beach.
Weekends and public holidays:  Beach destinations along the coast can get very busy, but are usually deserted during the week.

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Angel Falls and the Gran Sabana
Angel Falls Venequela
The ancient, sheer-walled table-mountain tepuys of the Gran Sabana are known as the ‘Lost World’ with a nod to Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventure story. In the yawning landscape of the savannah grasslands below the tepuys there are many streams and waterfalls, but the best known cascade is the Angel Falls, plunging nearly a kilometre over a vertical cliff in a single veil of spray.

In this wilderness, prospectors gather to mine the mineral-rich veins of rock. But for the visitor it is the horizon-bending landscape of sun-swept grasslands, waterfalls and black lagoons fringed with pink sands which supplies the treasure.
When to go

The dry season in the Gran Sabana extends from Dec or Jan toApr or May, when Angel Falls can slow to a trickle. The waterfall is much more voluminous and dramatic in the rainy season, especially Aug-Sep, but as it is cloudier you run the risk of not seeing it from the air. However this is a good time to make a canoe trip to the foot of the falls.  It’s best to climb Roraima in the dry season but it can rain on the top at any time.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency
Bolívar Fuerte. Banks will offer advances on a credit card.  Money exchange offices and many hotels will gladly buy US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor). Obtain your local currency before heading to the Gran Sabana, although the general store in Canaima will often buy US dollars in exchange for Bolívares. 
Time difference

GMT -5.5 hours (yes, really).

Combines with
A visit to the llanos, wildlife wetlands northwest of the Gran Sabana, the country’s other vast wilderness; the Orinoco Delta to visit the Warao indians.
Getting there
There are regular short domestic flights between Caracas and  Canaima for visits to the Angel Falls. Roraima is accessed by jeep from Santa Elena, on the border with Brazil (flights from Caracas to Ciudad Bolivar then by road or light aircraft).
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Orinoco Delta
Orinoco delta Warao dwelling

The river Orinoco is one of the world’s great river systems, though it is much less well known than its counterpart to the south, the Amazon. The waterway, in places 20km wide, splits into a labyrinth of 40 caños (channels), creating hundreds of mangrove-fringed islands in an immense delta (now a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve). Here indigenous tribes live simply on the banks of the spider’s web of dark, sluggish waterways.  

When to go

It rains throughout the year here, though the driest months are usually Jan-Mar. It’s hot and humid all the year round too with temperatures averaging 26°C.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency
Bolívar Fuerte. Local tour operators may have facilities to buy US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor), but best to get your local currency before heading to the Orinoco. 
Time difference

GMT -5.5 hours (yes, really). 

Combines with

The Paría Peninula on the Caribbean coast, with beautiful beaches and an unspoilt rural experience.

Getting there
There are regular short domestic flights between Caracas and Tucupita, from where you continue by land and river to your lodge. 
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Merida and the Andes
Merida and the Andes

The Andean cordillera is every bit as dramatic and photogenic in Venezuela as in the neighbouring countries, with spikey snow-tipped peaks rising out of a savage upland landscape of wilderness grasslands, tousled forests and icy lagoons. There are isolated villages where life has changed little through the country’s political, economic and social upheavals over the years. Tiny farmsteads cultivate potatoes and maize on undulating slopes or hand-hewn terraces, served by little colonial-style market towns. The principal settlement here is the University town of Mérida, 1,630m, now a centre for adventure sports in the shadow of the country’s highest peak at 4,987m, Pico Bolívar.

When to go

The drier, sunny season extends from Dec-Mar. Because of the altitude (Mérida is at 1,625m) it is cooler than the rest of the country, with average temperatures of around 19°C all year round. The area is busy with visitors at Christmas, Carnival, Easter and from Jul-Sep.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Bolívar Fuerte. Banks will offer advances on a credit card.  Money exchange offices and larger hotels will happily buy US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor).

Time difference

GMT -5.5 hours (yes, really).

Combines with

A visit to the llanos wildlife prairies and wetlands, Barinas is 4hrs by road from Mérida; warming up on a Caribbean beach wind-down, accessible from Caracas (1hr away by air).

Getting there

There are regular short domestic flights between Caracas and Mérida.

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Los Llanos

Los llanos are the floodplains of one of Latin America’s great river systems, the Orinoco. Like the Pantanal in Brazil, this area of sweeping grasslands and marshes cut through by rivers and punctuated by stands of tropical trees is shared between a vibrant wildlife (capybaras, anacondas, toucans, Scarlet ibis, Hyacinth macaws, parakeets all abound) and the livestock of the cattle ranches, or hatos, which colonise the region. Sparsely populated (cattle outnumber people) it’s the heart of the llanero cowboy culture, where rural human society lives harmoniously alongside one of Latin America's most extraordinary wildlife habitats.

When to go
This is a tropical region. The wet season extends from May-Nov, when it is extremely hot and humid. The dry season, Dec-Apr, has clear skies and breezes mitigate the heat. Travel through the llanos is very difficult in the wet season as much of the lowland is  submerged. The best period is probably at the end of the rains, when it is less humid, the water levels have dropped but you can explore by boat.
Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Bolívar Fuerte. Banks will offer advances on a credit card.  Money exchange offices and many hotels will happily buy US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor). Obtain your local currency before heading to the llanos. There are banks and ATMs at Barinas and San Fernando de Apuré but you are unlikely to spend much time, if any, in the towns.

Time difference

GMT -5.5 hours (yes, really).

Combines with

A visit to the Andean town of Mérida and the surrounding countryside, 4hrs by road from Barinas; a beach wind-down on the islands of Los Roques, accessible by air from Barinas via Caracas.

Getting there
There are regular short domestic flights between Caracas and Barinas, from where you travel by road to the hato where you will be staying.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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