Venezuela Travel Guide
Given recent events, it’s safe to say that Venezuela isn’t exactly at the top of the list of many travelers, and given the realities of security on the ground throughout most of the country, it really shouldn’t for those that lack considerable experience traveling in dicey places.
Carjackings, muggings, and outbreaks of unpredictable political unrest are sadly common throughout much of the country; in short, Venezuela is no place for traveling newbies.
But for those that are undeterred, there are many attractions within this nation that are world-class in nature, with little or no crowds whatsoever, and given rampant inflation, those bringing amounts as little as $500 USD in for a short visit can literally live like a king.
If you feel like you possess the judgement to navigate your way through a country that can feel lawless at the best of times, Venezuela is a nation that contains many rewards for the intrepid traveler.
UPDATE JUNE 2016: The security situation has worsened dramatically in recent weeks. Due to widespread civil unrest, we recommend that you suspend any pending travel plans to Venezuela for your own safety and security.
Currency: Venezuelan Bolivar Fuertes
What To Do
Caracas is far from the safest place on Earth, but before you travel onward to your first destination in Venezuela, take a couple of hours to check out the National Pantheon of Venezuela.
It is here where South American revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar was buried, And while other national heroes in Venezuela also have tombs in this sacred place, Bolivar’s is the most audacious of them all, as the walls leading up to his bronze sarcophagus are adorned with paintings depicting his life, and a fine crystal chandelier is suspended from the ceiling above it.
The vast majority of the viable tourist destinations in Venezuela revolve around its stunning natural assets. Start by visiting Cueva del Guácharo National Park, which primarily protects a ten kilometer long limestone cave that is home to a unique species of bird that was unknown to science prior to its discovery in 1799.
Highlights of a visit include exploring the pitch-black ecosystem that has formed from the remnants of the fruit that the oil birds have eaten and excreted over the years, and watching the oil birds themselves flock out of the caves in huge swarms at dusk in search of food.
Venezuela is home to many diverse ecosystems, ranging from the tropical Amazon jungle in the South, to the heights of the Andes in the northwest. Given the abundance of precipitation in both of the prior mentioned climate zones, it is quite surprising for many visitors to find desert here, complete with scrubby plants and shifting Dunes.
Médanos de Coro National Park protects this unique ecosystem within Venezuela, which has formed as a direct result of being in the rain shadow of the Andes, which looms large on the horizon.
With over 30 rare species of plants and animals within the park boundaries, this is a great attraction to begin your visit to Venezuela if you are entering the country by road from Colombia.
If there is one tourist attraction that people from outside the country that people associate with Venezuela, Angel Falls is it, as it is the highest waterfall in the world.
Dropping off the plateau that comprises the flat summit of Auyantepui mountain, a wispy plume of water descends over 2600 feet to the steamy jungle below.
Access to Canaima National Park is by air only, with flights available from Ciudad Bolivar, or Caracas. While Angel Falls is the number one draw for people making the effort to come here, there are also opportunities for trekking and wildlife viewing in the park as well.
Spending all that time in the sweaty jungle will likely have you lusting for a tropical beach. Venezuela has many suitable candidates in this regard, but none are quite as stunning as the Los Roques archipelago.
A series of islets located south of Aruba that have an abundance of white sand, clear waters, and bright sunshine, this getaway will be the just reward that you should give yourself after dealing with all the challenging aspects related to travelling in today’s Venezuela.
Take care to apply some sunblock before heading out for the day though, as this island paradise is severely lacking in natural shade.
What to Eat
Looking for a quick greasy way to begin your day in Venezuela? follow in the footsteps of the locals by ordering a Tequeno or two.
Consisting simply of bread dough that is wrapped around a stick of queso blanca, this Tasty Bite size treat will give you the energy you need to get going with your day of sightseeing.
If your troubles in this country take you up into the heights of the Venezuelan Andes, you’ll be privy to some amazing scenery that no one would ever expect to find in a country so close to the equator.
However, the flip side of this is that the evenings and nights here can be quite chilly. If you find yourself in this situation, warm yourself up with a nice steamy bowl of Pisca Andina. Consisting of chicken, potatoes, Carrots, eggs, and cheese, it is a hearty meal that fill you up and warm you at the same time.
Finally, don’t leave Venezuela Without trying its national dish, Pabellon Criollo. Consisting of shredded beef strips, stewed black beans, white rice, fried eggs, and sweet plantains, it is a dish that is enjoyed in the Caracas area, as well as many of the lowland areas of Venezuela, but especially along the Caribbean coast.