Venezuela - From Angel Falls to the Orinoco Delta and beyond
Venezuela - From Angel Falls to the Orinoco Delta and beyondStyle: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: PrivateExclusive departures for you, your friends and family
Venezuela has it all - a land with incredible natural sites, elegant colonial architecture, amazing wildlife and intriguing ethnic groups - but has so far been little visited by western travellers. On this two week trip we aim to uncover some of the highlights of a country that has much to offer those looking to get a little more off the beaten track in Latin America. Starting in Caracas we explore the historic centre before heading to the Andean city of Merida, overflowing with graceful buildings and set amongst gorgeous scenery. We drive through the world's longest mountain range to visit traditional villages before moving on to the Llanos, a vast wetland area home to some of the continent's most iconic species including jaguar and giant anteaters - a true paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. In Canaima National Park we take over the world's highest waterfall, the mighty Angel Falls, and explore the park in dugout canoes. The Orinoco Delta gives us an opportunity to delve into Venezuela's mangrove creeks as we are accompanied by local guides to learn about the plants and animals to be found here, as well as survival techniques passed down through generations. Finally we head to the magnificent city of Coro on the Caribbean coast, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its historic architecture but also known as the home of Venezuela's 'Sahara' due to its towering sand dunes. Venezuela is vibrant, exciting, colourful and breathtaking - it won't be long before others discover its treasures so now is the time to visit.
Day 1 – Caracas
Arrive in Caracas and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Avila or similar.
Caracas lies in a series of valleys 1000 metres above sea level and surrounded by majestic tree-clad mountains. Traces of the city's colonial roots are still proudly displayed in the historic buildings and contrast dramatically with the imposing modern skyscrapers of the city. It is one of the 'greener' cities of the continent, with forests and waterfalls within easy reach of the city centre, and boasts a fine collection of museums, galleries, parks and stunning architecture. Caracas is overshadowed by the Avila, a huge mountain reaching 2765m which can be reached by the Teleferico, the cable car which goes part way up its slopes. Caracas is the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, the great 'liberator' of South America and as such is one of the most significant cities in Latin America.
Museums and sites of note include the Concejo Municipal, where the Act of Venezuelan Independence was signed, La Casa Amarilla, the former Royal Prison and now the Foreign Office and Plaza Bolivar, where the history of Caracas began. Also not to be missed is the Panteon Nacional, the most sacred building in the city - the last resting place for eminent Venezuelans. The vault of the pantheon is covered by paintings depicting scenes from Bolivar's life, all painted by the important Venezuelan historical painter Tito Salas in the 1930s.
Day 2 – Merida
This morning we discover Caracas' colonial roots, proudly displayed in its historic centre. We visit the birthplace of ‘El Libertador’ Simon Bolivar, the Panteon Nacional and the Quinto Anauco Museum among other sites. Later we fly to Merida in the Andes. Overnight La Sevillana or similar. (B)
Mérida & the Andes
The Venezuelan Andes are characterized by the páramos, or high plains, an austere landscape brightened by the flowers of low-lying plants and dwarf shrubs. This is a region with streams full of trout, deep blue lakes, and small Andean villages only accessible on foot or by mule, seemingly hanging on the mountainsides. The city of Mérida is perched on a mesa between two ranges. It has a spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks known as “The Five White Eagles” - the tallest, Pico Bolívar, reaches 5007 meters - and the famous Teleférico, the world’s highest and longest cable-car.
Day 3 – Merida - Jaji
We spend this morning exploring Merida, with its colourful ‘Mercado Principal’, its beautiful Cathedral, and the Government Palace on Plaza Bolívar. After lunch we drive along the winding streets of the Andes, through cloud forest, until arriving at the small Andean village of Jají. After exploring its beautiful colonial streets, we continue to the old coffee plantation Hacienda El Carmen, with its small museum. Overnight La Sevillana or similar. (B)
Day 4 – The Andes
Spend the day in the Páramo region of the higher Andes. We visit the Andean villages of Tabay, Mucurubá and Mucuchíes and reach Laguna Mucubají, from where we hike for 2 hours to Laguna Negra, a beautiful glacial lagoon at 3000 meters, whose dark waters mirror the surrounding landscape. We also visit the biological station of Mifafi, working to protect the endangered Frontino Bear and to reintroduce the Condor to the Venezuelan Andes. We then drive along Pico El Aguila, at 4100 metres the highest mountain pass in the Venezuelan Andes, with spectacular views. Overnight Hotel Los Frailes or similar. (B)
Days 5-6 Los Llanos
Leaving the Andes behind we head to the Llanos, a wetland area rich in wildlife and home to an incredible variety of species. Our base is Hato El Cedral, a working cattle ranch, with the mission of protecting the spectacular wildlife of the Llanos. Morning and afternoon animal-watching excursions are done by open trucks, boat, or on foot. A true paradise for naturalists, birdwatchers and everybody who wants to discover nature from close up with the guidance of professional naturalist guides. Overnight Hato el Cedral. (BLD)
Extending from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, through 1,000 kilometres of Venezuela to the Orinoco Delta, the vast plains of the Llanos cover an area of about 320,000 square kilometres. The Llanos are an incredible place to see wildlife. Apart from more than 300 species of birds (including scarlet ibis, hoatzin, screamers, soldier storks, spoonbills and many more) you may be lucky enough to spot jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, honeybears, capybaras and alligators, in an environment still relatively undisturbed by man.
Day 7 – Puerto Ordaz
Fly to Puerto Ordaz. Set on the southern bank of the Orinoco River, at its confluence with the Caroní River, the bustling city of Puerto Ordaz is the gateway to the Gran Sabana, the Orinoco Delta, and Canaima National Park. Overnight Roraima Inn or similar. (B)
Day 8 – Canaima National Park
Fly into Canaima National Park. Board dugout canoes at Canaima beach, (shared tour) and cross Canaima lagoon with impressive views of its seven waterfalls. A short walk through savannah, and we start walking behind! the impressive water curtain of Sapo falls. It is a truly exhilirating experience: a cliff to the right, the roaring falls to the left, and water spray everywhere. Overnight Parakaupa Lodge or similar. (BLD)
Canaima National Park
Between the rainforest of the Amazon Basin and the watershed of the Orinoco River, is a rugged wall of remote mountains and deep, heavily forested canyons. This is Canaima National Park . Many of the mountains have precipitous rock walls that rise thousands of meters where they end in an almost perfectly flat top. These formations are known by their Indian name: Tepuis. Originally the tops of the tepuis were joined together in a vast continuous plateau that stretched over a large part of northern South America from the Colombian Mountains into Guyana. Over the time erosion carved steep-walled valleys and crevices into the plateau leaving fragments of the plateau completely isolated. The region remains one of the most thinly settled and one of the most beautiful of all natural areas in South America. From one of these Tepuis plummets the world's highest waterfall: Angel Falls (979 meters).The fall is more than twice as high as the Empire State Building and three times higher than the Eiffel Tower.
Day 9 – Canaima National Park
Today we visit Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world. We take a flight over the spectacular landscape of Canaima National Park, entering the impressive Devil's Canyon, and view the falls from the air. Overnight Parakaupa Lodge or similar. (BLD)
It was 1935, when a stranger offered Jimmy Angel $5000 to fly him to an uncharted mountaintop in southern Venezuela, and the Missouri-born bush pilot, down on his luck, jumped at the chance. He flew his mysterious passenger to this mountaintop, and after a bumpy landing in his Flamingo monoplane, pilot and passenger set up camp by a stream. In three days, they found 75 pounds of gold. Returning to Caracas, Mr. Angel lost contact with his passenger. Trying to return, but without his treasure guide, he fruitlessly scoured the vast wilderness for the golden stream. One day he crash landed on top of a 2400 meter high mountain, the Auyan-tepuy. Two weeks later the exhausted adventurer emerged on foot, bearing with him knowledge of a secret the local Pemón Indians had guarded for centuries: Churún Merú, the world´s highest waterfall.
Days 10-11 – Orinoco Delta
Fly to Puerto Ordaz and from here transfer to Boca de Uracoa, in the Orinoco Delta. We spend our time here exploring the delta by foot or boat, through the endless mangroves and creeks of the Delta. A naturalist guide will explore with us the flora and fauna, and will show us how to survive in the jungle and fish piranhas! Overnight Mis Palafitos or similar. (BLD)
The Orinoco Delta
The Orinoco Delta is a vast, intricate labyrinth of waterways weaving through a simmering jungle to carry the waters of the Orinoco River to the Atlantic Ocean. The Delta has been forming over the course of thousands of years, as the mighty river has deposited millions of tonnes of sediment into the ocean. The Orinoco branches off into over 60 caños (waterways) and 40 rivers which diffuse through 41,000 square kilometres of forested islands, swamps and lagoons. The Warao Indians - the “Canoe People” - are the native inhabitants of the Delta. Family groups reside in palafitos (wooden houses raised on stilts) along the banks of the river, and spend most of their daily lives in canoes fishing the nearby caños and hunting and gathering in the surrounding forests.
Day 12 - Coro
We exit the delta and fly via Caracas to Las Piedras, before heading to Coro. Our accommodation is in the village of Tocopero, with its own beach and coconut plantation. Overnight Granja El Ojito. (B)
Coro, founded in 1527, was one of the earliest towns on the continent and the first capital of the newly created Province of Venezuela, and therefore the town has beautiful colonial streets and buildings. Northeast of the town are the Médanos de Coro, Venezuela's mini-Sahara, with sand dunes rising up to 40 metres.
Day 13 - Coro
Discover the World Heritage site of Coro, the only surviving example of a rich fusion of local traditions with Spanish Mudéjar and Dutch architectural techniques. One of the first colonial towns (founded in 1527), it has some 602 historic buildings. We then continue to the Médanos de Coro, Venezuela's mini-Sahara, with dunes up to 40 metres in height. Overnight Granja El Ojito. (B)
Day 14 - Caracas
Return to Caracas by flight. The rest of the day is at leisure for some last minute exploring. Overnight Hotel Avila or similar. (B)
Day 15 - Caracas
Tour ends. (B)
Tour Style: Traveller
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation on twin share basis
Services of English speaking guides in each place (please note that you will have different guides at each place you stop rather than one person accompanying you throughout)
Shared excursions in Canaima National Park
Meals as listed (B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Any airport taxes
Please note that you should also read the Country Notes in association with this itinerary for practical information about yoru trip and the destination you will be visiting.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and Undiscovered Destinations.