Venezuela's Lost World

Declared by Christopher Columbus as ‘Paradise on Earth’ and home to South America’s most incredible landscapes, Venezuela is one of the most biologically diverse nations on the planet.

Starting in the capital of Caracas, we travel from here to Canaima National Park. Nestled between the rainforest of the Amazon basin and the watershed of the Orinoco River, the park is home to famous table top mountains and the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls. We spend four full days in this area, exploring its impressive landscapes and canoeing along the Carrao River. We then head north to Merida where we drive through the cloud forest into Jaji to wander its colourful colonial streets.

From here we explore the Paramo region of the higher Andes visiting local villages and hiking to Laguna Negra. We then visit the biological station of Mifafi – the team here are working to protect the endangered Frontino bear.  We also drive over the Pico El Aguila pass, situated at 4100 metres is the highest mountain pass in the Venezuelan Andes.

Heading south to Hato El Cedral, a working cattle ranch, we spend two days looking for wildlife. Known as the Serengeti of South America, the Llanos is a true paradise for naturalists and birdwatchers.

Finally, we end up back in Caracas where we discover the historic centre and its colonial roots. We explore the key sites including the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, the former Royal prison and Panteon Nacional.

The optional extension to Los Roques will take us to an archipelago consisting of 50 islands, only one of which is inhabited.  A paradise for divers and snorkellers – the surrounding waters are home to manta rays, sleeping sharks and multi coloured sponges.

From lush coastal valleys and white sand beaches to Jurassic era ‘table top’ mountains and glacial lagoons, this trip is an insight into the country’s incredible diversity. Most will have heard of Angel Falls, but there is a whole world to discover in Venezuela.

Highlights

  • Canoe to the base of Angel Falls, in Canaima National Park
  • Merida’s artisan market surrounded by snowy peaks
  • Experience life on a working cattle ranch
  • Wildlife watching in the Llanos
  • Bathe in the balmy waters of the Los Roques archipelago

Day 1 - Caracas

Arrive into Caracas and transfer to the hotel. Overnight Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia or similar.

Caracas
Located at the base of a huge forested mountain is the city of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. Few capital cities are blessed with forest trails on their doorstep, such as the Sabas Nieves trail, where blue morpho butterflies can be spotted and calming birdsong drowns out the noise of nearby urban life. The city possesses a mix of historic buildings, interesting museums and trendy rooftop bars, and can feel rather hectic on first impression. The hills encircling the valley are clad with barrios, similar to the shanty towns found in Rio, creating a dramatic contrast to the shiny skyscrapers and posh cars reflective of the country’s immense oil wealth. Caracas is an energetic and spirited city, that warrants at least a brief stop when travelling in Venezuela. It’s a city of great historical importance, as the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, the famous independence hero who liberated five South American countries from Spanish rule.

Day 2 - Canaima National Park

Transfer to the airport in the morning for our flight to Canaima. In the afternoon we board dugout canoes at Canaima beach, crossing a lagoon with impressive views of its seven waterfalls. Heading onto dry land we take a walk across the savannah to Sapo waterfall, where we walk behind falls before heading to the top for wonderful views of the surrounding landscape. Overnight Ucaima Camp or similar.  (BLD)

Canaima National Park
Nestled between the rainforest of the Amazon basin and the watershed of the Orinoco River, is a wall of rugged mountains and deep forested canyons. This is Canaima National Park and is home to the famous table-top mountains, locally known by their native Indian name, ‘tepuis’. These mountains were once joined as part of a continuous plateau that stretched all the way from Colombia into Guyana. Over time, erosion carved steep-sided valleys and crevices into the plateau, leaving fragments of it completely isolated. From one of the tepuis plummets the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, which is more than twice as high as the Empire State building and three times higher than the Eiffel Tower. This region remains one of the most thinly settled and stunningly beautiful natural areas in South America.

Day 3 - Angel Falls

We board our motorised dugout canoes early in the morning, travelling up the Carrao river before crossing the Mayupa lagoon and Arautaima rapids. We then join the Churun river, winding our way through the spectacular Devil’s canyon to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall on earth. Leaving our canoes behind we take a walk through virgin rainforest to get closer to the falls, taking a swim in the lagoon at its base. Return to camp in the afternoon. Overnight Ucaima Camp or similar. (BLD)

Days 4 - 5 - Canaima National Park - Caracas

A full day free on day four, for relaxing on the banks of the Canaima Lagoon. On day 5 we leave the national park behind, as we transfer back to Canaima airport and fly to Caracas. Overnight Ucaima Camp or similar (BLD) – day 4, Overnight Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia or similar (B) – day 5.


Day 6 - Merida

Fly to Merida in the morning and spend a full day exploring this city nestled in the Andes.  We visit the colourful market where artisans display the best of local handicrafts including pottery and weavings, and regional delicacies such as smoked cheese and ‘ducles abrillantados’, crystallized guava chunks wrapped in leaves. We also visit the cathedral and government palace on Plaza Bolivar. In the afternoon we drive into the lower Andes surrounding Merida and through the cloudforest to the small village of Jaji. We wander its colonial streets and make a stop at an old coffee planation with its small museum. Return to Merida for the night. Overnight Posada Suiza or similar. (B)

Merida and the Andes
Characterised by high plains called ‘paramos’, deep-blue lakes and bubbling streams abundant with trout fish, the Venezuelan Andes is a region dotted with small villages clinging to the mountainsides. The city of Merida is situated atop a flat landform which rises between two mountain ranges. The backdrop to the city is one of snowy peaks, known as ‘the five White Eagles’, the tallest of which is Pico Bolivar, at an altitude of more than 5000 metres above sea level.

Day 7 - Paramo

Today we explore the Paramo region of the higher Andes. We visit the villages of Tabay, Mucuruba and Mucuchies and take a short hike (approx. 2h) to Laguna Negra, a beautiful glacial lagoon with dark waters that reflect the surrounding landscape. We also visit the biological station of Mifafi – the team here are working to protect the endangered Frontino bear and to reintroduce the condor to the Venezuelan Andes, and drive over the Pico El Aguila pass, situated at 4100 metres above sea level, the highest mountain pass in the Venezuelan Andes, with spectacular views. (BL)


Days 8 - 9 - The Llanos

Drive to Hato El Cedral, a working cattle ranch focused on protecting the surrounding wildlife. We spend two days looking for wildlife by truck, boat and on foot. The Llanos is a true paradise for naturalists and birdwatchers with species including Scarlet ibis, kingfishers, dolphins, tapir and Giant River otters. Overnight Hato El Cedral or similar. (BLD)

The Llanos
Known as the Serengeti of South America, the vast plains of the Llanos cover an area of around 300,000 sq km in Venezuela and a further 220,000 in Colombia. The region is home to over three hundred species of birds, including the scarlet ibis and hoatzin, as well as jaguar, freshwater dolphins, ocelots, anteaters, honey bears and capybara. The people of the Llanos are hardy cattle-raising cowboys, experiencing heavy floods in the rainy season and drought and brush fires in the dry season. Humped-back zebu cattle are farmed by the people here and the area has its own soundtrack. The unmistakable sound of ‘joropo’, the local folk music, is likely to be heard in every town and is recognisable by the sound of the ‘cuatro’, a small four-string guitar, maracas and a slightly off-key vocal.

Day 10 - Caracas

Transfer to Barinas and fly back to Caracas. On arrival we discover the historic centre of Caracas and its colonial roots, with visits to the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, the former Royal Prison, Plaza Bolivar and the Panteon Nacional, among other sites. Overnight Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia or similar. (B)


Day 11 - Caracas

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Los Roques optional extension

Day 1 - Los Roques

Transfer to Caracas airport and fly to Los Roques.

Los Roques
Declared a national park in 1972, the archipelago of Los Roques consists of 50 islands, only one of which – Gran Roque – is inhabited, and over 200 sandbanks and coral reefs. All of the islands are formed by corals, except for the island of Gran Roque, and the surrounding waters are a paradise for divers and snorkellers, with multi-coloured sponges, manta rays, sleeping sharks and lobsters all found off the shores of the various islands in the archipelago. The islands are also home to forty-two species of birds and a further fifty migratory species. Historically, the island of gran Roque was occupied for centuries by native tribes from the mainland who came to fish and gather salt, and was used as a hideout for Caribbean pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Dutch followed, exploiting salt, guano and a dye taken from the mangroves, and were eventually edged out by Venezuelans in the 20th century, mainly fishermen enticed by the abundance of lobster and fish found here. The island is now home to a number of small guesthouses, where only a dozen or so tin-roofed fishermen’s huts once stood.

Days 2 - 3 - Gran Roque

Spend two nights on the island of Gran Roque, the only inhabited island in the Los Roques archipelago. Enjoy the white sand beaches and the warm waters of Cayo de Agua or Cayo Crasqui, snorkel amongst countless tropical fish at Noronky Beach or Francisqui, or take a trek up to the Gran Roque lighthouse to watch the sunset. (BLD) Activities in Los Roques are to be booked locally and are not included, although boat transfers to some of the nearby beaches are included.


Days 4 - 5 - Caracas

Fly back to Caracas on day four and transfer to the airport for your flight home on day five. Overnight (day 4) Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia or similar. (B, day 4).

 


What's included?

  • Airport Transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    Please note that while we prefer to use centrally located hotels where possible, this is not always practical and in some locations they may not be the best option in terms of standards or reliability.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

     

     

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If, however, you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves, we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

British passport holders can enter Venezuela for up to ninety days on a tourist card issued on arrival, upon presentation of a return flight ticket.

US travellers need to apply for visas in advance. Whilst this was previously possible at an honorary consulate in the USA, this has recently been revoked and visas must now be obtained via the embassy in Mexico. This can take up to eight weeks to process and you will be without your passport for the duration. We highly recommend the use of a visa agency to assist with the process, who can also help you to obtain a second US passport if you are unable to be without a passport for this length of time. Please contact us for details of the visa agent we would recommend.

Other nationalities should check the visa requirements with their nearest embassy.

Visa regulations can change and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

You should ensure that your passport has at least six months’ validity after the end date of your trip. We also strongly recommend that your passport has a minimum of two blank pages next to each other – on rare occasion it may lead to problems with visas and immigration authorities if it does not.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. 

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company

Money

Venezuela’s official currency is the Bolivar fuerte. ATMs can be found in the larger cities and credit cards are widely accepted in cities and larger towns.

The best currency to bring for exchange purposes is the US Dollar and there are exchange booths at the main airports and in Caracas. You’ll always need your passport to exchange currency and make sure you only change as much as you will need, as you cannot change it back.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to all of the areas that we visit on this trip.

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Venezuela. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Updated September 2023

Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
16 October 2024
Price (PP) -
£4,999
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
01 October 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,299
Single Supplement -
£450
Trip Status -
Available