We admire families who travel to off the beaten places that are not regularly visited by turists. We are fortunate that we know quite a few families like this. This post is written by Ficko family from Slovenia who in summer 2016 went on a family trip to Venezuela, currently very negative media exposed country, famous for its high crime rate and economic collapse.
We have long wanted to visit the natural beauties of Venezuela and we have waited for the right time. Soon we realized that there is no right time, so we did it this summer (2016) and traveled to country which was lacking current online information for travelers. The preparations have been extensive, because we have practically taken everything with us and we did not rely on shops in Venezuela. We were especially careful with medicines and food. Also health insurance was upgraded, because the country is raging inflation and is difficult to predict the actual price of the service.
Before leaving, virtually all the media exposed negative situation (food shortage, high crime rate) in the country and of course our friends and family were concerned. But I can say that we put any concerns aside, due to good preparation and a huge desire to visit Venezuela. The family travel could start!
At the airport in Milano we wrote on our the blog that we are leaving comfort zone. A truth that was waiting for us in Venezuela was totally different. Already upon arrival in Caracas, we felt that this will be great adventure in positive way. The only serious problem was the exchange of money, due to four completely different exchange rates. Use of credit cards is not an option, because it is calculated according to the official exchange rate, which is four times worse than the alternative. Preparation and contacts that we have already established prior to departure have proved to be the right move. Since the country is large, we used five domestic flights and hire cars with drivers to move.
Early in the morning we fly from a small airport across the incredibly picturesque scenery of the much-anticipated Canaima, which represents the starting point of the magical Gran Sabana. As we visited the Gran Sabana during the rainy season, we could reach Angel falls base with small boat, which is possible only at sufficiently high water. The landscape was magical and we were impressed in every way. It resembled scenery from Indiana Jones movies. Beginning was fabulous, with excellent weather and we enjoyed every minute of it. Around the halfway there was crazy storm with lightning and thunder and it was really difficult for us to reach Angel falls base point. Our daughter was enjoying whole trip to the base and was really laughing when storm reached us.
From the base there was an hour and a half of demanding walk (much more complex than we expected) to reach desired 979 meters high Angel Falls. It was breathtaking! Upon returning to base camp, we witnessed an amazing evening landscape scene with huge table mountains. Sleeping in hammocks in the open air by the fire was out of this world experience. We have never met so few tourists on our trips, which is probably due to the tense situation in the country.
After Gran Sabana we moved to the delta Orinoco and get to know Warao Indians. We were staying in the eco camp on the shore of the delta. The camp is similar for example to those in the stories of Tarzan, full of large parrots, monkeys and other animals of the delta. In the afternoon we went to explore delta (toucans, monkeys, dolphins, eagles, parrots). Almost in the dark we returned to camp and after dinner went to sleep in the hut made out of leaves. Unidentified sounds throughout the night are included in the price. Priceless! It’s hard to describe the feelings when you are surrounded with of parrots, monkeys and other animals all the time. In the afternoon we visited also Warao Indians. Food was great and one of the best we’ve tasted on trips.
This was followed by a long way to the town of Barinas and then half-day trip to the province of Los Llanos on the west side of the country, where we were staying at hacienda in the middle of nowhere. There was no telephone, shops or doctor. Only sweeping landscapes full of horses, cows, Capybaras, Anteaters and of course Anacondas. After lunch we hoped on truck and followed “cowboys” to start anaconda hunt. An amazing experience to see and touch such a big snake in natural environment. Before dinner we went to horse riding trough a beautiful landscape, where we were always accompanied by a dog named Brandon. Lena was sitting in the lap of the farm owner, accompanied by huge flocks of parrots. During the day we went Piranha fishing so we could enjoy more the 40 grilled Piranhas for dinner.
In the morning we woke up in a severe storm, which flooded the road. With the truck we have struggled to reach the main road. From the main road we continue long trip to the town of Barinas. Then we used Grand Marquise from 1970 – the most comfortable car in the world! Mandatory loud Latin music and driving 900 km towards the town of Coro. Interestingly: full fuel tank represents only a fraction of the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Coro was amazing – colorful houses and beautiful streets that are under the protection of UNESCO. Coro added to our trip additional South American charm. Coro is a necessary stop if you are traveling to Venezuela. In the vicinity of Coro there are huge sand dunes, where we enjoyed send surfing. Lena was obviously impressed by largest sandbox she has ever seen.
Finally we visited heavenly islands in the national park of Morrocoy, which are really tough competition to all island, we have seen on our travels.
Venezuela is a privilege. Not in sense that it is financially difficult to afford it, but the privilege of being in one country and experience what nature created millions of years in the most authentic way. From magical Gran Sabana, which in our opinion represents unique playground of nature, then through the delta of Orinoco, which presents the tropical vegetation and animals in the most genuine way and cowboy land of Los Llanos, where you can see many rare animals of this planet. When you think that this is all, you are surprised by the huge sand dunes in the middle of picturesque town of Coro and whiteness crazy paradise Caribbean islands that are close to perfection. The people are genuine and kind. Food, which we find along the way, was excellent and locally produced. Security is despite the negative media publications as good as in any other country we visited. Venezuela is a unique country, which we loved and recommend it to everyone!