Latin America

Five reasons to visit Venezuela

In my early twenties after finishing my Degree in Public Relations at Leeds Uni I booked a flight to Venezuela. To Caracas – the closest South American airport to the UK. My plan was to explore the length and breadth of South America, country by country with no fixed time frame. Working and travelling my way around.  

At the time I arrived in Venezuela Hugo Chavez was president and the country was in turmoil. Not that I noticed to be honest (true story I’m ashamed to say), I simply want to relax on a Caribbean beach so I headed straight for Isla Magarita to see what was in store for me.  

Longest Caribbean coastline in the World

I bet you didn’t know that Venezuela’s northern coastline along the Caribbean is the longest stretch of Caribbean coastline of any country. It stretches for 2,800km (1,700 miles)? Quite incredible isn’t it. The most popular tourist destination (particularly for the cruise liners) is San Andres. Isla Magarita is where the Venezuelans holiday and absolutely stunning.

After a few months on Isla Magarita I headed back to the mainland, to explore the rest of this incredible country.

Gran Sabana – best kept secret

I made a bee-line for the South. The Gran Sabana. Now this is something special and doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as it deserves. It’s home to El Salto Angel and Los Tepuis (Table Top Mountains). The Capybara habitats the area as well as other animals such as buffalo, caiman and anaconda. It’s a protected National Park covering nearly 12,000 square miles.

Oil is cheaper than water

You probably already knew that Venezuela has some of the largest reserves of oil and natural gas in the world but did you know that as a result of this oil is actually cheaper than water in Venezuela – you can literally fill your tank with the small change from your pocket.

So, although Venezuela is the sixth largest South American country, thanks to the cheap fuel prices travel is in-expensive.

A journey I made a few times (for visa renewal purposes) was travelling by land from Merida to Taganga , Colombia. En-route the journey skirts the incredible Lago Maracaibo a UNESCO Heritage site.

UNESCO heritage sites

Catatumbo lightning is a meteorological phenomena that only occurs at the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it joins Lake Maracaibo in the North West of Venezuela. For up to 160 days a year, lightning strikes the lake repeatedly for up to ten hours at a time in the evening. I experience this first hand from one of the many bus journeys I made to Colombia.

Once I’d spent time in the South and visited the Eastern parts of Venezuela (including the Orinoco River) I settled in Merida for around 12 months to get some cash together. I taught English and took Spanish lessons at first while living with a Venezuelan family in one of the tall apartment blocks on the outskirts of the the city . It was here that I experienced my first “caralozaso” a movement of people hanging out of their apartment windows or standing on the streets outside their houses banging wooden spoons against pans. The noise is incredible.

Merida’s proximity to the Andes Mountains and my adventurous spirit meant it was only a matter of time until I tapped into my PR skills and got a job as head of promotions for a local Adventure Travel Company.

The Andes Mountain Range starts in Merida

The incredible Andes mountain range than spans the length of South America begins in Merida – the adventures activities accessible from here are incredible.

So there it is. Five reasons to visit Venezuela and maybe you’ve learnt a few things you didn’t know about this incredible country. If you’re planning on visiting Venezuela and would like to learn Spanish before you go contact me to book bespoke Spanish classes.

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