Location and Climate
The country of Venezuela is situated at the far northeastern corner of the continent of South America. Venezuela is located entirely in the tropics. It is bordered by Brazil to the south, Colombia to the west and Guyana to the southeast. It has both an Atlantic and a Caribbean coastline stretching over 1,600 miles. There are direct U.S. flights to Venezuela’s capital city Caracas from Atlanta, Houston, Miami, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico. In particular, the flight from Miami takes less than three hours, making Venezuela conveniently accessible.
Venezuela has a vast array of ecosystems-over 25 different ones. Few countries in the Caribbean region (much less the world) contain such a variety of climates and landscapes.
In most parts of the country, the temperature stays around 77° F (25° C) during the year. However, the mountainous regions are cooler, and there is even snow at the higher elevations of the Andean Mountains.
Venezuela’s dry season is from December through April. The rainy season is from May through November. But it does rain occasionally during the dry season.
Major Attractions & Geographical Diversity
What makes Venezuela so attractive as an adventure travel and ecotourism destination is the diverse locations that offer unique travel experiences-from Caribbean islands to rainforests to grasslands to mountains. Examples of Venezuela’s diversity include the following:
The Swiss biologist, Henri Pittier, was the first to protect the Venezuela’s ecosystems. Parque Nacional Henri Pittier has dramatic topography that is characterised by steep slopes covered with deciduous and tropical forest and cloud forest at higher elevations. The park’s flora is exuberant. Arboreal ferns, bromeliads, and several species of ornamental plant-notably the rare, endemic Gunnera pittierana all flourish. Animal life is equally diverse and the park is home to jaguars, pumas, ocelots, otters, brocket deer, tapirs, kinkajous, coatis, tree porcupines, several species of snake and lizard and the marsupial frog. It is also home to approximately 43% of the bird species of Venezuela totalling around 580 different species.
The less-developed Caribbean side includes crescent bays and beautiful beaches at Cata, Cepe, Cuyagua and Choroní. Along this coastline are many excellent spots for snorkelling, diving, relaxing on deserted beaches or simply enjoying hikes into the surrounding rainforest.
Then there is the hidden gem – the tranquil lagoon of la Cienaga – just 15 mins or so by boat from the quaint fishing community of La Boca. The lagoon and its bordering mangroves teem with underwater life – snapper, parrot fish, angel fish, trumpet fish, moray eels, lobsters, sea turtles and octopus amongst many other “colourful” species – not to mention the many types of flourishing corals and sponges. The lagoon itself is surrounded on three sides by xerophytic forest and its entrance opens directly into the Caribbean Sea. There are more hidden gems too on the other side of the mangroves, small lakes where scarlet ibis flock at certain times of the year and trails where one can often see capuchin monkeys in the nearby forest and animal tracks from the illusive inhabitants.
Venezuela offers much more in terms of natural and wildlife diversity than many other so-called “popular” Caribbean or Central American destinations such as Cuba, Mexico and Costa Rica. And in Venezuela, you do not have to fight the crowds.
Slide show of Los Roques, Venezuela’s Caribbean Park
Two excellent destinations in the Amazonas include Puerto Ayacucho with it’s indigenous museum and market place for hand made souvenirs and the array of indigenous peoples that now live here. It is also the stepping off point for a fabulous river trip in a “bongo” a boat with covered roof. The bongo is equipped with hammocks even, to relax in, for the 5 hour or so journey to Autana, a table top mountain deep in the rain forest of the Amazonas. Autana – is called the “Tree of Life” by the local indigenous myth and legends folklore.
Canaima National Park makes up a good part of this region, home to the Pemón Indigenous people. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is the sixth largest national park in the world and features Angel Falls the tallest waterfall in the world (discovered by Jimmie Angel). Kamarata Valley – the Valley of the Lost World – within the park, is a unique destination combining different ecosystems, savanna, rainforest, jungles, canyons and spectacular waterfalls. The Pemón lodges of Uruyén and Kavak as well as Kamadak Camp are spectacular venues all overlooked by towering tabletop mountains. The majestical Auyántepui – known as Devils Mountain to the local Pemón, being one of them.
Slide show of Canaima National Park
Itinerary to Angel Falls via Uruyén and Kavak’s Pemón Lodges
The delta is rich in plant and wildlife. Jaguar, puma, ocelot, red howler and capuchin monkeys, capybara, agouti, giant otter, manatee and dolphins are just a handful of the countless species of mammal that can be observed in their natural habitats. Among the extensive bird population are hoatzin, macaws, parrots, toucans, caciques, kingfishers, cormorants, egrets, falcons, hawks, harpy-eagles, weaverbirds and hummingbirds. There is also an untold number of amphibians, reptiles and fish species, including anaconda, boas, vipers, fer-de-lance, coral snakes, iguana, cayman, turtles, piranha, stingrays and catfish.
Slide show of the Orinoco Delta
Founded in 1881 with the name of Estado Oriente and with Cumaná as it’s capital. Now the region of the Oriente combines the states of Anzoátegui, Monagas, Sucre and Estado de Nueva Esparta (Margarita / Coche Islands).
This region was once a thriving tourism destination as it has beautiful beaches (such as Playa Medina), coastal islands of Mochima National Park, Margarita / Coche Islands, La Cueva del Guácharo (Guácharo Cave) and even hot springs in Paria. Now it still has a decent tourism infrastructure but the hoards of people no longer come.
Coffee, sugar, cacao and tobacco are all grown in this region and one can even find “cock-fighting” rings in some small towns – but not very “eco”!
The phenomenon of the Catatumbo Lightning is within a stones throw at the foot of the Andes and on the edge of Maracaibo Lake.
Slide show of Mérida and Los Llanos