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Is Venezuela Safe?

When choosing a vacation destination, many travelers ask is Venezuela safe enough to visit? While it’s true that the country has one of the highest crime rates in the world, it is very possible to have a fun, safe trip. Prior to embarking on your journey you must learn how to be a savvy tourist and how to protect yourself, your family and your belongings.

Flying into the Country

When asking the question, “is Venezuela safe?” many travelers don’t think twice about the risks they may face at the airport, as this isn’t typically a high crime spot in most places of the world. However, the main airport in the country, Simon Bolivar International Airport, otherwise known as Maiquetía International Airport, isn’t a place to let your guard down. The U.S. Department of State says travel to and from the airport can be dangerous. The U.S. Embassy has received many reports of crimes completed by individuals in what appear to be official looking uniforms or credentials involved in these crimes, which have included “express kidnapping,” extorting money from travelers, or unjust searches for illegal drugs or money.

Places to Avoid

The Canadian government warns any travelers who are wondering “is Venezuela safe?” to stay away from the following areas of the country at all times:

  • Near the Columbian Border: Avoid areas 80 miles within the Columbian border, due to a high threat of kidnapping. The most dangerous areas include remote areas, including the states of Zulia, Táchira, Barinas, Bolívar, Apure, Amazonas, Anzoátegui and Sucre.
  • Sabana Grande and Plaza Venezuela: These areas in central Caracas are known for violent robberies.

Pickpockets are a huge problem in subway stations and crowded buses, so it’s not advisable to use these methods of transportation. Avoid displaying any signs of wealth, including wearing flashy jewelry or carrying a mobile phone. If you need to go to an ABM (automatic banking machine), only do so during the daytime and in shopping malls or busy residential areas.

Transportation

Many travelers choose to rent a car upon arrival in Venezuela. If you take this option, it’s important to avoid traveling at night, as it’s not safe for many reasons, including crime, road damage, and wandering livestock. During your journey you may pass through a Bolivarian National Guard or police checkpoint, where you will be required to stop. There have been reports of illegal roadblocks set up by bandits who stop and rob vehicles.

If traveling by taxi, always use a licensed taxi and never an unlicensed one. Although crimes have been reported from both, licensed taxis are generally safe. Criminals often pose as unlicensed taxi drivers, and then rob passengers when they get in the car.

So the answer to the “is Venezuela safe,” question is yes, if proper precautions are taken prior to embarking on your journey.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Travel Tips Leave a comment

Canaima National Park: A Geological Wonderland

Located in southeastern Venezuela’s Bolivar State, Canaima National Park borders Brazil and Guyana. This massive geological wonderland covers 12,000 square miles, making it the sixth largest national park in the world. Roughly 65 percent of the park is covered in tepuis or tabletop mountains, a type of plateau with vertical walls and nearly flat tops, making for stunning scenic views. The park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994, by UNESCO, because of its tepuis.

Top Sites in Canaima National Park

  • Angel Falls: Indisputably the most popular site in the park, Angel Falls is the world’s tallest waterfall, standing 3,287 feet high. It is actually 16 times taller than Niagara Falls.
  • Mount Roraima: Another very popular tepuis in the park, as this is the tallest and easiest to climb. Visitors enjoy exploring its black rocks, pools, gorges, and wildflower gardens.
  • La Gran Sabana: This terrain offers breathtaking views of wide open plains filled with tepuis.
  • Salto Aponguao: Considered one of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls, Salto Aponguao has a drop of more than 300 feet. This site is challenging to reach, but visitors say the stunning sites are worth the difficult trek.
  • Mt. Auyantepui: One of the largest mountains in the Guiana Range, the waters of Angel Falls flow from the cliffs of Mt. Auyantepui.
  • Kavak: A remote village run by the Pemon Indians. While reaching the site isn’t the easiest, travelers who make the trip are always glad they did so.
  • Salto el Sapo: Adventure seeking travelers enjoy the opportunity to cross a waterfall by foot offered by Salto el Sapo.

Canaima National Park Wildlife

The park is home to a diverse assortment of plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the world. One-third of the plants in Canaima National Park are not found anywhere else in the world. According to UNESCO, 118 mammals, 550 birds, 72 reptiles, and 55 amphibians have been recorded in the park. Six species of mammals are of conservation concern, including the giant anteater, giant armadillo, giant otter, bush dog, little spotted cat, and margay.

Where to Stay

Camping in Canaima National Park is not permitted. Although the rule is enforced throughout the park, officials monitor the Angel Falls area extra closely, as it is the most popular site for visitors. Travelers stay at the inns, hostels, lodges, and official campgrounds in the park. Some of these include:

  • Campamento Canaima
  • Barquilla de Fresa
  • Waku Lodge
  • Jungle Rudy’s Ucaima Camp
  • Tapuy Lodge
  • Campamento Parakaupa
  • Excursiones Kavac
  • Arekuna Lodge
  • Campamento Morichal Canaima
  • Camp Tiuna & Tours

Enjoy your trip to Canaima National Park, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. You’re sure to see sites and take in experiences that you’ve never even dreamed possible!

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Recommendations Leave a comment

Travel fails: mistakes, mishaps and embarrassment on the road

At lunch today I was discussing with a colleague travel mistakes, mishaps and/or embarrassments while on the road. One that I can vividly remember is staying at a hotel in Venezuela and confusing the owner for the restaurant waiter. Later that evening, when the owner clarified he was the “owner not the waiter” I laughed thinking it was a joke. When I saw it was not a joke I felt so embarrassed and apologized for my mistake.

What travel mishaps have you experienced? The Lonely Planet published a funny article about this topic. You can read more about it at: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2013/06/22/lonely-planets-travel-fails-mistakes-mishaps-and-embarrassment-on-the-road/#ixzz2cXMIgsxt

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Tales of Adventures Leave a comment

Santiago Metro: An underground museum

If you are visiting Santiago, the Chilean capital, take sometime to use it’s underground metro.  The Chilean government implemented the MetroArte project which consists of 33 art pieces spread over different terminals. Through them the Santiago Metro has acquired its own identity which in turn has earned a spot in the Lonely Planet (placing the Universidad de Chile Metro station as one of ten ‘must see’ stations to visit in the world). The Universidad de Chile station is an authentic museum which gives the feeling of being in an art gallery with works of different styles, from Soviet art to murals. The “Memoria Visual de una nación” mural is the work of national artist Mario Toral and reviews the history of Chile. In addition to the Universidad de Chile station, stop by the Santa Lucia station which features traditional Portuguese mosaics as well as The Parque Bustamante station which features the “Vida y Trabajo” (Life and Work) mural by renowned Chilean artist Alejandro González.

Source: Turismo Chile Newsletter.

 

 

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Curiosities, Latest News, Recommendations, Travel Tips 2 Comments

Top waterfalls in Latin America

The Spanish newspaper “El Pais” highlights several amazing waterfalls in the world. In particular it highlights Latin American waterfalls found in Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Guyana and Brazil.

Guyana: Kaieteur Falls, located in Potaro-Siparuni forests in Guyana, double in height Victoria Falls, and it is five times higher than Niagara Falls. It’s drop reaches nearly 230 meters.

Venezuela: Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. The water falls is 979 meters from the edge of one of the geological formations, the plateaus known as tepuis – oldest in the world. It is named after Jimmy Angel, the American aviator who in 1937 managed to land on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brazil: The Devil’s Throat is the largest of the 250 waterfalls spread over 2.5 kilometers, which exist in the Iguazu Falls located between Argentina and Brazil.

Chile: Hanging Glacier suspended between two mountains at the Queulat National Park in Chilean Patagonia.

Peru: Salto de Gocta also known as La Chorrera, in the Amazon region of Peru. Its fall 540 meters making it the fifth highest waterfall in the world.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News Leave a comment