Exploring Venezuela
in Depth

This itinerary is designed for adventurous travellers who want to discover Venezuela's natural environment in depth. The tour begins in Canaima National Park, where group members will have the chance to see the Angel Falls and the surrounding thick tropical vegetation. Then you travel over the Venezuelan Andes to see the mountain peaks and discover the typical culture of the region.

DAY 1 Arrival in Caracas
We will meet you on arrival at Simon Bolivar International Airport, in Maiquetia, and transfer you to a hotel close to the airport where you will spend the night. We will also give you all the necessary documents, including air tickets and vouchers. Meals (---)

DAY 2 Caracas – Puerto Ordaz – Canaima
This morning we will transfer you from your hotel to the domestic airport for your flight to Puerto Ordaz. On arrival transfer to your accommodation (superior standard) along the Laguna de Canaima where you will enjoy spectacular views. After lunch the excursions begin. We leave the pink sands of the Laguna de Canaima's beach to tour this delightful area, getting close to the raging, tumbling water of the Sapo waterfall. Here you get the chance to take some of the best photos of the dramatic scenery in the national park. We then return to camp to enjoy a delicious evening meal. In the evening relax on the patio enjoying the view of the lagoon and the enormous night sky of the southern hemisphere. Overnight in twin-room accommodation with private facilities. (L,D)

DAY 3 Excursion to Angel Falls
Today we have an early breakfast and leave at 5am for an excursion to the base of the mighty Angel Falls. After a 15-minute walk we arrive at Puerto Ucaimo, situated above the Canaima waterfalls, where we board a boat to take us along theCarrao River. From the boat we will see the lush vegetation of Canaima. When we reach Sabanas de Mayupa we will disembark to walk across the savannah and to avoid the rapids. Once we have passed the rapids we will get back on the boat and continue upriver to the little native village of Arautaima. Here we will experience the lush and varied vegetation of the primary rainforest. Be prepared for your first view of stunning Angel Falls when we reach Ratoncito Island.

It is another hour's walk to get close to the falls from a clearing where we can appreciate the power of the tumbling water. We will spend an hour here enjoying the waterfall and relaxing on the large rocks, warmed by the sun. We go back down to base camp on Ratoncito Island for a welcome lunch and a chance to relax before tackling the return journey along the rapids to our main camp.(B,L,D)

DAY 4 Canaima – Caracas
After breakfast we board a Cessna 206 for a thrilling flight through Devil's Canyon for a bird's eye view ofAngelFalls. We then return to camp to collect our things and board our chartered flight to Puerto Ordaz airport to connect with a domestic flight toCaracas. On arrival we are taken to a hotel near to the airport. (B)

DAY 5 Caracas – Merida
This morning we will transfer you from your hotel to the domestic airport for your flight to the Venezuelan Andes and El Vigia airport located 50 minutes fromMerida. We transfer 1.5hrs to the ranch, a farm at the heart of the Andean cloud forest, where you can enjoy walks in the gardens and the forest; we will have a hearty meal and then have the opportunity to do some birdwatching and spot the 12 varieties of hummingbirds. We spend the night in cabins on the farm. (L,D)

DAY 6 Ranch – San Jose
We set out in a 4x4 on a fascinating journey through a variety of ecosystems and passing through a luxurious cloud forest. We stop at picturesque Jaji, a typical Andean village, recognised by UNESCO as a heritage site, then descend to the desert. We stop at a small mill to watch the production of chewing tobacco before continuing to Laguna de Urao, the only one of its type in South America, its saltiness showing the presence of the mineral Urao, salts brought in by underwater currents. This lagoon is a Natural Monument of Venezuela.

A little further on we stop at a green coffee plantation where we will visit the Museum of Coffee on an old farm where coffee is produced. From here we follow the route to Los Pueblos del Sur where we climb steeply up a mountain road from 460m to 2.290m with lots of zigzags, from where we can see the plateau which borders the Chama River. We finally arrive at the remote village of San Josede Acequias, a place lost in time. We spend the night in an idyllic Andean hut by a small lake so we can try the delicious trout. (5 hrs by jeep) (L,D)

DAY 7 Plateau tour (Páramo)
The Andean plateau extends from 3.200m to 4.300 m; above this altitude the arid rocky ground of the hillsides is called “deserted Andean plains”; the plateaus are open, windswept and mainly treeless. The extremes of temperature, like summer during the day and winter at night, means that species have adapted their lifestyle to suit the environment. There we will find velvety frailejon shrubs; there are 65 endemic species to this relative of the daisy inVenezuela.

From Merida we travel along a scenic route by a twisting trans- Andean road towards the Andean plateau. En route we can gaze at sleepy little colonial villages and the beautiful scenery on the plateau. Our first visit is the place where the Condor was reintroduced into theAndes, and from there we go to Pico El Aguila, the highest point reached by road (4,118m). From here we visit the Laguna Mucubaji (3,800m) from where we head off on the 4km walk to Laguna Negra. The views of Laguna Negra on a clear day are spectacular. We overnight in a lodge or hotel on the Andean plateau. (B,L)

DAYS 8-10 Transfer to a ranch on the Llanos
Today we transfer to a ranch on the Llanos. All along the route there are plenty of opportunities to admire some of the flora and fauna of the Llanos. One of the most terrific aspects of the Llanos is the ranches which are specialised large country estates acting as innovative and breathtaking sanctuaries of wildlife, some conserving up to 80,000 hectares of land across Venezuela.

We arrive at the ranch in time for lunch and will spend the night in comfortable cabins with air conditioning and private facilities with hot water. This ranch is recognised for its pioneering work in ecotourism in Venezuela and is the most important private wildlife sanctuary in Venezuela and most of South America.

The habitat of the Llanos also acts as a refuge for a wide selection of animals such as giant anteaters, wild horses, armadillos, iguanas, blond monkeys and capuchin monkeys, capibaras (the largest rodents in the world) and hundreds of alligators. The rivers abound with freshwater dolphins, piranhas (Caribes, that you can go fishing for), anacondas and turtles. (7 hrs travelling across the Llanos)

POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS: Los Roques, Choroni

It is also possible to join up with our other regional tours to create an itinerary that suits your interests and the time you have available.

2013 price per person in US$: $3252 with 2 people, $2670 with 4, $2659 with 6. Single supplement is $415

THE TOUR INCLUDES:

  • · Information pack before leaving
  • · Domestic flights and transfers
  • · Airport assistance
  • · Tours, transfers and accommodation mentioned
  • · All meals and non-alcoholic drinks mentioned in the itinerary
  • · Spanish-English bilingual guide on tours and at airports
  • · First aid and basic emergency equipment

NOT INCLUDED:

  • · International flights
  • · Airport departure taxes
  • · Articles of a personal nature
  • · Tours, meals, alcoholic drinks and other services not included in the itinerary
  • · Tips, any additional expenses incurred in the preparation of the trip through delays or cancellations of flights or transfers
  • · National Park taxes –Sierra Nevada$1, Canaima $10