Venezuela Land of contrasts
Discover Venezuela, land of contrasts and fascination, with this 15-day tour. We'll take you to explore beautiful Aragua Valley, famous for the cultivation of sugar cane. Here you'll taste real rum in a local factory, while in San Felipe you'll admire tropical flora in the most beautiful botanical gardens you can find on Earth. You'll then be taken to the Llanos region, a territory of extreme conditions where droughts and flooding alternate, but still boasting a diverse fauna. You will learn more about piranha fishing while navigating Rio Matiyure and enjoy beautiful safaris on a jeep. You'll be astonished at the view of mighty Venezuelan Andes and soon afterwards Mucubaji Lagoon will take your breath away with its incredible vegetation. You'll then discover the highlights of Merida, Sierra La Culata National Park and Canaima National Park, the biggest in the world with an extremely varied landscape. To top this amazing experience, you won't miss Angel Falls, the hightest falls on Earth, and the fascinating Orinoco Delta, spectacular Peninsula Paria and its marvellous sceneries.
After breakfast you leave Caracas westwards to the Aragua Valley, a very fertile valley where especially sugar cane is grown. The Santa Teresa rum factory is located in the Aragua valley, approximately 1.5 hours from Caracas. During a 2-hour tour of the factory, you will learn about the manufacture of rum. A rum tasting is also included. There is also the possibility to have lunch (not included). Afterwards we'll move on to San Felipe. In San Felipe you'll find one of the most beautiful botanical gardens of Venezuela, “Parque de La Exotica Flora Tropical". The garden has been developed by the french landscape architect Jean Philipe Thoze and has been internationally recognized. You'll have about 2.5 km of paths where to stroll.
After breakfast we'll go on southwards to the Venezuelan Llanos region. We'll pass by Barquisimeto, Acarigua and Guanare until we'll finally reach your lodge. The Llanos region, or Venezuelan lowlands, consists of extensive pasturelands, dissected by numerous rivers. It is a land of extreme conditions, alternating between droughts and flooding. The Llanos has few inhabitants, mostly cattle breeders. It boasts a remarkably diverse and varied fauna; there are more than 300 bird and 50 mammal species. Late afternoon is the best time to observe animals, which is why your first excursion starts at around 4 p.m. You will drive around the Hato el Cedral in an open van converted into a safari vehicle. You will observe an abundance of South American wildlife such as chigüires (capybaras), babas (small caimans), caimans, iguanas, turtles, monkeys, anteaters, snakes (perhaps you'll even see an anaconda), and a large variety of birds. There are in fact more than 300 bird species in the area.
After breakfast, you will go on another tour in the safari vehicle to explore different areas of the Hato. You will return to the ranch for lunch. In the afternoon, you will take a boat trip on the Río Matiyure to observe caimans, river dolphins and a wide variety of birds. Piranha fishing is also quite exciting.
After breakfast we'll go on to Mucubaji Lagoon. On the highest point of the Transandina road you will find the glacier lagoon Mucubají. This landscape over 3,000 meters high is covered by "frailejones" and by some pinewood. The stony ground is mostly covered with fern and lichen. This will be the landscape along the hiking trail from Laguna Mucubají to Laguna Negra (round trip 2-3 hours). There, if you wish, you can eat fresh trout fried in garlic (not included). Then you’ll drive up to Eagle Pass. In this odd scenery "frailejones" grow up to 3 meters and you'll enjoy a beautiful view over the endless mountains. Afterwards we'll drive on to Merida passing colonial towns where you might see the mountain farmers with their oxen carts tilling the fields, as well as the famous stone church of Juan Felix and Epifanía Sanchez (Unesco culture heritage).
In the morning, you will visit the highlights of Merida city, including the Mercado Principal and the Heladeria Coromoto which is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the icecream parlor with most icecream flavors in the world. You will also visit the Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepción, the Casa de los Gobernadores and the Bolivar monument in Plaza Bolivar. In the afternoon you will visit the Sierra La Culata National park, into the high valley of the Mucujun River. The paved street ends at 3,000 m altitude, where you will begin your 1-hour hike through Paramo vegetation. Afterwards you'll return to Merida where you'll have the chance to go on an optional cable car ride.
After breakfast you'll be transferred to the airport. You will fly from Ciudad Bolívar to Canaima in a small Cessnas 206 (luggage restriction 10 kg). The rest of the luggage can be stored at Ciudad Bolivar.The Canaima National Park is one of the biggest of the world. This region is indeed impressive and of unique beauty. The park is part of the Guyana Shield, the oldest geological formation of the earth. The landscape is extremely varied, one encounters impenetrable jungle, rolling savannah, black water rivers and beautiful waterfalls. In the distance the tepuis, each an ecological island with very special properties can be seen. The most famous is the Auyán Tepui. The highest waterfall in the world drops from its summit, the Angel Fall. The flora is unique, full of rare orchids and bromeliads. The afternoon and next morning can be used for optional excursions.
In the morning you will go on a boat excursion in the Canaima Lagoon to admire the Hacha Falls. Around noon flight back to Ciudad Bolivar and transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon you will make a short city tour by walking through the historic centre of Ciudad Bolívar.
After breakfast you'll drive to Boca de Uracoa, a small river port in the Orinoco Delta. From Boca de Uracoa you will be transferred to your lodge by boat. During this trip, which lasts from 1 - 1.5 hrs, you will already get an impression of the flora and fauna endemic to this area. After lunch you will start your first excursion. You will take a boat through the branches of the river, bordered by dense tropical rainforest. You might see fresh water dolphins and observe monkeys and a variety of birds like toucans and parrots. On a small river branch you will get off the boat. In rubber boots you will step upon swampy ground and walk into the delta forest. You will gain an insight of the typical vegetation, for example the Moriche palm-tree, the Indians "tree of life" and its multiple uses. You will taste the heart of the Manaca palm-tree, which only grows in the delta (not guaranteed).
In the morning you will visit one of the Warao Tribe families which live in their stilt houses built at the sides of the rivers. These Indians make beautiful handicrafts. Afterwards you wil return by boat to Boca de Uracoa and from there to the Peninsula Paria. The Paria Peninsula, located in northeastern Venezuela, is considered one of the most beautiful regions, boasting mountains, dense forests, hot springs and, for many, the most breathtaking beaches in the country.
After breakfast you will have some time to lie at the pool. Around noon transfer to the airport. End of services.
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