Columbus sailed along the shores
of Venezuela on his third voyage in 1498, and rightly guessed that he had reached a great
land by the huge volume of water flowing out of the Orinoco estuary.
Venezuela Travel and
Tourist Information with links to official
travel and tourism websites and state
resources for visitors to Venezuela.
Discovering The Americas,
From The Caribbean,
Map of Venezuela,
Museum of Colonial Art,
Bus in Venezuela.
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Caribbean coast, the bulk of
the continent rises instantly and green like the bulging muscles bursting through a comic
hero's shirt. To the Spaniards, everything would have seemed wild and yet to be
Water crashed from the world's highest cataract like a fury in hell
rather than Angels falling. Even today, much of the interior is still to be settled.
The highest uninterrupted cataract in the world is on the Rio
Churun in the rain-forest of the Guiana Highlands.
American aviator, James C. Angel, discovered the falls in 1935.
The Spaniards found no gold when they arrived to search the rivers,
but the source of the pearls that the Admiral reportedly saw on the Indian women, during
his men's first encounter with them, led to the foundation of a settlement called Nueva
Cadiz on the island of Cubagua, in 1509.
Amerigo Vespucci sailed as a privileged passenger on a number of
the early Caribbean expeditions and had the insight to recognise that the Europeans had
discovered a new continent, and could justly claim it as a new world.
Columbus died in 1506 with little to show for his efforts, and as if
to add insult to injury, the following year a German cartographer published a map of the
continent with the name America upon it.
Columbus may have found the way across the ocean, but Amerigo Vespucci
explained what it was they had found. The new continent still posed an obstacle to the
Orient, and a way round, or through it, had to be found.
The capital of Venezuela, near the Caribbean port of La Guaira,
was founded in 1567 as Santiago de Leon de Caracas; after the Caracas Indians who once
inhabited the fertile valley of northern Venezuela.
The visitor looking for a postcard of Caracas will find many of
motorways crossing and weaving through concrete towers; only at night did Caracas look
acceptable. Darkness hides the towering poor excuse for architecture, and neon takes over.
From a moving vehicle on one of the motorways, there's a mystery
behind the yellow and green. The shining lights from the hills that accommodate the poorer
residents, sparkle like a mass of skiers on a torchlight descent.
Just 40 miles away from the capital and you find yourself in the
Founded in 1843, by a few hundred pioneers, the beautiful Colonia
Tovar Village is the only German colony in the region.
Many visitors to Venezuela hop over to this island in the
Caribbean, off the northern coast of Venezuela.
The capital of
Isla Margarita is La Asuncion, although the largest town is Porlamar and
most ships arrive at Pampatar.
An excellent online personal tourist guide to help you find your way around Margarita
For a small island, the Venezuelan Embassy in Bulgaria pack a lot of information onto this
Margarita on Horseback:
Ride for a few hours or take a multi-day tour around Margarita.
Before the Venezuelans dared look out of the bus window that was
about to cross the long, arching bridge spanning Lake Maracaibo, they had to cross
themselves and ask for the safe passage from Mother Mary.
Only then could they take in the bright orange glows flickering
through the darkness from the lanterns of distant fishermen.
When Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda first saw the pile dwellings of
Maracaibo and named the land Little Venice, they could never have dreamt that the
discovery oil would liken the place to a little
I had the terrible thought that future generations might only read
about the Spaniards in history books, and subsequently forget them as the Indians
themselves are becoming a distant memory.
Surely Venezuela could not be thought of as the result of oil-wealth
to an otherwise green country - those miles of multi lane roads and high metres of living
quarters in steel-reinforced concrete.
There were obvious advantages to living over the water for the early
fishermen, but the principal reason was probably to escape the mosquitoes that infested
the marshy shores of the lake.
The Paraujano Indians who lived entirely by fishing, would trade part
of their catch for maize and cassava grown by the Boures, who lived on the land to the
south of them.
Other coastal tribes would trade with more advanced groups to the
west, and display the ornaments of gold that they gained from the exchange.
Venezuela's famous son, Simon Bolivar, was born in Caracas and
his body is buried in the National Pantheon.
Bolivar dreamt of liberating Venezuela (along with
and Bolivia) from Colonial Spain and forming a unified Gran
The Plaza Bolivar contains a bronze statue of the South American
statesman and revolutionary leader, on horseback.
The Museum of Colonial Art is a hacienda-style property, set in
the cool shade of the lower foothills behind modern Caracas.
The house was the residence of a general in the Venezuelan War of
Independence. Simon Bolivar also spent some time here.
The man, whose name was to be used for the Venezuelan currency, and
most of the country's town squares (plazas), could wander in the garden undisturbed and
look back at the removal of the Spanish.
Such a grandiose planner would have been served on porcelain from
China, eaten off silver from Mexico, and sipped coffee introduced from India.
All the furniture and fixtures were the best of the European periods,
large works of art focused on religious themes, and a private chapel provided personal
access to the guiding spirit of the Almighty.
The bathroom had a mountain stream flowing into the sunken tub, which
meant no laborious task of drawing fresh water.
Negroes were always on hand to serve, and the stables had carpentry
facilities and a blacksmith's forge.
In the kitchen food would always be warm and ready to eat, cocoa was
ground on the premises, and water was filtered and chilled by passing it through a
specially sculptured piece of stone.
Founded as the first permanent settlement by Europeans on the
mainland, in the early 1520s, Cumana has suffered numerous earthquakes, and it shows.
Juan de Ampues founded Villa de Santa Ana de Coro in 1527.
The original cross, made of cuji (sponge tree), is still said to be
in the exact position that the founder placed it for the first mass.
Coro is better preserved than Cumana, and is proudly offered as a
museum exhibit that lives.
The motorcar seems somehow out of place. Rubber tyres roll noisily
along the cobbled streets while an old man in a straw hat walks his wooden cane through
the 20th century.
There was a moment when he reached the middle of the colonial road
that no modern machinery appeared in his close proximity. Like before the coming of the
silent movie, the scene became a perfectly composed photograph of old age; all the
elements of a former time were captured for five hundredths of a second.
A country that claims 2,800 km of Caribbean coastline, fertile
lowlands, the highest waterfall in the world, the Orinoco River, and an extensive area of
grassy highlands near Guyana, also adds the northern tip of the
Andes to its portfolio.
The ascent to Merida can not be likened to the Alps of
Switzerland. The tropical vegetation on the lower
slopes include bananas, while long, thin cacti plants make an appearance when the soil
becomes drier at higher altitude.
Promoting travel, businesses and professionals in Merida with more than 700 promotional
pages and 500 Home Pages, appearing in Spanish and English. Complete with current prices,
contact information, and more than 1,000 high resolution photos. Updated twice weekly.
Merida is one of Venezuela's most popular tourist destinations. It's
safe, fun, economical, and the semi-tropical weather is great all year. Good food, like
arapas, cachapas and baked mountain trout stuffed with ham and cheese. Plus there's a
panaderia-bread and pastry shop on every street. Bring comfortable loose fitting clothes,
There are few trains of note in Venezuela although they're working
on expanding the network.
For many, travel is carried out on long distance, night buses. These
buses that seem to stop all too frequently when you try to curl up and sleep, continue to
cut up the black void when you feel nature calling.
Without a tin door at the back of the bus that no-one wants to sit
beside, you have to focus your mind on something else. To concentrate on anything than
what is trying to occur.
The eternity seems too long, and you eventually drag yourself up to
the driver, with some paper from the last hotel concealed in your pocket.
In terrible Spanish you make an attempt to say that you need the
bano. To which the driver tries to shrug you off like an annoying mosquito buzzing around
He then utters the name of a town and motions towards the darkness.
You see nothing but the occasional headlight and make a pitiful attempt at feigning
malady; which you find quite easy to do.
An oncoming car highlights your sorrowful features, but the driver is
"Aqui?" he motions to the passing verge.
Aqui there is better than aqui where you stand, and a sigh of relief
is uttered as you take cover in the long grass to the rear of the coach.
The other passengers pay scant regard to the event. A few heads stir,
but the interior light stays off.
All is right with the world as you head towards the name, even though
you brush the occasional sprawled limb as you return to your seat.
The Venezuelan budget traveller misses little by travelling at night,
and saves on a night's accommodation.
On either side of the road are trees and long grasses, the only
variant being their occasional retreat from the roadside, and the chance to view the
distant rolling green.
There are no quaint villages where whole families appear at the window
of a hut, or groups of children approach the bus with food and drink for sale.
Transport is from bus station to bus station, with the occasional
service station to break up the journey.
Buses compete with each other on the inclines, and race off down the
other side. Maybe a blue sky delights the passengers, but gathering clouds on distant
peaks can soon lead to scorn as windows are shut and the rains arrive.
The Orinoco River, the Angel Falls, some select Caribbean coves; all
surrounded by trees. You can not attempt to name them, but the towering green seems
Even the Spaniards ignored much of the interior, after their attempts
to pan for gold proved futile, and pushed on towards the rumour of wealth in neighbouring
Dominic Hamilton travels in Venezuela as research for the Traveller's Venezuela Companion
guidebook. The result is a blend of stories and images; a mix of features and practical
information that both inform and entertain.
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