Travel guide to Venezuela

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Long sandy beaches in the north and the thick, green rain forest in the south. Mysterious savannah in the east and the tremendous heights of the Andes in the west. A trip around Venezuela can offer you many different impressions and unforgettable experiences.

Facts

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Local name
Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
Capital
Caracas (5,000,000)
Size
912,050 square kilometres
Principal Languages
Spanish is the most commonly used language, but here and there you will still find some Indian languages.
Principal Religion
Catholicism
Inhabitants
23,500,000
Government
Republic
Geography
The Caribbean coast of Venezuela is a sheer paradise with its beautiful, white sandy beaches, shaded by tall palm trees. In the west you will see the northern part of the Andes, and the Brazilian border in the south dominates with a landscape of thick, tropical rainforest. The northeastern part of Venezuela has the spectacular delta by the Orinoco River, while the southeastern provinces are mainly highland with vast, open savannahs.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Temperatures are almost the same all year around. If you are travelling around Venezuela the dry period from December to April is the best time to go. However, at this time the Angel Falls waterfall, which is one of the country's main attractions, will seem less spectacular than during the rainy-season, which is the remaining months of the year.

Local conditions

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Currency

Bolívar (Bs), 1 Bolívar = 100 céntimos

Net cafes

There are many Internet cafés in Caracas and in the larger cities of Venezuela, but if you go to the countryside you cannot be sure to find a place to send your e-mails.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Venezuela you must dial: Police: 169 Ambulance: 545-4545 Fire Department: 166

Tipping

The tip has already been added to the bill when you receive it, and tipping extra is only customary in the finest hotels.

Timezone

When the time is 12 noon in Great Britain, it is 7 a.m. in Venezuela.

Weight and Measures

Weight: kilo Distance: metre Cubic content: litre

Photography

The Venezuelan scenery and wildlife are true photo opportunities, however you will need good photo equipment to capture the amazing views and all the many kinds of wild animals. Unfortunately, expensive photo equipment is a big temptation for thieves, so if you bring it with you do not carry it in nice camera bags which might attract attention.

Drinking water

It is not recommended to drink tapwater, so buy your water in bottles.

Electricity

The following power source is used in Venezuela: 110 V AC/60 Hertz

Behaviour

In Venezuela the notion of time is quite different from that of a Westerner. It is rather normal to be a couple of hours late for appointments, and if you are invited somewhere for dinner you will see that your host will be very surprised if you show up on time. In the cities you dress well and not too casually.

Business Hours

Monday through Friday stores are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., while banks are open from 8:30-11:30 a.m., and from 2-4:30 p.m. Offices are open from 8 a.m. till noon and again from 4-6 p.m. on weekdays, while public offices are open for business from 8 till noon, and from 2-4 p.m.

Food and drink

Cuisine in Venezuela is heavily affected by the Western world, and much of the food served there will be inspired by American food. However, you will still find original dishes such as the pabellón criollo with beef, cheese, beans and rice, or maybe the parillada, which is grilled flesh. Coffee in Venezuela is excellent, and the rum is strong. You must also try the fresh, tasty fruit juices.

Disabled travellers

Very few places in Venezuela have facilities which accommodate disabled travellers, so generally you have to prepare for the fact that it is very difficult, but not impossible, to travel around Venezuela if you are disabled.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January San José, 19 March Labour Day, 1 May Battle of Carabobo, 24 June Firma Acta de Independencia, 5 July Birth of the Liberator (Bolivar Day), 24 July Assumption, 15 August Día de la Raza/Columbus Day, 12 October All Saints Day, 1 November Immaculate conception, 8 December Christmas Day, 25 December Moveable public holidays Epiphany/3 Kings Day, the Monday nearest 6 January Easter, March or April Corpus Christi, May or June

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are virtually no authorized camping sites in Venezuela, but when you are out in the open you will find lots of nice places to camp.

Hotels

There are all kinds of hotels in Venezuela. Everything from humble rooms to five-star luxury hotels. In many hotels in areas with high temperatures hot water is not standard, and you should always go through the room before you take it, as some hotel rooms in Venezuela can hide nasty surprises.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Posadas is the best kind of accommodation in this category. These are small, nice places run by families, and usually the service here is more personal than in the hotels.

Hostels

There are no youth hostels in Venezuela.

Other Accommodation

Campamentos are usually far away from everything, and these places can be used as a base when you go explore remote areas. They usually offer accommodation, a restaurant and a small store. A stay in a campamentos is very often sold as part of a quite expensive, arranged tour.

Local transport

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Planes

It is possible to fly between the larger cities in Venezuela, and if you are going to fly a lot it is worth buying a plane pass, which makes your tickets cheaper.

Bus

It is cheap to go by bus, but you cannot be sure of the quality of the ride. While some buses are very old, others are state of the art. The servicio ejecutivo is the fastest, most expensive, and most comfortable way to travel, while servicio normal can be anything but normal, but it is cheap.

Trains

The only trains in Venezuela are freight trains.

Taxi

Taxis have a TAXI or a LIBRE sign on their roof. These are cheap means of transport, but if there is no meter the fare should be agreed on beforehand.

Car rental

While it is expensive to rent a car in Venezuela, petrol is very cheap. You have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car, and you will find all the big, international rental companies at the larger airports. However, Venezuelan rental companies are very often a bit cheaper.

Boat or Ferry

The only ferry services are between Isla Margarita and Puerto la Cruz and Cumaná.

Special conditions

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Apart from the capital of Caracas, Venezuela is quite a safe place to travel. However the crime rate is going up in all of the larger cities, and very often tourists are the targets. Your risk of being robbed is very low as long as you stay away from deserted places and do not wander around on your own at night.

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