Venezuela... Unmissable natural wonders
Do you love exploring all kinds of stunning landscapes? Our guide will tell you why Venezuela just might be the destination you have been looking for.
Possessing remarkable natural diversity, Venezuela truly is a land of wonders. Indeed, few destinations boast such varied landscapes: one day, you might be gazing up in awe at the towering Andes while standing on the fringes of a city; on another, you could be venturing through lush wetlands in search of flora, fauna and tiny, isolated local communities.
Today, we will take you on a journey around some of the country's most remarkable natural wonders. And the beauty of this is that it is indeed feasible to visit them all in one trip, with many of these glorious spots being within a day's journey of one another.
Merida and Sierra Nevada National Park
It may seem odd to begin an overview of natural wonders with a town, but such is the magic of Merida. This destination sits on a plateau in the shadow of the Andes, with the Sierra Nevada National Park mere moments away. While the town itself is certainly scenic, with its colonial cathedrals, it is arguably its stunning location that steals the show.
From here you can admire the majesty of Venezuela's highest mountain Bolivar Peak (5,007 m), which stands within Sierra Nevada National Park alongside some of the nation's other tallest mountains, such as Humboldt Peak and Bonpland Peak. The park is, as you would expect, an absolutely spectacular place to explore, and is deservedly popular with keen hikers and climbers seeking the ultimate challenge in glorious surroundings.
Stretching between the Andes and the Orinoco river are the vast tropical lowlands of Los Llanos. These seasonally flooded plains are home to capybaras, giant anteaters, caimans, anacondas and a superb variety of birdlife including scarlet ibises, herons and egrets. During the rainy season, the grasslands of Los Llanos, sustaining a wide variety of wildlife, turns into a wetlands and floods up to a metre.
Gran Sabana and Angel Falls
Leaving the north-west behind, the east offers something entirely different – stunning table-top mountains, tranquil lagoons and breathtaking waterfalls in abundance. Indeed, it is difficult not be entirely captivated by Canaima – and why would you want to resist? It is easy to see how it became the catalyst for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.
The highlight of this part of Venezuela is Angel Falls – the tallest waterfall on the planet. Standing at an awe-inspiring 979 m tall, it is roughly 16 times the height of Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, it's far less easy to get to than Niagara, but this perhaps adds to its mystique and charm. The very best way to see and experience it is with a helicopter ride, which also gives you wonderful views of those incredible table-top mountains.
However, you can also visit with a combined boat trip and jungle trek, which takes from ten to 12 hours. This option is better suited to the more adventurous traveller, and can only be undertaken from June to November, when the rivers are more voluminous.
Los Roques offers something different yet again. This archipelago and national park comprises approximately 350 islands, providing some truly idyllic beaches. Indeed, Los Roques is a wonderful place to come to simply relax and admire some utterly spectacular stretches of sand – though there is plenty more to do here if you wish.
For instance, thanks to its coral reefs and seagrass beds, it is a fabulous spot for snorkelling. A visit to Gran Roque, which is the main island of the archipelago, will allow you to experience another side to Los Roques. While the other islands are typically flat and sandy, Gran Roque has a number a vast rock areas that offer greater height; a hike to the top of these will reward you with amazing views.
Rounding off our list is the Orinoco Delta, which provides the combined opportunity to discover yet another kind of landscape while spotting local wildlife and soaking up some traditional culture.
The Orinoco Delta is a vast system of waterways and islands, which provide the habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. In the water, you can eagerly anticipate glimpses of giant otters, Orinoco dolphins and manatees, while capuchin monkeys, hummingbirds and much more call the dry land here home.
A hike through the jungle of the Orinoco Delta will not only give you the chance to encounter these creatures, but also to visit the Warao Indian communities, making this one of the most varied and interesting parts of Venezuela to explore.
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