In this tour visitors will have the opportunity to climb the Venezuelan Andes range, visit the Maracaibo Lake region, experience the Relampago del Catatumbo*, and spend the night in remote and captivating places such as the descent to the Venezuelan Llanos which is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna.
*The Relampago del Catatumbo is a phenomenon particular to the south of the Maracaibo Lake region, a flash of lightning which can be seen from April until the beginning of December. It is continuous and silent, lasting almost 10 hours throughout the night and flashing more than 200 times per hour.
Our regional tours are particularly designed to give visitors the greatest variety of options to discover the most interesting and difficult to reach areas of Venezuela. These tours are a combination of individual trips, split into zones. What is and isn’t included is outlined for each itinerary. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do our best to answer your queries.
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 – El Vigia – South of Lake Maracaibo 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 from Merida. We then go overland for around 2.5 hours to the place where we board a motorboat to cruise for an hour to our camp by Lake Maracaibo. There we can see dolphins, howler monkeys and toucans, among others. We spend the nights in hammocks so that we can enjoy the stunning meteorological phenomenon of the Relampago del Catatumbo. (50min flight, 2.5 hrs by road, 1.5 hrs by boat) (B,L,D)
Day 3: Camp South of Lake Maracaibo – Cattle ranch We transfer to the ranch, a large 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. (B,L,D)
Day 4: 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 Jose de 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 5: San Jose – Merida We descend into the pretty Tostos valley by foot or on horseback, enjoying the surrounding eucalyptus trees and lovely rivers. Here we will have the chance to meet the local population and watch them plough the land with oxen. In the houses they grind the corn by hand to make typical Andean corncakes in wood burning stoves. We return to our hut for a tasty lunch and a short siesta. If riding a horse isn't sufficiently exciting we can make a thrilling descent to Tierra Negra on a mountain bike with lovely views of the verdant valleys below. Here we take off on an optional flight by tandem paraglider before returning to Merida. (4 hrs on horseback, 5 hrs walking, 1.5 hrs by bike, 30-45 mins by tandem paraglider, 2 hrs by jeep) (B,L)
Day 6: 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 “the 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 in Venezuela. This is one of our most requested tours; 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 the Andes, 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)
Day 7: Safari 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. We arrive at the ranch in time for lunch and then we go on an excursion in the afternoon. We will spend the night in comfortable cabins with air conditioning, private facilities with hot water. (7 hrs travelling across the Llanos) (B,L,D)
Day 8: Safari We spend the whole day on the ranch taking in two excursions by covered truck and boat. The pastures are a riot of colour from the 400 or so species of birds; white, red, yellow, blue, orange and black so a perfect opportunity to spot some of the Venezuelan birds. You can see the Corocoro Colorado, Maracana, Garzon Soldado, Gavilan Colorado, Pajaro Baco and the prehistoric Chenchena (Guacharaca de Agua). One of the most terrific aspects of the Llanos is the ranches which are specialized large country estates acting as innovative and breathtaking sanctuaries for wildlife, some conserving up to 80,000 hectares of land across Venezuela. 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. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Barinas – Caracas Departure transfer to Barinas airport (around 3 hours away) to connect with your flight to Caracas. (B) Possible extensions: Los Roques, Choroni Its also possible to join up with our other regional tours to create an itinerary that suits your interests and the time you have available.