Embracing the Andes, the Amazon and over a thousand miles of Caribbean coast, Venezuela offers a wonderfully varied introduction to the sights and sounds of Latin America.
From Angel Falls, which cascades nearly a kilometre from one of the table-top mountains that may have inspired Conan Doyle’s Lost World, to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, via plains and cloud forest, Venezuela is above all a display of exuberant nature.
High in the Andes, villagers eke out a living growing produce and crafts to sell in the markets of delightful colonial towns like Mérida. Musical talent is everywhere, from cowboy harpists to salsa and merengue bands and the life-enhancing Simón Bolívar and El Sistema youth orchestras.
Venezuela’s rich biodiversity guarantees superb wildlife watching. Mangrove, jungle, savanna and cloud forest sustain countless endemic and migratory species. Manatees and river dolphins inhabit the sprawling Orinoco delta, while the Llanos flood plains are prime territory for birds, caimans, capybaras and giant anteaters.
On the coast, endless sandy beaches are perfect for quiet getaways, either on the mainland or on islands like the Los Roques archipelago. Snorkelling and diving are exceptional too - corals, caves and wrecks creating dazzling playgrounds for exotic marine life.
Here are some of our Venezuela highlights
Spanning north-eastern Colombia and western Venezuela, the rugged Llanos is 'the' place to see wildlife - 300 species of birds, jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, honey-bears, capybaras and caimen roam this vast, tropical grassland plain.
The archipelago of Los Roques is just idyllic - nearly 300 white sandy islands, many of which are uninhabited offer a myriad of stunning deserted beaches surrounded by aquamarine water perfect for snorkelling, diving and bone fishing.
Remote, primaeval, nature at its most intense. Canaima and Venezuela's 'Gran Sabana' are largely untouched by tourism, despite Canaima being home to Venezuela most visited destination - The mighty Angel Falls, highest waterfall in the world.
...the trip you organised for us was absolutely fabulous. The arrangements all worked like clockwork and your choice of hotels was perfect for our tastes. We were particularly impressed by the Llanos: even a sworn non-animal lover like me could not fail to be impressed by the beauty of the place and the proliferation of animal and bird life! - CB