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First trip to South America. Venezuela??

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Mar 20th, 2002, 04:19 PM
  #1
Noel Harmsworth
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First trip to South America. Venezuela??

Hi all! I am Noel Harmsworth from Malta (a small european island in the Mediterrenenan). Together with four other friends we were planning to visit Venezuela in late August early September 2002. This is our first trip to South America. Is it a good idea? Is Venezuela expensive compared to other South American countries? We are after nature, sight seeing, different people (tribal perhaps), and beaches (snorkelling and relaxing). Shall we hire a car? I think we ll spend only two days in Caracas then the rest of the three weeks roaming around. Is this ok? Thanks to all those willing to help!! Hope to hear from you soon.

P.S. Ana I do not obviously know who u are... but let me tell reading some of your replies i found out your help is impressive. Well done!!
 
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Mar 20th, 2002, 07:09 PM
  #2
ana
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Hi Noel
Thanks for your kind remarks. If I can be of service, just let me know. I see you have read my posts, so if you need further information on any of the things I know about, just let me know.

If you need any help with reservations, etc. let me know.

Best regards
Ana
 
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Mar 21st, 2002, 06:52 AM
  #3
Noel Harmsworth
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Thanks Ana for offering to help! I would like you to give me your opinion on these three things if u please:
1. Is outside Caracas safer than the city itself?
2. Is Venezuela expensive compared to other South American countries?
3.Is it worth it hiring a car to go around Venez or is it better to use public transport?

Thanks a real lot for your help!
Noel
 
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Mar 21st, 2002, 02:01 PM
  #4
ana
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Hi Noel:

1. As any big city, Caracas is busy and crowded. Lately - more crowded. The outside of Caracas is generally safer, quiter, but still take care. You know, general precautions.
2. Is it expensive compared to other SA countries? I would have to say yes, it's expensive. For the traveller, maybe not. We recentlly had a 34% devaluation of the bolívar, but we import a lot, so it tends to increase prices all the same.
My brother just came back from Buenos Aires and says that it is soooo cheap, he was sorry he didn't stay longer. He had supper at a premium rest., drinks, dessert, the works - for $5. I have only travelled into Colombia (cheap), the caribbean islands (do they count as SA?) expensive. Won't talk about the US or Europe.

3. Hiring a car... Our roads and hwys (when there are hwys) are pretty good. Signs, that's another story. It depends on what you're going to do. Going to Merida, etc. yes, rent a car. For Caracas, definitely the subway (depends on the location of your hotel of course.) Hire a cab for a day trip to El Hatillo, El Avila mountain sky ride drop off, etc. Cabs are very cheap, around $ 5 per trip - tops.

Generals.
From what I read you are seeking:

You mention nature and tribal - Canaima Park (Angel Falls) is a must. You're coming in the rainy season, so it's a must. (fly). You can fly from Caracas, or from Margarita Island, the intermediate stop.

Nature: Merida mountains (car - ok).

Snorkelling:
Either Pto. la Cruz (car - ok ) and then take the ferry into Margarita. From Margarita island you have options (remember the conecction Angel Falls - Canaima). From Margarita you can go to the smaller island of Coche on a speedboat and spend a few relaxing days on the only AI posada the island has.

Los Roques - a must (fly)

Falcon beaches - Tucacas or Chichiriviche have access to the Morrocoy Natl. Park(car ok). These are keys and are very nice, maybe not as nice as they used to be, but still worth going to.

I'm not a travell agent, so I wouldn't be the best person to organise your trip, but if you have any definites, I'll do my best to help you organise your trip.

Now I have to get back to work. Look forward to your feedback.

Best regards,
Ana


 
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Mar 21st, 2002, 02:13 PM
  #5
Noel Harmsworth
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Hi Ana! What can I tell u? You re simply too kind. Thanks for your extremely valuable information. Now we re obviosly buying a very good guide book... but your info is much more than a good start i would say. Yep, Angel Falls is top priority. In my country we have no mountains, rivers, whatsover... so such a great sight is not going to be missed. Flight is very expensive for us ($920 per person), so we ll have to make the best out of this holiday. Hopefully we will. Thanks once more. Probably I ll abuse from your kindness very soon.

Noel,Malta
 
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Mar 22nd, 2002, 03:26 PM
  #6
ana
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no problemo.
Best regards

ana
 
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Mar 23rd, 2002, 10:43 AM
  #7
Noel Harmsworth
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Hello! I just wanted to know something about the weather. I know its the rainy season in August. I believe this will add some fun when visiting Angel Falls but what about the islands. Will it be very rainy on Los Roques at that time of the year. Will it be a nuisance? How often does it rain?
As regards robberies and the rest... I m reading that it is quite similar all around South America. So no need to extra worry i guess!! We ll just take some extra care!

Thanks, regards from Malta
Noel
 
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Mar 23rd, 2002, 11:28 AM
  #8
traveller
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Sorry Ana and Noel.

In 1992 we visited Venezuela for a month and had a wonderful time. Because it was so great, we again came back in 1998/1999.

What a difference. There had been a coup and we experienced a huge increase in costs and a reduction in services.

But all of that aside.

Ana wants the tourist dollar and wants you to think that Venezuela is the place to go.

Venezuela in the early 90's was the place to go. Extremely inexpensive, friendly people, lots of things to see.

Now, many areas are polluted, it is grossly expensive for what you recieve.

Definately stay out of Caracus.

We hired a car to tour us around on our last trip. It cost us an enormous amout of money to car drive from Caracus to Puerto la Cruz and we actually had bruises on our legs from our hands gripping our legs as we by passed really horrific accidents.

We had spent a month in Puerto la Cruz 8 years previously and found it excellent. Now, it is a city that has grown by the millions and has not got a sewage system that can keep up. Smelly and disgusting. It is a disgrace.

From Puerto la Cruz, we travelled up the coast to Cumana. The change was really disturbing.

So much garbage on the side of the roads. I couldn't believe it.

From there we travelled into the interior. Still heaps of garbage everywhere. It was sad.

The main source of entertainment was cock fighting and drinking.

And now Venezuela is faced with another coup or government throw over. Will it get better in the near futre? I doubt it.

Pick someplace else.

 
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Mar 24th, 2002, 01:23 AM
  #9
Noel Harmsworth
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Thanks for your info traveller. I dont believe that as u said Ana just wants the tourist dollar I think she genuinely wants to help tourists like me who dont know anything about the place. However I must admit that your negative comments together with many others I read on fodors.com worry me quite a lot. Is there any other South American country you visited? What alternative would you suggest? I never visited the American continent and it must definately be South America this time. Any suggestions about alternatives to consider?
Pity cos Venezuela looks so nice on the internet and I would really like to see Angel Falls!!

Regards from Malta
Noel

PS Ana I want to make it clear that I appreciate a lot your help.
 
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Mar 24th, 2002, 07:07 PM
  #10
Ana
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Noel, thank you for your support. I just try to help in regards to what I know about my country (I'm not a travell agent, I'm an accountant). I try not to be biased, and give my point of view, when asked.

When you asked me if VZ was expensive, I honestly replied that it is. For example, I said what my brother told me about going to Argentina being so cheap.

If your decision is to come to Venezuela, welcome, I will try to help you. Granted lately Caracas has become more dangerous. As all of you are aware, our political situation is very unstable. Both near-coups Traveller has spoken about, were leaded by our current prez., you must watch the news.

Nevertheless, the outside, mainly Angel Falls has not changed. It's a natl. park and very protected. It gives me pride in my country. I have travelled a lot, and I've never been so overcome with awe and enjoyed a trip so much. We went with some out-of-town friends, travelled with Aerotuy airlines and stayed at the camp called Arecuna. The view of the Caroni river at sundown is breathtaking. The rain makes the falls fuller, therfore making the experience more enjoyable.

Traveller, although by heritage both my parents are from Spain, I was born, and mainly raised in VZ. I also lived in the states for 5 years, graduating from high school. I have also travelled extensively into Europe, Asia, Latin Am., Central Am., and North Am. Each place has its charm, pros, and cons. I try to enjoy each of my trips.

I don't give advice to win an easy buck for VZ, I just try to give the best advice I can, to my knowledge, to those that WANT to travell here. Notice I recommend not to rent a car in CARACAS, not Caracus.

I have often seen posts saying, does anyone know xx hotel? The answers sometimes go, no but try yy. Maybe that person just wants advice on that xx hotel. How frustrating, that you don't offer sensible advice if you have it, to those that seek it.

No problem with me Traveller, don't come to VZ if that's your choice, but please, let others ask questions - get answers - and let them make their own choices.

Sorry to have rambled. Bye Noel, once again, thanks for your support.

Best regards,
Ana
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 08:08 AM
  #11
Noel Harmsworth
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Hi Ana and all at Fodors!!

We booked our flights to Venezuela. We re coming there with Alitalia. So its Malta - Milano - Caracas.

Apparently Caracas apart from being dangerous its not among the best Venezuela offers so we re not staying there. We ll spend some time in Merida, and then around Venez with a minivan I think. Since we will be five the expense even though quite high will be affordable.

The last week will be on Los Roques or Isla Margarita. However this is a rough plan and now I m buying a good guide.
Here I read that Venezuela Lonely Planet is not very good so we ll buy Insight Guide Venezuela which looks like it is much more precise in info.

Thanks for now.
Regards, Noel
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 09:01 AM
  #12
ana
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Hi Noel:

Glado you will be coming after all. It's a long flight, maybe 10 hours? Remember you will be arriving in Maiquetía, not Caracas. Althought they say it's Caracas, the airport is about 1/2 hour away from Caracas, and then some more if you're travelling into Merida.

Merida, and its surroundings are very nice. Renting a car in VZ is not like the States, it's expensive.

If you are going to the beach your last week, and want quality go to Los Roques $$$. Los Roques are pristine blue keys. NOt much to do at nite however. I don't know if you like to party. There are nice quiet posadas. The snorkeling is great, all nature at its best.

Another Fodorite, Susy from USA, came to Margarita. I'll top her post for you. It all depends on your budget. Margarita would be the least expensive of the choices.

I agree with you, it's a rough plan. You have to get a good book to guide you. I will ask a friend of mine that recently recommended one for a Fodorite friend coming in from Germany, Miriam Kauer Berk. You might like to speak to her. She came here this past December. She'll be able to give you tips on Merida travelling since they drove. I'll write to her.

Best regards.
Ana
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 10:16 AM
  #13
Noel Harmsworth
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Thanks a real lot Ana! That would help a lot (speaking to a foreigner who has been there just lately).

I ll bug you again very soon.

Noel
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #14
Will
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I am going to Venezuela in a few weeks and was somewhat concerned with the current politics and poverty levels. After speaking with several people living in Venezuela and reading the local news it is not the "hell on earth" some people portray it as on here. Some places in the world are wonderful i.e. India, although not as safe, clean or convenient as Disney World. If you are so concerned about your safety, convenience and cleanliness then you never will truly experience the world. So, try to keep an open mind and remember, even if Venezuela is not as clean, convenient, and safe as where you live that's partly why you are traveling.You want to experience something different. After my trip I will post a message on here letting everyone know.
P.S. Ana has and continues to be a great help. She doesn't work for a tourist board. The tourist boards are not even helpful. The country does not encourage tourism. They are not interested at all in it. She is just a helpful citizen and I resent someone holding that against her. Here in Florida, we have extreme poverty and ghetto, just like most South American cities. When tourists come to Miami the interstates whisk them by all this, but look to the side and you will see an area that is not safe, dirty, and incovenient. Is that a reason to avoid Miami? Never.
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 11:18 AM
  #15
ana
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Will and Noel:

Thanks to people like you it's a pleasure to read the board, and keep trying to contribute to have a first-hand point of view, specially when one is far away. I'm deeply moved that my small contributions have helped, and have given me another two excellent Fodorite friends.

What Will says is true. Once we went to Orlando with our three children. We got lost on the freeway, and came out on a really bad part of the Orlando downtown. I was scared for a few moments, and tried to get of there REAL FAST. I lived those 5 years in Miami, and studied in a public high school, called Miami Edison Sr. High. It was at the begining of integration, and it was not easy. Out of this and other similar circumstances, one learns to experience other cultures and to broaden one's culture. If you don', how could you.
Still, keep it safe. Take precautions, and try to use bona fide transportation (ie. hotel taxis, etc.).

Have a great trip.
Best regards

Ana

 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 11:36 AM
  #16
linda and ron
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I am in search of a telephone number for "POSADA DEL HIGALDO" Hotel about 15 minutes from the Simon Bolivar airport. Have tried international tel. operator, the internet, etc. please help. thanks
 
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Mar 25th, 2002, 01:09 PM
  #17
Ána
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La Posada del Hidalgo
Urbanización La Playa. Macuto - Venezuela
Tlf. 58-212-3126503 / 58-212-3126504
Fax. 58-212-2638067
 
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May 24th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #18
Andrew
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Noel, all I have to say is go.
I am a 25 year old Man from Milwaukee WI USA and I lived in Venezuela for some time. I am leaving for Venezuela again on the 3rd on June to return to my apt. in Valencia. It is a dangerous country, I will not lie to you, not only on the highways but 80% of the people live in abject poverty and the murder rate is many times higher than New York in the 1980's. In Caracas, you will be scared, but do not worry, do not show fear, be confident, you will be with your freinds. I went down alone and will do so again. I hate driving from the airport at night to caracas, but once that is done, the rest of Venezuela is spectacular. Just ask around when you are there. I would recommend all the beaches from Mochima to Tucacas, Colonia Tovar, Merida(but this is a trip within a trip) Forget about the Angel falls, all you do is fly past it. It is beautiful but your time can be better spent else where with the 3 weeks you have(trust me this time will run out very fast). I live in Valencia, it is west of Caracas but centrally located, it is very nice but the people are somewhat rude. Another note of advice, be prepared for customer service Venezuelan style. Have a keen eye and you will save yourself a lot of money...you will see what I am talking about in Venezuela. Be vigilant, but also be prepared to fall in love with that country. Although I do prefer Bogota and Cartagena.
 
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May 29th, 2002, 10:09 AM
  #19
Noel H
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Thanks a lot Andrew. Yep now we ve decided and our trip is almost all planned. No matter what happens from now onwards in that country in August we ll be in Venezuela. Have you ever been to Los Roques. Is there any cheap posada or anywhere cheap where to sleep on the island? Its so expensive. What about beaches on the mainland. Are they better than the islands?

Thanks Noel
 
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May 29th, 2002, 11:24 AM
  #20
Gjeff
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I went to Los Roques about 6 years ago. At that time, there were only 2 or 3 tour operators and it was expensive to visit because it's a packaged tour.

The main island is tiny. When I went, it seemed the only hotels were owned by the tour operators. In other words, you can't just fly there and look for a hotel to stay at. I didn't see any place like that.

Los Roques is a wonderful and beautiful place. I've been to Hawaii and Belize and Los Roques is right up there in terms of beauty. It would be great if you could just pay for the plane fare, find a place to stay and then hire a local fisherman to take you to the numerous islands. We did the package tour, which was still great but I would prefer to travel freely.

I've been to Venezuela twice. Both times, we had a great time, visiting Canaima, Los roques, Merida, Choroni and Margarita. We were always with her friends except for Margarita. I never felt unsafe except for the time her friend drove into a private garage downtown and a man came out and pulled a gun on us. You don't to work around Caracas at night. You don't want to drive at night either, unless you know where you're going. That's why most people just ignore the traffic signals at night. No one wants to stop and be a victim. During the day, it's ok as long as you stay away from the barrios. We had a great time walking around Caracas during the day. The country has so much to offer in terms of tourism but unfortunately, the government stinks and the majority of people are poor.
 
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