Brendan von Son a RoamRight Blog Author

An Introduction to Venezuela

Venezuela, officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America. CT

Over the years, Venezuela has not lent itself well to the media. More well known around the world as a place stunted by political isolation and instability, the land of the great Simon Bolivar has long been left untouched by tourists. It's a shame, really, as the country is absolutely teeming with all the great tourism experiences travelers dream of - history, brilliant sandy beaches, and mountain landscapes that beg to be explored. Though safety is an issue in parts of the country, it would be a mistake to let this absolute wonder of a travel destination go untraveled.

Know Before You Go

Language

Spanish is the most commonly spoken language throughout Venezuela. However, to call Venezuela a “Spanish-speaking nation” is a bit misleading.  There are over forty spoken languages in the country that include Wayuu, Warao, and many more. That being said, most of the other languages are spoken in extremely rural areas of the country, and nearly everyone speaks fluent Spanish. English is not widely spoken, although a percentage near the border of Guyana does speak it. You'll also find Portuguese near the border of Brazil and there is even a small town called Colonia Tover that was once a German enclave and still speaks the language to this day.

Currency

Money is somewhat an issue in Venezuela thanks to fixed currency exchanges set by the government. Upon visiting, you might receive an exchange rate from a bank machine at about 1USD to 6.2 VEF. However, if you were to exchange U.S. dollars (USD) at a black-market money exchange you could get as much as 10VEF to 1USD.  Thus, the cost of travel to Venezuela greatly depends on how much USD currency you have with you. It should also be noted that you can't get USD from any Western Union-type option in the country as foreign currency is officially blocked. You might also have trouble bringing somewhat large amounts of USD into the country.

Safety

Safety is a concern anywhere in the world, and Venezuela is one of the cases where you'll need to be extra cautious.  Before going, you should seek out up-to-date information on the locations you want to visiting. When you're there, don't wander around with large amounts of money, keep your electronics hidden away, and be sure that it's safe to walk alone in areas where you may need to do so. Safety is a real concern in Venezuela, but it doesn't need to scare you away from a visit. It really is one of the most geographically stunning locations in the world, and with a little caution, you won't have any problems.

Worthy Sights

Isla Margarita

Venezuela is home to a huge section of the Caribbean Sea. As such, there is a wealth of white sand-sealed islands scattered just off the coast. The most popular of these islands is Isla Margarita. This palm-strewn paradise is the playground of Venezuela's elite as well as international visitors looking for a luxurious getaway. Without exaggeration, this really is one of the most stunning places in all of South America.

Angel Falls and the Nearby Tepuis

Angel Falls, the world's tallest waterfall, is a sight so spectacular it hardly seems earth-worthy. And while the falls themselves are unreal, the option of taking a 2-day river cruise through the jungle to end up at the base of the falls is just as incredible. You can also book a sightseeing flight over the falls, which will give you an extraordinary view of Angel Falls as well as the nearby tabletop mountains, known locally as tepuis. These tepuis, and the jungles surrounding them, house some of the most unique wildlife in the world, much of which has still yet to be discovered.

Merida

The true beauty of Venezuela is its diversity; from the Caribbean, to the jungle, and now to the high Andes in Merida. This is the outdoor and adventure hub of Venezuela with hiking, climbing, paragliding, and rafting all available. Moreover, it is also home to the world's highest teleferico (cable car), which leads all the way to the top of Espejo Peak, which stands a breath-taking 15,633 feet above sea level.

Venezuela is not a destination for every tourist. A visit there takes preparation and experience, but for those who do make the trek, the rewards are well worth the extra effort.

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About the Author

Brendan von Son

Brendan von Son, a RoamRight Blog Author Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited over 70 countries on 6 different continents and specializes in adventure travel. For more, visit him on his blog, Brendan's Adventures or check him out on Twitter.

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