Day 1 Caracas
Arrive in Caracas at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city however you will have a welcome briefing this evening. Note: Entry laws have been changed, foreign visitors must be able to show they are covered by travel insurance. Contemporary Venezuela has been strongly influenced by oil money, which has turned the country into one of the wealthiest nations in South America. As a result, Venezuela has a good road network, spectacular new architecture and a developed tourism infrastructure. Yet deep in the countryside, people still live traditional lives. A number of Indian groups remain unconquered by encroaching civilization, including the mysterious Yanomami along the Venezuelan-Brazil border, whose Stone-Age culture seems lost in time.
Days 2-3 Santa Elena
After departing Caracas in the morning, head east along the Caribbean coast before turning south to Cuidad Bolivar. Along the way you will be able to spot some of the country's largest oil refineries which finance the country's economy and keep gas prices down to about 10 cents per litre. After a brief stop in Cuidad Bolivar continue on by overnight bus to Santa Elena. Although very small Santa Elena sees a lot of traffic as it is the last town before you hit the Brazilian border. It is also the starting off point for trekkers looking to climb tepuis or those looking for a 4X4 excursion into the Gran Sabana. Rest here for the evening before beginning our trek into the Lost World.
Days 4-9 Roraima trek (5B,5L,5D)
Roraima is the stuff of legends. From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World to the recent Disney movie Up this table top mountain or tepui has intrigued the world for more than a century. Mount Roraima, located at the border of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil is the tallest tepui of the area with its tallest peak measuring 2810msl. We will spend two days trekking through the Gran Sabana to reach 'base camp', the last campsite before we start to ascend the mountain. A half day the following morning brings us to the summit where we will spend a full day and a half exploring the wonders of this remote landscape. In the language of the native Pemon people tepui means "house of the gods". We are lucky enough to spend time in this house which is filled with endemic species such as carnivorous plants, small, black frogs that crawl, crystal-filled pools of cold-water known as jacuzzis and breath-taking views all around. After we have gotten our fill, our return will take a day and a half bringing us back into Santa Elena in the afternoon of Day 9 and allowing us to relax in the steamy heat of the town for an afternoon before moving on.
Day 10 Ciudad Bolivar
Travel to Ciudad Bolivar, on the shores of the Orinoco River and home to one of South America's most renowned Liberators, Simon Bolívar. Founded in 1764, Ciudad Bolivar is a hot colonial city steeped in revolutionary history and set on the bank of the Orinoco River about 420 km (260 miles) from the Atlantic. It was here that Simon Bolivar, known as El Libertador for his role in the liberation of most of South America from Spanish rule, set up his base 1817 for military operations against the Spaniards. Sitting on a rocky elevation at the narrowest point of the Orinoco River, hundreds of miles away from any important centres of population, the town spent much of its history as a sleepy river port. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the town became a spot where much of the country—and the continent’s—history was forged. Once Bolivar’s base was established here, the British Legionnaires joined his forces before all set off for a long and strenuous march across Los Llanos and up the Andes to bring independence for Colombia. In 1819 a Congress convened in Ciudad Bolivar and gave birth to Gran Colombia, a unified republic comprising Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Today, Ciudad Bolivar is a city of 300,000 inhabitants, and the capital of Venezuela’s largest state, Bolivar. It has retained the flavour of an old river town, and some architecture dating from its 50-year colonial era still remains. It’s a popular stop on travelers’ routes, partly for the city itself and partly as a jumping-off point for Angel Falls.
Days 11-12 Canaima National Park (2B,2L,2D)
Take a light aircraft to the heart of Canaima National Park for an overview of the world’s highest waterfall. Angel Falls boasts a total height is 979 m (3211 feet), as well as the world’s greatest uninterrupted drop at 807m (2647 feet), 16 times the height of Niagara Falls. Our 2 days in the area allows us time for maximum enjoyment on the beautiful river beaches and plentiful walking paths. Canaima Park is famous for its incredible scenery, tabletop mountains (tepuis) and breathtaking waterfalls. These tepuis are all that remains of the original sandstone that covered the region millions of years ago. As the sandstone eroded only these "rock islands" were left. The tepuis are surrounded with native grass, bushes and flowers in the vast, wild, grassy highland, and each mountain has developed its own characteristic plant life. Consequently, the area has highest percentage of endemic flora to be found anywhere in the world. Angel Falls spills from the heart-shaped mountain Auyantepui, one of the largest of the tepuis, with a flat top of about 700 sq km. The waterfall is in the central part of the tepui and drops into Cañón del Diablo (Devil’s Canyon). The fall is not named, as might expected, after a divine creature, but after an American bush pilot, Jimmie Angel, who landed on the boggy top of the tepui in 1937 in his four–seated airplane in search of gold. The plane stuck in the marshy surface and Angel couldn’t take off again. He, his wife and two companions trekked through the rough, virgin terrain to the edge of the plateau, then descended more than a kilometre of almost vertical cliff, returning to civilization after an 11-day odyssey.
Day 13 Ciudad Bolivar (B)
Today we leave the park and fly by light aircraft to Ciudad Bolivar on the shores of the Orinoco River.
Day 14 Caracas
Spend the day returning to Caracas and enjoy one last meal together. Venezuela’s capital Caracas grew at a relatively slow pace for most of its history. Then came the oil boom, and everything began changing at the speed of light. During the last 50 years, the city’s population grew from about 350,000 to nearly five million. Oil money has been pumped into modernization, successfully transforming Caracas to a modern city, with dramatic contrasts between wealth and poverty. Caracas is set in a spectacular valley amid rolling hills. Its relative altitude of 900m (2952 feet) gives the city an agreeable, relatively dry and sunny climate with a mean temperature of about 22C (72F). Return to Caracas for some last minute shopping, a visit the city’s museums or churches, or a stroll through historic Plaza Bolivar.
Day 15 Caracas
Depart Caracas at any time.