Monday, July 19, 2010

Venezuela II (July 11th - July 17th)

Maracaibo, the second largest city and the industrial center of the country, is definitely not a top tourist destination. However, it served well as a base for a one-day trip to San Rafael del Mojan, including a boat trip to Isla de Toas. Huge lake Maracaibo (the largest lake in South America, ca. 1/5 of the area of the Czech Republic), surrounding the city, is known for a spectacular lightning phenomenon and huge oil reserves, the basis of the country’s wealth.

Expeditioners' favorite dinner place in the bus terminal neighbourhood

Exploring the beauty of Isla de Toas, top Venezuelan holiday destination

Leaving Maracaibo and moving south to Merida (the tourist capital of Venezuela set high above the sea level, surrounded by almost 4km mountain peeks) consumed one entire day. Another day was spent on a refreshing jeep trip/trek to the hot springs in nearby hills, and by arranging the best deal for a planned wild life watching adventure in Los Llanos.

Picturesque hilly countryside around Merida...

... and the hot springs right in the middle of it

4-day trip to Los Llanos was undoubtedly the top Venezuelan experience so far - chasing ant-eater, catching anacondas, caimans and capybaras, bird watching, horseback riding, fishing for piranhas, sleeping in hammocks, accidental encounter of a young Czech ornithologist and 2 other Czech travelers, as well as enjoying the time together with cool fellow adventurers from Scotland, Finland, France and Germany - that’s what made the whole trip an unforgettable one.

Aproaching our camp after the water safari

El Fredovito manipulating an anaconda just pulled out of the swamp

Don Madonarra about to shoot from speechless Caiman

Miguel Hudeiro entertaining the villagers

Sunset - bats, frogs, monkeys, snakes, mosquitoes coming out

Almost 8-hour bus journey from Barinas to San Cristobal was the last chance to take advantage of incredibly cheap Venezuelan petrol (40 liter tank for 0.5 USD /10 CZK!!) before crossing to Colombia. On July 17th, the crew entered Colombia at San Antonio del Tachira/Cucuta (Col.) border crossing.

Travelling in local, super noisy buses was always fun

May the Maya be with you! :)


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