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Overview

A tropical country at the top of South America, Venezuela was the first place on the mainland that Christopher Columbus set foot. He liked it so much he called it “an earthly paradise.” This is a country blessed with the world's highest waterfall and the longest coastline in the Caribbean. It has high Andean mountains, lush Amazon rainforest, and vast seasonally-flooded plains rich in bird life. But it is yet to be discovered by mass tourism. Venezuela's abundant natural treasures are unfortunately overshadowed in the news by the country's massive oil reserves, its amazing success in international beauty contests, or the former comings and ...

A tropical country at the top of South America, Venezuela was the first place on the mainland that Christopher Columbus set foot. He liked it so much he called it “an earthly paradise.” This is a country blessed with the world's highest waterfall and the longest coastline in the Caribbean. It has high Andean mountains, lush Amazon rainforest, and vast seasonally-flooded plains rich in bird life. But it is yet to be discovered by mass tourism. Venezuela's abundant natural treasures are unfortunately overshadowed in the news by the country's massive oil reserves, its amazing success in international beauty contests, or the former comings and goings of its colorful and charismatic leader, the late President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in March 2013. Those who make the effort to go beyond the headlines and explore will find unique experiences for all tastes and pockets. For mountain trekking and adventure sports the go-to place is Merida, a cool Andean city with a large student population that offers adrenaline junkies a host of high octane sports like mountain biking, paragliding and whitewater rafting. If it's sun, sea, and sand you crave, the pristine white sands and warm shallow waters of the tiny Los Roques islands are the place to live out a Robinson Crusoe fantasy, albeit at five-star prices. The large resort island of Margarita, at the other end of the spectrum, offers a choice of great beaches and world-class windsurfing during the day and great dining and throbbing nightlife after sunset for party people. For serious hikers, no trip is complete without a trek to the top of Roraima, and the “Lost World” landscape made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle. And then there's Angel Falls. Not only is it the world's highest waterfall, it's also one of the most spectacular, cascading nearly a kilometer from the top of a remote tabletop mountain. Reaching the base involves a river adventure and a trek through rainforest that makes it even more memorable.

Russell Maddicks
About the Expert

Russell Maddicks is a BBC-trained journalist who lived in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador for many years. He is the author of the Bradt Guide to Venezuela, Culture Smart! Venezuela, and he is working on a book about Ecuador.

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Russell Maddicks for Triporati

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