Venezuela

Venezuela

Curious what backpackers do in Venezuela? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
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Most traveled places in Venezuela:

  • Day77

    What a week! After meeting my friend Maycon and getting smashed in the town at the weekend, we headed out of Merida on Monday morning to climb one of the tallest mountains in Venezuela. It was to be a normal 1 hour bus-ride followed by a 3 day hike, but that didn't happen thanks to protests.

    After walking to the very edge of the city and not seeing any buses (or many cars), we realised the one and only road North must be closed. Nevertheless, we continued to walk with our heavy backpacks along the incredible twisting valley road, trying desperately to hitchhike some of the 50km road ahead. Several armed 'motorbike special-forces' flew past, followed by an armoured truck and some other military cars. They were about the only vehicles who passed us, so we knew to expect something up ahead.

    We got lucky and hitched a few short rides in the back of pick-up trucks, before we came to the first of several street-blockades. Some were peaceful demonstrations; people chanting with signs, but others were not.. Someone had fallen an enormous tree across the road almost destroying a petrol station, and another protest further was like a scene from a film. There was a sharp bend in the road blocked by trees and cars on fire, and above stood hundreds of people atop a 50ft cliff. Me and Maycon came round the bend on foot and were greeted by a roar of chanting, molotov cocktails and beer bottles smashing on the ground in front of us. Luckily we were too far to be hit, and there was another route around by foot, but the military police would be in for a shock when they finally cleared the other protests and turned that corner. Surely enough, after 30 minutes more walking (and through more protests) we heard distant gunshots and explosions, and could only assume a war had broken out on that corner...

    It was getting late and after hours of walking and hitchhiking we were less than a quarter of the way to our destination. We came to a village where we jumped onto motorbike-taxis and began an incredible short journey through what looked like a battlefield. Us, 2 obvious tourists with large backpacks on the backs of motorbikes sped through and around the aftermath of several more violent protests; glass and debris, fires, fallen trees, burnt cars, an ambulance, military police and more; it felt like a war-zone. The journey was short as we couldn't get round a fallen tree in the next town. There was chaos everywhere, with cars and people stuck, all waiting for a man with a hand-axe trying to cut the enormous tree into two. We climbed over it and continued down the road until it became dark. We had only made it half way to the 'start' of our mountain hike, and we were knackered. After climbing a random side road up a hill we found a place to camp and began setting up out tents in the now rainy dark.

    Within a few minutes, a confused man with a machete came down the hill and told us we couldn't camp here. We explained our day to him and after realising we were backpackers, he showed us to a safer spot up the hill near his farm. He turned out to be a really nice guy and invited us into his home for coffee! We dried off and spent the next few hours chatting with him and his family. In the end we slept in his house in a spare bedroom and he kindly gave us a lift for free to our destination early the next morning! I offered some money which he refused, and we started our hike to 'La musuy', a famous thermal pool on route to the mountains.

    After only a couple hours hike into the sierra, and we couldn't believe what we discovered. After the highs of an incredible day before, we arrived at the natural hot-spring tucked into a beautiful valley 3,200m up in the mountains. Of course we stripped off and jumped in. Because of the altitude and crap weather, the morning was cold, so the hot water felt incredible. We would end up spending 4 hours chilling in nature's finest hot tub listening to music and eating food, along with 4 wild dogs for company. When we finally left to continue into the mountains, the rain got worse and we got soaked. After taking 2 hours to climb only a kilometer or so with the dogs leading the way, we were so cold, wet and exhausted that we couldn't carry on. We found a great spot and set up camp before falling asleep almost straight away.

    The next morning we descended down the beautiful valley in sunny weather, heading back for the main road. Thankfully there were no protests so we caught a bus back, and we're in Merida by the afternoon. We had failed the hike by a long way, our stuff was wet, and I got diarrhea, but it was an awesome and eventful trip from start to finish...

    On Thursday we went on a trip with crazy tour-guide Tony to the largest lake in South America: Lago Maracaibo. We went with 2 other backpackers; Miguel (spanish) and Hiromoto (Japanese) in a large 4x4 through the mountains and towards the lake. After, we took an awesome boatride in the afternoon sun down a jungle river that resembled the Orinoco. We saw hundreds of tropical birds, falcons, eagles, monkeys, and even a bright green iguana swimming accross the river and diving under our boat. The river opened up into what looked like the ocean, and we arrived at our home for the night: a huge open lodge built above the shallow lake, probably a kilometer from the shore. Here we were going to see to famous 'Catatumbo Lightning', an atmospheric phenomenon that originates from a mass of storm clouds and occurs during 260 nights a year and up to 280 times per hour for 10 hours.

    First, we did some fishing (for dinner) and between us caught over 30 catfish and bass which we later cooked. After food, swimming and an awesome sunset, it was time for the show. Well, not quite. The sky was perfectly clear, the water still, and the stars incredible. Instead, we slept in our hammocks and awoke around 3am to completely overcast skies, strong winds and heavy rain. The storm had begun, and we certainly saw a lot of lightning, but unfortunately it wasn't quite the show we expected as it was too far away and behind a lot of cloud. It was still an incredible experience to be so exposed in the middle of a dark lake to only see the water illuminated every few seconds by the flashes of an enormous tropical storm.

    The next day we returned to Merida, and what a day it was. I woke up to an incredible sunrise over the now calm lake, and we caught a boat back through the rivers to our jeep. On the drive back we were stopped by national guard. who checked our passports, and they were confused to say the least... In a country where tourists are rare, we were one English, one Brazilian, one French, one Japanese, one Spanish, and 2 Venezuelans. After some 30 minutes interrogation and amusement, we paid a small bribe and continued up into the Andes, where I realised I had diarrhoea.

    We stopped for a great Lunch in a mountain town a couple of hours outside of Merida, before taking one of the the most memorable and worst car journeys of my life. This mountain 'road' was fucking rough, and even in a huge 4x4 it hurt like hell. I felt very ill, and the road made it even worse, but just when I thought I was going to explode, we pulled up to an awesome waterfall, the sun came out, and we refreshed in natures cold shower. After, we bought some fresh coconut to eat and tony got some cacao from a random farm to use for making chocolate. Another horrendous hour passed and we finally reached tarmac, but also an enormous protest.

    We were less that 30 minutes from Merida (and a toilet) but the only road into the city was blocked by mayhem. A group of people stood around large fires and debris purposely blocking the road, and there were queues of cars on both sides for as far as you could see. Police and special forces were getting involved and It u in the baking sun to luckily get past the protests, but I left the jeep several times to vomit and shit at the side of the road as my stomach got worse (I also had to wipe my arse with banknotes as I had no toilet paper). However, the day was far from over, as we pulled up to a paragliding place. After a long drive and a long day feeling like shit, me and Maycon jumped off a mountaintop and paraglided high above the river valley while the sun set over the mountains. It was an awesome end to the trip and the views were incredible.

    On Saturday we went to a small zoo set in a steep mountain valley with waterfalls and big trees . In the evening we discovered a lively reggae bar with pizza and stayed all night drinking beer. Sunday morning at 11am there was a Football match in the city's stadium; Merida vs Caracas. Me, Maycon and our Japanese friend went to the game with Isobel, a cool local we met the night before. The match was good, a 1-1 draw, and after we walked around the city lazily and met another friend before going for food and more drinks at the reggae bar. What a week.
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  • Day89

    I somehow spent another 2 amazing weeks in Merida before crossing the border to Colombia. Me and Maycon successfully made it to the Pan de azucar mountain peak on our second attempt. The hike to the mountain through the national park mountain valley was long, but the scenery beautiful, and we camped at 4,300m at the Base. You could feel the altitude, and the next day we woke up to a few inches of snow in a very cold tent. We realised we were high in the Andes, and after an exhausting climb in the snow, we made it to the cold windy summit (nearly 5000m), and I couldn't feel my fingers or toes. The same day we hiked some 6 hours in awesome weather all the way down to the culata valley where we luckily hitched a ride with a Venezuelan couple back to the city. We even bought some local 'mora' wine, drank on the journey and ate food with them back in Merida.

    On Thursday we met up with Isobel and her uni friends, and the 5 of us got the bus into a scenic valley and found a great spot of grass to chill out by a river. We chilled all day in the sun with music and Mora wine, and ate loads of food. That Night I went to play pool with my drunk hostel owner, Hugo.

    At the weekend I showed Maycon the incredible Botanical Gardens looking over the city, and we sat through 2 hours of spanish 'pirates of the carribean' in the cinema. Friday night there was a party with lots of people at the hostel for someone's birthday, and Saturday we had a BBQ with Hugo and his wife, cooking 4 enormous steaks for about 2 dollars. The same day, Maycon also got his first tattoo! We had met some tattoo artists the night before and they came back to the hostel for maycons spontaneous arm tattoo of Pink Floyd lyrics. She did an awesome job, and it was ridiculously cheap, but she misspelt a word..  hilarious.

    I got Ill again for the third time (diarrhoea) after the weekend, but we still got out and walked lots around the city; and through several protests. On Monday we bought tickets for a bus to Colombia the following day, and as we left the bus terminal, a large group of violent protesters came down the main road. All the buses that were in the terminal left at once and the place emptied, security Gates closed, and shops shut. I guess some protest groups of young males are notorious for looting and vandalism, so everyone flees... Anyway we went for food and to a local pool bar

    On our 'last day' in Merida, we took a bus 2 hours North to the highest point of the road (4,000m) and to the supposedly spectacular mount Aguila. It was shit. Overcast and freezing cold weather meant we couldn't see or feel anything. We still walked to the peak but it was pretty pointless. In the afternoon we went to the 'La Musuy' thermal water for the second time, and it didn't disappoint. Again, we were relaxing in a natural jacuzzi high in the mountains with an incredible view, music, food and lots of sun. This has to be my favourite place in Venezuela.

    We were supposed to leave for Colombia on Wednesday, but crazy Tony still owed us some money (which we had been asking for over a week), and Maycon refused to leave without it. So, we stayed in Merida another night, and went out to a club with a group of Hugos friends. Terrible drunk dancing to awful music and mosh pit circles was all I remember. We agreed to do the 'world record cable car' on our last day, so we got up early, bought Colombia bus tickets (for thursday) and got to the teleferico early. However, after buying tickets and waiting for Isobel to arrive we missed the last cable car. I'd paid $50 (being a tourist) and couldn't get a refund off the stubborn boss, so our only option was to come back the next day, which meant changing our bus tickets yet again. I began to think i was never going to leave Venezuela, but on the plus side we got the money that Tony owed us, and spent the day with Isobel and her sister around the town.

    My final day in Venezuela was awesome. We rode the world's highest and longest cable car to one of the highest points of the country (5000m) where it was seriously cold and we felt drunk from the altitude. It was a clear day in the mountains so the scenery and views were incredible all around. We later went out to the same night club, but had to leave drunk at 2am to catch our long bus to Colombia.

    My 90 days in Venezuela had come to an end, and what an incredible journey I've had through this unique country. On June 3rd I entered Colombia by walking accross the partially closed border at Cucuta, as I stood with my backpack looking forward to another 3 months in a new country...
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  • Day2

    Today I arrived in the capital of Venezuela. An hour with a non-licensed non-English-speaking taxi driver tested my Spanish, but we had some good (broken) conversations and laughs. It was reassuring to hear how bad the current situation is in Venezuela, and how Caracas is not safe for tourists, there's violence, hunger and the police are corrupt....
    Anyway, I arrived safely at Joel's place, a northern English Couchsurfing host who's been here a few years. He's a really cool guy, I was greeted with beers and I met a couple of his friends as we went out for some (amazing) local food. His flat, in the centre of Los Palos Grandes, is high up and offers some pretty cool views...
    If you were to carry 200 of the highest denomination banknotes in Europe, you'd be carrying €20,000. In Venezuela, you've got about a fiver.
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  • Day5

    Today I managed to get out and see and experience a lot more of the city. Early morning Joel managed to get some money for me and Sergio before going to work. Me and Serg then spent the whole day together! He took me round the city, on the subway, through the rough 'barrios', and to his appartment. I got a really good feel of life here for the locals, and could appreciate the constant struggle that Venezuelans face.
    Our highlight was taking the 'teleferico' cable car from the city to the top of Mount Avila. The incredible mountain separates Caracas from the Caribbean Sea, so you can imagine the views from the top were insane. We had some more local food at the top whilst taking in the views. I didnt take a phone or camera for fear of being robbed, and we got some dodgy buses to and from the cable car, as well as being hassled by various locals, and on entry i got charged ten times more for being a white European. So, I was constantly reminded of where I was...
    After the mountain we walked down the main commercial boulevard and through the city centre as the sun set. This was an experience in itself. The place was very busy and packed with people, desperate beggars, street sellers, and the corrupted police. I wouldn't feel safe if I was alone. It was around 7pm, and Sergio was explaining how everyone was rushing to get home, shops were closing, and the city disappears before it goes dark. After 7.30, you see no-one on the streets, the thriving city becomes a ghost town, thanks to its dreadful reputation at night. However, I can understand why; we saw an angry driver pull out a gun and point it down the street shouting in road rage, and this was earlier in broad daylight!
    Anyway, we arrived safely back at Joel's place after an amazing day together, and started the Friday night drinking before heading to Andrews house once again for a bit of a party. Rum, music, and Chinese takeaway saw us into the early hours and I had a great last night in Caracas.
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  • Day65

    I had a great week living with the family and helping out around the farm. I'd be up early and  working hard most mornings; gardening, clearing, labouring, digging, painting or whatever else there was to do. The jobs were made enjoyable by the natural beauty of this place, good weather, and of course some music. Typically I would finish in the late afternoon and relax for the evening before an early night.

    The week started with heavy work. Monday I finished some 'hands and knees' weeding, before starting to clear the other overgrown garden with a machete and shears. Tuesday I met Gualo, a cool young friend of Bruni's, and together we dug a large metre-deep square hole for building foundations for a water tank. We really got on, and after working we went into town for a beer. It turns out he is also a mountain guide and he wants to take me up the Andes. Perfect.

    Wednesday I finished destroying all the plants and clearing the garden area, as well as helping a builder with construction; digging foundations, moving materials, carrying iron bars and such. I was painting in the house all of Thursday (doors, gates and window frames) and Friday worked with Gualo's younger brother moving bricks and cement. In the week I spent time bonding with the family also, particularly at mealtimes and in the evenings, and also went with Bruni on supply-trips and to a local town, Tabay. I even played videogames with the son Tomas, watched sustainable  agriculture documentaries, and talked music, spanish and culture with Raul, the grandfather. However, the best day for me was Saturday...

    Bruni and some women from the local primary school had organised for a community action-day working on improvements for the school. We were the first to arrive, and early, but by midmorning nearly 40 people had turned up! We had Latin music playing on big speakers, and groups of people all around the school working together on different tasks. I was with Gualo and a few other guys doing the hard labour; moving rock and dirt with spade and pick-axe to create garden space. It was great to be part of a community happily volunteering together, and of course the setting was beautiful and the weather incredible.

    We worked all day, then I collected my bags and said goodbyes to the family, as I headed back to Merida city in the evening. I arrived back at the hostel where to my suprise, Maycon (my friend from the Orinoco) had also arrived earlier that day. I had reccomended the place to him the week before, but didn't expect to see him! Although tired, we bought a crate of beer and got drunk with Hugo, the hostel owner, and went out to some bars, where we drank too much with some locals... Expectedly, our first full day in Merida was spent Hungover, but Me and Maycon got out and walked around the city. We walked all around the city, and even through protests, checking out different places. We came accross some tour agencies in the centre, and met Tony, a crazy Venezuelan local guide and outdoor/animal expert who spoke English. We talked for an hour or so, and planned some cool stuff for what would be an awesome week ahead...
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  • Day4

    Another strange day in this crazy city...
    on Thursday I spent most of the day Hungover on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep, I felt terrible. Meanwhile Joel and everyone from the night before were somehow at work like normal!
    That afternoon Joel was told by the police that his bike had been recovered, so he drove down to the station to get it, but no bike. There was a mix-up and it was somewhere else, so Joel left only to find within the space of 5 minutes his car had been towed. A typical day in Caracas...
    Late that afternoon He picked me up and we went to the international school where they all work. I met his work friends, ex-wife and his lovely kids, Sid and Pearl. We looked around and had a kick-abount in the playground, before heading to an incredible steakhouse restaurant.. the food was amazing, and so cheap thanks to the exchange rate...
    After, we dropped the kids off and went to pick up a Venezuelan friend - Sergio. Long story short, Joel and Sergio met on the subway 2 years ago and have been friends ever since. Sergio is a young, educated, trilingual physiotherapist who was doing very well and lives in a nice place. However, thanks to the inflation and major problems in Venezuela, he has very few clients now, so no money or food, and he often goes hungry...
    Anyway he's a really cool guy, we bought him some food and he stayed with us in the flat. We chilled out and watched a hilarious film called Vacation. By the time it finished, my sides hurt...
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  • Day6

    Car Horns and tyre screeches, gunshots and police sirens. The sound of the concrete jungle that is the capital of a country in despair. A normal day in 2017 Caracas is chaotic. With the highest inflation rate of any country ever, Venezuelas economy looks beyond saving, which hits the capital hard. The middle class have left, businesses gone bankrupt, people are hungry and what little money they have is worthless. About 5 years ago the rare 100-Bolivar banknote was worth $20. 2 years ago it was worth 50¢. Now so common, it makes good toilet paper, with a value of 2¢. Most of the problems I have seen are because of this horrific situation, and it seems people are desperate, unhappy and just trying to survive. Large favellas called 'barrios' surround the city and are some of the most dangerous places in the world. I've seen these places from the safety of an unlicensed, 50 year-old broken fully-packed vehicle called a public bus. I've seen people routing through bins,  police forcing bribes, and even a gun pulled out of a car window in road-rage!

    However, if you see past the reality of these problems, you experience a city with charm, natural beauty, and some really cool people! Groups of brightly coloured Macaws, vultures, and tropical birds fly around the city and are very vocal. Towering palms, mango trees and thick vegetation line the streets, and in the local park there are iguanas, sloths and other wildlife. Caracas is in a beautuful valley, and separated from the Caribbean coast by the impressive coastal mountains and El Avila national park. I took a long cable car ride to the top of the Avila mountain with Sergio, a cool local Venezuelan who, like most people, is struggling to live and wants to leave the country. The views on both sides from a sunny 9,000ft were incredible, with the bright-blue carribean sea to the north, and the expansive  Caracas to the south. Being with Sergio for a couple of days was very eye-opening; I learnt a lot about the city, country, and the spanish language, but was constantly reminded of the problems Venezuelans face.

    Since arriving in Caracas, I have stayed with Joel, whos been in the city for 2 years, and is probably the coolest guy I've ever met. He works at the international school and has introduced me to so many amazing people; friends, colleagues and his family! It's been great meeting so many people, we've had some incredible food and a couple of great nights out. I'm very grateful to Joel for hosting and giving me all the help, and it's thanks to him for my amazing Caracas experience.

    I left England 6 days ago, and have had a great first week of travel. Thank you Vincent for hosting me in Lisbon, and thanks to Joel and all his friends in Caracas. I'll be back! Now it's time for a long overnight journey to East Venezuela, where the Orinoco Delta awaits...
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  • Day7

    Today I got lucky. I'm genuinely surprised to have arrived at the Orinoco Delta camp with no major problems or hassle. Of course, that doesn't mean that the journey was pleasant, fast or safe.
    I started with a premature taxi ride to the Caracas Bus terminal. The driver says stay inside, it is not safe when it goes dark. My first problem is that there are no buses to Tucupita today (my destination town), so I buy a ticket for Maturin, a city close-by. My second problem is I'm very early, I have nearly 3 hours to wait in a scary run-down depot with everyone staring at you knowing you're a foreigner. Truth be told, the time passed and I got on the bus (realtively) easily after talking with a few locals. The bus set off (an hour late) and was quite empty, so i got some alright sleep.

     My third problem came when we pulled into some bandit-looking town and the driver instructs everyone to get off. We are about halfway to Maturin, and have to board another bus waiting for us. This one is old, disgusting and packed. We get on and fill every available seat with none to spare. Hot and cramped we set off with a bang and a grind. The drivers all over the place, probably drunk, and the sounds of the bus aren't comforting...

    It's 2am and dark. I have a good view out of the front window, and I see the distant sky glowing orange. As we get nearer, the sky becomes brighter. Then, over the horizon appears several balls of fire. We drive through endless oil refineries, with tall stacks that emit enormous bright flames 200ft above the ground. On all sides of the bus the sky is alight as though it were sunrise, from the countless columns of burning fire. Venezuela sits on the worlds largest natural oil reserve, and these refineries go on for hours...
    I eventually arrive at Maturin in an equally run-down depot and ask about catching a bus to Tucupita. I get very lucky, as one is just about to leave. The woman explained that if I were a few minutes later, I would have waited 24 hours for the next one...

    This bus is comfortable and I sleep into the early hours before arriving at Tucupita 8am. What a shit-hole, but I strike lucky again meeting Carlos, a man here to pick up his wife, and who actually speaks a little English. I gratefully take a ride with them to the river, where I will aim to hitch a boat-ride into the delta. However, he tells me my destination is very far and there are very few boats on a Sunday...

    On arriving at the river there are many locals gathered and police everywhere. We see the dead body of a national guard laid on the ground, and people mourning. The body is bagged, taken away in a van, and people leave. Carlos leaves too and I explain my gratitude for his help, as I am now left alone on the shore thinking what the fuck just happened!?
    I strike luck a third time. Within 5 minutes of the commotion, 4 guys lower a boat into the water, and I approach to ask about getting to the delta camp. After some awkward exchanges of broken Spanish, I realise they are heading to a settlement close to my camp, and after offering a generous amount of money, I climb on-board and we speed off down the wide open river. This boat looks shit, but my God is it fast!

    Problem number 4 came when the oversized engine blows up at full speed. Well, that's what it sounded like as I was thrown forward off the bench and the boat came to an abrupt stop. The guys didn't react much, and after pulling off the engine cover and sticking their hands in, the engine was started up again in minutes. It was music to my ears. I smiled and gave the thumbs up as a wave of relief hit me. It didn't last long though, as the same thing happened a few minutes later.

    After 2 hours, 3 stops, and 6 more 'break-downs', Venezuelas finest speed-garbage-can slowed down and approached the camp at 1pm. By some miracle, I had arrived safely (and with all my stuff) at my home for the next month in the heart of the Orinoco Delta. And this place is jungle paradise....
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  • Day14

    My first week in the Jungle of the Orinoco Delta (Please read my blog; 'An introduction to the Orinoco' before this)

    My first week at the Lodge has been a real mixture of highs and lows, hard work and relaxation, adventure and confinity, conversation and silence. However, it has been an incredible experience so far and I'm very happy to be here.
    Throughout the week there have been at least 7 of us working here, a few others have come and gone on occassion. They're all Venezuelan and seem nice, but are generally untalkative, and speak absolutely no English, with the exception of Johanna - the woman in charge. Immediately I found it difficult to communicate as my Spanish is poor, and when there is conversation I cannot understand any of it. The language here is spoken lazily, without proper pronunciation and at incredible speed! I have managed to have the odd short chat in broken Spanish, but rely on body language and basic phrases, something very familiar from Tanzania.. Anyway I can only really talk to Johanna in English, and mostly sit and smile in silence at meal times. This should be good for improving my Spanish, but only time will tell. The situation improved slightly on Wedneday with the arrival of Anthony, the creator and owner of the lodge. Originally from Palestine, Anthony is an American citizen who discovered the Orinoco Delta when backpacking Venezuela 25 years ago. He had the vision to create this place, and has built up the lodge from just a few initial cabins to the size of a village today. He's cool and speaks perfect English so we get on.

    The typical day here starts at 6.30am when the rising sun illuminates my cabin and the chorus of birds begin like the perfect morning alarm. Breakfast is around 7am, after which everyone gets to work doing various things around the lodge. Although the lodge could probably cater for 100 people, there have been no guests this week so not much to do as a volunteer. My typical tasks have been cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. Whether it be surfaces, furniture, floor or kitchenware, I've learnt that cleaning is a soul-destroying job that I will not be doing in the future. It's been difficult at times, as my willingness to help and asking for more jobs have been met with 'oh, can you please clean the...' *Eurgh!* Thankfully there are other less monotonous tasks like watering plants, feeding the Parrots, washing the dogs, and answering the phone. The others are busy with maintainence, gardening, fixing up boat engines and all sorts, but by midday everyone gathers for lunch and then the afternoon is a bit more relaxed for me.

    Since Anthonys arrival I've been able to play music through the bars speakers, making work more enjoyable, and he has taken a keen interest in my photography skills. One night I showed him some of my best shots from around the lodge and he was really impressed. We talked about his website and social media, and he is now asking me for photos inside guest-cabins and all sorts that he can use for attracting more guests. After telling him about my degree in design, he also wants me to photoshop edit the best photos at some point, and add logos etc. for posting online. Having a little side-project on the go is nice, especially when you're passionate about photography! Anyway, life as a volunteer is pretty easy and the incredible setting makes up for the boring tasks.

    This week there have been 2 stand-out days for me; non-suprisingly two boat trips out of the lodge. The first was a routine afternoon job to go to the nearest town of Boca with Callo and get weekly supplies. It was the first time I was able to enjoy the rivers, and sat on a comfortable boat with sunshine and a breeze in my face, it felt good. The boat was fast, but we still travelled 45 minutes to get to Boca, showing just how deep in the Jungle the lodge really is. We bought gasoline and supplies, filled 4 enormous Jerry cans with drinking water, and I went to a small 'shop' to buy a few bits. We then waited for Anthony, who arrived with his wife in a jeep full of supplies, which me and Callo loaded onto the boat before heading back to the lodge. The ride back through the open delta in the late afternoon sun was amazing, and I had a grin the whole way.

    The best day for me however was Friday, when a trip to get wood for building became a crazy day-long jungle adventure. This was the highlight of my trip to Venezuela so far, and deserves a separate blog post - please read it!

    However mind-numbing some of the work here may be, it's experiences like these that make being here so worthwhile. In the afternoons I have started going on solo Kayaking adventures too, and are aiming to do so every day to experience as much of this place as possible. To sum up my first week in the Orinoco Delta, I've worked hard, but for the rewards of this wild yet tranquil place, it's been worth it.
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  • Day8

    I have arrived in the Orinoco Jungle, at my home for the next 4 weeks, and it deserves an introduction...

    La naturaleza vive aqui, or 'Nature Lives here' is the moto for this place. The phrase is painted in 21 different languages at the entrance to the lodge, and rightly so. The Orinoco is a wild jungle; a vast network of waterways teaming with wildlife. In the skies I've seen Macaws, Toucan, Pelican, Eagles, and in the trees howler monkeys, bats, and tropical birds. I've seen giant lizards, toads the size of your head, butterflies bigger than birds and a variety of bizarre insects. The fauna is equally impressive with towering palms, banana trees, many colourful flowers, and in the water are plentiful fish, piranha, crab, and crocodile. I really am in the wild, and the sounds of the jungle remind me so; by day the incredible and diverse chorus of tropical birds, by night the constant chatter of a million cricket-like insects. Although very much loud and alive, this riverside paradise is the definition of tranquility.

    Upon arriving at the 'lodge' I was very impressed, not only by the beauty, but the size of this place. There is an enormous open central lodge looking over the river with decking above the water. Pathways extend from both sides giving access to the 40+ guest-cabins and other lodges that all face the river. Everything has been built by hand mostly with wood from the jungle, bamboo interiors, palms for roofing, and all surrounded by tall trees, thick vegetation, and swamp. The lodge layout is perfect; a well-established and harmonious part of the jungle.

    The transformation of the delta at dawn is incredible. I've woken up before sunrise a few times already to sit out on the river and absorb the tranquility. Before sunrise, the insects quieten, and the birds are still silent. The undisturbed water is smooth like silk, a mirror for the sky, and it is the only time when all is calm. The sky warms through shades of pink and orange, high wispy clouds become colourful, and the scene is reflected perfectly by the water. It gets brighter, the sun is risen, but it takes 30 minutes to appear above the high jungle canopy on the other side of the river. When it does, the lodge and jungle burst into flames of colour and character, and the orchestra of a million tropical birds fill your ears. A breeze picks up, the water is now rippled as if flowing, and the sounds and sights of the delta are transformed in minutes.

    The transformation of day to night is not as spectacular. I'm sure the sunsets here would be insane but the lodge faces East and the jungle behind blocks any view of the last hour of sunlight. Nevertheless, there's something special about dusk. As it darkens, the oil lamps lit, and the lodge lights switched on, there is a calmness again about the jungle. The water becomes still once more, and reflects what little light is left in the sky, as the army of relentless mosquitos emerge after dusk. On one occasion I witnessed a bright full moon rise above the palm trees just after sunset. However, most nights are clear, so when its dark the sky is spectacular. This place is remote, so the milky way shines bright (alongside fireflies) to the earie night noise of chirping insects.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Venezuela, ቬንዙዌላ, Benezuela, فنزويلا, Venesuela, Венесуэла, Венецуела, Venezuwela, ভেনিজুয়েলা, ཝེ་ནི་ཛུའེ་ལ།, Venecuela, Veneçuela, Venezuela nutome, Βενεζουέλα, Venezuelo, Venetsueela, ونزوئلا, Wenesuwelaa, Vénézuéla, Venezuèla, Veiniséala, A Bheiniseala, વેનેઝુએલા, Benezuwela, ונצואלה, वेनेज़्वेला, Վենեսուելա, Venesúela, ベネズエラ共和国, ვენესუელა, វេនេហ្ស៊ុយឡា, ವೆನೆಜುವೆಲಾ, 베네주엘라, Venezuêla, Veneswela, Venetiola, Venzwera, Venézuela, ເວເນຊູເອລາ, Venecuēla, Venezoelà, വെനിസ്വേല, व्हेनेझुएला, Venezwela, ဗင်နီဇွဲလား, भेनेजुएला, Veneçuèla, ଭେନଜୁଏଲା, Beneswela, Wenezuela, Biniswila, वेनेजुयेला, Venezzuela, Venezueläa, Fenisuweela, Venezuelë, வெனஜுவேலா, వెనుజువేలా, ประเทศเวเนซุเอลา, Venisuela, ۋېنېسۇئېلا, Венесуела, وینزوئیلا, Vê-nê-zu-ê-la (Venezuela), Venesolän, ווענעזועלע, Orílẹ́ède Fẹnẹṣuẹla, 委內瑞拉, i-Venezuela

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