Day 1: Caracas. Welcome to Venezuela! Airport reception and transfer to your hotel. Overnight accommodations at the Costa Real Suites, with typical breakfast included. The hotel is conveniently located in Caracas' Central Coast, in the Tanaguarena/Caraballeda area, just 20 min drive from the airport. There are only 15 colorful suites, with a comfortable bedroom with big windows, private bathroom (shower with hot water), a spacious living room with couches and a double hammock, a/c, fan, cable TV, hairdryer, safe, and minibar/fridge. There is a swimming pool and a restaurant/bar.
Day 2: Caracas – Canaima National Park. In the morning set off on a flight to Canaima, flying over the massive tepuis into the remote south of Venezuela. Upon arrival in Canaima, pay National Park fee (about US$14.00), before proceeding to Jungle Rudy's Ucaima Camp, a small lodge located on the banks of the Carrao River, above Hacha Falls with views of three tepuis and the Auyan Tepui in the distance. Your transfer to the lodge involves a five-minute jeep ride, followed by a five-minute dugout canoe ride to the lodge.
Ucaima Camp offers tranquility and personalized service. Accommodations are in comfortable cabanas with private bathrooms. The grassy area in front of the lodge is a perfect place to sit back and enjoy the unique backdrop of Canaima National Park, and Canaima lagoon's cool, dark but clear water offers refreshing respite from the Gran Sabana's mid-day heat. In the afternoon, set off on an excursion to Sapo Falls. Setting off in a motorized dugout canoe up the Carrao River to the Sabana (plain) de Mayupa, you will enjoy a short hike to Sapo and Sapito Falls. Depending on water levels, the rocky trail actually follows behind the powerful falls. Return to the lodge for dinner. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 3: Angel Falls. After coffee and a light snack, board a motorized dugout canoe (curiara) and set off up the Carrao River, which is lined by luxuriant vegetation.After another short jeep trip around Mayupa rapids, continue up river, stopping to view the spectacular scenery of the "Lost World." Giant tepuis loom over the savannah and jungle below and countless waterfalls gracefully descend the face of Auyan-tepui. The journey continues passing by Arautaima rapids, Pozo de la Felicidad and Orchid Island.
Upon arrival at Orchid Island, breakfast will be served. Afterward, continue upriver, leaving the Carrao River behind, and proceeding up the Churun River. After about one hour, you will reach Ratoncito Island, from where you can observe Angel Falls. From Ratoncito Island, a one hour hike leads to El Mirador, a lookout point offering superb views and photographic opportunities (weather permitting) to capture the massive rocky face of Auyan-tepui and "Salto Angel" in the warm morning sun. The rest of your day will be spent exploring this "Lost World" on your own. Your overnight accommodations are in a rustic shelter close to Ratoncito Island. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 4: Ucaima Camp. After a full morning enjoying Angel Falls, return downriver to Ucaima Camp in time for dinner. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Canaima National Park – Puerto Ordaz - Orinoco Delta Lodge. At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the airstrip for your flight to Puerto Ordaz. Depart Puerto Ordaz on a three-hour transfer to Boca de Uracoa. Upon arrival, board your boat for the short trip to the Orinoco Delta Lodge. The Orinoco Delta in Venezuela is accessible yet still virgin. Its web of countless small and big rivers allows you to venture deep into spectacular galleries of untouched beauty. From your base at Orinoco Delta Lodge, you travel by fast strong boats to get as deep as the Delta permits. Then change to smaller boats with smaller motors, and finally you travel just like the Warao Indians did it for thousands of years, you penetrate 1-2 meter canals by dug-out canoes.
With the blasting sounds of the Howler Monkeys and the sharp curious screams of the Blue and Gold Macaws protesting your invasion, the effects are unforgettable. The adventure begins with your arrival in Boca de Uracoa. From here a 1-hour fast boat transfer brings you to the Orinoco Delta Lodge. This riverside camp features 37 cabins each with private bathrooms. The family-run camp is somewhat rustic, and built in a style favoring the local Warroa thatch roof homes. The food is excellent and served in a huge restaurant and bar area overlooking the vast delta. Includes: (B, D). While here you will experience the Orinoco Delta with experienced bi-lingual guides.
The Orinoco Delta
The Orinoco delta is a vast, intricate labyrinth of waterways weaving through a simmering jungle to carry the waters of the Orinoco to the Atlantic Ocean. The Orinoco Delta - the landmass now known as Delta Amacuro State - has formed over the course of thousands of years as the mighty river has deposited millions of tons of sediment into the ocean. Over the last century alone, some 1,000km² has been added to the delta, which continues to extend into the Atlantic at a rate of 40m per year over its entire 360km coastline. The Orinoco branches off into over 60 caños (waterways) and 40 rivers which diffuse through 41,000km² of forested islands, swamps and lagoons.
The Delta and its Wildlife
The delta is divided into upper and lower regions, west and east of the Caño Macerao respectively. This division is a consequence of the flood control program initiated in the 1960s; Caño Mánamo was dammed, reducing seasonal flooding in the north and making the land more suitable for cattle farming. There was, however, a cascade of knock-on effects in the region. The reduced water levels in the upper delta caused the region to become tidal, and water levels now rise and fall by 1-2m daily. In the dry season, salt water now moves further up the waterways, which has had a significant effect on the flora and fauna of the area and has forced resident Warao to relocate, seeking fresh water upriver. The lower delta, still under the influence of the Orinoco, is subject to flooding during the dry season, when water levels may vary by up to 15m. Since 1991, 331,000 ha of the lower delta has been protected under
Mariusa National Park
A massive variety of habitats has arisen within the delta, both terrestrial and aquatic. Mixed tropical rainforest, dominated by towering palm trees, prevails over much of the terra firma, fostering a variety of flora including fruiting trees, orchids, bromeliads and arboreal ferns; the latter of which flourish in the moist air of the canopy. Grassland swamps and marshes brim with aquatic plants, and estuarine waterways towards the ocean are thick with mangroves. Throughout the delta, the caños are themselves hugely diverse in form. Wide channels break off into narrow rivulets, isolated pools and lagoons. Some, heavy with sediments are brown in color, others are black with tannic acids. Many are carpeted with vast floating meadows of bora and grasses, slowly drifting along with the current.
Needless to say, the wildlife of the delta is also extremely rich and varied. Jaguar, puma, ocelot, red howler and capuchin monkeys, capybara, agouti, giant otter, manatee and dolphins are just a handful of the countless species of mammal that can be observed in their natural habitats. Among the extensive bird population are hoatzin, macaws, parrots, toucans, caciques, kingfishers, cormorants, egrets, falcons, hawks, harpy-eagles, weaverbirds and hummingbirds. There is also an untold number of amphibians, reptiles and fish species, including anaconda, boas, vipers, fer-de-lance, coral snakes, iguana, cayman, turtles, piranha, stingrays and catfish.
The Warao Indians - literally the 'Canoe People'- are the native inhabitants of the delta. With a population of 24,000, the Warao constitute the second largest indigenous tribe in the country. Family groups reside in palafitos (wooden houses raised on stilts) along the banks of the river, and spend most of their daily lives in canoes fishing the nearby caños and hunting and gathering in the surrounding forests. Skilled craftspeople, the Warao build their palafitos and canoes from forest wood using traditional techniques, and, owing to increased contact with tourists, have also begun to carve figurines from balsa wood and to make necklaces, baskets and hammocks from the leaves and seeds of the ubiquitous moriche palm. The moriche palm, however, supplies more than just the basis for artesania. Otherwise known as the 'tree of life', the moriche provides the Indians with fruit, juices and a sweet pulp that can be made into a type of bread. Moreover, the trunk of the palm is used to cultivate a thumb-sized beetle grub, the moriche worm, a nutritious dietary supplement
Days 6-7: Orinoco Delta Lodge. Days to explore the area on guided excursions. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 8: Orinoco Delta Lodge - Maturin - Caracas - Los Roques. Depart the lodge by boat to Boca de Uracoa, where you will transfer by vehicle to the airport in Matruin. Fly to Caracas and connect with your flight to Los Roques. Upon arrival on Gran Roque, pay entrance tax (some $18) and proceed to your Caribbean-style, comfortable guesthouse (Posada Acquamarina, or similar). Orientation on Gran Roque is straightforward - your accommodations are located just off the main plaza, a minute's walk from the airstrip. Rooms have private bathrooms, air conditioning, ceiling fans and room safes. All meals are included in your stay, and optional excursions can be easily arranged through the guesthouse.
The Archipelago of Los Roques consists of over 365 islands 60 miles off the north coast of Venezuela. The area is home to coral reefs that are as of yet undiscovered by most divers and fisherman. Enjoy your time snorkeling, sailing and exploring nearby islands. If you are interested in scuba diving, Lost World Adventures can arrange diving and instruction at the local dive shop for a variety of skill levels. From the "Discovery Scuba" course, where you can dive safely with a dive master (no certification obtained) to the highly advanced "Rescue Diver" course (for professional diving), and even the "Jr. Open Water Diver" course in which divers aged 12 to 15 may obtain an internationally recognized certificate, you can find what you need. Diving at different keys will give you the opportunity to see marine life such as stingrays, grouper, angelfish, barracuda, moray eels, and coral, among others. For those who would prefer to snorkel, Los Roques is still an underwater wonderland.
Healthy reef systems are packed with life and contain thick forests of soft coral, long stretches of virgin hard coral, black coral bushes, brain corals, mounds of star coral and great clusters of gray and brown gorgonia. These warm, unspoiled, azure and aquamarine waters contain as many fish as were found in Belize, Cozumel or the north wall of Cayman, 30 years ago. Although of the same reef system as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, this is no underwater petting zoo. Designated a National Park, all sites in the archipelago are limited to 10 divers, so you get the intimate feeling of diving in untamed, untouched waters. Most often, you will be the only divers in any given area. Visibility varies, but can reach 100 feet. No matter where you dive, you will swim among and marvel at immense swirling schools of fish: armies of glassy sweepers, southern sennet, spotted drum, jacks, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, grouper, red, gray and yellowtail snapper, hogfish, tarpon, Queen angels, thousands of silvery blue bogia, trumpet fish, white spotted filefish, smooth trunk fish, colorful tropicals, parrotfish, porcupine puffers, stingrays, moray eels and more.
Among the many spectacular dive sites are the Rock of the Jewfish, which provides an excellent introduction to the following days of diving. Although there are no longer any Jewfish, there is still plenty to see during a 30-minute circumnavigation of this seamount. Nurse sharks are occasionally spotted at Los Noronkys. At the coral-laden wall at Cayo Sal, you can take a break inside a cavern at 100 feet and watch as tens of thousands of fish swim by castles of hard coral and tall, swaying bushes of soft corals. The wall at Punta Salina starts at 30 feet and drops straight to 180 feet. You can also include a visit to the Turtle Sanctuary, located in Dos Mosquices Key, a 2 to 2 ½-hour boat trip from Gran Roque. Here you will find an incredible reefs-cape of pristine hard and soft corals. Fisherman will find Los Roques to be a heaven for flats fishing.
Bonefish are abundant year 'round, and tarpon and permit also easily caught in these waters. In this National Marine Park, all fishing is strictly catch and release, and a very limited number of fishermen are permitted to fish daily. For those who enjoy windsurfing, there is a first class windsurf club located on adjacent Francisky key. They rent a variety of equipment for excursions ranging from one hour to a full day of windsurfing. Private instruction for beginners is also available. From the resort you may spend the day exploring the surrounding islands via windsurfer. From the guesthouse you may also arrange a full-day boat tour to visit Dos Mosquices Biological Station, located on one of the farther keys from Gran Roque and home of Los Roques Scientific Foundation's biological station. The standard trip includes a visit to three keys.
Departing early in the morning, you'll visit Carenero, Cayo de Agua, and Dos Mosquices keys. Most of the day is spent on Agua, where lunch will be served. At Dos Mosquices visit to the biological station escorted by a guide, who will provide you with a tour of the marine turtle hatchery. For those who want to stay on dry land, the area offers an abundance of optional excursions. Gran Roque's lighthouse, the oldest on the Venezuelan coast, is recommended for a late afternoon visit as a great spot to enjoy the sunset. Or if you are just looking to get away from it all, the guesthouse will provide complimentary transfers to nearby keys, along with a box lunch, sun chairs and parasols. The only thing you'll miss is the crowd. Includes: (B, D).
Days 9-10: Los Roques. Says at leisure. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 11: Los Roques – Caracas. Transfer to the airstrip for your flight to Caracas. Airport reception and transfer to your hotel. Overnight at the Costa Real Suites, breakfast included. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Int'l departure. Hotel pickup and transfer to the airport for your departing flight. Includes: (B).
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