Venezuela is a diverse and wild country, home to some extremely unique nature reserves and wildlife, which will surely leave nature-lovers in awe. There is the towering Salto Angèl (Angel Falls); spectacular Mount Roraima (table top mountain); and the curious natural phenomena of Lago de Maracaibo, where at certain times of the year lighting flashes up to two hundred times per minute with no accompanying thunder! Top all this off with some spectacular Caribbean beaches, pretty Colonial towns, and some of the best chocolate in the world and you have Venezuela.
When traveling around Venezuela, you have a number of economical options. Venezuela's bus system is well connected, and for the most part reliable. Buses run regularly to a variety of major cities and smaller towns. The quality of buses vary dramatically from small, rundown local buses to huge, luxurious buses that will blast you with their freezing-cold air conditioning. In addition to buses, it is also possible to take a small plane to some major tourist locations. Throughout the country, Venezuela hostels and guesthouses -- sometimes called posadas -- can be found at bargain prices. and what's more, they tend to be good-quality and comfortable establishments.
A popular destination for many travelers is Santa Elena -- not so much for the town itself, which is somewhat unimpressive, but because it is conveniently located with connections to other major towns and tourist attractions such as Mount Roraima. There are plenty of Venezuela hostels and posadas in Santa Elena, most of which are basic but well equipped. However due to the town's location, there can be power shortages which can affect tourist accommodation.
Venezuela boasts a number of beautiful Colonial towns. One of the best is Ciudad Bolivar, with its proud history and colourful streets; it's a joy to spend a day or two in this charming town. Ciudad Bolivar only offers a small number of posadas, all of which are centred in the heart of Casco Historico (historic centre) and tend to be located in beautiful Colonial houses.
Beachside destinations all over the country, such as Isla Matgatita and Los Roques, offer an array of Venezuela hostels and posadas sometimes at marked-up prices, but this is easy to avoid by traveling a short distance outside of the tourist hot spots. For more economical options, posadas and hostels in Puerto La Cruz offer much the same thing as other beachside destinations minus the price tag. From Puerto La Cruz, it is an easy and cheap boat ride to a number of small islands with lovely Caribbean beaches.
Although many travelers do not stay long in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, the city does offer a number of entertainment options such as a bustling nightlife and an array of free museums. Staying safe in Caracas is paramount, given the current economic situation, so ensure that you always travel via taxi and do not carry valuables. In terms of accommodation, Caracas is cheap. It is possible to stay in nice Venezuela hotels here for a fraction of the cost you might expect to pay. Caracas also offers many posadas all around the city. However, it is much better to stay on the city's east side, as it tends to be safer with less crime than the western suburbs.
Venezuela is a country that is changing quickly; the political and economic situation seems to be changing almost daily. As a result, Venezuela has a dual-currency system -- there is the official rate which is largely ignored, and the official rate, which is how the country operates. Everything you pay for will be charged at the unofficial rate, so never withdraw your money from ATMs, as you will receive money at the lesser official rate. Instead, bring enough cash with you to exchange on the streets at "Cambios," it is best to have a local with you for this. The US dollar or even Brazilian Real is the best to exchange. Do your research and check the current exchange rates as these are constantly in flux. Despite these complications, Venezuela is an amazing country, and for the more adventurous traveler, it can be extremely rewarding.
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