• Venezuela

Venezuela

Overview of Venezuela

Venezuela is probably one of the most urban countries in Latin America. Despite that status, it is well known for its natural features and diverse environs. The country features many protected wildlife habitats, as one of the country’s mandates is to preserve wildlife and their natural habitats. Venezuela is a major producer of petroleum and several agricultural items, including sugar cane, corn, rice, coffee and sorghum [a plant in the grass family].

This Spanish speaking country is very religious where a large majority of the locals are Roman Catholic. They place a lot of importance on religious customs and this can be observed as people attend mass religiously on a Sunday. Spanish is the official language of the country; however a lot of indigenous dialects are spoken by the people of Venezuela.

Many natural wonders can be found in Venezuela. Some of these wonders are Angel Falls, which is the world’ tallest waterfall, Pico Bolivar, the highest mountain, and the northern part of the Amazon basin falls within Venezuela!  Several species of birds can be found in Venezuela and it is no wonder that the country is regarded as one of seventeen mega diverse countries in the world. A lot of interesting animals can be found in the region such as manatees, anteaters and two-toed sloths!

Venezuelans love music and dance. Their national instrument, the cuatro is a small guitar and the joropo is the country’s natural dance. They are also known for their salsa and merengue. They pride themselves on being very sociable people and enjoy a lot of sporting activities. Baseball is a favourite past-time for many. Venezuelans are very hospitable and love to cater to guests visiting their country. They welcome them gladly and love to show off their rich heritage and beautiful landscapes.

Weather in Venezuela

Venezuela has a very tropical climate, as it is situated close to the equator. Coastal regions are more humid than the inland areas.  Generally all year round the climate remains warm as they do not have any major fluctuations in highs and lows. The weather is generally in the range of 78 degrees Farenheit (28 degrees Celsius) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius)

The mountainous regions are a lot cooler because of the altitude, so you will find that temperatures can drop to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you intend to travel to the mountainous regions such as the Andean regions, it is best to pack warm clothing.

The rainy season starts in May and ends in Mid-November.  During the dry season, rain may fall sporadically and what this means, is that when packing a good umbrella and water boots are necessary items.   Don’t be deterred by the rain, as Angel Falls is best viewed in the rainy season, where one can have a great aesthetic view of the falls in its full glory.

Caracas, the county’s capital is located in the mountainous region and so the temperature is a bit more temperate than other areas.  As Venezuela is considered a tropical country, they do not have much variation in temperature.  Only the wet season and dry season are important to note. Sometimes it will feel a little cooler or warmer, depending on where you are in the country. When packing, light jeans and loose fitting cotton shirts are staple items. Also, don’t forget to bring a sweater and an umbrella!

Venezuelan Cuisine and Drinks

Venezuelan cuisine has been greatly influenced by its Caribbean neighbours. You can say that their cuisine is a mix between African, European and Native Indian.  This mixture has resulted in a natural cuisine that is uniquely theirs. Their style of cooking, food seasonings and food choices have been carefully selected and passed down by generations.

Venezuelan cuisine almost always contains a fruit product such as plantains and starch products. This makes up a great part of their meals. Some all time favourites for locals and tourists alike are:

Arepas - This is the national dish in Venezuela and is a favourite for many. These small corn cakes can be had plain or stuffed with a variety of ingredients.

Tajadas - This tasty treat is served with almost everything, and I mean like breakfast, lunch, dinner and even as a snack. These fried plantains can have a very sweet taste depending how ripe it is but definitely delicious!

Pisca Andina - This is a breakfast soup that is made of chicken broth and potatoes. People have several variations of this soup, so sometimes eggs or even cheese will be added as a thickening agent.

Mandoca - This is a fried cornmeal fritter that is shaped into an oval. This is a favourite snack for many and is usually teamed with meats for breakfast. If not with breakfast, it can be teamed with cheese and butter and served as a snack.

Hallaca - This is a delicious treat made by families especially at Christmas. This treat is cornmeal stuffed with cured meats such as beef or pork. It is then wrapped in plantain leaves. Each family has their own recipe, which adds to the uniqueness of the treat. You will find that many families like to give away Hallacas as gifts.

In such a tropical atmosphere, Venezuelans enjoy plenty of cold drinks. Whether these drinks are alcoholic beverages, smithies or fruit juice mixtures, they are bound to be delicious and can be had at most restaurants and eateries. Some favourites include:

Papelon con limon - This is probably the Venezuelan version of lemonade. This drink is made with lime juice, raw sugar cane pulp and water. It is definitely the ideal drink to have on a hot summer day.

Ponche Crema - This is considered a Christmas drink, however it is made all year round. It’s more of Venezuelan type of Egg Nog, made with eggs, milk, sugar, rum, and spices including nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cocada - This is a creamy beverage made from coconut milk and can literally be found anywhere in Venezuela, however it is most popular on the coast.

Merengadas - These are fruity milkshakes made from fruits and milk.

Chicha de Arroz - This is a rice based drink that is sweet and creamy. Also a favourite found in the Andean regions of Venezuela.

Breakfast in this country is usually very light, and sometimes it might be just coffee or tea alone. Because breakfast is so light, a mid-morning snack is very popular for Venezuelan families.  Lunch is the largest meal of the day and can last for 2-3 hours. It is customary for persons to leave work and go home to have lunch, although times are slowly changing. Dinner tends to be smaller than lunch and is had no earlier than 8pm.

Activities and Places to See

The number 1 place to visit in Venezuela is Angel Falls, which is truly a sight to behold, being the tallest waterfall in the world. After the rainy season, the waterfall is in full glory and a must see for persons visiting. Apart from that some of my favourites are:

Cueva del Guácharo - You can head underground and get a good view of the cave system and get a good view of many nocturnal birds

Cuare Wildlife Refuge -  At this wildlife refuge some of the most interesting birds can be observed.

Safari in Amazonas - You can go on an adventure deep into the jungle! At this spot you can view wildlife in their natural habitat. You can come face to face with monkeys, and watch several species of birds. Remember to bring your binoculars and camera with you!

Colonia Tovar - Is a remnant of when the German immigrants settled in Venezuela from the Black Forest in the 19th century. It is a rustic little town that still grasps onto the “old world” traditions.

Caracas - the city capital is booming with culture vibrancy. The city has a wide array of museums that showcase Venezuela’s history and heritage. On the underside, night life in the city is rivalled by no other. They sure do know how to party!

Whether you want to view gentle attractions on the countryside, go snorkelling on the coast or view the natural wonders of the Andean mountains, Venezuela offers a diverse and cultural vacation that many will travel from far to see.

Things to note when visiting Venezuela

When travelling to Venezuela, it is good idea t change your money into Venezuelan Bolivar. The US Dollar is widely accepted throughout the country, but to ensure the best conversion rates, purchasing items with the country’s currency will ensure value for your money. Currently 1USD converts to roughly 6VEF.

Always be prepared for the weather and be vigilant with your personal belongings. It is advised not to wear expensive jewellery and always take licensed cabs. It is always advisable to get good directions before going anywhere, so you don’t end up lost. Other than that, Venezuela makes a prime vacation spot for many tourists, so enjoy your trip! I had a wonderful time.

About the author Kadene Buchanan

Kadene is a small town girl from Trelawny, Jamaica, hometown of Usain Bolt. Her love of travelling stemmed from her first trip to another Caribbean island and fell in love with the culture and beautiful landscape of Grand Cayman. From then on, her family would take her on frequent trips to several destinations all over the world. She has always been an avid reader and loves writing about her trips to these exotic destinations. Travel writing is Kadene’s greatest passion along with preparing exotic dishes and collecting authentic souvenirs. She hopes to explore the Eastern side of the world in her future travels and will always keep writing about those experiences!

View all posts by Kadene Buchanan

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