Caracas: A historic colonial town that has been transformed into one of South America's most sophisticated, skyscraper-studded, modern cities, Caracas today is a cosmopolitan, world class capital. Nestled against deep green mountains it is connected to Macuto, the seaside port, by a spectacular mountain pass highway. The city has excellent museums, parks, gardens, and a cable car to the summit of Mount Avila for a bird's-eye vista. The very heart of the city is Bolívar Square where one may visit the birthplace of the great liberator and an adjoining museum. The golden-domed capitol building, near Bolívar Square, is a neoclassical gem. Completed in 1873 it also houses many of the finest works of Venezuelan artists. The National Pantheon, Venezuela's most sacred monument, and Bolívar's resting place, has an changing of the guard daily at 2:30 p.m. Popular day trips include: Colonia Tovar, a fascinating transplanted Bavarian village and the popular Murano Glass Factory. Caracas has many excellent hotels in all categories. Visitors who seek night life will enjoy Caracas after hours. The city comes alive after dark with its neon lighted streets where lively night clubs, bars and discos feature hot salsa rhythms.
Macuto: East of the international airport serving Caracas, and right on the Caribbean, Macuto is a weekend and holiday resort area. Here good hotels, and a splendid yacht marina cater to deep-sea fishing enthusiasts.
Puerto La Cruz: Further east of Macuto, along the coast 13 mi. from Barcelona, Puerto La Cruz is one of Venezuela's leading beach resorts. With its luxury resort hotels, impressive sports stadium, good water sports, and deep-sea fishing, Puerto la Cruz can compete with any Caribbean island destination. In addition to soaking up the sun and relaxing, day trips are available to nearby, historic Barcelona and Mochima National Park.
Cumaná: Historic Cumaná, an hour's drive eastward from Puerto La Cruz, was founded in 1520, and lays claim to being the oldest Hispanic city in South America. It straddles both banks of the Manzanares River. The castle of San Antonio is a highlight, as is nearby Guácharo Cave. Accommodations include several good hotels. Frequent ferry service links the city with Margarita Island.
Margarita Island: Forty minutes from Caracas by air, Margarita Island has fast become a popular international beach resort. The island is famous for magnificent pearls found in surrounding waters. Hotels and shops (pearls and duty free bargains) are mainly located in Porlamar, the island's largest city. Visitors usually rent cars or mopeds to explore the island, including colonial capital city La Asunción, where the cathedral's Virgin wears robes covered in pearls. The island's western portion is uninhabited with many, wide, sweeping white sand beaches to discover.
Los Roques: Off the coast from La Guaira Los Roques National Park offers a splendid series of coral reefs and atolls, unique in the Caribbean. There are an amazing total of 320 separate isles and atolls. Excellent fishing and diving are the attraction. Most overnight visitors stay aboard small vessels.
South of the Orinoco River, the Gran Sabana or Guayana Highlands constitute a vast wilderness area that comprises half of Venezuela's national territory. Here the often startling landscape rises in rounded, forested hills and flat-topped mountains to the Brazilian border.
Angel Falls: Dramatic Angel Falls plunges from the flat-topped Auyan-Tepuy mountain 3,212 ft. to a jungle river below. It is a most spectacular sight! Daily flights connect Caracas and Canaima (near the base of the falls) where lodging is available. Weather permitting (there is often cloud cover), a falls fly-by can be arranged from Canaima. Camping expeditions are also available (May-December) that permit adventure travelers to view the falls up close. From the Canaima Lodge boat trips can be made to view Angles Falls from below, and also nearby Yuri Falls, Isla Orquides, and to see diamond prospectors and remote Indian villages.
The Maracaibo lowlands, often windy and extremely humid, extend to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the coast. In this area lies Venezuela's largest and most important industrial city - Maracaibo.
Maracaibo: Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Maracaibo, the city is Venezuela's oil capital - 70% of the country's output comes from the lake. Linked to Caracas by a short jet flight (50 min.) Maracaibo is the country's second largest city. Several day trips from Maracaibo are available. Most popular are excursions to visit the Motilones, Sinamaica and Guajira Indians
Mérida: Located in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida (Venezuela's western Andes), Mérida was founded in 1558. The city sits at the base of 15,867 ft. Pico Bolívar and is known for its 21 parks and sports activities, including fishing, trekking, and mountaineering. There are many excursions available from the city including a ride on the world's longest cable car. Round-trip on the four-section ride takes three hours and gives incredible vistas of the glaciers on Pico Bolívar, Pico Humboldt and Pico Bonpland. The cable car operates Tuesday - Sunday except holidays. Go as early in the morning as possible. Mountain bikers may take their bikes in the cable car and ride them down narrow trails. Experienced riders say the descent is a wild as it gets on two wheels. Mérida has several good hotels.