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Traveling to Caracas, Venezuela - travel tips & recommendations?

Traveling to Caracas, Venezuela - travel tips & recommendations?

Old May 1, 12, 4:08 pm
  #1  
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Traveling to Caracas, Venezuela - travel tips & recommendations?

Hi there,

I've been a member for a while, first posting, so please be gentle. I'm thinking about going to CCS the last week of May (searched the forums and all information seems to be pre-2010, unless I missed something). Looking for travel tips and recommendations. I'm a single woman - I've read that it's unsafe to wander around by myself, but is it REALLY that bad...?

thanks so much!
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Old May 4, 12, 11:05 pm
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What I remember the most from CCS is eating out a lot, those restaurants served so many side dishes and great food

I'd say that the cable car to the El Ávila mountain is worth a visit, great views from the city, the mountains and the coast.

The official exchange will make everything seem expensive, so if possible, ask a friend or acquaintance to help you exchange USD to Bolívares at a better rate than the "official" one.

The official one is 4.3 VEF to USD, the unofficial one is 8 VEF to USD, almost a 100% difference. From my impression everyone used the unofficial one to calculate foreign prices, as the amount of USD a Venezuelan can obtain at an official rate is limited by law.
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Old May 5, 12, 3:25 pm
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Yes, it's pretty unsafe to be wandering around by yourself. What is drawing you to Caracas?
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Old May 7, 12, 12:14 pm
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Alone is not smart...male or female. Not even in a taxi (especially in a taxi?)
I was there last month and I'm headed back in a couple weeks.
CCS airport is one of the worst I've experienced.

Caracas may still hold the world record for murders within a 24-hour period.

If you could somehow get to the rest of Venezuela without going through CCS, you're much better off....I just don't know how to do that short of going into Colombia or Guyana and making an overland trek....which is probably even more risky than CCS.

Caracas left such a bad taste in my mouth. It's the perfect storm of being horribly expensive, unsafe, dirty, crowded and corrupt....and Venezuelan beer is perhaps the worst on the planet.

Canaima is worth the effort.
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Old May 9, 12, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by SJOGuy View Post
Yes, it's pretty unsafe to be wandering around by yourself. What is drawing you to Caracas?
SJOGuy, a friend of mine is performing at Teatro Teresa Carreno over the weekend and asked me to go. I am trying to figure out if it is worth extending my stay to go to Angel Falls or to visit the city itself (through a tour company - any recs?). My sisters have sent me the state department website with everything bad that could happen to a person highlighted. It's a bit discouraging, but I figure the state department is all about worst-case scenarios?
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Old May 9, 12, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by airmotive View Post

....and Venezuelan beer is perhaps the worst on the planet.

Canaima is worth the effort.
Airmotive, I will make every effort to avoid the beer there. LOL! But unfortunately, I need to be in CCS. My question is, should I simply stay in the hotel room the entire time, or is it safe to wander properly escorted.
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Old May 9, 12, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by airmotive View Post
I just don't know how to do that short of going into Colombia or Guyana and making an overland trek....which is probably even more risky than CCS.
I appreciate that the OP wants to be in CCS but for the record, the crossings at both Maracibo and Cúcuta are safe and well trodden. Land routes take forever but you can fly to Cúcuta and Maracaibo from Bogotá and for the latter you can pick up a bus in Santa Marta or Riohacha. On the bus you travel through La Guajira which is spectacular and the only part of Latin America where the local indians whooped the conquistadores. The area still has its own Wayúu laws and many don't even consider it to be part of Colombia. I must go soon, it looks like a must-see

Originally Posted by beegirl View Post
It's a bit discouraging, but I figure the state department is all about worst-case scenarios?
The US state department ought to temper its rhetoric somewhat because it is so hysterical about everywhere that the advice becomes useless. Check the US state department's travel advice for the United Kingdom and then ask yourself if they make Venezuela sound much worse.
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Old May 17, 12, 2:05 pm
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Originally Posted by beegirl View Post
SJOGuy, a friend of mine is performing at Teatro Teresa Carreno over the weekend and asked me to go. I am trying to figure out if it is worth extending my stay to go to Angel Falls or to visit the city itself (through a tour company - any recs?). My sisters have sent me the state department website with everything bad that could happen to a person highlighted. It's a bit discouraging, but I figure the state department is all about worst-case scenarios?
Raul Helicopters runs a good operation out of Puerto Ordaz. (Pto Ordaz is a cheap, 1 hour flight from CCS). If you can swing a night or two in Canaima (closest villiage to Angel Falls), definately try to budget that. (especially since the fickle weather in the area can play havoc with aerial tours of Angle Falls). Canaima is way out in the bush, right on the river next to some spectacular falls....yet had the best cellular service of anywhere in Venezuela!

www.raulhelicopteros.com

I'm sure there are other good operators in the area, but Raul is the only one I'm familiar with. There are some real yahoos flying tourists out there as well, and I witnessed some flying that would get a pilot's licenses pulled on-the-spot if done in the US.
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Old May 17, 12, 4:09 pm
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Better safe than sorry (I guess)

Decided to stay stateside rather than risk going. Talked to people (Venezuelans and others who have worked there in the past) and every single person said that s/he would not risk going. Totally bummed, as I was really looking forward to visiting another country!
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Old May 18, 12, 11:49 am
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Venezuelan here. Yes, it's dangerous. No, you shouldn't go alone. Yes, you should go.

In general, you will find expats to be alarmists...sometimes within reason but usually not. My recommendation, if you get 1-2 friends to go with you (male or female), you'll be OK, especially if any of you speaks decent Spanish.

If you stay in decent hotels (overpriced by world standards), the staff will do their best to keep you safe and tell you where to go and not to go. And they will speak English.

Caracas is great. And dangerous, yes. But if you stick to the right areas and get there using hotel taxis you will have no problems.
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Old May 28, 12, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by higo View Post
What I remember the most from CCS is eating out a lot, those restaurants served so many side dishes and great food

I'd say that the cable car to the El Ávila mountain is worth a visit, great views from the city, the mountains and the coast.

The official exchange will make everything seem expensive, so if possible, ask a friend or acquaintance to help you exchange USD to Bolívares at a better rate than the "official" one.

The official one is 4.3 VEF to USD, the unofficial one is 8 VEF to USD, almost a 100% difference. From my impression everyone used the unofficial one to calculate foreign prices, as the amount of USD a Venezuelan can obtain at an official rate is limited by law.
+1
As of today:
Buy: 9.2 BsF per USD
Sell: 8.8BsF per USD

I think you made a very reasonable choice not to come here this time. At least NOT alone please. Especially if you are a female traveling alone. As someone said above. Male or Female it is better not to come alone, but as a Bachovas said with 1-2 friends.

You can skip Caracas altogether or visit us. But please do not miss Canaima and Los Roques. Being a Venezuelan i've never gone to Canaima so i can't input here. Been to Los Roques beaches though. Both locations are worth the trip. Plan accordingly.

The most easy and common way for Americans to get to Venezuela is via Miami. A 3h and a half our flight on an AA 757, or via NYC.

For intra-venezuela flights. I recommend CCS-PZO (Puerto Ordaz) book a flight with Conviasa in their brand new (2 years old) Bombardier CRJ-700 that operates the Caracas-Puerto Ordaz route.
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Old Jun 17, 12, 2:09 am
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I visited Caracas in February this year. Having read the safety warnings I was quite concerned. In the end, I didn't see anything bad or have any problems while there. But there is just nothing to recommend it. It is expensive, dirty and terribly unpleasant. There is an undercurrent of trouble in the city, much like I felt in Karachi when I was there a few years ago and parts of Joburg. You can feel it in the air and see it on people's faces. Not to mention the 20 foot electric fences all over the place :-)

You need to be prepared to change money on the black market unless you enjoy paying double London prices. The airport is a bit confusing, but again I didn't have any problems aside from figuring out how to pay the extra departure tax (they increased the departure tax on the day of my flight). I had to find an ATM and luckily found one that worked.

I hope to never go back to Caracas. What a dump. Do I think it is dangerous? Provided you keep out of the dodgy areas, don't walk around at night and don't be an idiot (e.g. Pulling out a fancy camera on a quiet street) you'd be very unlucky to have any problems. But more to the point..... The world is a big place, and just about everywhere I have ever been is infinitely nicer than Caracas... Wy the heck would anyone want to go there? But I know the answer. Curiosity. That's why I went there.
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Old Feb 7, 13, 11:36 pm
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Headed to Caracas in early June. Staying at the JW Marriott in downtown. Yes, going by myself, but I do not plan to underestimate the risks involved (working on my Spanish as we speak). I'm relatively comfortable with bad areas (I grew up in a city as bad as Philly, and have spent four nights in Flint, MI, if you want perspective on my experience), but I realize Caracas can be a different level of bad. Any suggestions for getting from the airport in Maiquetia to downtown Caracas? I see some services that can be booked online, likely to go with one of those or see what the hotel recommends. I will note that I appear quite gringo so I'm not planning to venture very far, I'm realistic about this, but is there anything interesting to do? Will be arriving and departing the airport in the afternoon just as a note. Thanks for any assistance!
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Old Feb 11, 13, 7:44 am
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
I'm relatively comfortable with bad areas (I grew up in a city as bad as Philly, and have spent four nights in Flint, MI, if you want perspective on my experience), but I realize Caracas can be a different level of bad.

You can´t compare any US city to Caracas.If you appear quite gringo then do yourself a favor and don´t go.I don´t understand why people want to be in that city at all.Nothing against Venezuela it has beautiful places.Maracaibo and Valencia are beautiful but you could not pay me enough to go to CCS.
Why don´t you visit Medellín and Bogotá in Colombia?Lots to see plus Medellín has become a lot safer in the last few years.
If you decide to go to CCS though try and be safe.Do not wander around and ask at the hotels reception for places to go and not go.Maybe book a guide service before you go.
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Old Feb 11, 13, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by Panda48 View Post
If you decide to go to CCS though try and be safe.Do not wander around and ask at the hotels reception for places to go and not go.Maybe book a guide service before you go.
I'm not going on any sort of self-guided expeditions or anything like that. I have no plans to wonder around at all, I know large swaths of the city aren't safe and I likely won't know the difference until I'm too far in. Was planning to ask the reception/concierge or whatever it is at the particular hotel, but was wondering if anyone had any advice here about one or two things that might be worthwhile, especially close to the hotel, or any recommended transport services from the airport to the hotel (I do have a mail out to the hotel as well).
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