In case you missed it, read our recap of Month 1 & 2, Month 3, Month 4
In December, we’ve visited our favourite country yet – Venezuela. It’s not easy for Venezuelans to live there right now. Their government is crazy and they lack the most basic thing – food. But we’ve decided to visit anyway and see ourselves if it really is as dangerous as people say. We were met with nothing but the kindness of the locals.
Next was Colombia, also country once considered dangerous to visit. This is not the case for many years already. Colombia is very developed, clean and nature is gorgeous.
Also, I (Maya) got a great Christmas present as my sister with her boyfriend joined us for a few weeks of backpacking around Colombia. That’s two members down. Now I only need to turn my other sister and my dad into backpackers.
Travelled: 4275 km
Spent: 14 days in Venezuela (total 21 days), 17 days in Colombia (continuing in January)
Average spent per day per person: 44 USD (42 EUR) in Venezuela, 38 USD (36 EUR) in Colombia
Slept in: 5 beds in Venezuela, 4 beds in Colombia
- 4 planes (Puerto Ordaz → Barcelona → Valencia, Venezuela → Medellin, Colombia
- 3 buses
- 2 boats (to the camp in Delta Orinoco) + several boat rides every day
- 2 cars
- 1 horse ride to the waterfalls in Salento, Colombia
- 1 bike ride (around Salento, Colombia)
- 1 cable car – public transport in Medellin, Colombia
The funniest situation: when our guide showed us baby tarantulas saying they are not dangerous and we can let them crawl on our bodies..yeah right! I got as close as 30cm with a wooden stick while Michal was watching other two and making sure they don’t come too close. And local children around 6 years old put them in their hands and played with them as they are toys.
The most disturbing experience: seeing empty grocery stores in Venezuela wasn’t easy. They lack a lot of staples. For example sugar, such common thing for most of us. It was so expensive not everybody could afford it.
Hiking table mountain Roraima, Venezuela
This was a surreal experience and our first multi-day hike. We covered more than 60 km in 5 days. We bathed in the rivers, saw a venomous snake, hung out on a cliff and made great friends.
Feeling like celebrities in cities in Venezuela
When we passed small towns and stopped at the deli to get a sandwich, almost everyone started looking at us. Not a usual look we got hundreds of times before in Central America. It was like they never saw white people before. I’ve heard “rubia” (means blonde in Spanish) many times in Venezuela. One little girl walked up to me from behind and pinched me (if I’m real I suppose). I turned and we exchanged smiles and “Hola!”
Visiting Orinoco River Delta, Venezuela
If you are not familiar with river Orinoco, then you can easily imagine jungle along Amazon River. We’ve stayed in a hut on the Orinoco River and took several boat rides along the delta to see Venezuelan wildlife. Lots of monkeys, parrots, snakes and other creatures were everywhere we looked. The best part: no other tourists around!
Taking a peek into life of Warao indigenous people in Venezuela
One of the boat trips we had with our guide was visiting a little village inhabited by Warao indigenous people. They go out fishing and picking fruit every day, take care of the field they have and otherwise just hang out in their huts on the river.
Relaxing in the Columbian countryside
We could not ask for a better welcome view in Colombia than the one you see below. That was our view from a hostel in Guatape, a little town in the Colombian countryside. We spent there several days relaxing by the lake.
My sister (Maya) and her boyfriend backpacking with us
Another family member joined us this year. And just in time for Christmas. I’m glad I saw my sister after 1,5 years and we got to travel together around Colombia.
Learning about Colombia in Medellin
This was the best walking tour we’ve ever experienced. Pablo from Real City Tours gave us the perfect introduction to Medellin – its history, current struggles and victories and also a lot of background about Colombian history.
Horseback riding in Salento, Colombia
The highlight of our Colombian adventures. It was our first time trying horseback riding and right in the Colombian countryside to see waterfalls. After almost 4 hours in the saddle, we were surprised by quite a big soreness the next day.
Stuck at Venezuelan airport right before they closed borders
We made a stupid mistake when leaving Venezuela – didn’t check beforehand what requirements are for entering Colombia. We didn’t need visas but we needed a proof of onward travel, bus or plane ticket which we didn’t have. And there was no wifi on the airport to buy a plane ticket. Then I remembered that my sister sent me hers and her boyfriend’s plane tickets from Colombia so I had to do a little editing and showed a check-in lady “our” plane tickets. Since there was no name on them, she didn’t believe us the plane tickets are ours. All employees left and we were standing there unable to check in.
The situation in Venezuela was getting worse, they were going to close the border with Colombia for overland travel and we had no other choice but get on that plane. One Venezuelan girl overheard our problems and went to help us translate to Spanish. Thanks to her efforts, we checked in the last minute and got on the plane!
Michal got sick in Guatape, Colombia
After a few days in Guatape, Michal’s throat started to be sore so much, he couldn’t even swallow anything. He had tonsillitis on one side, then the other. We tried several medicines but it didn’t help. So when we arrived in Medellin, our first stop was ER in the hospital. To our surprise, Michal was able to communicate with doctors in English. He got a painkiller shot and antibiotics in his butt and it healed in no time.
Had nowhere to sleep on New Year’s Eve
We came to our hotel in Cartagena two hours before midnight when a receptionist told us they don’t have a room for us. Apparently, they were overbooked and didn’t let anybody know about the situation. The receptionist was useless and couldn’t be less helpful. Luckily a guy delivering food to the hotel checked another nearby hotel for us, walked with us to make sure we are checked in and in return we bought some very good dinner from him.
I am glad to hear you loved Venezuela. I haven’t been yet but it is definitely a place that I would love to go. Good to hear it’s not as dangerous as you hear in the media. Colombia is also on the top of my list. I can’t wait to go to both those places soon. Great article.
Thanks so much Cindy. In Venezuela, you might need to take a few extra precautions than in other countries but it’s definitely worth it. I’ve never seen a country that beautiful and completely different from others. I really hope you will get to see both places. Take care and happy travels.
It´s so weird that the Colombian officials actually required a way out ticket of you! It´s the first time I hear that. When I went to Colombia, I was planning to stay for long so I didn´t have a flight ticket, but nobody cared. Maybe it´s because there are so many Venezolanos migrating to Colombia these days…
Actually Venezuelan officials asked for a proof of onward travel. You always learn on your own mistakes, I guess. Luckily we had a proof for other countries in South America.
The Roraima 6 days trekking has no equals… I made it also during late December of 2012, but from your review things got a lot worst, I hope in future will continue to be possible visiting such heaven in earth 🙁
I hope so, too. Roraima and the whole Venezuela is incredibly beautiful place.