For a while it looked like Hugo Chavez was to be the great white hope against the march of evil capitalism, but then he just turned out to be another ego-maniac South American dictator, (who owns a TV station). For this reason, Caracas has been cited as the most dangerous city after Baghdad – but how soon before Baghdad becomes a tourist hot-spot for 'danger tourism'!
For sure, you need to do your homework before setting foot in Caracas, but it’s not all that bad – you can manage a day or two there relatively safely. The real attractions, however, lie beyond the city limits. With over 300 species of birds, crocodiles, red howler monkeys, pink dolphins, pumas and jaguars and a bizarre looking thing that thinks it’s an anteater but is not, Los Llanos, the great plains that cover a third of the country and stretch from the Andes all the way to the Orinoco river, is the place to head for.
Of the many cattle ranches that cater for tourists, one of the best is El Cedral, a 130,000-acre cattle ranch, or hato, in Apure state, and the signs that read ‘Beware of Crocodiles’ are there for a reason – not for tourist entertainment.
A night’s stay at Hato El Cedral will come in at around £55pp pn full board, inc safari tours. 3 nights should do, then head of to the likes of Roraima, for a couple of days trekking around Venezuala’s spectacular highest peak. Best advice: bring plenty of dollars with you – you’ll get about double for them on the black market for your Bolivars.
Flights to Caracas go for about £600 rtn with Kayak