Is it safe to travel to Venezuela? – My Recent Experience

is it safe to travel to venezuela

So you want to travel to Venezuela? You have probably already seen the bright red map and header on the Bureau of Consulate Affairs website screaming “don’t go you reckless idiot!!” but still wondering if you could try your luck.

As someone who visited Venezuela (or at least, some parts of it) in January 2019, I thought I would write an article and share my thoughts about it. It is a fairly long and detailed article, but I feel it is important to read about these details if you are really considering traveling to Venezuela.

Before we start, a little disclaimer here. The words on this page only reflect my opinion and my experience, on what is the “least unsafe” way of visiting Venezuela. They are not official recommendations. The situation in the country and the world may change anytime and it’s up to you to make sure it is compatible with travel. You are responsible for your own choices and actions. 🙂

Safe Traveling to Venezuela – Contents

The Situation in Venezuela and What it Means for Travelers

If you have even remotely been listening to the news, you must be well aware that the situation in Venezuela is really bad… or I should even say catastrophic. It is already quite obvious from what you can hear in the news but when you are actually there, you realize to what extent things are messed up in this country.

The Big Picture

As I am writing this in April 2019, two political forces are fighting:

  • Maduro, the reelected president that the Venezuelian people can’t wait to get rid of. Every single person I met in Venezuela told me their #1 wish at the moment is to see Maduro leave. He is backed by Cuba, China and Russia.
  • Guaidó, the self-proclaimed interim president, backed by various countries around the world including the US and European countries, hoping to take over Maduro. I was in Venezuela when Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president.

But beyond this general overview of the situation, it is interesting to understand how it is like inside the country. And I am sure that all the stuffs I learned are just the tip of the iceberg.

Update 2022: The attempt to oust Maduro from power has failed, and Juan Guaidó is now out of the picture.

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - propaganda

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - propaganda

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - propaganda

Propaganda is everywhere (Sorry for the blurry pics…)

Consequences for Venezuelans and Travelers

So is it safe to travel in Venezuela right now? No, it is not, but there are ways to dramatically reduce the risks and that’s what I will try to explain here.

But at the end of the day, it’s a bit like anywhere else, it’s you and your luck. If you don’t meet any bad guys, nothing happens. But if you come across one…

The big difference is that in Venezuela the institutions are basically worthless. This is mainly a lawless country. You cannot rely on anything or anyone. As a result, if you were to meet the wrong person and get robbed/beaten up or whatever, going to the police would be useless for example. There will be no institution to protect you.

Basically the situation seems to be like this:

I have been told that the government in place is involved in large-scale drug trafficking.

The army, which should be a strong institution protecting the interests of the country and its people, is actually supporting Maduro supposedly because they also reap some of the fruits of the drug trafficking. I remember seeing on TV high-rank military officials declaring they won’t let Maduro down.

There are countless military checkpoints on the roads of the country, which you never cross totally serenely, but fortunately, they seem to just leave tourists alone (more on this later).

I have crossed towns that look pretty scary – you can feel the potential danger just by looking around. Just like many other towns, they are controlled by drug cartels and other criminal groups controlling nearby gold mines as well.

Definitely not the kind of place I would stop by to stay a couple of days. Anyone on the street could be one of these criminals and get you into serious trouble.

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - dangerous towns

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - dangerous towns

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - dangerous towns

Some bad, criminal-controlled towns

So you see how rotten the whole system is, towns controlled by drug cartels, the government itself letting drug trafficking spread without any kind of control and taking its share of the profit, and the military in the middle trying to keep places “safe” but accomplices of the drug cartels at the same time.

As I said, you can’t trust institutions in Venezuela.

All this creates a really chaotic daily life for Venezuelans where basic needs items and food are increasingly hard to come by (I have seen whole sets of shelves in supermarkets totally empty).

Venezuela is a big producer of oil but everything is so disrupted that there are always shortages at gas stations and people queue in their cars for many, many hours just to fill the tank.

Their currency is basically worthless. With the help of my driver, I managed to change some cash with much difficulty (because of the shortage of cash) and for about 60 USD, the guy gave me a bunch of wads of notes, enough to fill a whole plastic bag.

More recently, the electricity network has been totally breaking down.

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Money

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Queue

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Supermarket

Of course, this chaotic situation dramatically increases the criminality rates and makes it much more dangerous for us western tourists, with a greater risk of getting assaulted, robbed, or even kidnapped.

However, the danger is not equal in all areas of the country.

Where to Go (And Not to Go)

Arriving in Venezuela

Maybe I should start with what I did. I was on a South America trip combining Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil. After visiting the mind-blowing Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, I headed south to Lethem, crossed the Brazilian border and ended up in Boa Vista. From there, I went to Santa Elena in Venezuela by land.

First of all, if you decide to follow my example and go to Venezuela by land, I highly recommend you arrive from Brazil, not from Colombia. The border with Colombia seems mostly closed, and more dangerous.

Read Post  Gulliver s Travels by Jonathan Swift: Summary and Analysis

The border with Brazil is usually open and functions normally but can always close at any moment’s notice, in reaction to what’s happening in the country.

You might be wondering what it was like to go through passport control. Well, it took 2 minutes! A quick look at the passport, a few usual questions, and they stamp the passport before returning it to you with a smile. The easiest border control ever!

I want to mention here that I have a French passport and I have no idea if it would be different or the same with a US passport or with any other nationality.

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Border

Bus Terminal in Paracaima (Brazilian side). The men in red are there to help you get in a car to Venezuela

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Border

Is it safe to travel to venezuela - Border

Keep in mind though that border areas are usually less safe, with tensions and all kinds of traffic going on.

At the time of my visit, the Brazil-Venezuela border was just like any border. But after I left, a clash between the military and Pemón indigenous people made the news, resulting in one dead and 12 injured, at this same border.

So bad stuff does happen and you need to be very careful and aware of the last news about the situation in the country.

I don’t want to make this post too long but if you are considering taking this route and want more info about how it is like to cross this border, just ask me in the comments!

If you have no other choice than to arrive by plane, you will probably arrive in Caracas, which is not great from a safety point of view. You should have everything very well prepared before arriving – read the next part of this article for more details.

Visiting Venezuela

Now, where to go in the country?

If you are unfamiliar with this site, I am all about traveling to natural places and the great outdoors, and this is exactly what I was seeking to do in Venezuela. As a result, a large part of the time I have spent in Venezuela was in remote wild areas, far from all the trouble.

Of course you always have to cross dangerous areas and cities before reaching the wilderness, but if you are planning to go to Venezuela to visit the Gran Sabana, do the trek to Mount Roraima or visit the Salto Angel, it is possible.

Actually, the whole country is dangerous but the region of the Gran Sabana (southeast of Venezuela on the border with Brazil) is not as bad as the rest of the country. Luckily, it is also one of the great highlights of Venezuela!

Generally, I would say avoid all big cities (Caracas, Maracaibo, Ciudad Guayana…) like the plague. I made a point not to arrive via Caracas because I find it too dangerous, including the airport area. I did go to Puerto Ordaz (part of Ciudad Guayana) but I will develop how in the next section.

Is it safe to travel in venezuela - map

I wanted to show you this map from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs showing what parts of the country are safer or less safe than others. According to them, any border area in red is “absolutely not recommended”, most of the country in orange is also very unsafe, but the Gran Sabana (and the Orinoco Delta in light yellow are a little less dangerous. The British government made a similar map, but they put the whole country in orange (and borders in red).

Again, these maps change as the situation evolves, do click on the links to see the latest maps.

Coming back from Venezuela, I agree that visiting the Canaima National Park is not more dangerous than visiting other Latin American countries. Actually, when you visit Angel Falls, for example, you are so remote in nature that there you are very, very far from all the trouble.

How To Travel Safely In Venezuela

Let’s get into the details on how I visited Venezuela safely in 2019.

First of all, maybe you are like me and like to travel freely with your backpack, to save money and be totally flexible, but in Venezuela backpacking is too dangerous. I did meet a guy from Eastern Europe who was telling us how he was hitchhiking and taking local buses in Venezuela without any problem. My opinion is that this guy is insane and very lucky. I would not risk my safety traveling like this in Venezuela.

So what I recommend is relying on reputable local travel agencies.

Yes, it will be more, if not much more expensive. Yes, you will lose some of your freedom. Yes, you may find yourself in some tour groups that you usually avoid. But it will guarantee your safety. And you will still get to see what you wanted to see in Venezuela.

Before you leave for Venezuela, email a few agencies, and tell them about your trip and what you would like to visit. Ask for quotes and compare.

Ideally, when you reach Venezuela, you would have everything well planned, prepared, and booked. If you arrive by plane or even at the Brazilian border, you can ask them to send someone to pick you up so you stay safe.

My Experience in Venezuela

I really, really wanted to travel to Venezuela. But I also really, really wanted to travel safely in Venezuela! One can be adventurous without being stupid

My goals in Venezuela were to see the Gran Sabana, do the 8-day trek to Mount Roraima, and visit Canaima and the Salto Angel (the tallest waterfall in the world).

5 Unexpected Reasons to Visit Venezuela

Venezuela, the kidnap-capital of the world. Spiralling inflation armed gangs of protestors and police with a reputation to shoot first and ask questions later. A powder-keg waiting to explode. A destination for only the suicidal or the foolish Or at least that is what I had been expecting…

The Broke Backpacker shares his reasons to visit Venezuela from a 2015 trip to the country. The article has not been updated since 2015 and information may have changed.

Why Go To Venezuela?

Table of Contents

travel to venezuela

Is it safe to Travel to Venezuela?

Everybody I had met had told me that to visit Venezuela was point-blank stupid. I had been travelling for six months, winding my way down Central America and into Colombia, getting ever closer. The whole time I had been on the lookout for someone, anyone, who had actually been to Venezuela and lived to tell the tale. I had yet to meet a soul who had successfully backpacked around Venezuela.

That didn’t stop people giving me advice, when it came to Venezuela, everybody had an opinion

  • “It’s impossible to visit Venezuela without getting robbed”
  • “Do you have a death wish man!?”
  • “I heard they forcibly evicted all foreigners?”
  • “Isn’t it unbelievably expensive there?”
  • “Your going to die… I hear the girls are hot though”

5 Reasons To Visit Venezuela

visit venezuela cactus

Despite all of the rumours and half-truths that were thrown at me, it turned out that there was five crucial things nobody seemed to know about this truly incredible country…and these are the reasons to visit Venezuela.

Read Post  History of travelling

1. Venezuela Is Unbelievably Cheap

Venezuela was without a doubt the cheapest country I have ever been to, I changed money on the black market, which is pretty much the norm for anybody lucky enough to have US dollars, and was absolutely amazed at what I could afford. For one dollar I could get twelve beers. For four bucks I could stay in a five star hotel room, for six bucks I could catch a flight, for eighty bucks I could go on all inclusive, truly amazing, four day wildlife tour. Venezuela is a country where you can easily get by on just fifty bucks a week, with a budget of $100 a week, I lived like a king.

why visit venezuela the budget

$100 on the black market gets you literal wads of cash…

2. The People Of Venezuela Are Friendly

Everywhere I went, people seemed somewhat bewildered to see me. I met only a handful of other backpackers whilst in Venezuela, all of whom spoke better Spanish than me. Locals never seemed to sure what to think of a tattooed gringo with a scraggly pack and terrible Spanish attempting to hitch a ride or make new friends whilst out on the town.

Ultimately, most people were incredibly kind to me, possibly out of a sense of responsibility, and nothing bad ever happened to me. I found the Couchsurfing community in Venezuela to be thriving and I made some great friends throughout the country, despite my terrible Spanish! I found the local people to be really concerned for my wellbeing and to be incredibly helpful when I was sorting out buses or trying to find somewhere to stay.

things to do in venenzueal couch surfing

Playing chess with a couchsurfing host

3. You Can Fill Up A Car For 1 Cent In Venezuela

I knew Venezuela was going to be cheap, although just how cheap it was truly shocked me. What I didn’t know was that I could fill up a car with gas for less than 1 US cent. That is not a typo. Venezuela has more oil reserves than any other country in the world and you can buy a full tank of gas for less than it costs to buy a bottle of water.

Venezuela on a budget

And when you have this kind of money… even the average backpacker starts thinking about buying a few barrels of oil.

4. The rum and food are amazing!

Rum… I’ve always quite liked the idea of becoming some sort of rum aficionado. Once I started a foreign rums collection, then I had a party and that was kind of the end of that dream. Venezuelan rum is without a doubt some of the best in the world and buying a bottle of the absolute best stuff, Santa Teresa, is comparatively expensive – as in, it will cost you about $4 for the bottle.

go to venezuela

nom nom nom!

This is a rum that costs $6 a shot back home. I spent a fair bit of my time in Venezuela sipping on rum… Don’t even get me started on the food, because it was so cheap I was eating in the kind of places I could never even dream of entering under normal circumstances. For less than $10 you can expect a three-course dinner in a truly classy establishment with a couple of cocktails to wash it all down…

5. It Is So Worth The Risk

It took me a few days to get my head around Venezuela, I spoke to lots of people and tried to get a better understanding of the very complicated economical and social issues in the country. It’s no wonder people had been telling me not to go; Venezuela can be a scary place, especially if you’re living there.

things to do in Venezuela

Stunning Mt Roraima

Saying that, for a wandering backpacker, it is so worth the risk. With some truly stunning sites, the table-top mountain of Roraima being my favourite, dirt cheap adventures and a welcoming people; Venezuela is prime adventure territory – just play your cards right and play it safe.

travel to venezuela

I personally would love to go back to Venezuela and would recommend it to anyone who has some decent backpacking experience under their belts. This is not a destination for newbies. For the more experienced backpackers, with some time in The Middle East or Western Africa under their belts, this is the next big thing…

broke backapcker

Will blogs over at The Broke Backpacker about his adventures around the world, you can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter or, if your really friendly, hunt him down on the road for a cheeky pint. Writer and photographer. Adventurer and vagabond.

Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, a survivor of deserts, and crusader for cheap escapades. Will is an avid hitch-hiker, couch-surfer and bargain-seeker. He is a devout follower of the High Temple of Backpackistan and the proud inventor of the man-hug.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO.

Travel Insurance: Don’t leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

    – Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers. – Occasional Travelers. – Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

Venezuela Travel Guide

Rich with culture, history, and friendly locals, Venezuela is a chance to see something different.

Located on the northern coast of South America, it is filled with many white-sand beaches, blue waters, and natural wonders, making it a great getaway.

Fans of the outdoors will love Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, or Pico Bolívar, the highest mountain in Venezuela.

As English is not spoken here as much, it presents a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a new language.

This Venezuela travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.

Popular Guides

Our Highlight

vvisit enezuala

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Fast Facts about Venezuela

  • Power voltage is 120V at 60 Hz.
  • Venezuela’s currency is the Venezuelan Bolívar and 1 Bolívar is equal to 0.100125 USD.
  • The best way to get around Venezuela is by taxi or bus.
  • You will need to get a Venezuelan Tourist Visa prior to visiting, as well as a US passport valid for at least 6 months after your stay.
  • Crime can and does happen here, so keep valuables close to you and avoid being out at night.
  • Popular network providers in Venezuela include Digitel, Movilnet, and Movistar Mobile. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased through any of these networks. Note that your phone needs to be unlocked in order to use a SIM card, meaning you will probably have to contact your current mobile provider to change your settings to unlocked.
  • Venezuela has a sales tax rate of 16%.

Things to See and Do in Venezuela

  1. Canaima National Park: Fans of natural wonders will love the Canaima National Park. Declared a World Heritage Site, this park is the sixth-biggest national park in the world and is full of beautiful landscapes, diverse fauna, table-top mountains, and cliffs. Points of interest include Angel Falls (the highest waterfall in the world) and Mount Roraima (the highest of the table-top mountains). This park also has camping spots.
  2. Parque El Agua: Come see Venezuela’s first waterpark. Whether you want to relax in the lazy river or venture through numerous waterslides (including the 18-meters high Churun Meru), this is sure to be a fun day for the whole family.
  3. Morrocoy National Park: Set on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, this island is perfect for those looking for a getaway. Relax on white-sand beaches, explore numerous cays (including the very popular Cayo Sombrero), look for dolphins, whales and green sea turtles, and stroll through the nearby towns.
  4. National Pantheon of Venezuela: Come learn more about Venezuela’s history at this landmark in Caracas. Created in 1870, this mausoleum is now a final resting place for many of the heroes of South America, and also contains historical works of art, including a four-thousand-piece crystal chandelier.
  5. Teleférico de Caracas: Take a cable lift and enjoy beautiful aerial views of Caracas while you ride to the El Ávila Mountain. Once on top, explore the El Ávila National park, grab a bite to eat, or go to the skating rink.
Read Post  Travel Bucket List Ideas

Venezuela Travel Guides

Budgeting

Accommodation

Budget: You can find some cheaper hotels at around 200 to 400 Bolívars per night. These hotels come with private rooms, Wi-Fi, and sometimes the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay between 500 to 800 Bolívars per night and enjoy private rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, fitness centers, and one (or more) restaurants inside the hotel.

High-End: Upscale hotels can go from 1,000 to 2,500 Bolívars per night. Amenities include outdoor pools, saunas, massage and salon services, airport transportation, a gift shop, and banquet rooms.

  • Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.

Budget: You can find some cheaper hotels at around 200 to 400 Bolívars per night. These hotels come with private rooms, Wi-Fi, and sometimes the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

Mid-Range: For mid-range hotels, expect to pay between 500 to 800 Bolívars per night and enjoy private rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, fitness centers, and one (or more) restaurants inside the hotel.

High-End: Upscale hotels can go from 1,000 to 2,500 Bolívars per night. Amenities include outdoor pools, saunas, massage and salon services, airport transportation, a gift shop, and banquet rooms.

The Best Ways to Get Around Venezuela

Getting to Venezuela:

Getting to Venezuela: The Simón Bolívar International Airport is the main airport for getting to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and is just 13 miles from the city center. The La Chinita International Airport is an alternative airport located in Maracaibo (northwest Venezuela), and is just over 9 miles from the downtown area.

Flights: You can check for the best flights to Venezuela on Skyscanner.

Transportation:

Train: The train system for passengers is nonexistent.

Bus: Buses are a cheap way to get around Venezuela and can be found in all major cities and towns. You can find buses for short trips with very cheap fares, as well as buses for long-distance trips that come with their own air-conditioning. You can also look for por puestos, which are essentially a ride share service that operates like a bus. Caracas also has its own metro system that runs frequently, with a typical fare costing less than 5 Bolívars.

Taxis: Taxis are another good way to get around and come with cheap fares compared to other countries. As they do not operate on a meter, it is a good idea to ask around about typical fares so you can negotiate the price with the driver. You can take a taxi for an individual trip or, if you know where you will be traveling, you can contact a travel agency and arrange private taxi transfers between cities.

Rent a car: To rent a car in Venezuela, you need to be at least 21 years old and have a U.S. driver’s license. Prices start at around 400 to 600 Bolívars a day.

You can also compare prices here

When to go To Venezuela

  • Venezuela, with its tropical climate, has two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season is between May and October and is considered the best time to see Angel Falls due to the increase in rainfall. March through May are the warmest months in Caracas. For those who want to pursue outdoor activities like hiking, November is a good month to visit due to the warmer temperatures and the start of the dry season. If you’re going to Los Llanos, October may give you the best chance to see wildlife.

Where to Stay in Venezuela

Hotel Waldorf: Stay in this beautiful 3.5-star hotel in Caracas. Its prime location makes it a quick trip to the local movie theaters and beauty shops, as well as the Government Palace. Afterwards, relax in an air-conditioned room or suite, head to the fitness center, lounge in the swimming pool and terrace area, or dine at the sky bar and restaurant.

InterContinental Maracaibo: Featuring beautiful views of the Maracaibo Lake, this four-star hotel is just minutes away from the Vereda del Lago park and the Aguamania waterpark, and just a thirty-minute drive to the La Chinita Airport. InterContinental’s amenities include complimentary breakfast, an Italian restaurant with 2 bars, and an outdoor pool and hot tub. Languages spoken at this hotel include English.

Lidotel Hotel Boutique Barquisimeto: Come stay at this four-star hotel in Barquisimeto. Featuring a grand piano in the lobby and beautiful artwork in the rooms, this stylish hotel also includes a fitness center and outdoor pool, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs in each room, and the hotel’s own restaurant. The Lidotel also includes a private and secure walkway to the nearby shopping mall with many stores.

Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation.

What to Pack for Venezuela

  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the beautiful sun with some sunscreen.
  • Spanish Phrasebook: As many people do not speak English, bringing a phrasebook to help with translations will help you out.
  • Swimsuit: With so many beaches and waters to explore, make sure to bring a swimsuit with you.

See our packing tips: packing tips

Venezuela Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources

Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.

We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.

Source https://www.explorationjunkie.com/is-it-safe-to-travel-to-venezuela/

Source https://theplanetd.com/reasons-to-visit-venezuela/

Source https://theplanetd.com/destinations/south-america/venezuela-travel-tips/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *