Saturday, August 11, 2007

Venezuela Itinerary

11 July to 1 August 2007

The main destination of this trip was Venezuela. However, I'd made a short stopover in both Costa Rica and California.

D1: From HKG to Manila and Manila to Los Angeles by Philippines Airline
D2: From Los Angeles to El Salvador and El Salvador to San Jose by TACA. Arrived San Jose in the morning. Sleeping: Tranquilo Backpackers. City tour in the afternoon including Central Post Office, National Theatre, Catedral Metropolitan.
D3: Museum Day in San Jose. Visited 3 museums: Museo de Jade, Museo National de Costa Rica, Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismatica. Sleeping: Tranquilo Backpackers.
D4: From San Jose to Caracas by TACA. However, a 3-hr flight has been delayed for 3 hours. My arrival time to Caracas has been deferred from 1530 hours to 1830 hours. I decided to sleep at the airport and waited for my friend's arrival from US in the early next morning. However, I found out that there is no chair neither in departure/ arrival hall. Wonderful!
D5: My friend arrived at 6.30 am. Bought night bus ticket to Ciudad Bolivar. City tour in Caracas. We visited Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), World Heritage Site (however, I really don't know how to appreciate this site. It just looks like CUHK). We also went to Estadio Olimpico Universitario which Copa America just took place here last night). Other sights including Historic Centre (Panteon Nacional and Plaza Bolivar) etc.
D6: Arrived Ciudad Bolivar (CB) in the morning. We booked a 3-day tour to Angel Fall and would be departed tommorrow. Wandered around the little historic town with fancy color colonial buildings. It looked like a ghost town after 7pm. All shops got close and we were only able to find a restaurant still operated after 8pm!
D7: Took a 3-hour van ride to La Paragua. We chose a cheap tour instead of flying directly an hour from CB to Camina, the tour departed from La Paragua. We saved 40 bucks. Got stuck at the 'airport' La Paragua and waited for the little plane returned. We finally arrived Camina at 3.00 pm. Took jet boat to our camp site (basic) and slept in hammock with mosquitoes around me!
D8: 2-hr jet boat again to the base of Angel Fall. Walked 1-hour up to the mirador and swam at the base of the fall. Cool! Returned to the camp at the base of fall. Rained rained rained for the rest of day!
D9: Visited Sapo Fall and got a big wash behind the fall. Cool experience! Had a look at the other 4 big falls, Ucaima, Golondrina, Wadaima, Hacha. Said bye to Camina in the afternoon and returned by flight to La Paragua. Finally, we arrived CB at 1700 hours. We booked another tour to Los Illonos. Because of bus problem (i dunno the real cause), I took another night bus back to Caracas.
D10: Bus day again! We arrived Caracas at 0400 hours. We went to West terminal of long distance bus station and found out there was no day bus to Mantecal. We went to San Fernado instead and used 7.5 hours daytime to travel in a supposed to be A/C bus. Hot! We changed bus at San Fernado to Mantecal for another 3-hr bus ride. We arrived Mantecal at 2130 hours and met our host there. After having a late dinner at this little town, we got another 1.25-hr jeep ride to his camp. We unloaded our luggage at mid-night!
D11: Relaxed countryside life. 2-hr boat tour in the morning. After lunch, free time till 1600 hours and walking and looking for anaconda.
D12: Relaxed day. Jeep tour for 2 hours and lunch and jeep tour again in late afternoon and continued the anaconda mission. Mission failed. We saw lots of capabara and even river dolphins.
D13: Just taking 5 mins to look for anaconda and mission completed! A very big one! Horse ride and relaxed. The host sent us to bus station in the afternoon. Got on a bus to Caracas, however, we were kicked off at Aghaguas. Changed bus for Caracas there.
D14: Arrived Caracas in the morning. Failed to find a hotel room in Altamira and we resided in Sabana Grande. Because of short of Bolivar, we used almost whole afternoon to look for black market money changer. Mission failed. Revisited historic centre again. Today was public holiday, it was Simon Bolivar's birthday. We finally got to change money with a Korean (the only Asian tourist we met in Venezuela) in a hotel. However, the rate was not good but still far much better than official rate.
D15: Taking Teleferico but very misty at the top. Visited El Hatillo in the afternoon and bought some expensive souvenirs there! Bolivar exhausted again!
D16: My final day in Venezuela. I visited central post office and bought a set of Copa America stamps! Left for airport at 1200 hours. Goodbye Caracas and my friend (coz we took different airlines, she would leave tmr morning). Flight from Caracas to San Jose, San Jose to Guatemala, Guatemala to Los Angeles by TACA.
D17: Arrived Los Angeles at 12.35 am. Waited for my flight to Sacramento at 6.45 hours. My friend waited me at the airport. We went to a 3d2n camp at Lake Tahoe.
D18: Camp
D19: Packed stuff and returned to Sacramento in the afternoon. Rest!
D20: Sightseeing at Sacramento (actually not much to see). Took an afternoon flight back to LA. Flight back to Manila and Hong Kong.
D21: Arrived HK in the morning!

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