Places we stayed and other useful information....
If you have a terrible border crossing and it’s getting too late in the day to travel far - there is a hotel just after the aduana office on the right hand side of the road - it has a huge grass gated parking area.
La Unica - A fuel station that is approximately 1 hour west of Dabajuro. It was noisy on a Saturday night but safe and friendly. N10.70205 W071.06097
Dabajuro - We saw a hotel with secure parking here. N11.03556 W070.67239.
Coro - We parked on this street near a gated community with armed guards - noisy for traffic. N11.41435 W069.65650.
Our first choice in Coro was the Madre statue - a place recommended to us by a Venezuelan motorhome owner It is out of town driving east and near the sand dunes. The police are in their station there from 5pm until 7am but when we arrived there was a huge party with loud speakers so we left. N11.43163 W069.64447
We also saw a water tap here - N11.41044 W069.67854 might be a option if finding water is hard.
On Peninsula Paraguana -
On the east side of the peninsula you will find many small restaurants or posada’s that would welcome overlanders.
Posada Neptuno - Lots of CCTV camera’s and security staff here. Free parking on the street if you have a meal - excellent food, friendly staff and a nice beach with toilets and a outdoor shower. N11.95376 W069.81490
After our scare at Cabo Roman lighthouse, we spent the night parked here - Escodido beach N12.17218 W069.96389 - on the edge of a small village but there is a posada nearby if you prefer.
Villa Marina - At night park here by the armada station but during the day move further along the beach to escape all the day trippers. N11.84029 W070.28177 If you make friends with the guys they will let you use their toilets to do laundry and maybe to top up your water tank. Give them a bottle of Coca Cola or some food as a thankyou. There is a shack near there that will allow you to plug into electric if needed, just buy a beer now and again.
MAKRO - N11.75460 W070.16467 FIJO SUPERMARKET - N11.70550 W070.19910
FIJO CHEAP FRUIT and VEG - N11.71327 W070.191130 FIJO GAS - N11.68265 W070.13977
Take the turn for San Juan de Los Cayos for some lovely island views but do not be tempted to park on the beach at the northern end of town - drunks do wheel spins on the sand here at night and armed robberies are common - drive on to Chichiriviche and stay at Nelson’s place - he has a large garden close to the beach with outside showers - a nice couple but the food’s expensive. N10.93706 W068.27369 50 bolivares a night.
Balneario - We saw this excellent place as we drove past - a beachside ? Posada or restaurant where locals were camping - right on a great beach and near a fresh water river. N10.58623 W068.24329
We turned inland from there toward Barquisimeto to escape the crazy January beach crowds - in San Felipe we saw signs for a exotic garden that also had accommodation - that may be a option - make sure to take the turn off for the main route into the city.
Further south we saw a police station that may be good - N10.24025 W068.82876
In Chivacoa there is a huge secure truck park - N10.18086 W068.88836
But we stayed at the Maria Lionza site Sorte - N10.11618 W068.89520 park near the military building. It was quiet and we had no problems but the site was disappointing.
Further south along the main road we saw this big secure fuel station - N10.08822 W069.06696
We turned south before Barquisimeto onto route 4 - our first police chase was from this check point - N09.94682 W069.21173
MAKRO - ARAURE - N09.60116 W069.23087 GUANARE SUPERMARKET - N09.03742 W069.73596
Coromoto Church - N08.91672 W069.77237 You need to ask permission from the Padre to park overnight. Very quiet and no problems for us. If for some reason you cannot stay - there is a large parking area in the village before and the people are friendly - N08.95147 W069.78745
Fajardo - A superb free riverside camp area near the dam. A local family run the site and sell drinks etc plus there are shelters and ?? electric in some - we didn’t look closely. You have to pay to use the toilets, will be noisy on weekends and holiday times. N08.88320 W070.03175
Los Llanos information -
To get the best from the Los Llanos region you should make your way toward Mantecal, from this town there are 2 very good options and one place to avoid -
Barriga - A tourist camp area where Ramon, the owner, can arrange boat trips etc. He refuses to make eye contact as he asks for 300bs to park in his grounds for the night!!!! A crook. N07.55425 W069.64543
There are many dirt tracks you could explore but if you have done the same trip as us in the Pantanal, then this region will disappoint you - there are few animals to see near the tracks. Better to go into a Hato, but many of them were foreign owned and have closed because of the pressures Chavez has created. These are two very good options where you are guaranteed to see many animals -
Hato El Cedral - A state hato that is south west of Mantecal and can be visited - our friends did this and said they were charged 50bs per night and could do a tour for 40bs per person - they saw lots of deer, caiman and capybara.
Hato Yopito - A modest ranch of about 800 cattle where you can go on a boat trip to see river dolphins, horse ride and see a huge variety of animals including giant anteaters and capybara. A German backpacker told us about this place, which is near Mantecal. She paid $200 for a 4 day trip including return transportation from Merida, all meals, accommodation and all trips with Tony Martin - www.hosteltrail.com/extremeexpeditions
For travellers like us it may be easier and far cheaper to look at the Hato’s site - www.yopito.net and try to arrange a visit and price direct from them. It sounds great.
Achagua - We saw this 24hr fuel station with a military post. N07.80537 W068.21400
San Fernando de Apure SUPERMARKET - N07.87553 W067.48347 FRUIT+VEG - N07.88847 W067.47691
Military point - N07.96341 W067.49241 Saw this as a option but if you can you should carry onto -
Cunaguaro - A hotel with a huge walled secure parking area - 40 bs per night. Quiet and safe plus water available. N08.10888 W067.60586
Calabozo - Unlike San Fernando, this town is very friendly - the locals, the police and military. There is a big lake just outside of town that looks perfect to stay but the police warned us we should have a gun to camp there! Maybe stay by the lake for the day and then drive into town and park in Romolo Gallego park - it is sign posted as you enter town and it is on the south side of the town. Police told us there was a police station there that we could park next to and that the park was quiet at night.
No diesel in the town but we found some just north of the city at El Rasto - N09.06200 W067.44213
Dos Caminos - Is a very busy cross roads on the way north but we had a good night beside a military post there - very noisy. N09.57708 W067.30684 Better to stay in Calabozo I think.
Motel Montana - Was a place we saw with a good night parking area - don’t know if they will accept overlanders but I’m sure I saw a few other options in this area. N09.84761 W067.39204
San Juan De Los Morros - SD SUPERMARKET N09.91927 W067.35143
Tierra Blanca - Saw this signed turn by a checkpoint - it leads to a lake and there may be camping areas there - worth asking the checkpoint guys. N09.98362 W067.41506
Laguna Taguaiguay - You will see this small lake on your GPS just south east of the larger Lake Valencia below Maracay - do not go there - the road is full of bumps and it is one huge industrial area!!
Maracay - Seems like one of the better cities in Venezuela - it may be worth a visit and if you decide to do this then the Hotel Militar may be a option - in a good area with what looked like secure parking. Do not know if they accept overlanders. N10.27309 W067.58096
Maracay - CM SUPERMARKET - N10.28215 W067.56934 excellent + good cakes.
A huge CM supermarket with excellent parking can be found at - N10.24341 W067.57008
A 4x4 store can be found at - N10.24900 W067.58817 AND Maracay Mall is at - N10.21616 W067.53075
The road over the hill to Choroni is narrow in parts and twisting - not advisable on the weekends when it is full of cars and buses and you constantly have to reverse to a passing place around blind corners!
Playa Grande - A beautiful horseshoe bay with palm trees. The police will only allow access from 6pm until 6am and then you can park right on the beach - but they want 50bs for their pockets. N10.50980 W067.60017
Hans Posada - With a lot of gardening you can fit under the mango tree and onto the open grass area. Cold showers, electric and toilet included. Very overpriced at $15 a night!! N10.50453 W067.60547
Rincon restaurant - Saw this place by the river - may be a good place to stay. N10.47954 W067.60739
We found a fabulous place in Puerto Colombia but they absolutely refused us - maybe you have more luck? Look for the sign saying day and night parking then knock on the huge metal gate at the end of the dead end street.
CHARALLAVE MAKRO - N10.21642 W066.85374 OCUMARE FUEL - N10.12956 W066.77511
San Francisco de Yare - We parked outside the mask makers house - he offered for us to park inside his house area but it was too low for a truck. Wonderful friendly family. The street can be a little noisy and the next day we found some children had used pens to draw on our truck! Luckily it wiped off easily. For a quieter night maybe park one street down outside the bank where there is very little passing cars. N10.17801 W066.74728
The road from Yare to Fila de Jorge was full of holes and a prone to landslides but the jungle was excellent and we did see a sign saying Agua Blanca camping could be found 25km’s away in the heart of the National Park Guatopo - with good weather it may be a beautiful place to stay. Junction - N10.17717 W066.50485
Police gun chase - N10.32453 W065.97401 be careful with these police.
Laguna Tacarigua - A pleasant beach that’s quiet and safe at night. You could arrange a boat trip onto the laguna from here. N10.30570 W065.87586
Laguna de Unare - There is a strip of land on the beach side of this laguna - it may be worth investigating as there are lots of posada’s and a small village. Lovely area.
PUERTO CRUZ - MALL - N10.21146 W064.63311 which also has a car park by a 24 hour police station.
MAKRO - N10.18282 W064.64597
CONFERRY TERMINAL - N10.21237 W064.64869 Good overnight parking behind the main building. When you come back from Isla Margarita we stopped on the exit road just by the workers cafe area. Very quiet.
There are two ferries - one fast, one slow. The fast (express) ferry cannot take trucks our length (7m). The express ferry is 3 hours and the slow ferry takes between 5 - 6 hours. Once you add on taxes the return journey on the slow ferry will cost 714bs - that’s about £52 on the black market rate. The sailing times for the slow ferry are 2am and 2pm but the return times are vague - around about 9am and 5pm. Check these times as every time we asked we were told different information and in Punta Piedra (Margarita port) the trucks queue and then have to wait to see a list to find out if their ticket number is on the next sailing. Many truck drivers got angry and complained that it is all about having to bribe the staff to catch the next sailing. We had to wait from 2pm until 9am to get a ferry but the port is a quiet safe place to park. The island is well worth visiting and the ferry from Puerto Cruz takes you right through the National Park Mochima islands.
Isla Margarita information -
There are countless beaches on the island, many are accessed by dirt track. We investigated almost all of them but we have only listed the most important below. Most of the island is cacti and shrub, so you shouldn’t expect palm lined beaches everywhere and you should understand that we tried to be away from people as much as possible because our cat likes to walk into restaurants and jump on the tables - not a good thing! There are lots of great beach restaurants where you could pay a little to park and use there toilets and outdoor showers - these are easily found, so we have only listed the lonesome places that we used. And be aware that the beaches can be full of rubbish - most of it washed up on the shoreline - the really popular tourist beaches are cleaned up a bit more but the remote areas can be bad.
West side first -
This side of the island is more deserted and has less tourists. We investigated many of the beaches and tracks and these were our two favourites -
El Coco - A quiet cacti and rock beach with some fishing shacks further along the shore. Very quiet and nice but expect the fishermen to come over just to check that you are not there to steal from them! They were very friendly once they knew we were tourists. N11.06711 W064.25043 Reached by a good dirt track.
Playa Arenas - The nicest place to stay on this side of the island. A lovely sand beach with calm clear waters. You can ask to park by the two restaurants or park further along where we stayed. N10.98059 W064.40537
WATER - N10.97404 W064.16340 PDV station - buy fuel.
Playa Punta - Has lovely views of the mountains but it is a bit isolated - Dave did not feel comfortable to spend the night here, so we moved. Maybe you will feel okay here? N10.93807 W064.12777
Punta Piedra - you can find two good supermarkets and bread + beer shops.
East side now -
La Punta - There are two beaches on the other side of the docks, you need to hand over your passport details and leave at night but there is a restaurant on the left after you leave the dock area and maybe you could park there for the night after a day at the beach? N10.86664 W064.05844
El Yaque - There is one place by the beach where you could free park that you may enjoy - you will find it easily as you enter the village. But it might be a noisy night with all the bars and restaurants here. We searched out a quiet place on another beach west of here but it was very dirty and had no views.
Tortuguita - This beach has a military building with a barrier - ask for them to open it to access the beach. It looked like a very nice place to visit - no palms - but we had very heavy rain and the dirt track down to it was a huge mud bath, so we didn’t drive down. Not sure if night time camping is allowed but the military are bound to let you park at night by them if not. N10.88351 W063.90436
PORLAMAR - WATER - PDV - N10.98996 W063.83857 SIGO SUPERMARKET and MALL N10.99887 W063.81377
CM SUPERMARKET and LAUNDRY - N10.99398 W063.82012
Two possible places to stay in Pampatar -
Near the fort - N10.99848 W063.79834 There is a dirt car park near the armada building and a military tent is also around the corner so it may be okay for a night.
By the sea - This is a dead end track that can only be reached by passing a police building. Maybe it’s okay for the night. N10.99473 W063.78929
You will see a salinas area on your GPS just north of here - do not go - it involves driving through a very rough and dangerous neighbourhood and there is nothing there to see or anywhere safe to stay.
Lago Gasparico - A Laguna/beach area that looks fabulous - totally private and no access allowed.
Guacuco - We saw this beach restaurant area that may be nice to stay. N11.05289 W063.81551
Playa Abajo - We had a long day and didn’t want to drive further so we stayed by this abandoned hotel behind the big wall. There are guards on 24 hrs and they were friendly. N11.11975 W063.84415
Playa Agua - Is a hugely popular palm tree beach area packed full of restaurants. We have heard that there is a foreign couple there who offer beach camping. We didn’t go to look but we think this may be the ‘campsite’ that all the overlanders stay at for their island trip? Ask around for Claudio and Terese. Costs $8 a night.
El Humo - A excellent beach area for us. A large open grass area between two hotels and right on the lovely beach. Very quiet at night and we are sure the hotel guards came past a couple of times during the night. The only problem is that the sea spray can be very bad. N11.16425 W063.87710
Playa Cruz - Has a footpath access only. Not a place for overlanders.
Zaragoza - 4x4 will be needed with heavy rain to access this great beach. N11.11695 W063.93688 We really liked it here and we parked right at the end of the dirt track. If you feel unhappy about being here at night, then simply drive back along the beach to where the fishing boats and houses are.
Playa Boquito - N11.11136 W063.96349 We liked this location but the police chased us off at night, so we drove back along the dirt track and around to the restaurant area at Playa Caribe.
Playa Caribe - Just along a dead end dirt track. N11.10941 W063.97439 Another favourite of ours, lovely views and a nice beach but, once again, the police chased us away for night, we returned to the restaurants further along the beach for the night.
Juangriego information -
Free town parking by the police and the beach - N11.08359 W063.97197
Laundry - N11.08469 W063.97124 Great bread and cakes - N11.08244 W063.96935
BACK ON THE MAINLAND NOW -
The drive east from Puerto Cruz is gorgeous - horseshoe bays dotted with islands and palm lined beaches.
Playa Arapito - N10.24420 W064.47890 was a lovely beach with islands just offshore - locals told us there was a police station on the beach where you could safely park beside for the night.
Playa Colorada - Is the most famous beach in this area and it was lovely. We believe there is a very safe beach side posada where you can camp it is called Jahera Lodge and is meant to be excellent plus overland trucks do fit in. Sorry no GPS point. I think it is on the west end of the beach.
Santa Fe - Looked like a very nice village with it’s houses touching the sea. Lots of foreigners here so there may be somewhere good to park?
We bypassed Cumana so we have no information for the city. If you want to continue along the coast there is a posada in Carupano called Posada Nena - google www.venezuelatropical.com for information. We have been told that the beaches around that area are the most beautiful in the country. But for us, we wanted to turn inland toward the Guacharo caves - we turned off the main road at N10.47561 W063.65702 it is a little narrow because of overgrown bushes but no problem and a asphalt road all the way.
Guacharo Caves - You can stay overnight in the car park here - very quiet with a night time guard and cool because of the 1,000 metre altitude. Excellent caves. N10.17193 W063.55429
MATURIN - MAKRO - N09.79752 W063.20532 SIGO SUPERMARKET - N09.72766 W063.15366
There are large Malls near both of these points.
Much to our surprise we drove all the way to Ciudad Bolivar from the caves in one day - a excellent road with not much to see unless you want to detour to Tucupita for a Orinoco boat tour, and there is now a new bridge crossing the Orinoco at Ciudad Guyana - very easy.
La Casita Posada - Ciudad Bolivar - A excellent German owned place, Peter has been here for 20 years and is a mine of information for the country - very useful if you have just entered from Brasil and want some points. He wants 25bs per person per night to camp and for this you get electric, toilets, cold showers, a pool and a bar/pool table area. Great value. N08.09089 W063.48951 Impossible to find without GPS it is 7 km’s out of the city, but he does offer a courtesy car service twice a day - into town at 10am return at 2.30pm and into town at 2pm return at 5pm. He is also the guy who owns Gekko Tours and will arrange everything for your trip to Angel Falls or anywhere else.
We paid $340 per person for a 3 day/2 night trip to the falls, flying from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima. It is possible to reach the falls by other ways - you could drive further south to Ciudad Piar and catch a plane from there which would save you a little money or use one of the posadas further south in Santa Elena but to be honest, we would recommend using Peter - no problems, secure parking for your truck and a fair price, with regular flights. He does have limited wifi on a stick system and he really is incredibly helpful and welcoming - highly recommended.
GRAN SABANA INFORMATION -
We raced through this area because of bad weather in the north and a cat emergency in the south, but we still marked places we saw along the way and can recommend some tracks for you to explore.
Buy all the food and fuel you will need before driving south of Puerto Ordaz/ Cuidad Guyana - there is lots of great bush camping further south but very few shops to buy supplies.
Tumeremo - There is a lake just 5km’s to the east of town that is meant to be nice for camping or there is a Texaco garage just south of the town that has a large parking area. If you want a posada then we saw one signed that offers camping N07.29459 W061.50922 this point is for the junction with the sign.
El Dorado - Swiss owned camp area by river. Bruno also owns a gold nearby gold mine and several animals. Very nice location but the toilets and showers are very grim. Military boat crews are based here and they fire live ammunition to stop boats going up the river without stopping. 40bs per vehicle N06.71526 W061.60808
These are places I saw that were options for spending the night - some were campsites, some posada’s and some bush camp places. I can’t remember which were which as I was too busy holding onto our cat to detail them!
GS 1 - N06,20933 W061.37406
FUEL - KM 88 - N06.14788 W061.43244 and fuel at Fuerte Leupa checkpoint.
GS 2 - N05.84822 W061.46710
Liworibo turn - N05.81159 W061.41592 We wanted to take this track toward the Aponguao Waterfall - the views are amazing and there are places to camp. We had to miss it because of our cat problem.
GS 3 - N05.61379 W061.36125
GS 4 - N05.46303 W061.26135
GS 5 - N05.41762 W061.22034
Pacheco pool - We stayed here N05.17107 W061.09155 a quiet riverside area away from the road with natural pools to sit in. During high season the nearby buildings are used for tourists but there was no-one here in February. A few hundred metres further south are very deep pools and then a little further south is Pacheco waterfall.
Suruapo turn - N05.11181 W061.10789 this is the turn for very popular natural river rock pools - only 1 km down a dirt track we saw buildings - so there may be formal camping there.
Yuruani Camp - North of the bridge is a sand and rock track that leads to a camping area by the river but has no good views of the falls - we saw lots of puma paw marks in the area. No-one there but maybe they charge for camping in high season. N05.09144 W061.09631
Yuruani View - South of the bridge this is a sand and rock track - very extreme natural rock steps - you should walk all these tracks leading down to the river before deciding which one is best for your vehicle and it’s ground clearance. N05.08872 W061.09689 Excellent camping opportunities with better views of the falls and a sand beach area. May charge during tourist season.
Roraima View - Fabulous! Tremendous views of the whole mountain range from this cleared roadside area. Very quiet at night, in the day all the jeeps carrying trekkers pass and wave hello. N05.03211 W060.99190.
Jaspe Falls - It may be possible to park here overnight - but there are better places N04.90642 W061.09362
SANTA ELENA INFO -
Posada Yakoo - The simple answer is - don’t use it!
Backpackers Posada - A German owned place in town that accepts overlanders - no idea where it is ? what the costs are.
Friedenau - N04.60012 W061.10553 A posada with a large gate - not sure if they take overlanders.
No foreign vehicles will be sold fuel in Santa Elena now. There is a fuel station on no-man’s land between the checkpoints and here you can buy unlimited quantities of fuel for a higher price - 1.90bs per litre - it’s still a bargain cheap price compared to Brasil’s fuel costs but expect queues.
Money changers can be found opposite the Gran Sabana Hotel - N04.57983 W061.11985
BUDGET NEWS - £18.67 a day : 74 days and 5,084 km’s
Fuel costs - Sold by the litre. Cost was 0.48 Bolivares per litre. Yahoo!!
A break down of daily costs -
FOOD - £9.72 - we used a lot of expensive supermarkets.
FUEL - £0.04
CAMPING - £1.70 but this includes our unplanned extended stay in Posada La Casita.
ANGEL FALLS - £5.67
As usual - truck maintenance, health care and cat costs are not included in our daily budget.