Venezuela is the sixth largest country in South America with an area of 916,445 square kilometers or 353,840 square miles. It shares borders with Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east and Brazil to the south. 2813km/1748 miles of coastline dotted with countless Caribbean beaches forms the northern border. It is a country of large geographical contrasts from the Andean chain in the northwest which includes Venezulas highest mountain, Pico Bolivar at 5007m/16,427ft to the dense rain forests of the Amazon basin in the southwest. In the southeast, below the Orinocco river basin, is an area of highland known as La Gran Sabana. This fantastic array of cliffs, canyons and tepuis (table top mountains), the remnants of a vast upland plateau, stretches to the borders of Brazil and Guyana. One of the largest of these tepuis is Roraima rising to 2810 metres/ 9219 feet above sea level and almost 100 metres/ 3000 ft above the surrounding countryside.
Electric Supply and Plugs
Venezuela uses a 60 Hz and 120 V power system. The power plugs are identical to those used in North America (referred to as A and B type power plugs).
The time in Venezuela is GMT -4 hours
The national language of Venezuela is Spanish. English is not widely spoken though Venezuelans who have dealings with tourists and restaurant staff in larger towns will usually have some English. We recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and learn some basic Spanish. Spanish is an easy language to pick up and communicating with people in their own language is all part of the fun.
Venezuela has a predominantly tropical climate and temperatures fluctuate little throughout the year. In Caracas, we can expect to find temperatures of around 30 degrees centigrade. In the far south, the region of the Gran Sabana has a more temperate climate on account of the generally higher elevations (500 to 2500 metres). Here temperatures range between 20 and 25 degrees centigrade at the lowest elevations (with relatively high humidity), falling to 15 degrees centigrade at the level of Roraima’s summit plateau. At night on Roraima's summit plateau the temperature may fall as low as 10 or even 5 degrees centigrade. Rainfall can be expected at any time of year, although November through to the end of March usually corresponds with the 'Dry Season'.
The unit of currency in Venezuela is the Bolivar. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com It is not necessary to purchase local currency outside the country. We recommend you take your travel money in the form of cash in US dollars. One of the fastest and easiest ways to obtain money in Caracas is from an ATM using a credit or debit card. Visa is the most widely accepted card but there will be an ATM that takes most other cards somewhere in the city. Credit cards can also be used to purchase many goods and at restaurants in Caracas and are particularly useful for more expensive souvenirs.
A valid passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity is required for entry into Venezuela. Visas are NOT currently required by citizens of countries in the European Union.
Please note that if you intend to travel to Venezuela via the USA you must have a machine readable passport. Even if you are merely in transit through a US airport you will not be allowed to travel if you do not have a machine readable passport. Also note that if you have any convictions (including driving convictions) you cannot enter or transit through the USA without a pre-arranged visa.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A’. Your GP will have the latest information on malaria prophylaxis requirements for this trip. A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
The South American Handbook.
Lonely Planet. South America.
Bradt Travel Guide. Venezuela.
Insight Guide. Venezuela.
ITMB Publishing (International Travel Maps). Venezuela. Scale. 1:1,750,000
Mount Roraima. Last Refuge Publishing. Various scales
Lonely Planet - www.lonelyplanet.com
Rough Guides - www.roughguides.com