It's time to hang up the safari gear and get acquainted with the Spanish phrase book as we start the next part of the adventure in Sth America cos no one hear speaks English.
Venezuela -A country that should be so rich providing a large proportion of the worlds oil, only it's quite the opposite. The streets are poverty stricken due to government corruption. Everything is much more expensive than we expected, the prices were no cheaper than London, a big mac meal at McDonalds costs £5 and a large pizza will set you back close to £15!! To our amazement we found out that by getting money exchanged on the black market we end up about 30-40% better off than taking money from the cash point. Dodgy government tax halves your cash!!! So take some cash with you if you are traveling here or at least have some US$ to change over, we ended up using Avis in the airport of Caracas as they gave us nearly a whole Bolivare more then the registered exchange shop.
We arrived in Caracas the capital of Venezuela and from the short bus ride into town we decided we needed to get out of there as quickly as humanly possible. We booked the first bus to a small town called Merida that very same evening. Booking the right ticket with little knowledge of the language was quite a challenge but lucky for us we ended at the right destination. The bus system is amazing, our 10 hour overnight bus to Merida was comfy and we were both able to sleep most of the trip.
We found a nice hostel in Merida called (Posada Alemania) and finally found some people that spoke English. We spent the next day and a half hanging about the hostel meeting some really interesting people and learning about their travels and the do's and dont's for traveling in Sth America. Special thanks to our German friends Dan and Robert for all their good advice. This is also were we learned that the commission that the bank charges is ridiculous.
Merida is popular for hikes, so we organsied a guide to take us and 3 others for a two day hike to the peak of Pico Pan De Azucar at 4700 meters. This is one of the highest hikes you can do in Sth America, hell why not start with the hardest. The 2nd day was extremely hard (almost quiting level), the climb was much steeper then the 1st day and after next to no sleep the night before in the freezing cold Andes plus our tired legs from the 6 hrs walk on day 1 it proved most challenging. Many a time we asked each other why exactly we had paid to be there but when we reached the top it all came clear, the last 1½ days torture was forgotten. The pressure headache cleared for a short time and it felt amazing looking back on the path we followed to the top. Not only the sense of accomplishment but also the beauty that surrounded us, we were standing at the catalyst of The Andes, the very beginning, they stretch as far as the eye could see, through Columbia and then on the the rest of Sth America. Straight in front of us we had snow caped mountains, to the left and right we had natural lakes/lagoons with streams feeding waterfalls everywhere. Truly amazing. Thinking we had completed the hardest part we happily set off back down the mountain with smiles on our faces only to realise that what goes up must come down and it was just as hard if not harder on the body on the way down.
Never the less we made it in one piece and slept very well that night on a bus to Columbia.
So we say goodbye to Venezuela and head to Columbia's coast where we do our dive course followed by a 6 day hike to the lost city. We would of loved to have gone to Angel falls but our budget wasn't prepared for Venezuela prices.