Ecotourism in Venezuela

There are dozens of national parks in Venezuela, and the ecosystems they protect are very diverse.

The most famous ecotourism area in the country is Canaima National Park. (Canaima national park), located in the Guiana Highlands. The park was founded in 1962, and in 1994 UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site. It is here that the highest waterfall in the world, Angel, is located, and numerous “tepui” (flat-topped mesas) are located, which are considered by the local Indians from the Pemon tribe as sacred places where spirits live. In the tropical forests and savannahs of the park, there are about 9 thousand species of plants, including more than 500 species of orchids, 150 species of mammals (jaguars, cougars, ocelots, tapirs, peccaries, agoutis, anteaters, monkeys, giant otters), more than 500 species of birds (eagles, falcons, parrots, toucans, hummingbirds), 72 species of reptiles and about 50 species of amphibians. The best time to visit the park is the rainy season (April-November), when the rivers and waterfalls are at their fullest.

No less popular are excursions to the protected areas of the western part of Venezuela, where the northernmost spurs of the Andes stretch – the Cordillera de Merida ranges. Sierra Nevada National Park is located in the center of the Cordillera de Merida near the city of Merida. (Sierra Nevada National park). Here, on an area of ​​276.5 thousand hectares, there are 6 highest peaks of the country (Bolivar (5007 m), Humboldt (4942 m), La Concha (4922 m), Bonpland (4883 m), Espejo (4880 m) and El Leon (4740 m)), whose peaks are covered with snow, deep gorges, sheer cliffs, mountain lakes and rivers, wet forests, meadows and original villages. Altitudes within the parks vary from 600 to 5000 m, so the natural world is very diverse. Tropical rainforests stretch at the foot of the mountains, and in the mountains there are high-mountain meadows – paramo, where giant plants are found, including espeletsia, reaching a height of 5 m. In total, there are about 750 plant species. In the Sierra Nevada National Parkrare spectacled bear, puma, jaguar, fox, mazama deer, red howler, opossum, porcupine and paca rodent (about 300 species of animals in total), as well as birds such as the Andean condor, eagle, parrot and toucan. On the territory of the park there are such natural attractions as the “foggy” forest La Mucuy (La Mucuy) and Lake Mukubahi (Laguna Mucubaji) – the largest of the glacial lakes of the state of Merida.

Within the Cordillera de Mérida, there are also national parks such as Guaramacal National park, Yacambu National Park, El Guache National Park and Terepaima. (Terepaima National Park). Mountain forests are protected here (about 600 species of plants in total), several hundred species of birds, including rare crabs, and many mammals, among which are rare spectacled bears. In addition, picturesque waterfalls are interesting in Guache National Park, Lake Blaquito (Laguna El Blanquito) with campsites and specially equipped picnic areas in Yacambu National Park, and go to Terepima National Park to look at various types of orchids.

According to TOP-MEDICAL-SCHOOLS, the national parks of the Coastal Andes, stretching along the Caribbean coast of the country, are also interesting. First of all, this is the Avila National Park, located north of Caracas . on the slopes of the ridge of the same name. The park occupies 81,800 hectares. It was created in 2002 to protect the mountainous forests surrounding the Venezuelan capital. There are 1800 plant species, about 120 mammal species, 30 reptile species, 20 amphibian species, about 100 butterfly species and 500 bird species. The park can be reached from Caracas by teleferico cable car, off-road vehicles or on foot along hiking trails. The cable car runs from Mariperez metro station to El Avila peak (2175 m). At the top of the El Avila peak, there is an observation deck that offers a breathtaking view of Caracas and the Caribbean coast. You need to go here in the first half of the day, as in the evening hours visibility is often worsened by haze or haze.

The oldest national park in Venezuela, Henri Pittier National Park, is very popular. It was created in 1937 and named after a Swiss biologist who worked here in the early 20th century. The park extends not only along the slopes of the Coastal Andes, but also captures part of the coast. It is known for its rich natural world, because on its territory (from the coast to the mountain peaks) several natural zones are replaced. Here there are tropical rainforests, where about 150 species of trees per 0.25 hectares, deciduous forests, savannahs and mangrove forests. The park is home to 140 species of mammals and 580 species of birds (almost half of all animals and birds living in Venezuela), 97 species of reptiles, and more than a million species of insects.

You can get acquainted with the coastal ecosystems of the country in the national parks of Morrocoy (Morrocoy Marine National park) and Mochima (Mochima National Park). The Morrocoy National Marine Park covers an area of 32,090 hectares, covering part of the northwestern coast of Venezuela between the cities of Chichiriviche and Tucacas and part of the Gulf of Triste (Golfo Triste), where there are about 35 small coral islands. The park is located 150 km east of the city of Koro.. It is protected by picturesque beaches surrounded by coconut trees, mangroves and coral reefs. Adjacent to the park is the Cuare Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the world. In general, about 80% of Venezuelanwaterfowl live in the national park and reserve.and almost 70% of the migratory birds recorded in the country are herons, flamingos, red ibises, boobies, pelicans, cormorants, hawks, hummingbirds and many others. The largest number of birds can be seen in the mangroves and salt lagoons of the reserve. The best time for bird watching is morning or evening. But Morrocoy National Park is famous for more than its birds, the hills surrounding the coast are home to mammals such as jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, howler monkeys, raccoons, including kinkajou, opossums and agouti rodents, and coastal waters are full of a variety of corals and sea inhabitants. Excursions are conducted mainly on local penero fishing boats, catamarans and trimarans.

The Mochima National Park is located on the northeast coast of Venezuela between the cities of Puerto La Cruz and Cumana on an area of 95,000 hectares. It covers the coastal mountains covered with forests, part of the northeast coast of Venezuela with mangroves and adjacent coral reefs and about 30 islands. The park is home to 78 species of mammals, 28 species of reptiles, including 4 species of turtles (green, leatherback, hawksbill turtle and caretta turtle), a variety of dolphin species, and several hundred species of seabirds.

From Caracas you can go to the protected archipelago of Los Roques (Los Roques), which was declared a national park in 1972. The park includes all the islands of the archipelago, surrounding the Central Lagoon with an area of 400 square meters. km, coral reefs and two barrier reefs (on the eastern and southern sides of the archipelago), the total area of the park is 2250 sq. km. There are no roads and vehicles, large hotels and nightclubs, the main attraction of the islands is untouched nature. 92 species of birds (pelicans, gannets, terns, gulls, etc.), 4 species of turtles (caretta turtle, Byss turtle, green turtle, leatherback turtle), 61 species of corals, 60 species of sponges, 280 species of fish, 200 species of crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, etc.), 140 species of molluscs and 45 species of echinoderms.

In the vicinity of the city of Koro stretches a series of dunes Los Medanos de Coro National Park. This is the only desert landscape in the country. The park occupies about 91 thousand hectares within the isthmus of Medanos. The local dunes reach a height of 40 m and move under the influence of the wind. In addition to sand dunes, the park also protects coastal salt marshes. In the park, you can ride camels and ride down the slopes of the dunes.

Be sure to visit the Cienagas del Catatumbo National park, located off the southwestern coast of Lake Maracaibo. The Catatumbo River flows through the park, flowing into the lake, above the mouth of which a unique atmospheric phenomenon is observed – Catatumbo lightning. About 150 days a year at night (about two hours after sunset), silent flashes of lightning are observed over the confluence of the Catatumbo River into Lake Maracaibo. It is believed that lightning occurs as a result of the saturation of the atmosphere in these wetlands with methane. Boat excursions are also held in the swampy areas of the park, during which you can see a variety of animals and birds. The Delta of the Orinoco River is located in the northeastern part of Venezuela near the Gulf of Paria.. This is one of the most exciting places in the country where ecotourism lovers come to. Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America, its length is about 2140 km. Approaching the Gulf of Paria, the riverbed is divided into hundreds of branches and forms one of the largest deltas in the world with an area of about 30 thousand square meters. km. Here you can see swamps, lagoons, canals, marches and mangroves. Within the Orinoco Delta, 1,300 species of plants grow and more than 350 species of birds (hoatzins, parrots, toucans, ibis, cassiques, cormorants, herons, falcons, eagles), about 120 species of mammals (cougars, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, capybaras, giant otters, freshwater dolphins and manatees), many reptiles – anacondas, boas, iguanas, caimans, turtles; and 420 species of fish, among which are predatory piranhas. Excursions are mostly carried out by motorboats. Since 1991, 3.3 thousand sq. km of the lower Orinoco Delta are protected by the Turuepano National Park, which is one of the country’s most important protected areas for waterfowl.

Among other popular natural attractions of Venezuela, one can single out the vast expanses of the tall-grass savanna of Llanos (Los Llanos), which occupies about 1/3 of the territory of Venezuela. All types of hunting are prohibited here, there are no industries and large cities, there are practically no roads, so nature is preserved in its original form and animals are absolutely not afraid of people. It is in Llanos that the difference between the two seasons is most noticeable: wet and dry. During the rains (April-November), all vegetation comes to life, and most of the savannah is flooded with water. At this time of the year, Llanos is almost impossible to move around, because most of the roads are flooded. During the dry season (December-March), the vegetation is much sparse, however, a large number of birds and animals accumulate near the reservoirs to drink, this is the best time for observing wildlife. In Llanos, there are 320 species of birds (ibis, herons, cormorants, jacans, moorhens and snake birds), more than 50 species of mammals (deer, capybaras, peccaries, tapirs, opossums, ocelots, jaguars and monkeys), Amazonian dolphins, anacondas and crocodiles live in the rivers, including the rare Orinoc caiman. Hato livestock ranches are scattered throughout Llanos, where tourists are offered a variety of excursions during which they can observe the wildlife of the Venezuelan savannah. Tours are conducted in small local trucks, jeeps, canoes, boats or horses.

In the very south of Venezuela, near the southeastern outskirts of the Guiana Highlands, the state of Amazonas (Amazonas sate) extends – the land of impenetrable tropical forests, which are called the “lungs of the Planet”, rivers and dozens of Indian tribes, still refusing the benefits of civilization. The natural world of this region is striking in its diversity: per 100 sq. km of rainforest has about 1500 plant species, 750 tree species, 400 bird species, 150 mammal species, 100 reptile species and 50 amphibian species. Unfortunately, tourism in this region is significantly complicated due to the difficult terrain of the local forests and the full flow of the rivers (especially during the rainy season), only desperate tourists go on a trip to this region.

Ecotourism in Venezuela