Venezuela

Venezuela is a country filled with natural attractions and amazing landscapes including the Andean peaks, tranquil offshore islands, the longest stretch of Caribbean coastline of any nation, wetlands teeming with wildlife, and rolling savannah punctuated by flat-topped mountains. Those interested in culture can revel in the pulsating salsa clubs of Caracas, explore regional festivals and look for arts and crafts in the small towns.

When to Visit

The dry season from November to May is best enjoyed by hikers and those wishing t enjoy the outdoor activities on offer, while the wet season makes visiting sights such as waterfalls more impressive. For those wishing to savour the local culture, many festivals and fiestas take place during the dry season months of December and March, July and August.

Highlights

CARACAS Caracas  is the pulsating capital of Venezuela. Discover the city’s colonial roots, proudly on display in the historic centre and learn about Venezuela’s history and architecture.

ANGEL FALLS The Spectacular Angel Falls was discovered by bush pilot Jimmy Angel in the 1930’s and is the world’s highest waterfall, which drops from a height of almost a kilometre from Auyantepui Table Mountain, the largest tepui in Canaima.

CANAIMA NATIONAL PARK World Heritage listed Canaima National Park is a perfect combination of magic and reality, shaped by breathtaking mountains, countless rivers, lakes, waterfalls, forests and savannahs spread like a green sea.

NATURAL BEAUTY Enjoy Venezuela’s natural beauty with beautiful lagoons, sprawling rivers, breathtaking scenery and unique landscapes.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Venezuelans are characterized by their outgoing and gregarious nature. This extroverted behavior is visible in the traditional forms of greeting and in people's body language. When meeting somebody, even if it is for the first time, it is common to give two kisses, one on each cheek;  women greet men and women this way, while men only kiss women. Between men a strong-gripped handshake is the custom and many times this is accompanied by the placing of the other hand on the side for greater emphasis. 

Body language between Venezuelans is also much more fluid and pervasive. People stand very close to each other while talking and will gesticulate with their hands and bodies to make a point. Friendly conversations can also appear to be arguments because of their loud and freewheeling nature. Meanwhile there is also lots of unique sign language. For example, pointing with one's finger is considered rude and vulgar; it is much more acceptable and widely understood if one just points with one's mouth. At the same time a smaller version of the "okay" symbol is usually meant as an insult rather than as a symbol of agreement.

There is also an enormous amount of public expression of machismo. Women are customarily showered with remarks and gazes from men who want to display admiration and awe at their sexual beauty. This behavior, however, very rarely goes further than a piropo (small adulatory phrase) and any touching or pinching is not condoned. Women tend to ignore most of these remarks and from early on learn not to publicly acknowledge them (either favorably or not).

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Venezuela. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Venezuela. Cholera is reported in Venezuela but vaccination is generally not recommended. Care with food and beverage selection is far more important. There is a medium risk of malaria in Venezuela and dengue fever also occurs, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. A yellow fever vaccination is generally recommended. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Venezuela should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: USA and Japanese Voltage: 110-120 volts (different to New Zealand, voltage/frequency converter required). Modem Plug: USA. Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical adapters, or for further information, please go to www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Venezuela: +58 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 171 The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Spanish speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

Travellers are more likely to be interested in the quality handicrafts produced by Venezuela's indigenous inhabitants, including hand-woven baskets. It's best to look for these items where they're made, but if you're unable, try Hannsi, an enormous crafts department store in El Hatillo, an outlying district of Caracas. Or, for gold, go to Edificio Francia, Plaza Bolivar, in Caracas, which has 10 floors of jewellery stores. With the runaway inflation levels afflicting the country, there are few real bargains available for shoppers. Shopping hours: Mon-Sat 0930-1900; shopping malls, daily 1100-2200. Smaller outlets often close for lunch, until about 1500.

Tipping

In Venezuela tips are widely accepted and appreciated. Most restaurants already add a 10% service charge but you would still be expected to tip an additional 5-10% extra if the service is good. Cabs drivers don't expect tips but won't turn them down either. Bell boys and sky cabs expect around the equivalent to US$1 per piece of luggage and maybe a little extra if it's heavy. Tour guides and drivers expect tips as well.

Getting around

Travelers in Venezuela are obliged to carry identification. There are military checkpoints on many roads, so while travelling by car or bus keep your passport handy, ideally you should keep a colour photocopy of your passport. Should your passport be stolen, this will facilitate procedures with your local consulate. The military presence is constant, yet is not usually cause for concern. There is no national railway system in Venezuela, which leaves three options for travel inside the country: car rental, using buses, and using cars-for-hire. Drivers in Venezuela are generally aggressive and unconcerned by traffic regulations. The traffic in Venezuela is very bad, the drivers are aggressive and all drivers want to be the first. Thus, car rental is not recommended in general.

Language

Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects.

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