I'm sure you've all heard of Will from thebrokebackpacker.com, a guy that is currently travelling from the UK to Papua New Guinea without catching a plane. Also, one of the first bloggers to write openly about how much he loved Venezuela. His last guest post on coffeewithasliceoflife.com racked up the views from intrigued travellers and adventurous backpackers to see, if like Will, Venezuela was really the place they had heard about on the TV, Following on from his last post he now sets out to clear up those mistruths and tell you all why you too should visit Venezuela!
Where in the world can you head to find sprawling mountains, massive waterfalls, and serene beaches, all with an odd lack of backpackers? These days the answer is pretty damn obvious to me, having spent time backpacking around this amazing country that brought me from broke to millionaire overnight. So why on earth isn’t every damn traveller invading Venezuela?
Probably because everyone has been misled by the many mistruths spread about this wonderfully diverse country. And while I hope to find this country as untouched as it is now when I next visit, I’ve got to share the truths, and dispel the lies for you… because you’re seriously missing out on an epic place.
1. You’re going to die.
Perhaps the most ominous of the rumours told to me prior to my adventure, I am here to tell the tale. And you know what? I didn’t even almost die! (And this is most definitely not something I can say for all of my travels…) While people – who had never stepped foot in the country – enjoyed warning me that every single Venezuelan possessed a gun, and it was likely to be aimed at the “rich” white traveller, I did not once see anyone other than police officers or soldiers with guns. Sure, you can die anywhere, but a healthy dose of not-being-a-total-idiot pretty much combats that most places.
2. You’re going to get robbed.
You know when I tend to get robbed? When I leave my phone on my dorm bed and go out for an all-nighter. Or when I stupidly forget to fix that broken zipper on my pack, flat out inviting pick pockets into my world. But in Venezuela? Nah, I didn’t get robbed, I didn’t get threatened, I had nothing of the sort even come close to happening. As with anywhere, use sane person logic, and you’re unlikely to get jacked. No, the world is really not out to get you.
3. Condoms, and everything else, cost $820.
The sad fact is that there’s a dual-economy in Venezuela, and those who have dollars are king. While simple (and rather essential) things like condoms may cost an arm and a leg for a local, the truth is these things are cheap as peanuts for those of us from the Western world. Fair? No way. But that’s the truth of it. Oh, and my pack of 32 condoms cost a whopping $25… that’s less than a dollar per round. Worth it.
4. Hostels are not things that exist.
While this has a bit of truth to it, it’s not exactly the thing that’s going to ruin your travels in Venezuela. No, there aren’t many backpacker hostels, but there are more than enough guesthouses and hotels which cost so little you’ll be paying less for your private room of luxury than a crowded dorm bed in Europe. So… wouldn’t you rather skip out on the hostels for a little while, all the time spending the same amount (if not less)?
5. Never, ever take a taxi in Venezuela. You’re going to die (again) or get robbed (again).
So many people told me if I hopped in a cab in Venezuela, the driver would undoubtedly drive me down some dark ominous alley to rob me blind. Let’s look at the facts here: for one, if I’m catching a taxi around town, I’m probably not carrying around all my most valuable possessions, and they’re not going to get a lot off me. With this in mind, paired with the thought that I was probably a hell of a lot safer in a $1 taxi than wandering the dark streets at night alone, I risked it… several dozen times. And each and every time I got home alive and with all my things.
6. Catching a bus is a nightmare.
Alright, I’ll give the fear mongers this: finding a bus in Venezuela is far from an easy task, and I did once have to wait three days for a bus (though can you really complain waiting this long when you’re in absolute paradise?) Then again, you can easily find flights within the country for a whopping $6. I’m pretty sure most worn out travellers, having spent hours upon hours (upon days upon days) on cramped busses, would very happily opt for a cheap flight. So consider yourself lucky that this mistruth is, in reality, a truth. And freakin’ enjoy it while you can!
While this wonderful country may have a pretty bad rep, what I found there was nothing even close to the many warnings delivered my way. I found some of the kindest, most welcoming human beings I have ever met, nestled into a country I dream daily of returning to. I was able to get close with the locals, unobstructed by a daily dose of English-speaking travellers, because it seemed all the other backpackers were just too scared from the many warnings to make it to Venezuela.
I clambered through jungles to reach mountain tops with no neat paths to lead me there. I was able to experience the true side of an amazing culture, on the ground level, rather than what the political situation has led everyone to believe.
It was one of the most amazing places I have ever been (and when you’ve been on the road for seven years, that’s quite something). And you know what? I didn’t even die once.