Keeping Safe In Caracas.
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
403Trip End Dec 31, 2018
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Where I stayed
Hotel La Floresta Caracas
Read my review - 3/5 stars
Read my review - 3/5 stars
I've always loved the sound of the city name, Caracas. It sounds festive and musical as it rolls off the tongue.
Poor Caracas has such a bad reputation. Since 2008 it has the dubious honour of being called the "Murder Capital of the World". Caracas has a dark history of kidnappings, bag snatching, random violence and gang and drug related crime. Most travel forums say just pass through the airport and get on your way to elsewhere – don’t stay, there is nothing to see. Most travel forums and some guide books say the overland borders are dangerous and don’t recommend arriving in Caracas by bus.
As is often the way with our own travels, we have, so far, found the opposite
We travelled overland by bus and encountered courtesy. We changed money at the border without getting ripped off. We had help to get a “safe” taxi on arrival at the bus station and to our delight the manager at our booked hotel spoke English!
Our 24 hour bus trip to Caracas from Cartagena, Colombia was not without dramas though. The border crossing went smoothly enough, then around 6 passport checks after the border went without any incident. However, we were a couple of hours out of Caracas, when some sort of commotion ensued on the bus, with a lady quite upset and hassling, (then bribing) the driver to make a phone call. Some time later we pulled in to where a Police Car was parked in a lay by and we gathered we were all being ordered off the bus. This was VERY un-nerving! We asked the police officer if he could speak English (as we knew no-one else on the bus could) and he said “a little”. We asked what was going on and we eventually got the gist of the problem was that while the lady was asleep on the bus she was robbed and the police had been called to meet the bus.
Now this was rather alarming as we were the only foreigners on the bus. We thought we might be accused of the theft! However, the police searched the bus and asked questions but didn’t question us for long, realizing we had no Spanish, so it wasn’t going to be easy. After about 15 minutes, we gathered the Police probably told the woman there was nothing they could do, (Particularly as a women with a child had already gotten off the bus earlier) because we were all allowed back on the bus and were on our way again
Caracas bus station did look a little scary, with huge big, beaten up “Yank Tanks” as taxis. We had some breakfast then found an information booth and whilst the attendant didn’t have any English, we were able to make her understand that we wanted a “safe” taxi to our hotel address and that we wanted to know how much to pay. She said “Momento!” and came back a few minutes later with a lovely looking older man in tow, and wrote down how much we needed to pay him to take us to the address. Feeling OK about this we followed our driver outside, but to our dismay his vehicle was also one of the “Yank Tanks” albeit with a supposedly legal yellow taxi sign. All was well though until we arrived at the address and Avan went to get out of the car and got a huge electric shock! I think the taxi driver needs to get his car earthed.
We had booked the Hotel La Floresta as part of a package through Osprey Expeditions for our visit to Angel Falls and found it to be in upmarket residential suburban area, considered safe. We felt quite comfortable walking around. One of our first jobs was to find a watchmaker to get a new watch band. This was achieved and the store owners had a good laugh with us about the fact that I had sticky-taped the old broken watch band together as an interim measure
The next day we asked the hotel to organize us a safe taxi to take us to Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas which is UNESCO Heritage listed. It had been listed primarily due to unique architecture. Whilst rather run down looking, we could see that it was rather unique. We wandered into the library and asked if anyone spoke English, and Elias, a lovely young man, came forward and offered to show us around. He was pleased and proud to have some foreigners wanting to see the University.
So our first impressions of Venezuela, and Caracas in particular, were good.
There is another little matter to talk about in regard to Venezuela, the country. The beauty of Venezuelan women is legendary! Venezuela has won more Miss World competitions (6 times) than any other country and is second to USA in the Miss Universe competitions (also won 6 times, USA 7 times). Yes, they are beautiful, busty, tall, and just simply stunning. Our limited contact with Venezuelan women also makes us think they also have nice personalities too!
Next it is off to Angel Falls, Venezuela’s draw card destination and the highest waterfall in the world. It is an expedition which will see us travelling in boats, hiking, and overnighting in hammocks.
Footnote: Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas is UNESCO World Heritage listed.