Despite top billing in 80s romantic comedy Gregory’s Girl, Venezuela never capitalised upon the film’s free publicity, and British lay-bys remained unpopulated by hormonal spotty youths clutching cardboard signs hopefully inscribed ‘Caracas’. These days charismatic, controversial and outspoken leader Hugo Chávez is his own publicity machine – president since 1999 Chávez now rivals revolutionary independence hero Simón Bolívar as Venezuela’s most recognisable son.
However, an alleged shortage of young men and a confirmed surfeit of bombast are not Venezuela’s only unique selling points. South America’s longest Caribbean coastline, its highest waterfall, a ‘mega-diverse’ flora and fauna, and the mysterious table-top tepui mountains of the Grand Sabana are all headline acts in a country that still sees only limited leisure traffic from the UK. In his introduction, author of Bradt’s Venezuela, Russell Maddicks, describes the profound impact he experienced upon his first visit. ‘I’d only planned a two week holiday but each new place was completely different from the one before. I couldn’t get enough of food like arepas, and impossibly tasty tropical fruit. And the people were so open. Everybody wanted to be my pana, my friend, and beautiful women wanted to show me how to dance… So I chucked in my job in London and stayed. That’s my story: I went to Venezuela for two weeks and stayed 11 years.’
In this comprehensively overhauled and updated fifth edition, Russell explores Venezuela’s human diversity, from the steamy salsa bars of Caracas to piranha fishing with the indigenous tribes of the Orinoco Delta. Jungle trekking, windsurfing and birdwatching are all covered, from the ‘Lost World’ of the Gran Sabana’s Mt Roraima, and the pristine beaches of the Los Roques archipelago’s 350 islands to the bird-rich tropical grasslands of Los Llanos. The guide provides a foundation from which travellers can explore and make their own discoveries – the author accepts no responsibility for those whose lives are irreversibly changed… Russell dedicates this new edition to Bradt’s late Venezuela author, Hilary Dunsterville Branch.
Russell Maddicks is a journalist who lived and worked in Venezuela for more than 11 years, spending part of that time as a jungle guide leading boat trips from Canaima to the base of Angel Falls.
Author: Russell Maddicks
Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides
Publication: December 2010
ISBN: 978 1 84162 299 6