Monday, June 16, 2008

Salto Angel, Iguazu Falls, Rio De Janeiro

Latest photos from Rio are here:
Rio de Janeiro

Also finished adding the remaining photos from Ciudad Perdida along with Salto Angel and Iguazu Falls:
Cartagena, Taganga, Ciudad Perdida, Salto Angel, Catarata Iguacu, Rio De Janeiro

Anyway as I said at the end of the last post we headed for Venezuela. We had been warned that Venezuela was a dump and more trouble than it was worth by almost every traveller we met bar maybe 1 or 2 but with Chavez's high profile and it being a socialist state I wanted to see it for myself. From the moment we got into the country it was nothing but trouble with our bags being x-rayed twice, being asked for our passport 3 times and Carolines bag being searched before we got to our chosen destination which was Ciudad Bolivar via Caracas. They also have a double economy going on here with a black market operating at a rate of 3000 Bolivars to the US Dollar whereas the cash machines give you about 2100. This is designed to keep inflation down for the poorer population but in my opinion what happens is that anyone reasonably well off has access to the american dollars so it's only the poorer people that lose out. One thing Chavez had done was giving a handout to the Indigenistas of $150 a week we were told but on the downside they aren't growing crops or farming animals due to having this free money. For those that don't know it the country is the third highest producer of oil worldwide. I'd be very worried what happens here when the oil runs out as the people here have forgotten how to work and are extremely unfriendly for the most part.

Oh and while I think of it those that say FARC are all bad must have a look at this link on Alvaro Uribe, the leader of Colombia whose father was heavily involved in the drug business:
Alvaro Uribe's links to drugs

Having said that Colombia was absolutely amazing and would definitely recommend it.

Anyway back to Salto Angel. We did the tour with green Iguana in Ciudad Bolivar. It cost 600 Bolivar Fuerte which equated to about $430 with the preferential exchange rate. The sites on the tour were absolutely amazing but the guide left alot to be desired. It doesn't really matter quality wise which group you book with as all the tour companies are lumped together when you arrive at Canaima. It's strange in Venezuela that nearly every tour is run by German ex-pats which even the Germans refer to as the German mafia due to their wheelings and dealings. We were really lucky as we saw Salto Angel without any mist which I think is fairly unusual not that you'd get any info out of the tour operators. Also on our first night we were only 5 minutes from the falls but our tour guide neglected to mention this simple fact. On the last day we saw Sapo falls and went right under them which was brilliant. We flew back to Ciudad Bolivar from Canaima in only a 5 seater Cessna plane which was very good. The trip here is very overpriced but it is absolutely amazing to do.

We headed back to Caracas on the overnight bus that night and stayed around the hotel for most of the day mostly because we were shattered and we had also been warned that it was unsafe. We went out for food that night which was as usual overpriced. Venezuela left a very bad taste in our mouth compared to the friendliness in Colombia. English music was very prevalent here but from our observations most of the time the people couldn't be bothered making the effort to try to understand you.

We flew to Sao Paulo the following morning and as per the norm in Venezuela only one of the cash machines in the international airport accepted international cards. Was a disaster but we'd come to expect this in Venezuela. I'll have to tell you about Iguazu and Rio later as I've run out of time but I promise it has a much happier ending.

No comments: