Crystalline waters and heavenly mountains
On their way from the international airport to Caracas, you will first notice a steep green mountain, El Ávila, that separates the city from the sea. On its very top sits Humboldt Hotel, at 7,000 feet above sea level; the hotel adds another 200 feet to the height. From the top, you can view the sprawling capital on the south and the beauty of the Caribbean on the north. At times, clouds gather along El Ávila. But rather than being a hindrance to the view, they create a heavenly impression. Either way, the world is at your feet.
In the last decade, Venezuela has been known for its challenging period of crisis. The country is nonetheless beginning to see a recovery, and many sites have been preserved in excellent condition. The top hotels and destinations offer the best service and experience, allowing you to choose between calm retreats and the vibrant nightlife of the country. The crisis has meant that fewer tourists visit, especially from the United States and western Europe. However, those who visited found veritable treasures in Venezuela for a paradisiac experience.
Humboldt was built in 1956, during Venezuela’s golden age. The architecture and style has remained loyal, as everything is either original or a replica. The building is covered by large picture windows and surrounded by balconies and terraces, so you can always enjoy the magnificent views. From the main lounge, you can see both the city and the sea. The cuisine offered presents all the flavours of Venezuela, with its Andean, Caribbean, European and Asian influences.
Though high up on a mountain, the hotel is easily accessible from both the coast and Caracas. You may take a cable car, with pickup from the station to Humboldt. The venue itself offers “land” transport of its own to the city and the airport. It is the perfect location to escape the rumbling of cities and take a well-deserved rest surrounded by nature. Caracas’ nightlife is vibrant, and the city sometimes becomes noisy and congested. Humboldt Hotel is, therefore, the right place to stay and rest while having easy access to Caracas.
Near Humboldt and by the cable car station is the 1956 Restaurant Lounge & Bar, where you can enjoy local and international cuisine or taste unique cocktails, all with a view of the city below. During late hours, the 1956 and other venues become idyllic for music lovers. The city offers an array of tropical sounds, and local dancers are a common sight. Less known is the South American country’s taste for electronic music, which has brought international DJs such as Dimitri Vegas and Black Coffee. Down in Caracas, at the Las Mercedes neighbourhood, there are many bars, restaurants and clubs recommended for international visitors. For a change, you may want to try the city’s take on East Asian cuisine – Caracas received migrant communities from across the world throughout the 20th century, each leaving its own cultural legacy. Bar Buddha and Mulan are the finest places with evening performances. The two restaurants are also accustomed to foreign businesspeople, diplomats and tourists, so they are a safe bet if you are unfamiliar with the local language.
From El Ávila, it is worth returning to the international airport for a short escapade. Local airlines and private jets fly tourists to Los Roques in the Caribbean Sea. The astonishingly beautiful archipelago is ideal for those on a business trip or a short holiday and has plenty to offer for a three-day visit. Local tourists often prefer the more affordable yet still stunning beaches of Morrocoy and Margarita Island. Yet none compares to the small islands that make Los Roques. Here, you can lie back and enjoy the calmness and beauty of the Caribbean or actively discover the islands and waters and enjoy the nightlife. The locals are also the most charming, and the service is always excellent.
There are no cars in the archipelago; instead, the valets take your belongings from the aeroplane to the posadas, the small hotels that scatter the sole town. Daytime offers plenty of options. The area is packed with small islands akin to the Maldives, with light blue water and white sandy beaches. You can mingle with other visitors or find a quiet beach for your own self. Boat trips are also available. Scuba diving and freediving are recommended, however, as parts of the archipelago are full of fish and coral. The farthest island hosts a turtle shelter if you are interested in wildlife and endangered species.
Back in Caracas, you can return to the heights of El Ávila or pick any of the hotels in East Caracas. The top-rated are the local Tamanaco and California Suites as well as the international Marriott Renaissance and Eurobuilding. If you plan to stay longer, consider the country’s many natural wonders. To the north-west is a dune desert and the amazing beaches in the Morrocoy National Park. If you love nature, deep into the country is the Canaima National Park, with tabletop mountains and the highest waterfall in the world. The imagery certainly feels surreal and has even inspired fantasy films.
About the Author
Elias Ferrer is an analyst of developing and emerging markets and has a bachelor’s degree in development studies from SOAS.