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Venezuela, one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean, has natural wonders reading like an A to Z of ecosystems, where travelers can enjoy both heavyweight adventures, or lighter journeys of discovery.
From the hustle and bustle of skyscraping Caracas to the hidden corners of this tropical land, the Traveler's Venezuela Companion leads you in capable hands through this beguiling nation, at once Caribbean, Amazonian and Andean.
Dominic Hamilton takes you from the country's long coastline where there's a beach to suit every taste and wallet to the world's highest waterfall -- deep in the heart of the Gran Sabana.
Pamper yourself in one of the coast's many fiver-star resorts, cruise the acquamarine waters of its national parks, or live out a Robinson Crusoe idyll on the beaches of Paria. You'll discover the best places to snorkel and scuba dive in the Caribbean, you'll hike up the Andes, horseback ride across the plains, boat along the Orinoco, or blaze trails through swathes of bird-rich cloudforests.
Traveler's Venezuela Companion uncovers restored gems of the colonial era, follows in the footsteps of "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar, highlights vivid folkloric festivals and steps back in time to the world of remote indigenous Indians.
Glowing praise from a rare Amazon.com editorial review
From the opening pages, as Dominic Hamilton describes skipping up the rocky path to Venezuela's Angel Falls like an overexcited schoolboy, you know you're in for something different--and good--with this travel guide.
Every travel guide series has its niche, and Traveler's Companion's is adventure and romance. Which is to say, this book spends most of its pages getting you enthused about the adventures waiting for you, rather than boring you with dry information and dull history lessons.
Hamilton, a British journalist who has lived in Venezuela for almost a decade, has the inside scoop and shares the country's glories enthusiastically.
Dubbed "Paradise on Earth" by Columbus himself, Venezuela still lives up to its nickname. Hamilton describes its "top spots" with a string of superlatives--Venezuela is home to the world's highest waterfall (Angel Falls), more bird species than in North America and Europe put together, the longest and highest cable car in the world, and more Caribbean coast than any other country in the region.
Once Hamilton has whetted your appetite, it's on to "Your Choice," a section devoted to describing the myriad activities available, such as hiking, scuba diving, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding, most of it in 40 national parks and monuments. There's also adventure tourism in the form of paragliding, mountaineering, and white-water rafting, family fun, the arts, and fiestas throughout the year.
The bulk of the book is devoted to descriptions of various regions of the country, with listings of what to see and where to stay and eat broken down by price range. The sections are well designed and clearly marked, which makes for quick access. While the maps are fairly inadequate, the full-color photographs bring out all the color and variety of the place, with its azure waters, golden dunes, craggy mountain ranges, and festively dressed peoples. And yes, there is a history section, but it's lively.
Finally, the "Traveler's Tips" section has been relegated to the back where it belongs. Sure, it's important stuff--transportation, exchanging money, health concerns, and an excellent guide to Venezuelan Spanish--but after all, you're traveling for the adventure, right?
Well, pick up this guide and go. You're in able hands. --Lesley Reed
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