A Travellerspoint blog

CANAIMA NATIONAL PARK, VENEZUELA

Canaima & Angel Falls - Jan 15, 2013

sunny 35 °C

On our last day in Venezuela we flew from Margarita Island to Canaima National Park on the mainland. We took a 40-seater twin propeller plane. The flight itself was incredibly scenic! We got to see the islands/beaches, Andes Mountains, Amazon rainforest, and of course tepuys (the flat-topped sheer-sided mountains Venezuela is known for).
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The view approaching mainland Venezuela.
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The beginnings of the Andes Mountains.
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Rainforest and a couple tepuys.
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Canaima falls & lagoon as seen from our plane.
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Landing in Canaima National Park.
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The airport in Canaima has got to be the smallest airport I've ever been too ... just a grass hut with a gift shop in the middle of nowhere! After going through a quick security check, we were led on a short walk through the rainforest to a restaurant for refreshments. We could hear the waterfalls from the restaurant! Another short walk led us to a beach on Laguna Canaima where we got on a very loooooong traditional canoe and were paddled across the lagoon to the waterfalls.
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I'm not even sure how many waterfalls are actually here ... there were many!
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This is the 1 we got to walk behind!
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And here it is again up close! Beautiful!!
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Me behind the waterfall! It was SO loud we had to shout to be heard!
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After spending some time here, and taking a dip in the lagoon, we headed back to the beach we started at. We were led on a walking tour of the town, and then back to the airport for our flight back. But on the way the pilot took us past Angel Falls ... or at least he tried. It was quite cloudy, so I only got a quick glimpse of it. Heres a photo of the river leading to Canaima Lagoon on the way to Angel Falls.
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Angel Falls is the world's tallest waterfall at 3212ft high! Its literally above the cloud-line! We were flying around the tepuys looking for it, when all of a sudden BAM there is a waterfall up in the clouds with us! Unreal! However, since it was so cloudy I only saw it for a brief second before the clouds covered it again, but managed to take this crappy photo, lol! It doesnt really look like much from this photo, but it was an amazing experience to see something like that up in the clouds :)
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Posted by ChantelleS 21:16 Archived in Venezuela Tagged mountains rainforest water jungle south waterfall america lagoon venezuela canaima Comments (1)

ISLA CUBAGUA, VENEZUELA

Isla Cubagua - Jan 13, 2013

sunny 32 °C

We booked a catamaran tour through Nolitours at our resort, to Isla Cubagua. We were picked up by a bus and taken 40min to Punta Piedra where we boarded a catamaran. It was approximately an hour ride. Along the way we passed a lighthouse, shipwreck, and sailed along the island's coastline before docking at the main beach.
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Our catamaran
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Upon arrival everyone was given a mask & snorkel, but no flippers, and no life jacket (a floatie noodle instead). I didnt snorkel (I hate water), but most of the people that did, complained that they didnt see anything. I dont think there is actually a reef here. So dont book this tour for the snorkeling. While everyone was snorkeling I explored the paths, cliffs, cacti desert, lookout points, etc. After snorkeling we were served a delicious lunch on the beach. After lunch our guide took us on a walking tour of the cliffs backing the beach (pretty much exactly where I had wandered on my own, lol).
The view from atop the cliff looking down at the beach
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There was a desert full of cacti ... up on a cliff!
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This one looks like Mickey Mouse :)
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Yikes! I wouldnt want to fall on one of those!
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There were little lizards scurrying everywhere!
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The lookout point
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I found this fossilized conch shell ... up on a cliff ... in the desert!
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After the walk, we were lead down the beach to a river for a mudbath. Apparently the mud is good for your skin. So everyone smothered themselves with mud head to toe, and then rolled in the sand 'Shake n' Bake' style, laid out in the sun until the mud was dry, and then washed it off in the ocean.
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Then we had some free time to relax, swim, etc before heading back to our resort in time for supper.

Posted by ChantelleS 23:05 Archived in Venezuela Tagged ocean beach blue island south dock america shipwreck lighthouse venezuela pelican Comments (0)

MARGARITA ISLAND, VENEZUELA

Margarita Island, Venezuela Playa Dunes, Macanao Peninsula & Laguna Restinga January 8th - 17th, 2013

overcast 33 °C

Once again my best friend Jo & I set off on an adventure ... this time to Venezuela! We flew from Saskatoon to Toronto where we had a 16hr layover in Toronto ... but we were prepared to spend the night sleeping in the airport Amazing Race style. We brought yoga matts, neck pillows, light blankets, alarm clock and ipad for entertainment. The next day we had a direct flight from Toronto to Porlamar on Margarita Island.

We spent 7 all-inclusive nights at the Dunes Hotel & Beach Resort for only $379! The hotel was a tad run down, but the beach more then made up for it!! Ours was the only resort on the beach, so there werent too many tourists, nor beach vendors. It was long, clean, and had loud crashing waves! The end of the beach nearest the resort had a cliff covered in cactus, with a lighthouse on top. The far end of the beach provided views of the lush green mountains! Very scenic :)
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You can climb up to the lighthouse, but its at your own risk. There was a landslide a few years prior so the path isnt the safest. We were also told 'bandidos' hide out in the bushes and will steal your cameras, jewelry, sunglasses, watch, etc, and so not to bring any of those items with you if you choose to climb. I climbed about 1/3 of the way up for this photo.
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Jo at the beach.
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Me running from the crashing waves!
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Photography is hard work!
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BFFs
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"As I travel through the adventures of life, I will look back at the photographs I have taken, and see my footprints across this great place we call Earth." - Etienne Oosthuizen
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One afternoon we walked to the far end of the beach, and came upon a stream that connected to the ocean, creating very steep sandbanks!
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One of the many pools at our resort.
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The colorful beachfront restaurant
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Gorgeous flowers everywhere!!
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One night we saw some wild capybara in the resort!! My first time seeing some! They are South America's largest rodent. The biggest 1 in the photo is about the size of a medium dog! To me they look like a cross between a giant hamster and a tail-less rat.
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We also saw a HUGE locust!
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A few days into our trip we went on a jeep tour of the Macanao Peninsula. I never knew Margarita Island was so mountainous! Our first stop was Juangriego.
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Next we stopped at Laguna Restinga, and took a boat tour through the mangroves. Our guide scooped up a little red starfish!
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Pelicans in the lagoon
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Blue crab
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Venezuelan Eagle
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View of the lagoon from the boat
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Iguana at the entrance to the lagoon ... someone had fed him scrambled eggs.
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Then we hit the road again. Heres a few 'drive by shootings', aka 'the driver wouldnt stop for a decent photo so I just had to crank up the shutter speed on my camera and hope for the best'.
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Wild flamingos!!! I really would've liked to have stopped and gotten closer for better photos of these beautiful birds!
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Red mountains :)
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We stopped for lunch at Punta Arenas on the tip of the Macanao Peninsula. This is our jeep. The wagon behind the other jeep was the 'bar' that followed us to every pitstop.
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My vegetarian lunch ... giant carrots, tomato, rice, plantain, boiled egg & potato
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The beach at Punta Arenas. It was quite cloudy and raining on & off during lunch, so no suntanning or swimming :(
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After lunch we hit the road again and did a bit of off-roading to a lookout point.
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Our last stop on the way back to our resort was a little souvenir shop ... but I was more interested in the beautiful cactus, resident parrot and adorable dog with 1 floppy ear & 1 uppity ear!
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Thats it for Margarita Island ... stayed tunes for posts in Isla Cubagua & Canaima National Park!

Posted by ChantelleS 17:39 Archived in Venezuela Tagged wildlife beach cactus south america lighthouse venezuela Comments (0)

TEOTIHUACAN, MEXICO

Mexico City, Teotihuacan ruins & Chapultepec Zoo Feb 29th, 2012

sunny 25 °C

While on a week long vacation to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico we booked a flight to Mexico City for 1 full day to see the Mayan ruins of Teotihuacan!! A long, exhausting day, but worth it. Got to cross climbing the pyramids of Teotihuacan off of my bucket list :) So we were up at the crack of dawn, 3:40am, to catch a cab from our hotel in Playacar (just south of Playa del Carmen) to the Cancun airport for our 7am flight. We flew over the Sierra Madre Mountains. As we approached Mexico City we could see a thick layer of nasty brown smog! Growing up my whole life in Saskatchewan, I have never seen smog before ... I dont know how people live / breath here?! Yuck. When we landed we took a taxi for 45min out to the ruins of Teotihuacan (where the air was cleaner). There is a toll booth you will pass through and pay 50 pesos each way.

Look at how tiny the people on top of the pyramid are! That will give you an idea of its size!
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Me getting ready to climb the biggest pyramid in Mexico at 216ft!
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The view halfway up the Pyramid of the Moon, overlooking the Pyramid of the Sun
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It took about 30min to climb to the top (I'm outta shape and get a bit of vertigo, so it was slow going with quite a few breaks, lol!) but we made it! What a great adventure to experience with my best friend :)
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Holding a pyramid in the palm of my hand :)
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A view of the Pyramid of the Sun at the far end of the Avenue of the Dead
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Cactus & large Algave plants near the pyramids
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We had some time left before our flight back to Cancun, so we took a taxi to Chapultepec Zoo. The good thing is its FREE & has a great variety of wildlife, the bad thing is with Mexico City's unreal traffic it took us 2hrs to get there from Teotihuacan!! Upon arriving we had to make our way through a gauntlet of vendors selling everything from nachos, stuffed animals, t-shirts, Mexican wrestling masks, and a whole bunch of things I couldnt identify!
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Jaguar
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Chimpanzee
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Gorilla - this guy was HUGE!!
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I have no idea what is going on with these monkey's butts!!!?
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Hippo
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2-humped Asian camel
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Hehehe! My fave pic from the zoo! Silly giraffe :)
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Size difference
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Flamingo
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The whole reason for us wanting to come to this zoo is cuz they have Panda Bears, which neither of us have ever seen before! We were so excited ... just as excited as all the little kids running around, lol! But unfortunately the panda was sleeping, with his back to us, behind glass. Sigh. This is the only panda we saw, lol!
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Thats all for Mexico folks! Stayed tuned for Venezuela!!

Posted by ChantelleS 21:11 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife ruins mexico mayan pyramid Comments (0)

PALENQUE, MEXCIO

Palenque ruins & Agua Azul Waterfall February 25, 2012

overcast 25 °C

My favorite Mayan ruins thus far, are the incredible ruins of Palenque, Mexico, located in the mountainous state of Chiapas. We were staying in Playa del Carmen and purchased round trip bus tickets for $109 CAD. The bus departed at 9:55pm on Feb 24th, arriving in Palenque at 11am the following day. It was supposed to be a 12hr drive, but ended up being an extra 1hr long due to road construction. Night buses are the best cuz you dont waste any daylight traveling. The bus was more comfy than an airplane, as the seats reclined much farther. They played movies til about midnight (all of which were in Spanish), it had A/C (if you get cold easily like I do, pack a light blanket in your day pack), and a bathroom on board (with no toilet paper, so bring your own & some hand sanitizer). It stopped twice along the way for bathroom, smoke & food breaks. Upon arriving at the bus station in Palenque, just run across the street and wave down a collectivo (van packed with ppl). The destination will be written in marker on the windshield ... look for one that says 'Ruinas'. It only cost 10 pesos. The ride to the ruins is about 10min. It cost 28 pesos for admission. Theres vendors everywhere inside the site and outside selling food, h2o, souvenirs, etc. It was raining when we arrived so we bought rain ponchos to keep ourselves, day pack, and camera gear dry. But thankfully it stopped raining 10min later :) It was overcast all day, which was fine by me ... the last thing u want when climbing pyramids all day is hot weather!
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Rainforest
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There were approximately 8 pyramids, all of which can still be climbed (except one, which was under restoration). You can hire a guide prior to entering the site. We opted not to, as this was my 2nd time here. The 1st time I was here, I climbed every single pyramid, and my legs felt like jello by the end of the day! This time we climbed only the ones with the best views. The fact that they can still be climbed makes Palenque my fave over Chichen Itza or other ruins throughout the Yucatan! Most of the 'touristy' ruins are all roped off and u cant get within 5ft of them. So if you want the real thing ... climbing ancient Mayan ruins, seeing a tomb, pathways threw the rainforest, and even a river that leads to a small waterfall ... then go see Palenque! Its well worth the 12hr bus ride!!
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Climbing the steep steps!
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Me enjoying my fave view!
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Next we climbed the largest pyramid ... the one in the photo above ... for the view in the photos below.
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GIANT leaves ... I dont know what kinda plant / tree this was, but I loved the leaves :)
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We spent about 2hrs here. But if you plan to climb every pyramid and make the hike to the waterfall, give yourself a full day. Instead of the small waterfall here, we opted to take a cab to the 7 tiered Agua Azul waterfall 1hr away. The drive is quite twisty-turny, so if you get carsick, take Gravol before heading out!
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There were many lookout points along the easy walk to the top.
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There were also a few calm areas for safe swimming.
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My fave photo of the falls!
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Dont worry about bringing lunch ... there are vendors selling everything from empanadas to fruit carved into flowers!
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Thats it for the falls. We then headed back to town for our long (but well worth it) bus ride back to the Mayan Riviera.

Posted by ChantelleS 21:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged ruins mexico jungle waterfall mayan palenque Comments (0)

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