July 2002

ihana.com - big trip - diary - venezuela - july 2002


Guatopo national park

Los Llanos...


Wednesday 17 July - Sunday 21 July

A chance meeting of a surfer in Sambil carpark led us to the local surf shop where we got rid of the surfboards as they wont be much use in the jungle, not that they were much use under our control in the water. Finally free to leave Caracas we said our reluctant goodbyes to various folks and proceeded to get lost for two hours whilst trying to get out of the city.

We arrived in Guatopo National park and camped hidden from the dirt road behind an embankment. B went for a run and saw some monkeys leaping huge distances from tree to tree. Rain had hammered down all night making the twisting road, victim of many landslides, more interesting for us. Stopping at a viewpoint we bled the brakes to get rid of some stubborn trapped air (or is that wind?) in the landys pipes. With a nice firm feeling pedal, the road led us down and away from the national park, the thick jungle suddenly stopping and only a few trees and green hills a stark reminder of deforestation.

Local residents

Splashing about

Llanos as far as the eye can see

As we left the hills the small town of Altagracias beckoned. We needed to fill up our jerry cans with water and fuel as there aren't many towns south from here. Stocking up on our usual tins of tuna and sweetcorn at the local supermarket and having a couple of ham rolls in the bread shop with wicked dorises all around was most enjoyable. The flat wet plains of Los Llanos were soon upon us. This lush savanna is supposed to be home to a fair amount of wildlife, we saw plenty of birds and cows but got bitten by lots of mozzies as soon as the sun went down. Having got bored of the paved road we left the main way and spent the morning splashing along dirt tracks full of puddles trying to find a parallel dirt road south, eventually giving up after 60kms when all the options seemed to head in the wrong directions.

Filling the landy...

...with liquids

Resident of the wheel chock

Arriving at Cabruta and the shores of the legendary Orinoco River we were in time to catch the 3pm ferry - leaving at closer to 4. While we waited men fished with lines or by throwing nets from dugout canoes, catching little tiddlers by the dozen. The ferry, a mini tugboat thing tied with ropes to a big platform, chugged into life and with surprising speed took us diagonally across the huge river. Thoughts of the Wombles and minging Enya songs were with us as we watched the brown murky waters slide by.

Orinoco minnows for tea

Ferry across...

...the Orinoco River

Some of the floating fauna

Local chicas

All is wicked

Once across it was time for some dinner and a bit of interaction with the local national guard plonker who, like some of his colleagues, thinks we should finance his 'soft' drink budget but we aren't so soft. Leaving Caicara del Orinoco and heading east we turned down a side road to find a good camp spot. Another night of mozzies and a surprise in the morning when we took the front wheel off to hammer out the bodywork a bit as it was rubbing on our newly enlarged tyres. Chocking the wheels with a piece of wood with a scorpion sat in it seemed like a good idea at the time...


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