I took a night bus from Caracas to Ciudad Bolivar with the bus company Rodovias. There were two different types of buses to chose from, the executive bus which are normal modern buses (cost 46 000 Bs) and the bed bus for 50 500 Bs. I choose the bed bus which have seats that can be leant back very much and extra support for the legs. I normally have very difficult to sleep on buses, but thought this was going to work well. This time it wasn't the seats that made the journey uncomfortable, but the terribly cold air condition (bring many warm sweaters). The bus journey took about 9 hours and along the way the bus stopped at a cafeteria (together with many other buses) for half an hour. There was also a shorter stops. During the stops I went out to be warm again.
There are several night buses every night between Caracas and Ciudad Bolivar.
Rodovias bus terminal is next to Colegio del Ingenieros metro station, a stop on line 1 (orange line). Coming with the airport bus you can go off at one of the metro stations Gato Negro or Bellas Artes or take a taxi from the end stop Parque Central.
In Ciudad Bolivar the bus terminal is situated about 1,5 km south from Plaza Bolivar so I took a taxi to the posada where I was going to stay. It was 8000 Bs. Take one of the taxis next to the place where the buses arrive.
In the morning it is only Turgar company that has buses leaving for Ciudad Bolivar (Occidente used to have, but didn't have when I travelled). Turgar buses are not the best ones and can not be booked in advance (you can go to the bus station the evening before the departure to buy a ticket though). I was told the bus was leaving at 7am and so said the sign, so I went to the bus station already at 6am to be sure to get a ticket. I found a taxi on the street shorly after leaving the posada. It was 5000 Bs. I was the first person to arrive at the bus station, but more and more people came. The person selling tickets didn't arrive until 7.30. The ticket was 35 000 Bs. There are no seat numbers so I stood near the door of the bus to be one of the first to enter to get a view through the front window (the other windows are shaded) and to have one of the front seats as seats in front of you often are leant back very much. There is a fee for leaving the station of 1000 Bs and a woman come on bord the bus to sell those tickets.
After a couple of hours one of the passengers asked the driver to stop by a small cafe and everyone went out to buy coffee and snacks. Not until three o'clock did we stop for lunch. I had a soup and orange juice for 10 000 Bs.
We arrived to Ciudad Bolivar at 19, so the busride took 11,5 hours. Before taking a taxi I went to buy something to eat as I arrived at the posada.
The taxidriver wanted to have 10 000 Bs to take me to Posada Don Carlos and when I said I had paid 8000Bs last time he answered that it was later and dark now.
Arriving back from Canaima I went to the terminal to ask for a morning bus to Maracay. I had been told that there might just be night buses, so I was lucky to hear a bus left at 9.00. It was a bed bus with the company Expressos del Mar and the ticket was 49 500 Bs. Half an hour before departure I was told to be at the station. Arriving at the station I bought the ticket for the exit, which is 500 Bs and the ticket is bought from a small booth.
I had asked for a window seat when I bought the ticket and thought I was going to have a great view from my seat (nr30 in the front of the upper floor. Guess if I was dissapointed when the man working on the bus told me the curtains had to cover the window for protection as there was a big crack in the window.
Around one o'clock we stopped at a road cafe for lunch and about 18.30 the bus arrived at Maracay.
I bought some chinese take away at the station at the hotel as I didn't know if there was anywhere to eat near the hotel and I didn't want to go to far in the dark. At the Chinese restaurant they told me the taxi should be 7000 - 8000 Bs to my hotel, but the taxidriver wanted to have 10 000 Bs.
I booked my tour to Canaima/Angel Falls through Backpacker Tours via Internet and paid already before leaving home. The price for the tour was 290 Euro (June 2007), but paying with bolivares changed on the black market in Venezuela it will be much cheaper. Backpacker Tours (which is based in Santa Elena) use Gekko Tours in Ciudad Bolivar, and they in their turn use Excursiones Kavac (managed by an indigenous community) in Canaima.
I was ready very early in the morning and took a taxi (10 000 Bs) to the airport already at 6.30. Gekko Tours office was not open jet and I sat down to have breakfast, coffee and toast, in a small shop/café. After breakfast I went back to the office where I got my airplane ticket and paid the airport tax (6000 Bs). I also left some of my luggage in the office to be stored there until I came back from Canaima. More and more people came. I thought I was going to be in one of the first planes leaving Ciudad Bolivar as I had been one of the first at the airport, but it never seemed to be my turn. Plane after plane left with tourist going to Canaima and finally it was my turn. The planes are 6-seated Cessna planes (the pilot and five tourists). The pilot told us where to sit so the balance should be good in the plane. I got the front seat next to the pilot. The flight to Canaima took about one hour. In the beginning the sight was good, but then we were in the middle of big rain clouds and it was raining when we were landing.
The tip turned out to be too long so it will continue below…
I don’t like travelling by night bus as I can’t sleep on them and I don’t want to miss out the scenery and people along the way. The good buses between Ciudad Bolivar and Santa Elena go by night and it seems Turgar is the only company going during the day. With Turgar it seems you can’t book tickets ahead, so I went to the bus terminal very early in the morning to be sure to get a seat. The taxi from the posada was 10 000 Bs (a bit more expensive than when I had arrived but already in the telephone I was told the driver wanted 10 000 Bs to come to the posada to pick me up).
I bought the ticket for Santa Elena and it was 40 000 Bs (somehow it was 35 000 Bs with the same company the other way). Then I went to the booth selling the ”departure ticket”. It was 500 Bs and must be shown when leaving the terminal.
You can sit where you want in the bus and I took a window seat to be able to look out. To my disappointment the windows were all shaded dark making the colours outside unnatural for the whole journey. I also had a book which I had to hold close to the windows to be able to read (only when the sun looked through the clouds the light was good enough for reading).
The seats in Turgars buses are quite narrow and close to each other. It was fine for me until half the journey when a man got the seat in front of me leaning it back as far as possible (almost to my face) and shading the pages in the book even more.
The bus stopped for a while in Ciudad Guyana and then further along the way for lunch. Twice the bus was stopped at military checkpoints where we all had to go out and open all our bags (and show everything in the bags), but it was fine and went very easy.
To Santa Elena it took about 12 hours. In Santa Elena I took a taxi from outside the terminal to Posada Backpacker Tours and it was 5000 Bs.
The tip continues….
Arriving at the airport in Canaima you must pay an entrance fee to the National Park, which was 8000 Bs. At the airport there are some souvenir stalls and this is one of the few places in Venezuela where I saw postcards, so I bought 16 cards. The different tour companies came to pick up their tourists and we were brought to Kavac’s campamento and office. It turned out that I and the four Mexicans who had flown in the same airplane as me was going to leave for Angel Falls very soon, together with a group that had already spent a day in Canaima. The rest had to wait for the last planes (one of the first leaving Ciudad Bolivar had gone down in a small town on the way because of bad weather). I was happy to be in the group that was leaving soon, and it turned out we would have the time to visit the Angel Falls that same day and the other group had to wait until the next morning.
A taxi ride around Ciudad Bolivar should cost you around 3000 Bolivares but it seems like they're trying to increase their rates to 4000 Bolivares. Always define the amount you want to pay for the ride before hopping on the bus. At night, be ready for 5000 bolivares.
You can stop taxi as you see the "taxi" sticker on their windshield or little green light (not always visible) on their dashboard as you see one coming. There's not any security problem with taxi in ciudad bolivar.
Some cars can look old and lack securtiy essentials but hey!!! it's venezuela...enjoy
If you stay in the casco historico, the center of the city is just down the hill. It would be a waste to take a taxi and miss all those colorful facades.
This is Latin America so buses are packed and the music really loud! But if you want a real feel for Ciudad Bolivar, take the bus around town. You can even take the bus from the Paseo Orinoco to the bus terminal. Just check out the one that has "pepsi" on it. You won't be able to forget that right.
The only thing you need to be carefull about is the time. It's rare to see a bus past 6.30pm.
One bus ride is: 500bolivares/person (a taxi ride: 5000bolivares)
We chartered a plane to fly around the Angel Falls and we were very disappointed as there was just a trickle of water flowing over the top. We actually had to make 3 passes because of the cloud cover. So, what is the best time to visit the falls? Well June to September is the wet season so there would be more water, but these conditions there will be many rain clouds, which would obscure your view. January through May would be the drier season so there would be less water like we experienced in March, but we met some people who flew there earlier in February after a day of heavy rain and the falls were quite impressive. Often, when it is cloudy the planes will not fly due to the visibility. So, to put it in a nutshell it is just a matter of luck regarding the timing of the visit.
Ciudad Bolívar is locted at the right or southern bank of the Orinoco river. On the other bank lies a small village, aptly named Soledad (solitude). Pedestrians can go there from the boulevard by a small ferry boat, the fare is just BsF 3,- (February 2012).
Because the water level was low, we had to go down a flight of concrete stairs to the sandy beach. For climbing into the boat a small metal stair was provided. Safety rules are adhered to: passengers must wear a life jacket. On the Soledad side one disembarks by way of a floating landing stage.