I went on the 4-day Los Llanos tour with Guamanci Expeditions. We were only three tourists so it became more expensive. We paid 800 BsF per person (June 2008).
After breakfast we started the journey over the Andes. We stopped at the Chapel of San Rafael de Mucuchies and at Laguna Mucubaji along the way, and also for lunch at a roadside restaurant. In the afternoon we arrived to Campamento Los Angeles, near the village Mantecal in Estado Apure.
After breakfast the second day we went around in jeep to look for wild animals and we saw capybaras, caimans, turtles, lots of different birds and an anaconda. After lunch we had a rest and in the late afternoon we went on a boat tour to look for more animals and to fish pirahna (we didn’t get any, but got it for dinner anyway).
The third day we went horse riding and after lunch we headed back towards Barinas. Just after dark we arrived at Guamanchi’s Adventure Camp were we stayed the night.
The forth day we went on a short zip-line and on a rafting tour. After lunch we were supposed to go back to Merída, but our guide was needed at the Adventure Camp. The other two tourists were driven to Barinas were they were catching a bus to Caracas and I stayed another night.
CLOSED SINCE AUGUST 2008 (don't know for how long).
One of the main attractions in Mérida is the teleférico, the highest and longest cable car in the world. It starts in Mérida at 1572m and continues on to the stations La Montaña at 2436m, La Aguada at 3452m and Lomo Redonda at 4045m, before the end station Pico Espejo at 4765m. The whole system is 12,5 km long and the ascent takes two hours.
As you ascend you will see how the landscape changes and if it is clear you will have great views of the valley and mountains. As it is usually less cloudy in the morning it is good to start early. Trips up run between 8.00 - 11.30 (7.30 - 12 in high season) and around 14.00 is the last cable car going down (16.00 in high season). During high season the teleférico runs every day, otherwise it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. But it might be closed for longer periods of maintenance, so make sure it is open when you want to visit.
I had intended to take the teleférico up to Pico Espejo on a day between a Los Nevados tour and a Los Llanos tour, but I didn’t go. During the Los Nevados tour we had been at the station Loma Redonda (arriving by mule, leaving by foot). It was cloudy and raining. There are two lagoons near Loma Redonda and we apparently passed them, but we couldn’t see them because of the clouds. Well, the reason I didn’t go was that I had a bad cough and the cold weather on high altitude was not good for my chest.
You should definitely bring warm clothes for Pico Espejo, and also something to eat and drink. There are snacks for sale at the cable car stations though. Because of the changes in altitude some people can feel dizzy.
I booked a 3-day Los Nevados Tour with Guamanchi Expeditions in Mérida. You can also do a 2-day tour to Los Nevados if you have less time to spend.
The first day we went with jeeps to the Andean village Los Nevados, a drive that took 4 - 5 hours. After lunch we could walk around on our own in the village, or just rest. We spent the night at Guamanchi’s Posada in Los Nevados.
The next day we rode, mostly uphill, on mules for four hours to Loma Redonda, the forth station along the Teleférico (at 4050m) . Here the people in our group who were doing the 2-day tour took the teleférico down to Mérida. We, who were on the 3-day tour, continued by foot for two hours downhill to a house (at 3200m) where we stayed the night.
After breakfast the next day we walked downhill four hours to the village Mucunutan where we were picked up by a jeep from Guamanchi and then we went back to Mérida.
As you will spend much time at high elevation it is important to bring warm clothes and as it rains a lot you should also bring waterproof clothes. And off course you should wear good shoes to walk in. You will also need high sun protection.
We were only three tourists doing the 3-day tour and therefore it became quite expensive. It was 675 BsF (June 2008).
As in every city in Venezuela there is a Plaza Bolivar (or Parque Bolívar) in the city centre. Simón Bolívar (1783 - 1830) was the leader of the independence war against the Spaniards. In Merída it is a pleasant square with green trees and benches where you can sit down to take a rest and watch all the people walking by.
Around the square you will find the cathedral, museums, the Palacio del Gobierno and shops. In the middle of the square stands a statue of Bolívar on a horse. It was erected in 1930.
Museo Arqueológico is situated in the Rectorada of the university. It is a small museum which was founded in 1986. In the collection there are mainly stone objects and pottery dating from 25 000 BC to 5000 BC. There are artefacts from several Venezuelan regions.
The museum is open between 8 - 11.30 and 14 -17, Tuesday - Friday. And between 11 - 18.30 on Saturday - Sunday.
Admission was 1 BsF (June 2008).
The cathedral in Merida is situated by Plaza Bolívar. Because it was constructed during 150 years you can find a mixture of architectural styles in it. Construction was begun in 1803, but earthquakes and war prolonged the work and the cathedral was not finished until 1960, in time for the celebration of Merida’s 400th anniversary.
The interior is quite dark. The columns are ornamented with arches between. In the church you can also see some nice stained glass windows and frescos. There are also the mortal remains of Saint Clement. These were donated in 1794 by the Pope Pío VI.
This museum has a nice collection of religious artefacts. There are mitras, paintings and things used in mass and administration. At the museum you can also see the second oldest bell in the world that has survived. It was cast in 909 and was later brought to America from Spain.
There are also some pre Colombian pottery and figurines and a mummy (skeleton).
There are small signs beside each object in Spanish, but beside the bell and the mummy there are longer informative texts in English.
The museum is open between 9 - 17 (Tuesday - Saturday) and between 9 - 13 (Sunday).
Admission was 3 Bs (June 2008).
The museum is situated in a lovely old colonial building. On the walls around the courtyard there were photos of Merida from the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. The collection consists mainly of religious artefacts, paintings and sculptures. They all date from the 17th - 20th centuries except one item from Mexico that might be from the 16th century.
As I entered the museum there was noone by the entrance, not until I had seen most of the museum a woman came up to me and I asked her about the entrance fee, but she said there was none. As I left they had already closed for lunch.
This is a theme park just outside Merida with the theme of Venezuela 20 years ago, when under the rule of Juan Vicente Gomez. In the park, you will learn a lot about the history of Venezuela in this time through shows and exhibitions.
The park is full of people is typical dress - military costumes, period costumes, carnival costumes, etc. You can watch the Yari dancers perform as well as others.
The park will take you through the different parts of Venezuela and introduce you to the people and culture in each - Oriente, Los Llanos, Falcon, Miranda, Aragua, Trujillo, Zulia, Caracas, Lara, Amazonas, Tachira, Merida, etc.
The enterance price is BsF 60 (BS60,000)
Hot day or cold day (not many of these in Venezuela), who doesn't love a break for an ice cream. Well if you love ice cream, you have to visit the record breaking ice cream shop in Merida. It has the most flavors in the world, including Squid, Beer, Sardines and Brandy, Ham and Cheese, Beetroot, and many more.
Opened 22 years ago by Portuguese immigrant Manuel Da Silva Oliveira, Coromoto has become wildly popular with locals and tourists who come to sample its hundreds of flavors of ice cream.
They currently have somewhere between 800 and 1000 flavors to select from. Don't get carried away with the free tasting!
Another great building to take a look at when you are visiting Plaza Bolivar. If you head towards the Plaza coming north up Avenida 4, the first building to your right is the Palacio Arzobispal or Archbishop's Palace. This Renaissance-style construction was started in 1933 and concluded in 1951.
You can appreciate its stunning outside facade as well as its gorgeous interior layout. Here within the seat of the Archbishop of Merida, you will find corridors, stairs and halls full of valuable artistic works, including the Portrait Gallery of Merida's Bishops, a collection of paintings by Cardinal Jose Humberto Quintero.
The Catedral is the most notable building in Plaza Bolivar, the design being inspired by the Toledo Cathedral in Spain. The building was begun in 1805 but was badly damaged by the earthquakes of 1812 and 1894, the War of Independence, and successive internal political struggles.
In the end, the devout people of Merida had to wait until 1958 before work were completed. In 1960 it was consecrated to the Immaculate Conception, and in 1991 declared a Minor Basilica. In addition to the impressive architecture, the murals, Canon's choir, and the image of the Virgin of the Apple carved in stone are all well worth your attention.
No admission fee.
This is the must do in Merida... you can not leave the city without going up the mountain on the Teleferico. This is the longest (12.5km) and the highest (reaching 4765m above sea level) cable car in the world.
The trip takes 90-minute in total and starts at the Barinitas Station (at 1625 meters of altitude) finally arriving at the Pico Espejo Station, 4765 meters above sea level. There are 3 stations along the way before the ultimate one and every station along the way has a restaurant and observatory. It is best to rest for a little bit at each station to get used to the altitude, otherwise you can feel a little sick at the top. It is amazing to see how the scenery changes as you travel up the mountain - from lush forest with huge trees to moreland with sparse vegetation to snow covered rock.
There are things to do at each. The second station has a small museum with great photos taken on the mountain and the third station has hikes on the mountain to 2 lakes. If you don't fancy the hike, then you can rent a donkey ride to the lake to save your energy.
At the very top, they have a restaurant to buy hot drinks and food, and you can walk outside to see the views on a clear day and play in the snow. If you are not used to cold weather, you should probably take a hat, gloves, and a jumper or jacket. If you are from colder countries, it is not so bad and something with sleeves will surfice.
The price in Novemeber 2007 was Bs.F 60 (Bs 60,000). You can check the latest prices on the site on this page - http://www.telefericodemerida.com/tarifas.php.
You should plan on going up in the morning so that you can stop and enjoy the sites along the way and dont have to rush up and down.
This is a large, pretty, relaxing plaza surrounded by some of the most interesting buildings in Merida. The plaza is criss-crossed by two main footpaths, and is lined with benches to take the load off of your feet after a long day walking. Most of the benches are shaded by the big trees that sprout out of the well maintained gardens. The centrally located statue of revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar astride a horse was erected in 1930.
Around the plaza you can gaze at the people going around their daily business and see admire the architecture of the government buildings and church. It is a very peaceful part of the city and often has different street performers and human statues around the plaza.
Free like a bird, high in the air... with all your troubles behind you. Escape gravity and reality, absorb stunning views and feel the wind caressing your hair and face.
As with our Canyoning trip, we took the flight with Arassari Trek. The trip takes you to a mountain which is about 30 minutes drive from Merida. At the top of the mountain there were a large number of people from other tour companies too and gradually one by one people take the leap. The jump is very relaxing and the views are amazing. After running off the mountain, you sit back and enjoy the scenery. You spend about 20 minutes in the air, but can come down earlier if you want - by telling the guide, not jumping. The scenery is really amazing looking down the valley so be sure to bring your camera... it is very safe.
After landing, you walk to the nearby small hamlet and sit back and have a few drinks. All of the jumps take place at around 4pm.
The price in Novemeber 2007 was about $45 each.