To Mérida from Caracas by plane
As I was flying from Los Roques to Caracas and then from Caracas to Mérida I had booked the ticket for Mérida at the same time I booked my trip to Los Roques. I made the arrangements with a travel agent in Venezuela via mail before leaving home. The ticket for Mérida was 135 dollars (June 2008).
If you arrive with an international flight you will find the terminal for domestic flights just next to the international terminal. I arrived from Los Roques and the luggage was not transferred as you carry your own luggage from the plane. I checked my bag in and then paid the airport tax, which was 23 BsF for domestic flights (June 2008). Inside the terminal (after security control) there are several shops and restaurants and I had sushi while waiting for my flight.
I flew with Santa Barbara Airlines and the flight was 45 minutes and during this time we got some snacks. In Mérida we landed at Aeropuerto Alberto Carnevalli, which is situated only 2km from Plaza Bolívar. The airstrip is not very long here and I have heard that another airport further away is used in bad weather. The luggage arrived quickly and I went to one of the taxis outside the building. I took the taxi to Posada Guamanchi and it was 12 BsF.
From Merida to San Antonio
From a corner near Posada Gumanchi I took a taxi to the bus terminal. It was 10 Bsf. I was at the bus terminal in Merida at 8am and at 8.30 there was a bus going to San Cristobal with the bus company Expressos Unidos. The price was 22 Bs (July 2008). It was a small bus with dark windows and thick curtains covering them. I want to travel by daytime so I can see the landscape, I also wanted to read. When I drew the curtain from the window where I was sitting there were big protests and I had to put the curtain back. I did not want to sit in darkness for six hours so I hid between the curtain and the window. When I later needed some air I saw that two other people were letting light in to the bus so so did I the rest of the trip. The bus stopped for about half an hour along the way at a cafeteria.
Arriving in San Cristobal I paid the departure tax (0,2 Bs) and sat down in a bus that was leaving for San Antonio. It was leaving when the bus was full and so it was after 15 minutes. The ticket was 4,5 Bsf(July 2008) and the journey took 1,5 hours. In San Antonio the bus was going in to town and I was dropped a few blockes from the hotel.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Take a Taxi, Its Cheap and Quick
Taxi's are very cheap in Merida, considerably cheaper than in Caracas, so it is often better as a tourist to take taxi's between locations rather than trying to get on the right bus. Make sure you still ask the price in advance "Cuanto cubra hasta (location)." Most journeys around the city will only cost between Bs4,000 and Bs7,000 (BsF 4 and BsF 7).
- Business Travel
Pico Bolivar Teleferico--World's Highest
At the time I visited, the cables had been improved and testing was in progress, so I couldn't ride the teleferico. However, anyone who plans to go to Merida should look to see if it's operational. The cables are immense stretching into the foggy heights of Pico Bolivar, a mountain of some 18,000 feet. From what I understand this ride is a real nose bleeder, and it can get cold at the top. Prepare yourself for a real gondola adventure. One of the images here shows additional information about the system from a sign that was there. Also, note how the gondola swings over the valley on it's way toward the top of Pico Bolivar. The link here is for a video found on YouTube that shows the teleferico in action, a variety of atmospheric and altitude readings, and the station at the top.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Options for Getting to/from Merida
I travel budget, and so the price of short hop flights within a country like Venezuela is not usually included in my itinerary. For travel to Merida, the bus ride from Caracas is an overnight journey, along winding mountain roads that will make your ears pop when crossing over the saddle. Occasionally, roads wash out, buses collide, or buses break-down, nevertheless, this is the transportation of choice for Merida. The airport in Merida has a short runway and is dangerous in its frequently foggy weather. Flights are often rerouted to El Vigia, which is quite a distance, and so bus will become a required part of even a supposed short flight. Since Venezuela petrol is so cheap, buses are a great boon for budget travelers. I also like the shorter wait time at the terminal and the larger baggage limit allowed on buses. The Bus station in Merida is not far from the city center, and is well serviced by local buses, and so finding a place to stay on foot is easy. In 1995, I took a bus from Valencia to Merida and back, a very scenic route which was about 8 hours each way if no problems occur. The bus stops periodically to let passengers rest and buy snacks and beverages. On the way there, the bus kept it's schedule. I met a friend onboard who invited me to take a jeep ride into the mountain roads above Merida, a trip greatly featured among these tips. On the return trip, the bus had mechanical problems and we were delayed by several hours as we waited for a replacement.
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
A scenic flight
We arrived in Merida by road, because we were longing to admire the views from the Pico El Aguila - but found it wrapped in fog. Every day we spent in the area we were cursed by the same fog we had met on day one. Eventually we decided to leave merida earlier and no longer by road: we flew out! Our lfight was very early in the morning - earlier than the clouds - and we had a very scenic flight. There are many airlines flying in and out f merida - not all very reputable. We were told by a local friend that the most reliable are Avior (but they use very small planes) and Santa Barbara - possibly the most expensive of all airline that fly here (and still very cheap for western standards), with a much larger plane and great service.
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