Back to Travel Log Index Force Five Home Page

Sunday, November 24, 2002
Our Trip to the Andes and How It All Started

One night over dinner with Sean and Jo, around the time we bought Force Five from them, they had told us about a fantastic adventure they'd had going up into the Andes of Venezuela. Something about sherpas, and a mule ride, and a small village from a century you can't quite put your finger on. It sounded like they had walked through the pages of a National Geographic magazine. We were intrigued. Curt and I agreed that if we made it as far as Venezuela, we wanted to find out if we might be able to put together a similar trip of our own. Once we were arrived in Venezuela, we found out that many cruisers make a trip similar to the one Sean and Jo had told us about, but it seems that almost without exception, they've done it the safer way (I think of it as the "cheater" way)… to fly in and out for a couple of days, and be done with it.

The town in the Andes is called Los Nevados, outside of the more modern and highly populated city of Merida. With the help of our friends on another boat, Viva! (Pam and Steve), the four of us put together a plan to explore Venezuela on our way to Los Nevados, and rent a car to drive through the mainland to get there. It would take us at least a week, all told, but we thought this would be a fun adventure- to see the land of Venezuela, and the Andes, and to get to talk to people about their country, their government, and their way of life. We wanted more adventure then you would find talking to the Venezuelan wealthy enough to buy an air ticket, and more than what we could see peering out the window of a plane at thirty thousand feet.

As we spoke with our Venezuelan friends from Margarita to elicit their advice. we heard three rules we should abide by to have a safe trip. 1) Do not drive after dark. 2) Do not drive or stay in Caracas. And 3) There's a nationwide strike against Chavez, on Monday. Stay out of all the major cities that day- ESPecially Caracas. We had one rudimentary map of the entire country, some notes we found on the internet of a woman's bike trip along the same route, and further notes from one of the tour guides back on Margarita… we were off on our adventure.

The plan:
Take a ferry to Caracas. Rent a car to drive through the llanos (plains), and then into the Andes' mountains and rainforests to Merida. Once in Merida, we would take the Teleferico (gondola) into the mountains, and rent burros and a guide to take us to Los Nevados. Spend some time in Los Nevados, and hire a four wheel drive Jeep and driver to take us back down to Merida where we would backtrack to Caracas and finally… ferry back to Margarita.

(more entries)

Return to home page Learn about Force Five Read about our adventures! View slide shows of where we have been Who we've met along the way Where we've been... Learn when the site is updated