A new plan

Santa Elena de Uairen Travel Blog

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Plaza Bolivar (yet another, there´s one in every Venezuelan town!)

I had been planning to go to Cuidad Bolivar to get a tour of Angel Falls and then go and do a tour of Roraima - however, the road network didn´t really make this easy, so I decided to try and do Roraima first (as everyone has recommended it!) as the highway runs straight from San Felix/Puerto Ordaz down to Santa Elena near the Brazilian border, where the tours start from.  El Callao was on the way, and after unsuccesfully trying to get a bus there, we hopped in a por puesto shared taxi for 50 BsF (US$8/GBP5.50) each.  It was about 250 km and seemed to be going fairly smoothly until we slowed down and got stuck in what seemed to be traffic.

Statue of the legendary Símon Bolivar - he really is a national hero here!
  After a bit of investigation, it turned out the road was blocked for some anti-Chavez protest and there was no way anyone was getting through!

Our driver sniffed around and after a couple minutes he was chatting away to another driver who was coming the other way.  They improvised a plan to swap passengers and return to their respective towns, which would suit everyone...so we just walked past the blockade with our bags and hopped in the other taxi - problem solved!  We arrived in Callao and tried asking for buses to Santa Elena (another 500km away) - the locals said there would problems because of the blockade because the bus I needed to get would be stuck the other side....great!  They said to try coming back later when they might have some news.  So we trundled into town so that Maria could do her gold shopping - the town is pretty much just there to sell gold and silver jewellry, so if you´re into that stuff, then you`d love it.  I was totally bored after about 5 minutes, but had to trawl round for another 2 hours with them while Maria decided what she wanted to buy (incidently the price was 140 BsF/GBP15 per gram...I don`t know whether that is cheap or not!) and eventually she bought a ring and some chains (and randomly a guitar off a bloke who came up to us selling them!).

We got back to the station and luckily a bus had made its way through and was on its way, and after saying goodbye to Ramesh and Maria I was on my way at about 12.30pm.  This wasn`t the usual long distance bus, so it had no air-con and was crammed to the rafters with people and their wordly possessions.  But it only cost 45 BsF (GBP5/US$8), so couldn`t be sniffed at given that the journey was 7 hours and 500km!  After passing through a few non-descript towns, we eventually entered La Gran Sabana (The Great Savannah) where it got a whole lot more interesting - beautiful rolling hills which went on for miles and miles as far as the eye could see.  We were in Canaima National Park and it has a strange mysterious aura about it that is really captivating.  Quite difficult to get pictures as were haring along at about 100km/h, with just the odd military checkpoint to slow us down.  I`ll be seeing a lot more of this when I do my tours, but for now it was a nice taster. 

We arrived in Santa Elena de Uairen at about 7.30pm and a quick taxi ride later and I was at Posada Michelle, where I bagged a room for the night with ensuite for a bargain 45 BsF (GBP5/US$8).  Bumped into a Brazilian guy, Francisco who spotted my Pantanal t-shirt and got chatting - he knew a great pizza place (La Dolce Vita) and it was great to have a filling meal after a few days of just eating snacks.  A couple of cold Polar beers and I was ready for bed, and a lie in for once!

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Plaza Bolivar (yet another, there…
Plaza Bolivar (yet another, there…
Statue of the legendary Símon Bol…
Statue of the legendary Símon Bo…
Santa Elena de Uairen Hostels review
Cheap & comfortable!
I stayed a few nights at Michelle´s and thought it was pretty good. The rooms are a bit dark, but as long as you get one far away from the reception… read entire review
Santa Elena de Uairen