Venezuela has garnered media attention for its abundant petroleum resources and sometimes colourful political figures. But it is otherwise a "quiet" nation as far as headlines are concerned, even more so as regards its value as a nature-based holiday destination. This is a shame since this tropical country has many features that make it an excellent place well worth exploring. From the landforms, to the wildlife and the atmosphere, Venezuela really speaks to those seeking a quality experience off the beaten track.

One of Venezuela’s undeniable fortes is its variety of landforms and habitats. Located at the top of South America, lush Venezuela contains the northeastern spur of the mighty Andes, a good share of the Caribbean coast, a vast interior of plains and rugged shield country. And while the size of the country might not make visiting all areas possible over a typical holiday of a couple of weeks, it is certainly possible to visit a couple of different regions quite handily. One can enjoy the stark contrasts between the regions and also experience the inherent variety within each. Take the Andes, for instance; owing to the considerable changes in elevation, it is possible to visit old-growth tropical cloud forest at lower elevations and, over a relatively short distance, move up into the stark landscapes of the scenic páramo grasslands above the tree-line, where snow will fall during the wet season.
Going hand-in-hand with Venezuela's varied landforms is its incredible variety of wildlife. Over 1400 species of birds have been recorded there, including 48 endemic species, over 300 species of mammals and many reptiles. Many of the birds are particularly striking in their forms and colours. The Sword-billed Hummingbird counts among these. Its namesake and extremely long bill allows this denizen of high altitude forests to probe even the deepest of flowers in its quest for nectar. There is plenty more variety for all nature lovers, no matter the intensity or focus of their interests.

The sheer quantities of wildlife can also be spellbinding. This is in clear evidence on Los Llanos (pronounced "yanos"). These extensive plains occupy a great part of the middle of the country, and feature seasonally-flooded grasslands and savannahs. During the dry season, water-loving wildlife tends to become concentrated, and this can make for particularly impressive sightings. Huge numbers of conspicuous birds are seen in the open amidst the Capybara (the world’s largest rodent) and various reptiles.

Ultimately one of the reasons we like Venezuela is its out-of-the-way nature. Venezuela has experienced very limited development of mass tourism and so many of its routes are untrammeled. One can get a sense of the authentic while enjoying comfort. You can begin your very own exploration of the road less travelled here.