Crossing Venezuela by Bus
Venezuela was inexpensive and easy for travel, although not always very comfortable. They have the same kind of cramped double-decker buses than in Argentina that mainly go by night so you will have to try to sleep on the bus.
We crossed the whole of Venezuela starting from Guiria where we arrived from Trinidad & Tobago. On our way, we passed by Puerto la Cruz, a seaside town on the Caribbean coast and the oil rich town of Maracaibo before entering to Colombia. Maracaibo was a city full of contrasts. We saw a beautiful and precious historical centre but right after there was a huge market area full of people and rubbish. We found an interesting hotel, Hotel Victoria, from the historical centre. It works mainly as an hourly hotel (brothel) probably because of the low number of tourists around.
Venezuela appears not to receive very many tourists at all. Even on the Caribbean coast the visitors were mainly locals. Flights to the country are expensive and it still has a bad reputation. People are worried about their safety. We slept one night in Puerto la Cruz air-conditioned bus terminal because hotels seemed to be afraid of accepting anyone in the middle of night. We arrived in the city at 1 AM. Nobody bothered us at the terminal nor did anybody try to rob anything from us. For us, Venezuela’s reputation did not correlate with our experiences.
The most interesting part of our journey was the border crossing to Colombia. During the 120-kilometre trip from Maracaibo (Venezuela) to Maicao (Colombia), the bus was stopped twenty-four times for passport checks. Those local passengers who had no papers had to pay bribes. When we finally got to the border, the Venezuelan official stamped our passport with another entry stamp instead of an exit stamp. We don’t know if he did it on purpose paving way for future bribes, or if it was a simple mistake. In any case, if we ever decide to return to Venezuela, we might have a lot to explain and to pay.