Venezuela in 2-3 days
With so little time available, you’ll probably need to stay around Caracas. It’s not the most attractive of cities, but it does boast a stomping nightlife and some excellent restaurants.
If you fancy something a little more relaxing, head for the nearby colonial town of El Hatillo. This pretty town has become something of an artists’ retreat so there are plenty of cafes to pass the time between art and craft shopping.
If you want a quick taste of Venezuela’s natural beauty, make for Parque Nacional Henri Pittier.
In 7-9 days
Spend a few days on the Caribbean coast, either at Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, or exploring the tropical islands and mangroves of the Parque Nacional Morrocoy. If you really fancy stretching out in your hammock between snorkel trips, catch a flight to the Las Roques islands, but beware, you might never want to leave!
But leave you must, because it would be criminal to leave Venezuela without visiting Merida and exploring the country’s Andean landscapes. A laid back town with plenty of hotels and cafes, you can easily spend a week in Merida. There’s plenty to keep the adventurous busy here – go trekking or horse riding amongst Andean peaks, soar over the valleys on a tandem paraglide, or go mountain biking, canyoning, rafting and more.
For the less active there are friendly mountain villages to discover, and the eye-popping cable car to the top of Pico Espejo, at a shade under 5000m gives an unsurpassed view of the nearby peaks.
Finally, Angel Falls is Venezuela’s other must-see attraction. The easiest way if you’re short of time is to fly straight to the surrounding Parque Nacional Cainama from Caracas or Ciudad Bolivar.
Two weeks +
More time in Venzuela, means you’ll be able to explore the less accessible parts of the country.
Merida is a good place to organise a trip to Los Llanos. These plains are not only home to a marvellous array of South American fauna (think capybaras, anacondas, monkeys and piranhas), but also to vast cattle ranches. The local cowboys are famed for the hospitality, so if you have the cash, splash out on a stay on a local ranch.
If it’s jungles and lost tribes that you’re after, plan a few days either in the Orinoco Delta, or in the Amazonas region. Both areas are accessible mainly by boat, though you’ll most likely pass through the historic city of Ciudad Bolivar on your way.
Finally, the six-day trek to the top of Roraima, in the deep south east of the country is not for the unfit, but it is one of the continent’s top attractions, and well worth the effort.