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There are, in Venezuela, twenty-six national parks and eleven natural monuments. The largest national park and one of the six largest in the world is Canaima, with over three million hectares. These are the other national parks: Henri Pittier, Sierra Nevada, Guatopo, El Avila, Yurubí, Yacambú, Quebrada El Toro Cavern, Archipielago de los Roques, Macarao, Mochima, Laguna de la Restinga, Médanos de Coro, Laguna de Tacarigua, Cerro del Copey, Aguaro-Guariquito, Morrocoy, El Guácharo, Terepaima, El Tama, Peninsula de Paria, Sari-Sariñama, Yapacana, Duida-Marahuaca, and Serrania La Neblina.
The natural monuments are: Alejandro de Humboldt, Aristides Rojas, Cerro de Maria Lionza, Cerro Santa Ana, Laguna de las Maritas, Las Tetas de Maria Guevara, the Matasiete and Muayamuri hills, Moros de Maracaira, Piedra El Cocuy, Cueva Alfredo Jahn, and Cerro Autana.
This park was created in February 13,1937. It is located in the north-central region, in the State of Aragua. It covers an area of 107,800 hectares, including a considerable stretch of the Coastal Range. It has an abrupt topography with steep slopes. Its highest elevation is the Pico Cenizo (246 m.). Nearby villages include Choroni, Cuyagua, Chuao, Cata, La Cienaga, Ocumare, and Turiamo. It has many water courses, and is rich in fauna and vegetation. There are large trees, arboreal ferns, and several species of ornamental plants, the most notable of which is a rare plant with gigantic leaves scientifically known as Gunnera pittierana, which is endemic.
Wild fauna is very varied, including many species of birds, such as curassows, guans, parakeets, hawks, toucans, oropendolas, tinamous, parrotlets, owls, anthrushes, bellbirds, manakins, jays, caciques, chachalacas, and woodpeckers. Mammals include tapirs, otters, pumas, ocelots, pacas, kinkajous, coatis, brockets, tamanduas, and tree porcupines. The most numerous serpents are corals, rattlesnakes, and several species of nonpoisonous snakes. There are several species of lizards and an unusual amphibian, the marsupial frog.
The Estación Biologica de Rancho Grande is located within the park. It has a very complete zoological museum with the typical species of the zone. This park may be reached by an asphalt road joining Maracay and El Limón, passing through Rancho Grande and descending to Ocumare de la Costa or else through the road connecting Maracay with Las Delicias and going as far as Choroní, crossing the park.
It is located in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida, and Bolivar (5,007 m.), the twin peaks Humboldt, and Bonpland (4,920 m.), and El Toro (4,740 m.) and the Sierra de Santo Domingo, with Pico Mucuñuque (4,672 m.) as the chief attraction. In the upper part of the park the climate is cold to cool (0¼ - 22¼ C), according to the altitude. On the southern slope, where the park territory goes down to 600 meters, the climate is hot and humid, with abundant vegetation. The park has some thirty small lakes and numerous water courses, where trout and other fish abound. One of its rivers, the Santo Domingo, feeds the great hydroelectric dam 'José Antonio Páez.'
The flora varies, according to altitude. Thousands of different species have been found so far. Between 2,300 and 2,600 meters there are arboreal ferns, several pines and other evergreens, and other typical tropical trees. Above 3,000 meters, there are various types of ferns, among them a gray one with an erect non branched stem, covered with fine whitish or rust-colored hairs. The fauna is unevenly distributed. Rare species, such as the spectacled bear and great Andean condor have been found. In the forest there are pumas, jaguars, tapirs, crab-eating raccoons, red howler monkeys, common opossums, squirrels, and red brockets.
Among birds, these species are common: speckled teal, the black-and-chestnut eagle, Andean snipe, band-tailed pigeon, white-capped parrot, rufusbanded owl, oilbird, lyre-tailed nightjar, several kinds of hummingbirds, quetzal, toucan, tapaculo, red-crested cotinga, colored jay, white-capped dipper, great thrush, and paramo pipit. The park may be reached from Merida, Valera, and San Cristobal, through well paved mountain roads.
It is located to the southwest of Caracas, covering sections of the States of Miranda and Guarico with an area of 92,640 hectares. This park occupies part of the mountains region of the Interior Range, between the towns of Santa Teresa del Tuy and Altagracia de Orituco. The climate is varied, according to the altitude. There are places with 32¼ C, and others with 14¼ C of average temperature. Several rivers, brooks, and rivulets coming from the higher lands cross the park. Its flora is exuberant, with the typical tropical humid forest species predominating.
There are also many species of orchids of great beauty. The fauna is heterogeneous. Species to be found in the park are: peccaries, jaguars, tapirs, red howler and capuchin monkeys, pacas, agoutis, spiny rats, armadillos, wild rabbits, pumas, ocelots, squirrels, skunks, philander opossums, tamanduas, giant anteaters, and reddish coatis.
The most abundant birds are harpy eagles, hummingbirds, toucans, guans, helmeted curassows, tinamous, red-and-green macaws, lilac-tailed parrotlets, pigeons, doves, hawks, chachalacas, yellow-rumped caciques, red siskins, thrushes and green jays. Vipers, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes are the most common poisonous species. This park can be reached from Caracas along the Caracas-Valencia Turnpike to the Totumos distribution where you take the road leading to Charallave continuing along the road to Santa Teresa del Tuy and then to Altagracia de Orituco.
This is the beautiful mountain rising between the sea and Caracas. The park bearing its name covers and area of 85,192 hectares. Its highest elevations are the Pico Naiguata (2,765 m.) and the eastern peak of Silla de Caracas (so called because it looks like a saddle), reaching 2,640 meters in altitude. In this range many short rivulets are born, some of them forming lovely waterfalls. It rains more on the northern than on the southern side of the mountain. As usual; the temperature varies according to the altitude, reaching in the lower parts 27¼ C and 1.5¼ C in the Pico Naiguata.
The vegetation is luxuriant. On the northern side there is a predominance of beautiful flowering trees, whereas on the southern slope the vegetation is mostly gramineous. The fauna is abundant and varied. The following species may be found in this park: jaguars, pumas, red brockets, tayras, tiger cats, thick-tailed opossums, agoutis, sloths, common squirrels, tree porcupines, wild rabbits, red howler monkeys, armadillos, and peccaries.
The most common birds are chachalacas, woodquaills, doves, parakeets, anis, striped cuckoos, nighthawks, several species of hummingbirds, toucans, grey jays, thrushes, and orioles. The most abundant snakes are venomous, including vipers, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes. The park is accessible from various points in the Metropolitan Area. It can be reached via Cotiza, or from the old Caracas-La Guaira road.
Towards the north of San Felipe, the capital of the State Yaracuy, this park is located, in a mountainous region, covered with thick forests. It covers an area of 23,670 hectares. Many rivers and brooks cross it such as the Yurubi, which feeds the San Felipe aqueduct, the Cocorote, the Guayabito, the Tesorero, the Zamuro, and the Carabobo. Temperature varies between 12¼ and 42¼ C, with an average of 25¼ C.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 meters of altitude, there is a cloud forest with a rich tropical vegetation of fall trees and some palms. There are also arboreal ferns, orchids and parasitic plants are predominant. The fauna is varied and interesting. There are many lizards, snakes and birds, and some mammals, the most Important of which are the red brocket with the urban zone of San Felipe. It is not only a picturesque place of relaxation, it serves an ecological function- that protecting the hydrographic basin of the Yacambu river, which is vital for the town's water service. This park is easily reached through the roads Barquisimeto-Duaca-Arao-Marin-San Felipe; through the Caracas-Moron San Felipe road; or along the Barquisimeto-San Felipe road.
This park is located in the highlands of Guayana, covering an area of three million hectares. It is among the largest national parks in the world. Within the park is the Carrao river basin, the headquarters of the Caroni, the magnificent mountain scenery of Sierra de Lema, the immense rolling plains of Gran Sabana, waterfalls of great magnitude, like the Kukenan and the Angel Falls (pictured left); impenetrable forest, and the western slopes of the majestic mount Roraima.
Guayana's hydraulic resources are located within this park, like the Caroni river, which feeds the 'Raul Leoni' dam. Its climate is tropical, subject to frequent precipitations. The driest season is between December and April.
The most characteristic feature of this park is the abundance of beautiful waterfalls, like the above mentioned Kukenan and Angel Falls, and lesser ones, like Chinack-meru, Toron-meru, Ivarana-meru, Epopa, Apauren, Alcha-meru, and Techineck-meru. In the Pemon indians language, meru means "waterfall."
The territory has thick forests, with a great variety of trees, and over five hundred species of orchids. The fauna is constituted by a great variety of birds, lizards, snakes, and mammals. Among the latter, the following should be mentioned; giant anteater, giant armadillo, giant otter, Jaguar, ocelot, three-toed sloth, squirrel, spiny rat, agouti, paca, capybara, tree porcupine, crab-eating raccoon, bush dog, tayra, puma, tapir, peccary, red brocket, and several species of monkeys.
The Canaima Lake is the most visited spot by tourists, thanks to its excellent hotel facilities, and its airport, apt for commercial jet liners. The only way to reach the park is by air. Avensa offers scheduled flights. Nevertheless, the eastern part of the park may be reached by car, using the new El Dorado-Luepa Santa Elena de Uairen road, which goes all the way down the frontier with Brazil. This road has a branch leading to Kanavayen, a small village near which the Aponwao waterfalls is located. There are also several interesting tepuis -vertical sided mountains with a flat top, looking like gigantic green pillars.
This park is located to the south east of the State of Lara, in the central-western region of Venezuela. It covers an area of 14,580 hectares. It is a mountainous area with thick vegetation, protecting the hydrographic basin of Acarigua river. Important water courses have their headwaters in the Serranias highlands, such as the Yacambu, of an immense economic value to the state of Lara, since an important dam is being built, so that its waters can be used for the agricultural development of the Quibor Valley, and the water supply of the city of Barquisimeto. The dam is located in the sector called Cañon de Angostura, in the eastern part of the park, with a craggy topography and beautiful landscapes.
Some flowering trees and other types of vegetation, depending on the altitude, constitute the flora of this park. The wild fauna is rich and varied. There are foxes, squirrels, deer, pumas, opossums, pacas, birds, lizards, and snakes. In the park there are recreational areas, such as the Centro Recreativo 'El Blanquito', the Blanquito Lake and Quebrada El Blanco, with kiosks, barbecue facilities, and camping sites. The park can be reached through the towns Quibor, Sanare, and Cubiro.
This park, also known as 'De BeIlard's Cavern' in honor of the distinguished Venezuelan speleologist who explored it for the first time, is 15 km. from the town of Santa Cruz de Bucaral in the State of Falcon. The main attraction of this park is its cavern, with the length of over 1,200 meters. Oilbirds inhabit it. There is an underground watercourse, which is considered to be the largest one so far known in the country. This large underground river forms in the cave two big reservoirs, each one over 200 meters long. They can be navigated in small boats. A visit to this cold water cave is an unforgettable experience. Inside the cave, there is the main gallery, like a long vaulted corridor with tree craters. The cave lies upon one of the two geological faults which divide the park. On this fault there is a beautiful natural bridge, aptly called 'Puente de Piedra'- 'Stone-bridge.'
The cavern can be reached over a dirt road, only usable by vehicles with 4-wheel drive. The nearest place to spend the night is Santa Cruz de Bucaral, some 15 kilometers away, which is connected with Coro by the Coro-Churuguara-Santa Cruz de Bucaral-La Taza road.
This national park is located in the Caribbean Sea, north of the central coastline, some 166 kilometers from La Guaira, i.e., about 84 nautical miles. The Archipielago is rich in fish and edible crustaceans, which makes it a haven for fisherman. It covers altogether an area of 225,153 hectares. It compromises the following isles and keys: El Gran Roque, Ratas, Francia, Carenero, Sargo, La Tiñosa, Pepino de Mar, Envenenado, Mosquito, Carbon, Carbonero, Guarura, Felipe, Boca Grande, Nordeste, Pelona, Zancudo, Sal, Garrapatero, Chipi-Chipi, Pirata, and some small keys.
All the islands are very arid, with occasional showers and a short rainy season, from September to January. Vegetation is poor, with some mangroves on the coasts and xerophytic megathermic plants which give some color to the hills. In the sea-bottom there is an abundance of alga Thalassia testudinum, on which tortoises feed. The land fauna is also scanty, represented by arboreal iguanas, a black lizard, and three Insectivorous lizards. In El Gran Roque there are some dogs and goats brought over from the mainland.
Birds, both nidificating and migratory, are abundant. The most important species are boobies, gulls, pelicans, Louisiana herons, frigate birds, great blue herons, and reddish egrets. In the surrounding waters there is an abundance of tortoises, lobsters, and mollusks as the giant pink conch, and a great variety of commercial fish. The beaches of whitish sand are bathed by pure and crystalline waters. In El Gran Roque there is a hotel for thirty people and an airstrip for small planes. Flying time from Caracas is about 35 minutes. By sea, from La Guaira, it takes from 6 to 8 hours.
This park covers parts of two territories -the Federal District and the State of Miranda. It has an area of 15,00 hectares and protects the hydrographic resources of Caracas, chiefly the basin of the Macarao river. The park is very mountainous and rich in vegetation, with elevations from 1,000 meters in the village of Macarao up to 2,098 meters in the Alto de Ño León. The flora is very varied. There are orchids, ferns, and lofty trees, some of them of the flowering variety. There are mammals such as red brockets, wild rabbits, peccaries, raccoons, three-toed sloths, and opossums. Among the birds the following species are to be found: little tinamou, helmeted curassow, and band-tailed pigeon. Due to its beautiful landscapes, this park is an ideal site to visit. It can be reached from the southwest of Caracas, following the old Los Teques road. Beyond Antimano, you take on the right a short road leading to the dam. Another alternative is the El Junquito road, via El Jarillo. You may also take the Panamerican Turnpike, via San Pedro de los Altos.
This park is located in the north-eastern region of Venezuela, between the cities of Barcelona, Puerto La Cruz, and Cumana. It covers a stretch of the coast, including mountains, beaches and the sea, with an area of 94,935 hectares.
From the sea-level up to 600 meters of altitude, the typical vegetation called 'dry tropical altitude' is predominant, with stunted trees and grasses. In the higher zones the vegetation is more exuberant, with lofty trees, ferns, and orchids, and other wild flowers. In various parts of the coast there are mangroves and other plants. In the dry forests of the lower zone there are Iguanas, black lizards, snakes, wild rabbits, and deer. Among the sea birds, gulls, pelicans, and frigate birds should be mentioned. On the mainland, thrushes, scaled doves and chachalacas are easy to find. In the rain forests there are many species of venomous snakes and a great variety of the birds. Among the mammals, the following are worth mentioning: whitetail deer, rabbits, giant armadillos, opossums, anteaters, capuchin monkeys, jaguars, agoutis, pacas, and sloths.
The main road to this park is the one connecting the cities of Barcelona, Puerto La Cruz and Cumana.
This park is located in the central sector, connecting the eastern part of the island of Margarita with the Macanao Peninsula on the West, along a narrow sandy stretch and some lagoons, with widespread mangrove formations. It covers an area of 10,700 hectares.
The Laguna de la Restinga is rich in birds and fish of the highest quality. Among the birds, we should mention the tinamou, the least grebe, the pelican, cormorants, frigate birds, great blue herons, striated herons, little blue herons, reddish egrets, caracaras, flamingos, and gulls. Boating in the lagoon is an unforgettable experience. The lagoon is salty, shaded by a mass of mangroves which formed natural channels. Oysters live attached to the aerial mangrove roots. You just have to stretch your hand pick as many oysters as you like, free of charge. There is a jetty in the lagoon and there are outboard motor boats so that the tourists may wander about the lovely channels. There is also a small restaurant-and-bar, and small shops where typical objects of the island may be purchased. The park is easily accessible from Porlamar, along a good paved road.
This park is located on the isthmus joining Coro and La Vela de Coro with the Paraguana Peninsula. lt covers an area of 91,280 hectares, including land and sea. A stretch of land, 30 km. long and 5 km. wide, called the Istmo de Medanos, with an average altitude of 20 meters above sea-level, is its main attraction. Medanos are the sand dunes, hence the name of the park. There are also salt marshes. The park is a Sahara in miniature. Due to the scanty precipitations, the vegetation consists only of thorny shrubs, typical of thorny tropical rain forests. The wild fauna is also scanty. There are lizards, iguana, foxes, anteaters, wild rabbits, and some birds, such as the American kestrel, double-striped thickknee, crested bob-white, scaled pigeon, eared owl, troupial, tropical mocking-bird, tanager, and vermilion cardinal. In the mangroves herons and egrets abound. The Medanos de Coro are accessible through the Barquisimeto-Churuguara-Coro, the Moron-Coro and the Maracaibo-Coro roads.
This picturesque park is a coastal lagoon separated from the sea by a sand shoal, with beautiful landscapes. It is located at the eastern end of the State of Miranda, and covers an area of 18,400 hectares of land and water zones with rich mangrove growths. The climate is mostly hot and humid.
The lagoon, close to the towns of Tacarigua de la Laguna, San Jose de Rio Chico, El Guapo, and Cupira, offers the tourist a beautiful and natural scenery enhanced by the beauty of the mangroves, the rich aquatic bird fauna, the beaches with shallow waters, sandy bottoms and soft surf.
Photo fans have the opportunity of taking shots of the varied species of birds, among which these are prominent: pelicans, anhingas, frigate birds, herons, scarlet, ibeises, flamingos, gulls, great kiskadees, wood-warblers, blackbirds, and yellow orioles.
The Caracas- El Guapo-Rio Chico-Tacarigua de La Laguna Road leads to this park, as does the Barcelona El Guapo road.
This park is located towards the north of the central-eastern part of the island of Margarita. It covers an area of 7,130 hectares of mountainous and flat land with small villages. From the ecological point of view it is important, for it protects the hydrographic resources of the area. The hill is abundantly covered with woods, which prevents the excessive evaporation of the springs forming the La Asuncion, El Valle, and San Juan Bautista rivers. There are many species of shrubs and trees which lend color to the landscape.
It is easy to reach form La Asuncion, along a paved road, the TV aerial; from there a branch to El Valle del Espiritu Santo.
This park is in the High Llanos in the State of Guarico, to the south. It covers an area of 569,000 hectares of gallery forests, rivers, brooks, caños, and rain forests with the valuable species of excellent timber trees, morichales, seasonal lakes, shoals, and sand dunes, where there is a rich variety of birds, with over ten species of herons, beautiful ibises, Muscovy ducks, roseatespoonbills, hoatzins, and vultures. Among the mammals, capybaras, red howler monkeys, giant ant eaters, redbrockets, jaguars, pumas, and ocelots are the most common. The rivers and caños are a fisherman's paradise. The park is reached through the Las Mercedes-Cabruta asphalt road. It is also accessible from the towns of Calabozo, El Calvario and Cazorla.
This park covers continental and maritime zones located between the towns of Tucacas and Chichiriviche, over an area of 32,090 hectares, with mangroves, coconut groves, and deciduous forests with a great variety of trees. In the coastal zone there are some lagoons and excellent beaches.
On Mount Chichiriviche, which is within the park, some mammals live, among the red howler monkeys, crab-eating raccoons, opossums, tamanduas, kinkajous, oacas, agoutis, red brockets, wild rabbits, and jaguars. All the littoral stretch, from Morón to San Juan de los Cayos, has sandy beaches bordered by coconut groves. Authorized beaches are Punta Brava, Playuela, Playuelita, Playa Azul, Plaicla, Playa Norte, and Playa Sombrero. The park reached through the Caracas-Morón turnpike, taking afterwards road 3 to Tucacas and Chichiriviche.
This park is located in the mountains of Cerro Negro, Cerro El Papelon, and Cerro El Pequito, all of them in the Interior Range, in the State of Monagas. It covers an area of 15,500 hectares of rough country, with steep inclines and several water courses, which have formed narrow valleys, with forests with various kinds of trees, ferns, and orchids, There are some agricultural settlements where coffee and fruit trees are cultivated. Its main attraction is the Guacharo Cave.
There is a rich varied fauna including tapirs, peccaries, whitetail deer, red brockets, pacas, red howler and capuchin monkeys, foxes, coatis, ocelots, and pumas. Among birds, oilbirds, helmeted curassows and chalacas should be mentioned.
This park is located in the State of Portuguesa, covering an area of 16,971 hectares of mountain land with rain forests. In past times this zone was inhabited by Jirajara Indians, a bellicose tribe. The park's climate is subtropical, with an average temperature of 19-26 C. It is important as a natural reservoir of hydraulic resources benefiting the towns of Barquisimeto, Acarigua, and others. Its flora is exuberant, with large trees, lanes, ferns, and lovely flowers.
The fauna is also varied, including armadillos, pacas, agoutis, opossums, red howler, and capuchin monkeys, kinkajous, skunks, red brockets, ocelots, pumas, tree, porcupines, thick-tailed opossums, whitetail deer, squirrels, sloths, wild rabbits, anteaters, tapirs, Allamand's grisons, and peccaries. The birds Include doves, chachalacas, magpie tanagers, booted raquettails, woodpeckers, bluecrowned motmots, wrens, tropical mockingbirds, green jays, red siskins, and gold finchs. There are also venomous snakes, iguanas, and lesser lizards.
Being close to Barquisimeto, the park is very accessible through excellent roads. The Barquisimeto-Rio Claro and Rio Claro-Rio Amarillo roads serve the park. It also has camping facilities.
This natural monument is also known as Cueva del Guacharo, so called because it is inhabited by this nocturnal bird, Steatornis caripensis, the oilbird, discovered and named by Humboldt. To honor the famous scientist, this park was named after him by a government decree of 1949. It covers an area of 118 hectares. Its main attraction is the astonishing mass of stalactites and stalagmites in the cave, which is 10.5 kilometers deep. Tourists have access to the first sector of the cave, up to the Paso del Viento, inhabited by a colony of oilbirds. The largest precinct is the "Humboldt Hall", 750 meters long and some 20 meters wide. The "Hall of Silence" is 240 meters long, and the "Precious Hall" 100. The vaulting over 30 meters high. On the walls there are many curious geological formations. Beyond the Paso del Viento, there are other "halls" called Gran Salon del Derrumbe, Cuarto del Chorro, Salon de Alen, Salon de los Gigantes, Galerias de los Italianos, Galerias del Rio del Hielo, and Salon de la Virgen de Coromoto, at the end of the cave.
To ease the access fort he tourists a path has been built inside the cave, 400 meters long. This natural monument is near the town of Caripe, where there are good hotels and restaurants.
The traditional Morros, at the entrance of San Juan de los Morros. The capital of Guarico, have been given this name to honor the nineteenth century naturalist and writer Aristides Rojas. These Morros are a rare geological formation.
They are located 5 kilometers northwest of San Juan de los Morros, in the site called Puerta de los Llanos. The tallest one is 1,060 meters high. This natural monument can be reached through the Caracas-Charallave-Cua-San Casimiro-San Sebastian-San Juan de los Morros paved road.
Located in the State of Yaracuy, in humid forest region with abundant fauna and vegetation, this hill is venerated by many people who believe this is the seat of Maria Lionza's kingdom and her court. The most interesting areas are: Quibayo, Sorte, Aracal, Buchicabure, El Loro, El Diamante, and Quebrada Charay. It is accessible from the town of Chivacoa.
This natural monument is located in the center of the Paraguaná Peninsula, in the State of Falcón . Its fauna and vegetation contrast with the arid plains surrounding it. In the xerophytic zone there is the tropical vegetation of thorny shrubs and cacti. The tropophytic zone with a deciduous mountain forest has taller trees. The wild fauna is varied, with numerous bird species and some mammals, such as the spiny pocket mouse, the spiny rat, wild rabbits, jaguarondis, and ocelots.
It covers an area of 110 hectares and it is located in the Amazonas state, the rock itself being the southwestern most point of Venezuelan territory, bordering exactly therewith Columbia and Brazil.
Named to honor this famous Venezuelan scientist, this cave, the second largest in the country, is in the State of Miranda.
With an area of 480 hectares, this imposing mount is located in Federal Amazonas, in the Gran Sabana, it looks like a skyscraper. Its vertical sides reach a height of 1,400 meters. It is pierced by caves and galleries. It is located to the south of Puerto Ayacucho.