Caracas’s main airport is officially called Simón Bolívar International Airport although it is commonly known as Maiquetía Airport. There are three terminals: international, domestic and cargo. The international terminal is decked with modern airport facilities like money changing, travel agencies and even restaurants serving international food. In 2013, it welcomed over 11 million passengers, making it the 8th busiest airport in South America.
How to get around
UCAM busses connect the airport to the city centre and depart every 30 minutes. It takes about 40 minutes to get there. UCAM bus fares cost less than NZD4. Taxis can also bring you to the city centre and costs around NZD55. It is advisable to use official taxis for safety.
Bookings can be done online or at the yellow desks in the arrival hall. Some official 24-hour taxi companies include Corporacion Anfitriones de Venezuela, Taxi Movil and Taxiven.
There are no metro services from the airport. If you wish to take the metro, the UCAM bus can drop you off at Gato Negro Metro Station, the nearest metro station to the airport. From there, take the metro to your destination. Car rental services are also available for hire at the airport.
It is not easy to get around the city with bus as there are many bus routes operate by various bus companies and many drivers cannot speak English. The metro is a more convenient and efficient alternative.
There are four main underground lines and tickets can be purchased at the stations. There are single, double and 10-journey tickets. Taxi services are available but fares should be negotiated beforehand. Unless you intend to explore outside Caracas, it is advisable to not rent a car as traffic is chaotic.
What to see and do
Caracas is the capital of Venezuela and home to over five million residents. This city was discovered by Francisco Fajardo over 400 years ago. Today, it is a metropolitan area bustling with life and rich in the Venezuelan cultural and historical scenes.
Head to Plaza Bolívar. The statue of Simón Bolívar, who led Caracas to independence from the Spanish stands there. The plaza also features the Metropolitan District government house, the foreign ministry’s seat and the Caracas Cathedral, home to famous paintings like Resurrection by Rubens.
A notable museum in Plaza Bolívar is the Raúl Santana Museum of the Creole Way of Life, featuring miniatures depicting 1930s handmade by Raúl Santana. Visit Casa Natal, where Simón Bolívar was born.
Learn about the rich Venezuelan culture when you drop by Plaza Los Museos. Head to the National Art Gallery. This modern museum contains paintings by famous Venezuelan painters. The museum of Contemporary Art is located there as well, boasting over 3000 pieces of artworks, some of which include Matisse’s works.
Nature and outdoor lovers can explore the splendid Jardín Botánico, home to lilies, cacti and orchids. It is also a good place for picnic. The biggest park in Caracas is Parque del Este, abundant in wildlife with the likes of otters, sloths and egrets. You may also wish to visit Park Los Chorros for forest walks. Be greeted by the splendour of its waterfalls.
If time permits, visit El Avila National Park. There are guided tours around the park. You may also camp there. Spot for sloths and enjoy the scenic views of the national park.
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