I had spent one night in Cuidad Bolivar on my way to Canaima National Park and Angel Falls but I didn’t have any time to get a feel for the city of almost 400 000 people. The city was traditionally known as Angostura and the bitters of the same name were first made here.
Cuidad Bolivar is located at a narrow section of the vast Orinoco River which flows over 2000km before it spills into the Atlantic. The city is traditionally an important river port and continues to be very busy connecting to the Eastern regions of Venezuela.
Where to stay…
After my Angel Falls excursion I had a full day to visit the old colonial area of the city and for the time I had there it was a decent place for a stopover. I arrived at 1 pm and the taxi driver took me to a small guesthouse that faces the main square of the city. It was called Posada Amor and it was just what I needed. The rooms were clean and rustic with lots of character. The showers didn’t have hot water and the bathroom was shared with the other rooms.
They have 8 private rooms with AC and 6 private rooms with fans. The daily rates range between 1400Bs/$7 and 2400Bs/$12 per night depending on what room you needed. You can book online at Posada Amor here.
Location of Posada Amor in the old quarter of the city near the government buildings, park and square. The location of the guesthouse was perfect as it was easy to find, there were shops and the river only a short distance away.
I stayed in the Caribe themed room and it was a perfect home base for the afternoon in the city. Aside from a small nap I was out and about all day.
There were some really neat paintings of fish on the wall of the room.
Another option is Posada Dona Carol and they have 5 private rooms from 4000Bs/$20-7000Bs/$35 per night depending on the size of the room and whether or not it has AC.
The resort style hotel I stayed at briefly when I arrived in town is called La Cumbre Lodge is also an option. However, the distance from the actual centre of the city would make the other options a better choice. This is the closest to an eco resort as you will find in the city and the lodge is built up on a hill overlooking Cuidad Bolivar. They have a large pool area and most rooms have a view.
Single, double and matrimonial rooms start at 3200Bs/$16 and go up from there. The rooms were very nice and mine had a balcony with a decent view as well as a hammock that was strung across french doors that led outside. They also have a sushi bar and a few other restaurants giving it that resort feel.
The old colonial city…
After checking in at the hotel I walked around the colonial area of the city. The old cobblestone streets and colorful buildings had a very authentic colonial feel. Bringing it all together was the main square with its park, statue and fountains. The government buildings were all concentrated in this area and it was clean and well kept.
The main square had a nice park with a statue and fountain.
Also nearby was the Cuidad Bolivar Cathedral. The cathedral was under construction when I was there but it was a great example of colonial architecture and had a lot of character.
Cuidad Bolivar Cathedral in the distance.
Cuidad Bolivar Cathedral.
The government buildings made it evident that Venezuela still had a large presence of Hugo Chavez despite his death. Here is the main building with a huge banner of Chavez on the facade.
Walking away from the main square there were many small shops, food markets, pharmacies and a few restaurants. It was either uphill or downhill in this city and the roads all seemed to lead towards or lead away from the main square. This made it easy to find your way around.
Lots of cobbled and colorful streets!
Where to eat…
Not having ate since I left Canaima after a busy morning of waterfalls and flying back from the national park. The first place I came to seemed good enough and it turned out being pretty good despite not remembering the name of the restaurant. Like most restaurants in Venezuela the menu items are simple but fresh and well prepared. For my lunch I needed a break from chicken so I ate the seared beef with onions and peppers. This came with fried plantain, yucca, rice and coleslaw. This costed 120Bs/.60$ and was very good.
I couldn’t help but notice that the roasted chicken here looked amazing even though I had been eating chicken for over a week straight. I ended up coming back to the same place to try the chicken and wasn’t disappointed. The food came out on 2 plates if you get the half chicken like I did, while a separate plate is used for the sides. The sides were rigatoni and probably the least sauce I’ve ever seen on a pasta! I liked having some pasta as most of my meals this trip have been with rice and arepa. Also served, was yucca that had flaked cheese on top. There was no way of getting a meal in this country without coleslaw. At this point it was a given! This was 150Bs/$.75 which was the cheapest meal I have ate in a long time!
The chicken was amazing and I was happy I ordered it. It was some of the best roasted chicken I have had so far this trip and is runner up to the chicken cooked on an open fire on the Angel Falls excursion!
The pasta, yucca and coleslaw were a nice change from the usual rice and arepa that came with most meals in Venezuela.
Catching the bus to Santa Elena…
After spending the remainder of my day in Cuidad Bolivar it was soon time to go to the bus station to buy my return ticket back to Santa Elena. Before I got the taxi I took a few quick photos of the purple night sky following the sunset. This would be another 12 hour bus ride and I wanted to travel with Espressos Occidente again as getting here was a relatively good experience. That and I knew I didn’t have to worry about anyone fighting for a place in line to get back to Santa Elena. The stand at the bus stop had the sign torn off and behind the barred kiosk window. I paid 2400Bs/$12 for a one way ticket for the overnight trip which was scheduled to leave at 7:45pm.
When I was at the bus station I didn’t notice anyone that appeared to be a tourist aside from myself. This was a busy place with a lot of people hanging around that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. After I bought my ticket I went and grabbed a sundae. I then sat away from the crowds making sure to keep a close an eye on my belongings.
The Occidente kiosk at the bus station in Cuidad Bolivar.
Ice cream sundae from the bus station.
This crazy night sky would be the last I would see while in Venezuela.
Bus ride to Santa Elena…
The bus arrived a little later but not too far off schedule. The loading of the bags and luggage was orderly and everyone received a bag check number and receipt. The bus left 45 minutes late at 8:30pm and got me into Santa Elena at 10am. Like the first bus I took it was ice cold, everyone had their seats all the way back and there were people playing their music all through the bus without headphones on. This seemed common here as nobody seemed to think anything of it but it made for a long trip. I keep my personal belongings that I’m carrying with me either at my feet or on my lap on any bus or train that I take. I am extremely cautious at night.
After sleeping on and off on the bus I finally arrived at the final destination of Santa Elena where I would be for a few hours before setting out for the Brazilian border and spend the next few days travelling to Colombia.
Cuidad Bolivar isn’t a place I would base a holiday around but if you are stopping over here before or after a tour or en route to another destination it is worthy of a visit. I liked the colonial vibe in the old city and it was a good place to regroup before moving onward. It was very cheap and would be a good choice to stock up on whatever you may need before going into the nearby national parks or anything necessary for an excursion. It is also a good place to catch a flight to Caracas or a bus getting you on your way to any other destination in the country.
Gone on a whim…