The Undercover Pilot
What I like the most about Choroni is how secluded it is. Probably many Venezuelans have been there, but it is surely not easy to reach. Choroni is protected by the Parque Nacional Henry Pittier. A stunningly beautiful cloud forest that ends by the town of Choroni.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest city is Maracay in Venezuela. About 75 miles from Caracas, the Capital. The only problem is that traffic is unpredictable. You may find an empty highway or you my encounter this enormous number of cars jammed for miles.
How to know you'll be trapped in a traffic jam? When you start noticing people selling food along the cars. You can buy anything from hot coffee to cakes, or local fruits, to toys or car parts. So whenever you see there people train your patience. You'll be stucked for a while. The positive side is that the view is beautiful on both sides of the highway.
Follow your gps or the road signs to pass by Maracay continue raight to the entrance of the park.
From there on you'll start climbing up for a while getting deeper into the super green forest through a very narrow paved road that in some parts it's so narrow that the car has to stop to let the one coming on the other direction go through. At times it may be frightening, but you’ll even pass by public buses riding as if in a highway even though precipices abound.
Some 45 minutes away, there it is: Choroni.
The entrance to town is marked by the Plaza Hijos de Choroni. Then you take the main road lined by colorful little colonial houses that lead to the center of town and to Puerto Colombia, the tiny port where the local boats called “peñeros” are waiting to take you to the beaches.
WHAT TO DO
Playa Grande is close to town. You don't need a boat to get there. Just ask locals for directions. Its a huge bay by the coast with hundreds of palm trees (and people).
Bahía Cata, Cepe and Cuyagua are popular beaches reached by the local boats.
Chuao is a chocolate (cacao) producing town that is definitely worth the visit. Walking through its main road and getting some souvenirs is a must. Ti's also reached by boat, but you can spend the night there.
Henry Pittier National Park T
here are numerous hikes up the park through verdant mountains home to about 500 species of birds.
I suggest you get a local guide.
Undercover bitchy comment
I found out that fishermen that take you to the beaches in their boats have had their brains washed in US$. Be prepared for the prices and for haggle. It's just sad...
The political situation in Venezuela has made people desperate to get some foreign currency to afford food and that helps to understand.
But then... you sit on the boat and start navigating these semi rough sea and you enjoy the view and the ride so much that you forget about what you paid.
By the way, this is not Aruba, there are waves, and vegetation and mountains, it's exciting and spectacular. The waters eternally hitting the rocks on the coast have formed little caves everywhere. You can get close and sometimes you can even dive in. The landscape is really stunning.
No cellular signal though…It is a place to unwind, to forget about the mundane.
WHERE TO EAT
Back in Choroni there are a nice places to eat, but I would rather recommend that you stayed in any of the new posadas that are managed by people that are conscious about sustainability and the environment. They cook their meals with local ingredients. They will arrange meals for you to take to the beach or have it prepared for you once here. And you´ll have a very nice breakfast and a fine dinner at the lodge everyday.
On the way back from Choroni, almost at the end of the road and just before entering the Maracay area, stop at Restaurant San Antonio and have lunch there. I recommend you to try cachapas, a Venezuelan style sweet corn pancake served with fresh and soft local white cheese, but the menu is large. You can choose among many dishes. That way if you get some traffic at least you won't feel hungry.
WHERE TO STAY
A contemporary lodge designed by famed Venezuelan architects, this place has a cool lounge area with high ceiling that open to the pool. 14 Rooms are lined by each side of the lounge. They all have an outdoor shower and a private garden.
Bequevé A typical colonial house with spacious rooms that have a special allure. The newly built one floor building is plain modern. I would always try to book a room in the main house. This place has smaller gardens than Cacaoní, but has the river Tipire running by it. You can go and enjoy sitting on a rock letting your feet get wet while you enjoy the view.
They are both very well cared for. People always trying to please you with whatever you wish or need.
You’ll return home renovated.