South America | Venezuela | Venezuela’s Caribbean Islands | Islas Los Roques – Paradise Isla
After 6 wonderful and diverse days in Merida, we started the next section of our trip, to Los Roques. The islands lie roughly 166km due North of the Venezuelan mainland and are made up of 42 reef formed islands.
Our long journey started in a traffic jam in Merida, caused by what seemed like the whole of the Meridian public service workers having an impromtu protest. We knew things were getting out of hand when a rather young looking soldier, thought it would be hilarious to point his shoulder missile launcher at an unsuspecting bus driver who, didnt quite see the funny side! Anyway, we just made it in time for our sleeper bus to Caracas. After 12 uncomfortable, cold hours driving through the Venezuelan night, we reached Caracass. We didnt have time to explore the city, but there seemed to be a much more defined gap between rich and poor. There were hundreds of shanty towns built precariously on the edges of cliffs and people searching through rubbish tips. In contrast, on the horizon the central city is a maze of high rise apartments and office blocks. It would have been good to spend some time wandering around, but beaches were calling us.
We got a cheapish flight to Los Roques, which we only just made due to my over organized (and panicking) brother attempting to buy about 15 air tickets for our return journey to Margarita and Caracas! Our vehicle for the journey?? A tiny 6 seater airplane, where someone even sat in the co-pilots seat and the doors had no lock however, after a somewhat scary 50 minute journey, we flew over Los Roques. It is hard to describe beauty, but what we saw was magnificent. Brilliant turquoise sea, tiny white sandy islands, coral reefs and yachts undulating in the waves. We landed on the Islands tiny airstrip and paid the $15 Los Roques National Park tax.
The airport (I use that word loosely) is on the largest island in the archipelago, Grand Roque and is about 30 seconds walk from accommodation, restaurants and bars. I had got friendly with an English woman on the plane (who had spent the last year riding her motorcycle from Alaska to Argentina). She recommended a posada on the main plaza which only cost 30,000 bolivars (?8) a night including 2 meals. This is excellent value, as Los Roques is known for being incredibly expensive and is usually off the backpackers trail. However, it is possible to get good deals, especially if you travel off season and mid week, when youll probably have all the islands to yourself.
We spent 2 nights/3 days on the islands. Which is just about long enough (if you arent skin diving) as the heat can become unbearable (it was 35 every day). We spent the time on Francisqui, an island a taxi boat away from the main island which had great beaches and the best of all, a sheltered lagoon with some a great coral reef, which i spent most of the time exploring by snorkle (getting burnt along the way). There were some amazing fish, including some almost luminous parrot fish, my favourite.
After 3 days, it was time to leave. We spent our last meal, sitting on the beach watching the Friggots dive bombing into the sea catching fish and the local fishermen cutting up that nights dinner of freshly caught Barracuda. I promised myself that I would come back and spend a few weeks diving and exploring the rest of the islands .till then Los Roques, I bid you farwell ..