Having paid the bribe to the security official at Caracas airport who saw our daypacks bulging with illegally obtained bank notes we caught our flight to Puerto Ordaz. There we were met by our next driver, José, who was taking us to the town of San Jose de Buca where the boat was to take us to the Orinoco Eco Camp. But before we were even halfway there the car exhaust broke in two!
Poor José then had to find a mechanic to fix it. Unbelievably he found a mechanic sat on a chair outside of his garage in the second village he tried. He quickly welded the broken exhaust together and José then drove like a madman at 140 km per hour to make up the two hours it took to fix the car. In Venezuela my friend Matt always had to sit in the front and me in the back as it was illegal for them to be taxiing us. It needed to look like we were all old friends. The downside to this was I usually crammed in with the luggage and the back seat belts had no adjoining fasteners!
We were met in San Jose de Buja by Carlos, a lovely funny old man who wore a bright orange baseball cap (which the flies loved!), shorts and a smart blue and white shirt. He had a constant twinkle in his eye and spoke immaculate English.
Our home for the next three days was the Orinoco Eco Camp. Rustic wooden lodges and walkways had been built into the mangroves and jungle. Each lodge had two beds with mosquito nets hanging from the ceiling beams. This was not for decoration as there was an army of the irritating little flies (the word mosquito actually means little fly in Spanish). They came out at dawn and dusk, whining in your ears making you wave your hands like a lunatic.
Due to the current economic crisis in Venezuela we were the only guests staying at the Eco Camp. In fact there were no guests at the other nearby lodges either. We had the Orinoco Delta all to ourselves! We spent our days travelling around the Delta by dugout Indian canoe and a wooden boat with a motor attached. Using fishing rods made from tree branches we fished for piranha and even had one cooked for us to eat! Spectacular sunrise and sunset boat rides to see all the birds. Carlos even rustled up rum and cokes with lime for us at sunset…now that’s what I call good service!
We also visited a native Warao family at their home next to the river. It was a wooden platform on stilts with a thatched roof but no walls. Hammocks hung from the ceiling which were their beds. I was terrified when I stepped “into” their home. There were wasps everywhere! I was frozen to the spot. I wanted to scream and run which is my normal irrational behaviour around wasps. Then I could see they had a turtle ready to go into their cooking pot. A stick had been rammed through it’s leg openings so it couldn’t crawl away. I was horrified! I know it is survival for them but I still don’t like it.
Unlike the Warao Indians we were fed three huge homemade meals a day two of which always included fish or meat and a mountain of rice. We left the Orinoco Delta ten stone heavier and with many mosquito bites but lots of fond memories!
See other travellers’ reviews of the Orinoco Eco Camp here
See popular destinations to visit in Venezuela on TripAdvisor
For more funny travel tales you may also enjoy reading the bizarre world on top of Mount Roraima and bulging day packs and bank notes gone mad in Venezuela