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Mérida (city, Venezuela)

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Mérida the capital of Merida State, is located in Venezuela, at the foot of the Andes, only fifteen kilometers from Venezuela's highest point. It is the centre for outdoor activities in Venezuela.

A stone church built by Juan Felix Sanchez in San Rafael, just outside Merida

Understand[edit]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

As of September 2013, Conviasa airlines provides commercial service to and from Mérida (MRD). The airport is also used for private flights. The El Vigia Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo airport (VIG) is not too far away, and you can take a long taxi ride from there in case of emergency.

By car[edit]

The road from Valera will take you over the highest asphalted road in Venezuela. The Pico Aquila is 4118m high. The roads are of reasonable quality and can easily be driven with a small car. On the way, you will have great views over the mountains and valleys. Try to drive this route in the morning, in the afternoon is usually gets clouded/foggy.

By bus[edit]

The bus terminal is a few kilometers out of the center. A taxi to the center cost around Bs 15.00. There are daily connections to Barinas, Maracay, Caracas and several other destinations in Venezuela. If you want to go across to Ciudad Bolivar and avoid going north to Caracas or Valencia, then take the bus to Barinas (about 3.5 hours) and then the overnight bus, leaving at 10pm, to Ciudad Bolivar (11 hours).

On departure a Bs.3 departure tax is collected.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

There are several small Andean towns in the region which are quite scenic and easy to visit, such as Jají, Mucuchies, Apartaderos, and Santo Domingo.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • The Teleférico is the city's main attraction. It's the worlds longest and highest cablecar. For a mere Bs.55,000 (25 US$) it will lead you to Pico Espejo (4765m) with two stops on the way. It's best to pick a clear day and go in the morning as early as possible to avoid queues. Many travellers go up on the teleferico, and then descent via mules, hiking and SUVs. This means that during the busy season, upward tickets may be sold out days in advance, but this can be circumvented by reversing the trip. Typically, locals in SUVs will wait in the morning near the base of the teleferico to drive tourists up to Los Nevados for $15US, where mules can be hired for the final ascent. The top is usually covered in clouds later in the day. Take warm clothes. Be warned that the cable car is frequently closed for maintenance. It stops running in early afternoons. Note: As of August 2009 this has been closed for over 12 months. (Mid June 12:45, 18 June 2010 (EDT)12:45, 18 June 2010 (EDT)~~J2010: still closed, mid-October 2010: still closed, 1 sept 2011, closed, but modernizing work has started) It will be opening by the end of 2013 January 2014, still closed.
  • Climb the Pico Bolivar or Pico Humboldt, for serious mountaineers, these can be organised through tour agents (see below). A local guide who speaks a little bit of French is José Betancourt [1]. Remember too that the altitude differential between Merida and the top of the teleferico is huge and that an attempt to climb Pico Bolivar or Pico Humboldt should wait for the next day, least you experience mountain sickness.
  • Adventure activities are offered by several tour agents. Mountain-biking, paragliding, white-water rafting and canyoning are all available in Merida. Four tour agents are Arassari Trek, Calle 24 No 8-301, 0274-252-5879 [2] Jakera, Calle 24 no 8-205 0 274 2529577 [3] and Gravity Tours [4]. Abadia Tours Travel & Destinations, Av 3 entre calles 17 y 18, 0274-2513115, [5]
  • Spanish Language Schools. Merida is a good location to learn Spanish. Jakera has a few programs [6] [7]. VENUSA College in Merida caters to North American university students and Venezuelan EFL students. [8]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Mercado Principal has a wide assortment of artesania and other touristy goods, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables on the first floor.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Panaderia Roma, Calle 24 No 8-68, 0274 2529095, [9]. Bread, pasteries and coffee. Popular spot for breakfast. Cafe con leche costs Bs 3.500 and a pastry around Bs 3.000
  • La Montaña Calle 24 6-47. Excellent meals for a reasonable price. Try the chicken in orange sauce and the lemon pie. A main course costs around Bs 10.000.
  • Delicias Mexicanas Calle 25 7-48. To satisfy your cravings for Mexican food.
  • Heladeria Coromoto Avenida 3 28-75. Has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for being the icecream parlour with the most flavours. It has around 800 flavours including hamburger or rice flavoured ice cream. But on any given day it only serves around 100 different flavours.
  • La Abadia, Av. 3 between calles 17 and 18, [10] is a restaurant/cafe/cybercafe with excellent fresh fruit drinks, trout dishes and coffees/desserts. Abadia Tours Travel & Destinations: llanos, paramo, paragliding, canaima. Info: http://www.grupoabadia.com
  • Areperia Dona Flor Nearby to Cafe Calypso/Centro Commercial El Viaducto, this is the queen of all arepa (corn-flour pita or pupusa like object) restaurants, with stuffings from the mundane shredded pork to pickled eggs and more.
  • Calle Burgers At night small hamburger/hotdog stands appear near all the major nightclubs. Shady though they may look, their burgers are second to none with toppings including fried eggs, ham, shoestring potato fries and more.
  • Pizzeria Da Enzo The best pizzas of Merida, with the secret recipe of an italian family. Andres Bello Avenue Centro Comercial San Cristobal, Merida City.
  • Pizzería El Sabor de los Quesos Best pizza in town, Avenue 2 between 13 and 14 No 13-66, in front of Plaza Milla. Telf. 252.34.98, Checked in March 2013. Pizza was awful and has a strange taste. It seems all ingredients were worst possible quality except dough. Do not recommend. [11].
  • Café Ático, Near the Plaza de las Heroinas, this small coffeehouse/bar is a popular counterculture scene
  • La Astilla, Plaza Milla. Excellent restaurant that serves local dishes and pizzas. Try the "Lomita al Salsa Mostaza Dyon", "Trucha con Champignones" and "Limonada Frappe".  edit
  • Federicos, Av. 5 between Calle 18 and 19. Italian/Argentinian owner that serves anything between pastas and delicious meat dishes.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Merida is a college town full of fantastic bars and discos playing salsa and international disco music well into the morning, fueled by cheap Polar beer and strong cai pirinhas.

Cafe Calypso
(excellent cai pirinhas) in the Centro Commercial El Viaducto is a top spot to begin the night, conveniently near to the popular dance club,
El Bodegón de Pancho
(Centro Comercial Mamayeya) You can see the lit-up sign for blocks around, El Bodegón is the place to finish the night and dance until the early morning.
AlFREDO'S
(Av.4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21) features cheap set-ups of rum - buy a bottle and some mixers with a group of friends. Cheapest beers in town!
El Balcon
(Av. 2 con Calle 26) Balcony views, cheap Polar beer.
HOyo Queque
(Av. 4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21) is a tiny bar with good often live music
Birosca
(Av. 2 Lora Con Calle 24 C.C. Los Tapiales) with famous "Bombas" drinks and a maze like interior from its colonial heritage to explore. A good place to escape from Reggaeton.
Gradas Sports Bar
(Av. 4 Bolívar. Esquina De La Calle 21 - caddycorner from Oyo) A fancy bar with lots of screens to watch futbol on
The Clover
(Av. 4 Bolívar entre calles 14 y 15) - best place to get a non-Polar beer in town.
Habana Kawy
(Av. Principal De Los Chorros De Milla) dance club focusing more on disco than salsa/merengue.
La Cucaracha
( c.c. Las Tapias, Nivel Estacionamiento.) Inside the Las Tapias mall, this is the quintessential Merida dance club. Unfortunately, the bouncers are sometimes racist.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Heaps of cheap backpacker posadas with shared bathrooms (generally) are clustered around Plaza Las Heroínas. A few blocks further northeast, in La Plaza Milla, are a few nicer posadas

Budget[edit]

  • Paty's, Calle 24, Ave 8, A good choice for low budget travelers. It is currently 50 bolivares for one night. There is also a laundry service in house. Several of the other posadas listed here are for group parties that sign up for their tours as well, and therefore do not cater to individual backpackers. Go all the way to the end of Calle 24 towards the teleferico, and you will find it next to some exercise bars. (At the moment the cheapest: 50BsF pP in dormitorios; Mar 2012)
  • Posada Guamanchi, Calle 24 No. 8-86, Tel:0274 252 2080 The backpacker's choice in Merida with an attached tour company. Rooms accommodate between two and four people and range in price from 400Bs for a dorm bed to 850Bs for a private room with bathroom (dec. 2013). The posada has 2 kitchens, wifi, common areas etc.
  • Posada La Montaña, Calle 24 No 6-47 (Entre Av.6 y 7), 0274 252 5977, [12]. A beautifully restored colonial building, tastefully decorated with hand crafted wooden furniture and plenty of leafy foliage, conveniently located right in the heart of Merida. There are 19 rooms set around the sunny terrace. From Bs. 135,000.  edit
  • Posada Jama Chia, Calle 24 No 8-223, 0274-252-5767. Nine rooms with shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. Bs.20,000 (US$8) pp.  edit
  • El Floridita, Close to Plaza de las Heroinas. Bs.35,000.  edit
  • Posada Suiza. BsF 70 in dormitorio.  edit
  • Posada Luz Caraballo, Avenida 2 Lora, No 13-80 (In front of Plaza Sucre), 0274 252-5441, [13]. Private bathrooms, hot water, cable TV, car park, restaurant. Bs. 120,000.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Posada Yagrumo, Calle 24, No 8-78, Merida (close to Plaza de las Heroinas), 0274 2529539, Cell: 0416 8745247 (), [14].  edit
  • Posada Casa Sol, Av. 4 between Calles 15 and 16., 0274 252-4164 (), [15]. Rooms from $42 for a single, $50 for a double. Breakfast an extra $8 pp..  edit
  • Casa Alemana Suiza, Av. 2 calle 38 n130, 0274 263 65 03 (), [16]. Rooms from Bs. 300. Very nice Swiss owner who can help you arrange tours etc. In and around Merida. Very nice view over the mountains from the roof terrace..  edit

Splurge[edit]

Keep in mind that the beds in many hotels (mostly up to the mid-range levels) are nothing more than mattresses on concrete slabs that resemble box springs. Depending on what your sleep preference is, they may not be the most comfortable for you. Something for you to consider when looking for a hotel to stay at.

Contact[edit]

Venezuela's cheapest internet shops can be found in Merida. There are dozens and cost around 0.50 US$ per hour or less.

Cope[edit]

Remember to wear your sunscreen and be careful about over-exerting yourself - you're at reasonably high altitudes, and close to the equator.

Get out[edit]

Los Nevados[edit]

A trek you can do on your own is to Los Nevados. Take the teleférico to station Loma Redonda, make sure you don't pay the full amount for the teleférico. Inparque might charge you a Bs. 5.000 tax. From there follow the trail. It's a beautiful 4 to 5 hour walk to Los Nevados. Mules will carry you for BsF 50. In Los Nevados there are several posades where you can sleep for between BsF 120 to 160 with dinner and breakfast. The next morning jeeps will leave for Mérida at 9:00am for BsF 150 pp. It's a four and half hour ride along a narrow road. If you do it the other way around you might save the teleférico entrance and the Inparque tax, but you have to race from Los Nevados to Loma Redonda to catch the last cablecar down. If you want go to Los Nevados call to Abadia Tours Travel & Destinations: Av 3 entre calles 17 y 18 Merida

An alternative route when the cable car is not running is to start at Merida and take a jeep to Los Nevados. Jeeps leave at Plaza las Heroinas as of 7AM and cost BsF 60 per person (travel time = 4 to 5 hours). At Los Nevados you can stay at a number of posadas:

Posada Bella Vista - BsF 200 pp including dinner & breakfast - Incredible views from the terrace. Call 0274/6580146 or 0274/5113956 for a reservation.

Posada Guamanchi - BsF 300 pp including dinner & breakfast - Excellent food! Go to Guamanchi Tours at Calle 24 to book this posada.

In Los Nevados you can make some beautiful hikes for a couple of hours. Ask the owners of the posadas for information.

The next day, it is possible to walk to the house of Pedro Peña (tel: 0416 0877510 - only Spanish - call in advance to make sure he is there and has space available). Pedro is the grandson of the first person to reach the top of Pico Bolivar. He has excellent stories and a game of domino always makes for a good night. To get to Pedro's, it is best to rent a guide (and mule). Ask at the posada for arranging this. Prices are BsF 60 for a guide for 1 day and BsF 50 for a mule. The 3rd day, walk down to La Cruz and take a bus back to Merida (1 hour - 2 BsF)

El Paramo[edit]

Explore the cold high plains full of frailejones, lagoons and cold winds.

Aguas Termales del Musui[edit]

Take a bus towards Musui and (with a guide, or at least someone who's been before) hike up to the hot springs. Bring camping supplies, you'll want to spend at least one night soaking while you watch the stars overhead.

Los Aleros[edit]

Los Aleros is a theme park located in Mérida, Venezuela. It depicts a typical andean town in the 1930s. It was created by Alexis Montilla in 1984. An absolutely breath-takingly beautiful place to visit but beware of creepy ghouls that will jump out of dark corners to scare you. Fun for the whole family.

Montaña De Los Sueños[edit]

About a 45 minute drive from downtown Merida this theme park is all about the old time movies. There are a lot of classic cars, jukeboxes, movie scenes, and other general 1930-1960 movie, radio, and music memorabilia. It's a pretty interesting place if you love seeing some of the history of movies in Venezuela. The cost is around $15 per adult. The theme park does not open until later in the day and is best at night. Telephone# +58 (274) 262-1557 / +58 (274) 263-9757

San Cristobal[edit]

To get to the city San Cristòbal, to catch a connecting bus to the boarder town San Antonio, take one of the many busses that leaves from Merída bus terminal about every 15-20 min. It is not necessary to buy a ticket. Tickets are 110 Bf's and takes about 5-6 hours, including stops.

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