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Santa Elena de Uairén

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South America : Venezuela : Bolívar : La Gran Sabana : Santa Elena de Uairén
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Santa Elena de Uairén is a small frontier town in La Gran Sabana in Venezuela.

It's home to several indigenous groups, and children are educated not only in Spanish but also Pemon, an indigenous language. It's proximity to the border with Brazil makes it busy trade town... mostly importing products from Brazil, and exporting oil from Venezuela.

Get in[edit]

Flights to and from the airport are operated with small Cessnas. Schedules change frequently.

There are very few flights to Santa Elena de Uairén. Rutaca is the only airline that services the town with any regularity from Ciudad Bolívar and Puerto Ordaz. You should contact the airline at the Ciudad Bolívar Airport (58-285) 632-4465 / 632-8426 to find out more information about the flights. They should direct you with information on how to book.

Night buses go to Santa Elena from Ciudad Bolivar, Puerto Ordaz, Maturin and Puerto la Cruz in Venezuela and from Boa Vista Boa Vista in Brazil. There is one day bus Puerto Ordaz and Ciudad Bolivar. A few buses travel to/from Caracas (Oriente Terminal) stopping in Cuidad Bolivar. These are semi-cama buses, and take 22 hours to make the journey. Bus companies that do the route are Expresos Los Llanos, Expreso Occidente, and a state owned company with red buses.

If you take a bus please understand that the buses are cold and drivers refuse to raise the temperature. Bus temperatures average around 7ºC (45F).

The Boa Vista route is the best connection for those coming from anywhere in Brazil.

UPDATE: The venezuelan airline CONVIASA ( has just begun service to Santa Elena de Uairén (SNV) on their newly acquired Embrear jets. Flights run three times a week between Santa Elena de Uairén and Puerto Ordaz (PZO)on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. From Puerto Ordaz (PZO) one can connect to any other major Venezuelan city including Caracas, Porlamar, and Canaima. Flight times are the same for the three days they fly and are as follows Puerto Ordaz (PZO) to Santa Elena de Uairén (SNV) Departing at 10:30am arriving at 11:05am. Santa Elena de Uairén (SNV) to Puerto Ordaz (PZO) Departing 11:55am arriving at 12:30pm.

For a complete schedule of CONVIASA flights:

Get around[edit]

Taxis are very cheap and do not cost more than 20 bsf anywhere in town.

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Posada Backpackers, Calle Urdaneta, 0289-995 14 15, [1]. Nice rooms, all with hot water. Wifi. Outdoor restaurant with great food. Professional, well organized trekking tours. The German owner, Eric, is extremely helpful (and not pushy about the tours). s/d/t 80/120/180BsF.  edit

Hotel Michelle, Calle Urdaneta (next door to Posada Backpackers), 0289-416 12 57. Same price as Posada Backpackers, but a little grubbier, and extra charge for hot water. Also doubles as a travel agency.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Angel Falls – the highest single-drop water fall in the world (807m)
  • Canaima National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for it's tepuis, or "table-top" mountains. It's the second largest park in Venezuela.
  • Brazil – the border is about 12 km away, and this is the last place that you can obtain a Brazilian visa, which usually takes 1-3 days. Update: the visa system is now going electronic. Unfortunately they have stopped the manual visa process before the new system is up and running. Until that happens, the only place to get a Brazil visa in Venezuela is in Caracas.
  • Cantarana is a small hamlet about 100 km west of Santa Elena. There are several 4WD collective taxi-jeeps going there every day on an unpaved track (BsF 60, 3 h). You can stay at: Campamento Cantarana, (), [2]. Very nice camp owned by a German-Venezuelan family, with a big park close to a waterfall and natural pool. Meals are made with fresh food and mostly home production. Nice hikes around in Gran Sabana. Possibility to work there as well. ~BsF 200 for full board accomodation.  edit

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