Excursion to paradise

This trip takes us to a small river flowing in lush tropical surroundings, just three kilometers from Casa Maria. The centre of attraction of this outing is a gigantic rubber tree actually within walking distance of the House. Ornithologists and entomologists will also find plenty to interest them on this walk.



Quebrada Agua Clara, 'Clearwater Stream'

This trip, which can be extended to a full day, takes us to a small river in a lowland jungle region, some 300 m above sea level at about 25 km from the House; it is easily reached in an off-the-road vehicle. The area is home to lots of birds, insects and items of botanic interest, not to speak of the fresh-water fish; there are idyllic waterfalls and crystal clear bathing pools along the way.



The Cloud -- or Rain -- Forest of Palmichal

The trip leads us into a small and almost unknown cloud-forest about 1.000mt above sea-level, only 5 km away from CASA MARIA. The flora and fauna are typical of those of the Henri Pittier national park, though happily bereft of any disturbing traffic or people. These woods cover an area of some 11.000 hectares, being just over 27,000 acres, and can be crossed by a 12-km footpath: if you're nature-friendly, you will enjoy this outing, especially as CASA MARIA is within walking distance.





Cloud-forest of Palmichal


 Endemic palm and und endemic bromeliads


Common mood in the cloud-forest.

The San Pablo Marshes

This is a particularly beautiful trip, especially for spotting rare birds towards evening; we take a telescope along with this in mind. One can never predict the outcome of these excursions but we expect to see parrots, horned screamers and many other birds and animals native to these sea-level wetlands. Travel time from Casa Maria is about 45 minutes.


Horned screamers


Early evening



These are only four suggestions for half-day excursions. We have others, for instance to the San Isidro mountains at 1700 m elevation, to Mt. Marquero and to Mt. La Copa. Ornithologists will also find it worthwhile to visit the dry shrub area around the artificial lake at Canoabo.
Full-Day Trips

For our full-day options, we leave Casa Maria early and get back towards evening. We take packed lunches and picnic in unparalleled natural settings.

Tour to the Caribbean

This tour ranks among visitors' favorites. From Casa Maria, it takes an hour and a half to get to the Morrocoy National Park on the coast. We either take our own boat or rent one on arrival. Once in the park, we can explore a whole labyrinth of islands and mangroves and fantastic Caribbean beaches with beautifully clear water at around 30°C. The day's activities can include snorkeling, swimming or just indulging in a little dolce fa niente. At day's end, we make a side trip to the Cuare bird reservation, well known for its large flamingo colony of some 20,000 birds. For Casa Maria guests who are so inclined, the whole outing can be centered on the Cuare reservation.

If desired, you can do also a full-day-trip into the bird's reservation.





Ibises in the Cuare Reservation


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Tour to Puerto Cabello and the San Estéban National Park.

This trip takes us to the port of Puerto Cabello with its historic town centre, still much as it was in colonial times. The next stop is an old English fort and a visit to a German cemetery, evidence of the substantial German immigration in the 19th Century. Nearby, we can visit the San Estéban National Park where one can hike and bathe in poetic jungle waterfalls.




Colonial area of Puerto Cabello.


The old English fortress in Puerto Cabello.

Tour to the Rio Capita Valley

This tour is by jeep to an isolated valley where folk still live almost as though in colonial times. The rivers are wild and romantic and there are numerous bathing and hiking possibilities not to speak of myriad settings for taking photos.




Canyon landscape


Rio Capita

Tour to the city of Coro (4 hours away from CASA MARIA)

This tour takes us to a landscape very different from that of the Casa Maria itself: there are salt lakes, giant cacti, and the famous Coro 'medanos' or sand dunes, if anything, evocative of a Saharan landscape. Coro itself used to be the capital of the then Spanish Province of Venezuela and still has many old buildings of such historical interest that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Coro excursion takes in the very arid Paraguaná Peninsula with its cactus desert; we also spend time in the town of Punto Fijo, a free port with duty-free shopping.




Coro with the old square and church.


The dunes of Coro


Old colonial buildings with the typical balconies and cobblestone pavement.




Landscape on the Paraguaná peninsula.


Village on the Paraguaná peninsula.


Salt lake on Paraguaná

This tour can be extended to include a trip into the "Sierra San Luís", the San Luis Range which is an isolated mountain area with cloud forest and very interesting bird and insect life. The return journey can take a swing through the town of Barquisimeto and even the Yacambú National Park. Given the range of options and guests' preferences, this tour can take from one to four days.
Los Roques

A trip of a completely different kind takes us to the offshore Los Roques coral atoll. We drive early to Valencia airport and take a small 5-seater airplane to the Main Island where we set off in a small boat to another island for snorkeling and bathing. The flight alone is quite an experience. We return to Casa Maria the same evening.
The actual price for this tour must be negotiated with the pilot. At present (April 2005) it's approximately 150 dollars per person, including food, boat travel, flight and snorkel equipment.





Arrival at Gran Roque.


Our plane


Beach on Los Roques

Excursion to the Colonia Tovar

The Colonia Tovar, located high in the coastal mountain range, was founded in 1843 by 200 German immigrants from the Germany’s Schwarzwald, the Black Forest. The settlement was virtually forgotten until the well into the twentieth century when a road to Caracas was built, putting the Colonia on the map. Today, the village is an interesting tourist attraction, preserving as it does, many old German ways and even the nineteenth century Schwarzwald dialect spoken by the original colonists and, long since vanished in Germany itself. Nearby, there is the Pico Codazzi National Park at 2000mt, about 6500 ft, above sea level with a wealth of items of zoological and botanic interest.




The city gate of Colonia Tovar.


The Black Forest Hotel.

There are other day-trip options, taking in the Henri Pittier National Park, the Hacienda Santa Clara, this last being an old coffee plantation with lots of big trees and a waterfall of particular beauty, the San Carlos River area, of special interest to entomologists, and the Sierra de Aróa, the “Aróa Range”, with its extremely damp rain forest.




Rio San Carlos


Waterfall at Hacienda Santa Clara


Giganthera trees in the Henri Pittier national-park.



Lianas in the cloud-forest of Aróa