Venezuela’s prime attractions lie outside its major cities. With 43 national parks, many private reserves and a geography that ranges from table-top tepuis and Amazon jungle to Caribbean beaches and fertile wetlands, this is a country that’s built for the outdoors.

One city of note is Mérida, a university town set high in the Andes, home to the world’s highest cable car and a great base for hiking, rafting and other outdoor activities. From here it’s possible to drop down to Los Llanos, a seasonal floodplain that rivals Brazil’s Pantanal for biodiversity, with caiman, capybara and bright scarlet ibis on the eyespy check list.

Los Llanos is fed by the Orinoco River which, when followed across the country spills out into the Atlantic through a vast, jungle delta. Although biodiversity is as good as in the Amazon, the real highlight here is staying with the Warao Indians, an indigenous tribe who have adapted to life on the delta’s verdant islands. South of the delta is Canaima National Park and the Gran Sabana, which together are home to giant tepuis (table-top mountains), thick and steamy rainforest and of course Angel Falls, which tumbles spectacularly for almost a kilometre before hitting the forest floor.

On the coast lie some of South America’s finest beaches, especially those of Los Roques National Park, an enchanted archipelago

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