TOURS | THE CATATUMBO LIGHTNING

A UNIQUE NATURAL PHENOMENON AND A GREAT WAY TO EXPLORE THIS IMPRESSIVE REGION OF VENEZUELA: THE MARACAIBO LAKE!
Description: 

In the south of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela has a unique natural phenomenon in the world: The Catatumbo Lightning. This phenomenon of great importance for conservation, since it contributes to the regeneration of the ozone layer, consists of a series of silent and large lightnings, some reaching 10km in height, which have their origin in the basin of the Catatumbo river. It originates once the cold winds from the mountainous system of Perijá and the western slope of the Venezuelan Andes meet the organic matter-rich steam from the Maracaibo Lake. The phenomenon can be seen up to 260 times a year, and the electric storms may persist up to 10 hours per night. As is known in electrical storms lightnings produce ozone. The Catatumbo has the highest density of electric activity in the world with 181 discharges per km2 per year. Is the proud holder of the Guinnes World Record as the "Place on earth with the highest concetration of lightning.

Apart from the important and impressive Catatumbo lightning, ¬†you¬†can delve into this particular area of ‚Äč‚ÄčVenezuela, and enjoy a diversity of ecosystems seen only at this geographical location, being able to visit¬†the south of Merida and the tropical savannas of the Maracaibo Lake basin. You'll also see¬†La Azulita and its¬†tropical cloud forest rich in biodiversity, sail on river mouths and observe a variety of birds and wildlife in the National Park Cienagas de Juan Manuel, sleep over¬†the lake waters in a "Palafito" ¬†a typical stilt house with ancient origins, the very same ones that resembled Venice at the arrival of the spanish conquistadores,¬†and inspired them to give Venezuela it‚Äôs name.

1. - CATATUMBO LIGHTNING AND SOUTH OF THE MARACAIBO LAKE, 2 DAYS/ 1 NIGHT

Lenght: 2 Days / 1 Night
Dificultad: Easy - All travelers
A two day trip to explore the souther regions of Mérida in our way to Maracibo Lake to discover it's amazing fauna and spend one night to try luck and see the unique phenomenom of the Catatumbo Lightning
 
Day to day program: 
  1. Day 1:¬†Morning departure from the city of Merida taking the road¬†that goes south to the town of El Vigia. We will make a stop at¬†Lagunillas to make a visit to this picturesque village known by It‚Äôs ‚ÄúUrao Lagoon‚ÄĚ, brackish, and with a high concentration of sodium Sesquicarbonate, better known as Urao mineral which was used by the Indians, mixed with tobacco for making Chim√≥. Our journey continues towards the population of La Palmita and La Victoria. If possible we will make a stop at a "Trapiche" which are small rural factorys for processing sugar cane. Lunch on the way and continue journey to the mouth of the Chama River through huge banana plantations and oil palm. Arrival¬†at the village of Puerto Concha, where we leave our vehicles and continue the trip by fishermen boats. From the moment we sail into the gallery forest, we will start seeing large herds of Araguato (howler) and capuchin monkeys, macaws , snail hawks, red macaws, hoatzins, anis, toucans and hopefully we can see the endemic "Chicag√ľire" (Chauna chavaria) one large bird present in very few ecosystems. This magical journey will last until sunset, when we hope to reach our ‚Äúpalafito‚ÄĚ where we will overnight. We set up our camp and begin with dinner preparations: a barbecue on the lake of Maracaibo! After dinner, we'll make a night safari to observe alligators, some nocturnal snake and birds. Return to the camp and await for the appereance of the lightning. (L / D)

  2. Day 2: Wake up at early hours to enjoy the sunrise and sail through the mangrove channels of the former settlement of "La Bollera" to observe more wildlife and with luck we might see dolphins and even a manatee or an American crocodile. We will return to the Palafito for breakfast and start to head back to Puerto Concha, covering the previous day's channels for wildlife watching. We will take our vehicles and start our journey back, but this time trough the road that goes to La Azulita, a village at 1600 meters of altitude to which we ascend by a picturesque mountain road, with coffee and cocoa plantations. Lunch at La Azulita and then we go into the cloudy rain forest to over 2000 m.a.s.l, we will make stops to enjoy this majestic landscape. We'll be back in Merida at the end of the afternoon. (B/L)

2.- CATATUMBO LIGHTNING | EL CONGO MIRADOR & OLOG√Ā 3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS

Lenght: 3 Days / 2 Nights
Dificultad: Easy - All travelers

A longer itinerary to spend an extra night, this time on the remote villages of Congo Mirador and Ologá, in the very center of the lightning observation area. Also offers more chances of wildlife observation and the oportunity to spend time on "Palafito" villages which are totally on the  water of the Maracaibo Lake. If you have the time this is the way to go

Day to day program: 
  1. Day 1: Morning departure from the city of Merida taking the road¬†that goes south to the town of El Vigia. We will make a stop at¬†Lagunillas to make a visit to this picturesque village known by It‚Äôs ‚ÄúUrao Lagoon‚ÄĚ, brackish, and with a high concentration of sodium Sesquicarbonate, better known as Urao mineral which was used by the Indians, mixed with tobacco for making Chim√≥. Our journey continues towards the population of La Palmita and La Victoria. If possible we will make a stop at a "Trapiche" which are small rural factorys for processing sugar cane. Lunch on the way and continue journey to the mouth of the Chama River through huge banana plantations and oil palm. Arrival¬†at the village of Puerto Concha, where we leave our vehicles and continue the trip by fishermen boats. From the moment we sail into the gallery forest, we will start seeing large herds of Araguato (howler) and capuchin monkeys, macaws , snail hawks, red macaws, hoatzins, anis, toucans and hopefully we can see the endemic "Chicag√ľire" (Chauna chavaria) one large bird present in very few ecosystems. This magical journey will last until sunset, when we hope to reach our ‚Äúpalafito‚ÄĚ where we will overnight. We set up our camp and begin with dinner preparations: a barbecue on the lake of Maracaibo! After dinner, we'll make a night safari to observe alligators, some nocturnal snake and birds. Return to the camp and await for the appereance of the lightning. (L / D)

  2. Day 2: Wake up at early hours to enjoy the sunrise and sail through the mangrove channels of the former settlement of "La Bollera" observe more wildlife and with luck we might see dolphins and even a manatee or an American crocodile (rare but possible). Return to breakfast and continuation of our journey all the way to the ‚Äúon the water‚ÄĚ Village of Congo Mirador. It will be a two hours ride to cross the southern region of the Maracaibo Lake. Upon arrival to the village we‚Äôll settle our camp in a Palafito and we will have then the rest of the day to explore this fascinating village on stilts and it's neighbour Olog√°, both know for being probably the best spots for the lightning observation. At night we will again await for the apperance of the Catatumbo lightning this time from a closer angle. (B/L/D)

  3. Day 3: Early morning breakfast and start to head back to Puerto Concha, covering the first day's channels for wildlife watching. We will take our vehicles and start our journey back, but this time trough the road that goes to La Azulita, a village at 1600 meters of altitude to which we ascend by a picturesque mountain road. Lunch at La Azulita and then we go into the cloudy rainforest to over 2000 m.a.s.l, we will make stops to enjoy this majestic lanscape and for birdwatching and wildlife observation when possible. We'll be back in Merida at the end of the afternoon, return to the city of Merida. (B / L)

     CATATUMBO GEAR LIST:

You can copy and paste this list into a text file and use it as a "checklist" before the trip
  • [ ] Passport or original identity¬†
  • [ ] Swimsuit¬†
  • [ ] Sun protection (cream, sunglasses and hat)¬†
  • [ ] Raincoat¬†
  • [ ] Flashlight¬†
  • [ ] Closed shoes and sandals preferably hiking¬†
  • [ ] Towel¬†
  • [ ] Short and long trousers¬†
  • [ ] Light clothes - pricipalmente will heat during the day¬†
  • [ ] Long sleeves for the night (the temperature drops a little)¬†
  • [ ] Insect repellent.¬†
  • [ ] Ensure sufficient charged batteries and storage for your photographic gear

 THE CATATUMBO TOURS INCLUDE:

  • Transportation in 4x4 vehicles¬†
  • Bilingual guide specialized in the region¬†
  • Accommodation at¬†house on¬†stilts in hammocks with mosquito net
  • All meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the day of return. ¬†
  • All activities described in the program

 THE CATATUMBO TOURS DON'T INCLUDE:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips
  • Any form of transport or activities not mentioned in the program

REMARKS & NOTES:

This itinerary may change depending on weather conditions at the time and the influx of visitors. The best time to visit this region is from April to November.

 POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS:

The Catatumbo excursion can be combined with a visit to Los Nevados (+ 2-3 days), Los Llanos (+ 4 days) and around the city of Merida. Ask us about these possible combinations and we'll gladly help you to enrich your visit to this beautiful region of Venezuela.

 GEOGRAPHIC SITUATION: