Venezuela is a very cheap country to travel, especially if you use the black currency market that is widespread. The inflation is high and therefore has lead to a de facto strong devaluation of the Bolivares, the national currency. Since Hugo Chavez decided a fix parity to the US Dollar (1 USD = 2.120 Bolivares), a black market has developed for trading the USD, the Euro or the Brazilian Real. This black market is everywhere, and even the police at the airport offers the tourists to change money, even though they do not propose a good rate (3.000 Bolivares for 1 USD).
On the street, you can get up to 3.900 Bolivares per Dollar. We only got up to 3.700 but we had made the mistake of taking small notes whereas bigger ones, especially 100 USD, are much more in demand and get you a better exchange rate. This system enables you to pay actually almost half of the price for everything. And with a very strong Euro against the USD, the exchange rate turned out to be even better for us!
The only problem is that we had to carry a lot of cash … enough for the three weeks in Venezuela, which meant 2.000 USD. This can be considered as a major risk. But we have neither been confronted with security problems, nor met someone who personally had been confronted with it. But of course we would hear the most horrible stories of someone who met someone who heard about someone who had eventually been mugged or robbed …
During the 3 weeks we spent there, we spent 710 Euro per person, and we did not travelled really on a budget: we flew from Caracas to Ciudad Bolivar to avoid getting into Caracas, we treated ourselves to a few pricier Posadas or Hotels (Posada Angostura in Ciudad Bolivar & Hotel Lucrecia in Santa Elena), we did not particularly pay attention to what we paid for food and drinks and we booked three tours for a total of 13 days: the Orinoco Delta, Canaima & Salto Angel and Roraima, which made up 60% of the total budget.
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