Attractions Nearby Merida, Day Trips and Excursions
(Merida, The Andes, Venezuela)
The focus of most day trips and excursions from Merida has to be the unbelievable and unbeatable natural attractions surrounding this Andean city. Even the quaint villages and small towns perched on the mountain slopes, in the valleys and around the Carretera Transandina can't compete with the splendour of this great mountain range and its own version of nature's wild places.
Merida is packed with tour operators all keen to transport you to the nearby mountain attractions of the Pico Bolivar and the Pico Humboldt. Treks into the mountain village of Los Nevados are particularly enjoyable. By organised tour, self-drive, foot or horseback, the Venezuelan Andes make for some of the most breathtaking explorations on the planet. Day trips to either the Sierra La Culata National Park
or the Sierra Nevada National Park
come highly recommended.
Address: Near Santo Domingo, Merida, Venezuela, VE
Near the mountain road to Santo Domingo lies the beautiful lake of Mucubaji, surrounded by mountains and wild moorlands full of flowers. This is a dream of a hiking or climbing destination on a clear day, but is often hidden in clouds and mist. If hiking doesn't attract, horses can be hired and ridden around Laguna Mucubaji, or you can simply enjoy a spot of fishing.
Mucuchies is located approximately 30 km / 18 miles to the north-east of Merida and was founded in 1596. This pretty town is set in a long narrow valley and is most famous for its local breed of dog. These canines are descended from the huge Pyrenean breed brought here by the Spanish as sheep dogs. Self control is necessary when visiting Mucuchies, before 'souvenir' takes on a whole new, unbelievably cute and furry meaning. A short distance from town is the well-known and charming little Stone Chapel. Created by Merida's prize-winning artist Felix Sanchez, this little house of worship is built entirely of rough stones. It features in many tours and is a quaint reminder of the strength of religion in the country.
The Trans-Andean Highway runs past Merida and on to Valera, rising to over 4,000 metres / 13,125 feet above sea level and passing through diverse eco-systems from valley floor to tundra and mountain pass. Either by tour or self-drive, the highway is a don't-miss experience, with the road winding past traditional Andean villages and glacial lakes carved out during the great ice age. The immensity of the Andean range is all around.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free, charge for tour
This is coffee country and Jaji is a typical coffee village set roughly 22 km / 14 miles to the west of Merida, on the PanAmerican Highway. Visitors can tour a well preserved colonial plantation, while the village also comes with an interesting bird museum. Where there's coffee, there's sugar, and down from the hills in the Chaca River canyon are old sugar mills, some of which are still in use.
Los Nevados is the quintessential Andean village, a few hours' drive into the high Andes from Merida, and connected to the city by morning jeep trips. Set within the Sierra Nevada National Park, this remote village gives a great escape from the city. It is possible to stay overnight at a traditional inn (posada), and views from all over the village are glorious.
Aguas Termales del Musui
Address: Musui, Venezuela, VE
On the mountainside near the little town of Musui are hot springs where you can soak after sunset and gaze at the stars. Aguas Termales del Musui is a hike in need of an experienced guide or previous visitor. If you enjoy camping you will be pleased to learn that there are some decent campsites nearby. The bus from Merida gets you to the starting point.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge for guide
Montana de los Suenos
Address: Chiguará, Merida, Venezuela
Tel: +58 0274 262 1557
If you are nostalgic for the movies of the sixties and earlier, then this theme park attraction may well be for you. Expect lots of juke boxes, classic cars, old movies, music and memorabilia from the 1930s to the 1960s. This trip down memory lane is one for later in the day, since Montana de los Suenos usually opens in the afternoon and remains open until late.
Open hours: June to November, daily - 16:00 to 22:30; December to May, daily - 16:00 to midnight
Admission: charge, discount available for children under 12 years old
At around 115 km / 71 miles to the north-east of Merida, Trujillo can be reached in just an hour and a half. Many tourists choose to come here so that they can browse the bustling markets looking for holiday souvenirs whilst admiring the surrounding mountainous scenery. Much of Trujillo's overall appeal is to be found within its historic quarter, where the Plaza Bolivar forms the very heart of the town. Fronting the plaza, the cathedral dates back to the 17th century and has imposing white-washed architecture. Close by, the Casa de la Guerra a Muerte features pre-Columbian artefacts and period furnishings. Another attraction is the Monumento a la Virgen de la Paz, which at just under 50 metres / 164 feet high, is believed to be the tallest statue of the Virgin Mary anywhere in the world.
A really lush part of Venezuela
, Bocono lies 100 km / 62 miles to the north-east and is a quiet town, located alongside the Bocono River. This medium-sized town is encircled by a series of verdant hillsides and offers a refreshing mountain climate. Bocono has become a leading handicrafts centre, selling quality weaved textiles, baskets and pottery. Weaving demonstrations can be observed at the Ateneo de Bocono, and for those interested in the historic process of sugar production, the sugarcane mill at the Museo Trapiche de los Clavo will suit.
The charming colonial town of Niquitao is to be found some 78 km / 48 miles to the north-east of Merida and makes for a useful base for day trips into the surrounding mountains, such as the towering mountain named La Teta de Niquitao. Founded around four centuries ago, Niquitao is steeped in history, with its principal colonial attractions being centred around the Plaza Bolivar square. Those taking an excursion here are strongly advised to sample the local wines, especially the speciality strawberry and blackberry wines.
Address: Trans-Andean Highway, Via El Paramo, Venezuela, VE
Close to Merida, roughly 25 km / 16 miles to the north-east and reached via the Trans-Andean Highway, Los Aleros is a popular theme park depicting a traditional town in the Andes, showing how it would have appeared in the 1930s. Established in the middle of the 1980s, this attraction is particularly suitable for families and comes with Goblin Mystery Movies, a fun ride named the 'Burial Search', demonstrations of spinning and weaving with wool, a historic telegraph office, and the chance to learn how newspapers were once printed many decades ago. There is also a collection of antique musical instruments, gramophones, an old chapel, a cave and a cafe with valley views.
Open hours: daily, May to October - 09:00 to 16:00; November to April - 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: charge, discounts available for children