Coro and around

The relaxed colonial city of Coro, with its sand-dune surroundings, sits at the foot of the arid, windswept Paranaguá Peninsula. Inland from Coro, the Sierra de San Luis is good walking country in fresher surroundings.

Coro, the capital of the Falcón state and former capital of the country, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1527, it became an important religious centre for Christians and Jews alike. The city, 177 km from Tucacas, is relatively clean and well kept and its small colonial part has several shaded plazas and beautiful buildings, many of which date from the 18th century. Recently, efforts have been made to preserve and restore its colonial heritage. In the rainy season the centre may flood. The
tourist office
is on Paseo Alameda, see also
www.coroweb.com
(in English, French and Spanish).

The
Cathedral
, a national monument, was begun in 1583.
San Clemente
church has a wooden cross in the plaza in front, which is said to mark the site of the first mass said in Venezuela; it is believed to be the country's oldest such monument. There are several interesting colonial houses, such as
Los Arcaya
, one of the best examples of
18th-century architecture, with the
Museo de Cerámica
, small but interesting, with a beautiful
garden.
Los Senior
, where Bolívar stayed in 1827, has the oldest synagogue in Venezuela (1853), if not South America. It houses a branch of the
Museo de Arte Alberto Henríquez
of the Universidad Francisco de Miranda (UNEFM). Another branch of the museum is
on
Paseo Talavera entre Bolívar y
Comercio. Also on Paseo Talavera is the
Museo de Arte de Coro
, www.fmn.gob.ve/fmn_coro.htm, exhibiting some interesting
modern artwork. Built 1764-1765,
Las Ventanas de Hierro
, is now the
Museo de Tradición Familiar
. Just beyond is the
Casa del Tesoro
, an art gallery showing local artists' work. The
Jewish cemetery
, is the oldest on the continent. It was founded by Jews who arrived from Curaçao in the early 19th century.

The
Museo de Coro
'
Lucas Guillermo Castillo'
, is in an old monastery, and has a good collection of church relics, recommended.

Coro is surrounded by sand dunes,
Los Médanos de Coro
, www.losmedanos.com, which form an impressive
national park
 is just outside town on the main road to Punto Fijo. The place is guarded by police and is generally safe, but stay close to the entrance and on no account wander off across the dunes. Kiosk at entrance sells drinks and snacks; open till 2400.

The historic part of the town's port,
La Vela de Coro
, is included in the UNESCO Heritage Site, with some impressive colonial buildings, lovely sea front, wooden traditional fishing boats and historic church. It has an unmistakable Caribbean feel, but it is in urgent need of facelift. On the road to La Vela, near the turning, is the interesting
Jardín Botánico Xerofito Dr León Croizat
. It is backed by UNESCO and has plants from Africa, Australia, etc. Tours in Spanish.

Paraguaná Peninsula


Punto Fijo and around

This area is a must for windsurfers and is a great place for walking and flamingo spotting. The western side of the peninsula is industrialized, with oil refineries at Cardón and Amuay connected by pipeline to the Lago de Maracaibo oilfields. The main town is
Punto Fijo
, a busy, unappealing place, whose duty-free zone attracts shoppers with cheap electrical goods and alcohol. 5 km away is the residential area of
Judibana
, a much nicer place to stay, with shopping centre, cinema and restaurants.

Adícora

A quiet if run-down little resort on the east side of the peninsula. The beaches are very windswept and not great but they are popular with wind- and kitesurfers. There are three windsurfing schools in town. Adícora is also a good base for exploring the beautiful, barren and wild peninsula where goats and wild donkeys roam.

Cerro Santa Ana
(830 m) is the only hill on the peninsula and commands spectacular views.

Laguna Boca de Caño
(also called Laguna Tiraya) is a nature reserve north of Adícora, inland from Supi, along a dirt track that is usually fit for all vehicles. There is abundant bird life, particularly flamingos. It is the only mangrove zone on the east of the peninsula.

Sierra de San Luis

South of Coro, on the road to Barquisimeto, the Sierra includes the
Parque Nacional Juan C Falcón
, with tropical forest, caves and waterfalls. Visit it from the picturesque village of
Curimagua
. The lovely colonial town of
Cabure
is the capital of the Sierra. As well as hotels, Cabure has restaurants, bars, a bakery, supermarket and pharmacy. A few kilometres up the road is a series of beautiful waterfalls, called the Cataratas de Hueque.
The Spanish Road
is a fantastic three-hour walk through orange groves and tropical forest from Curimagua to Cabure. You will see many butterflies along the way. The path is not well marked, so it is best to hire a guide. Take water. It's very muddy in rains; take insect repellent and good shoes and be prepared to get wet. Ask at any of the hotels listed below. To walk the Spanish Road from Coro in one day, take transport to Cabure, ask to be dropped at the turn-off for the
Posada El Duende
and walk uphill 1 km to the Posada, where you begin the trek. The path eventually comes out to the Curimagua-Coro paved road, where you can take transport back to Coro.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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