I travelled to Venezuela in late August of 2008. My itinerary went from Caracas to the oil rich region of Ciudad Guyana and on to Ciudad Bolivar - the starting point of my 4-day tour to Canaima National Park and the Angel Falls. South of this area to the Brazilian border are numerous gold and diamond mining sites. On our boat trip we passed several abandoned areas and at the local Indian markets gold and diamond crystals were offered but in small quantities.
Afterwards I spent a week in Cumana and nearby National Park Mochima, another week near Valencia and Chichiriviche with its splendid beaches. Venezuela is fascinating but the most difficult country to travel in South America; in general local people are friendly but not used to tourists.
Duration: 5:12 min or see slides (click on right)
Canaima National Park is spread over 3 million ha in south-eastern Venezuela along the border between Guyana and Brazil. Roughly 65% of the park is covered by table mountain (tepui) formations. The tepuis constitute a unique biogeological entity and are of great geological interest. The sheer cliffs and waterfalls, including the world's highest (1,000 m), form a spectacular landscape.
Gold and diamond mining is one of the major activities in the lands adjacent to the park, and it is well known that the park itself has considerable mineral wealth. Although mining is currently prohibited, there have been sudden illegal 'booms' in, for example, the Kamarata Valley in 1994. The physical presence of mining operations on the park's borders provides a constant reminder to the park's inhabitants of what may be obtained from their lands in the short-term. With government policy now aimed at promoting mining throughout the region, the park will require increased vigilance to safeguard its natural resources over its 3 million hectare extent.
© 2008 J. Wolf Kuehn and Canadian Institute of Gemmology. Users may View/Download images and video for their own private, non-commercial use.