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The Río Caura is a major affluent of the Orinoco River. A trip up the Río Caura is a voyage to a remote and untouched land. All trips here begin in Ciudad Bolívar, a small colonial-era city on the banks of the Orinoco. From Ciudad Bolívar, it's a 4-hour drive to the tiny village of Las Trincheras, on the banks of the Río Caura. After an overnight in or near Las Trincheras, it's time for a 5-hour boat ride up the Caura. Along the way, if you're lucky, you'll see freshwater dolphins, and perhaps you'll fish for cachamba, a large and tasty river fish. This is an area of dense primary rainforest, and it is rich in tropical flora and fauna. You'll see (and hear) howler monkeys in the trees and catch sight of scarlet macaws flying overhead. The only civilization you'll pass along the way is the small Yekuana indigenous community of Nichere. At the end of the ride, you'll come to El Playón, another small indigenous community on a large, natural, freshwater beach set at the base of two converging and raging rapids. The beach here is incongruous, with soft white sand that seems as if it were imported from the Caribbean. At El Playón, you'll find accommodations in a series of large, circular, open-air ranchos, with hammocks strung around the circle. The accommodations and shared bathrooms are rustic but clean. Meals are simple and filling. From El Playón, it's a 3- to 4-hour hike to an overlook across from the impressive Para Falls. This is a full-day tour, and somewhat strenuous. The only inhabitants of this region are the Yekuana and, to a lesser extent, Pemón indigenous peoples. Both tribes excel in craftworks, and you'll have ample opportunities to buy ceramic wares, woodcarvings, and woven baskets, both in Nichere and El Playón.

Akanan Travel & Adventure (tel. 0212/715-5433 or 0414/116-0107; www.akanan.com) and Cacao Expeditions (tel. 0212/977-1234; www.cacaotravel.com) are the two best operators working the Río Caura.

Most trips here are 6-day/5-night affairs, with an overnight in Ciudad Bolívar to start things off, followed by an early-morning departure for Las Trincheras. The second night is spent either in Las Trincheras or at Yokore Lodge. The next 2 nights are spent at El Playón, and the final night is spent back at Las Trincheras, allowing for an early departure for Ciudad Bolívar or Puerto Ordaz, in time for a connecting flight onward.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.