The town of Caripe is located in the Monagas state, in the northeast of Venezuela. The town and the surrounding area are popular tourist destinations, especially among local visitors. Therefore, Caripe remains pretty much an undiscovered destination for foreign tourists. Despite being close to the Caribbean, Caripe enjoys a pleasant weather all-year-round, with very little humidity and temperatures that range between 18 and 25° C. This is mostly due to the fact that the town sits right at the heart of the Caripe Valley, which is 3,000 feet high. In fact, many tourists are drawn to Caripe because of its alpine landscape. Caripe has a a permanent population of nearly 35,000 people, who live mostly in the communities of Caripe town, Teresen, La Guanota, El Guacharo, San Agustin, and Sabana de Piedra. The area is particularly busy with tourists during Easter and over the Christmas and New Year period.
Caripe and Region
For several decades, Caripe and the surrounding region have been known as “El Jardin de Oriente” (Spanish for “the eastern garden”), in reference to the area’s long standing agricultural tradition. The warm climate of the region and the altitude of the Caripe Valley facilitate the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, which along with tourism, are Caripe’s main source of income. The area’s most important crops are potatoes, lettuce, apples, oranges, lemons, apricots, bananas, avocados, raspberries, and blackberries. Coffee is also grown in large quantities in Caripe. There are also several flower nurseries in the area, and the local roses, orchids, and violets are exported to other parts of the country. Although Caripe was founded towards the end of 18th century, it was not until the early 20th century that agriculture became an important economic sector in the area. It was also during this time that many Italian families immigrated to Caripe, bringing with them their agricultural knowledge and creating the first wineries in the region.
The cave known as Cueva del Guacharo is Caripe’s most famous tourist attraction. The guacharo is a local oilbird which, like a bat, inhabit caves and is a nocturnal creature. At over 6 miles long, this cave is the largest in Venezuela and the second largest in the whole of South America. The cave was discovered by German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in 1799, and was turned into a national monument in 1949. Inside the cave, visitors can admire stalagmites that are 59 feet tall. There are other caves worth visiting in the Caripe area, including Cueva Clara and Cueva Sucia.
Guacharo National Park
Another important tourist attraction is Guacharo National Park, which extends across three states and is offers a number of hikes that take visitors through tropical forests, waterfalls, valleys, and mountain ranges. The park is best visited during the dry season (between December and April). Visiting hours are between 8am and 4pm.
A few miles east of Caripe town is the village of Los Pilones, which is known for its outstanding handicrafts. Caripe itself is home to several artisans, painters, sculptors, and wood carvers, which often combine traditional and modern techniques to create unique pieces that make great souvenirs. Not too far from Los Pilones, visitors will find the entrance to the waterfalls of La Paila and Chorreron, which at 196 and 295 feet tall each, are impressive natural landmarks.
The nearby communities of Santa Ines and Teresen are also worth a visit, as they were important Capuchin missions during the 18th century and have put much effort into preserving their architectural heritage. In Teresen, visitors are also recommended to stop by the art gallery that belongs to renowned Venezuelan painter Jose Luis Pietrini.