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Venezuela, a country in the top ten of the most dangerous in the world, with not much information about solo travels to it, let’s change that! Backpacking in Venezuela, learn how to enter the country in this article!

Chorro del Indio

I traveled to Venezuela in September 2022 and crossed over from Colombia. 

When you want to cross Venezuela by landway, it is most likely that you will do the same. Starting in the city of Cucuta in Colombia, which is located right at the border to Venezuela.

The temperature is hot and having a stressful crossing is not helpful. With my German passport it might be a little bit different, then with other passports, but the process should be the same. 

When you need to apply for a visa, then that will be the only step, which will be different. 

Exit Colombia

Every local told me the same “Stay safe and don’t talk to the people, it is really dangerous!”, with anxiety it started to feel not safe, because it is a packed border. Everyone is busy, some with getting money and some with crossing the border. Police are everywhere and the bridge in between the border, which is a river. 

  1. Go to the migration, it is located next to the exit of the bridge. When looking at Venezuela, it is at the left side of the bridge. You need to get stamped out, before going to the bridge!
  2. Wait in a line and get stamped out.
  3. Also have your entry document from Colombia ready.
  4. Go to the right side of the bridge and cross.
  5. Get through the border patrol from Colombia!

Step four was by far the hardest!

I was clearly a tourist, the Colombian officials took me out of the line and checked me. With my not that fluent spanish, they wanted to stop me by going to Venezuela. Even though I had the exit stamp from Colombia, it didn’t make a difference. Usually officials don’t care about you, when you have already crossed. 

After ten minutes of talking, finally over the border!

Entry Venezuela

Usually this is the final step, but sadly no.

  1. After crossing the bridge, go to the left and wait in line for the migration.
  2. Showing the officials the passport and answering questions.
  3. If you have a hotel booking, or a letter of invitation, that will help!
  4. You get the stamp!

All information, with filling out a form online, doesn’t matter at the border. Also the vaccine is not getting checked. So it is easier to cross the landway.

So far so easy, but you will not stay at the border. Probably the first stop will be San Cristobal. 

San Cristobal – first view

Ways to get to San Cristobal

  1. Bus.
  2. Shared Taxi. 
  3. Taxi for your own.

The first two are the cheapest, by far, but from experiences of former travelers, these options could ruin the entry to the city. Of course with a taxi for yourself it is possible. 

With things that could ruin the entry, corrupt officials are meant!

 How was my experience

By Couchsurfing, I was lucky that my host was picking me up with a driver. My Spanish is not good enough for getting away with corrupt officers. We were driving and were controlled right away. They wanted me to get out of the car, to talk with them a little bit, and of course to receive a payment. My host went with me out of the car to solve the issue.

The officer was clearly unhappy and annoyed. 

After the first officer, we had to go to the next, who was five meters away and controlled everything again. I was nervous, because I didn’t have any bribe money with me. By staying calm and friendly they let us go, the ride continued. 

It was important that I don’t speak, when coming to the controls, to not become a target. After seeing San Cristobal, it looked like being through, but then another control. This time the driver and my host didn’t let me out of the car and dealt with everything with the officer. After being done with it, he came to me and checked all of my backpack, to find something of value. It felt weird, when he even wanted to see my phone and everything. 

My things with value, I left with my friends in Bogota, to have nothing of value on me. This worked actually, so he saw that I had nothing, so it fit to the story, that I just wanted to visit my friend. The talking and all the controls took a while. For a ride which would have been just 1,5 hours, it took an hour longer. 

I paid around $22 for the ride, plus all the help including. It helped having someone with me, to deal with the officials. When taking a bus, there would be the driver probably not willing to help you getting out of there. The price I paid was way higher than all of the other options, but this way I personally felt safer, after what everyone told me before.

Tips for the controls

  1. Don’t talk more than you need to.
  2. Have worse case small money bills with you, for example 10.000 in Colombian Pesos, or $5, or even many $1 notes, just don’t know how effective the $1 notes will be. 
  3. Stay always calm and friendly 
  4. Play with the game and not go against them, they are in power and can not let you through. 

The way out of Venezuela is way easier, only the car will be checked and your passport sometimes, just for them to see that you are not illegal in the country.

Over the river a lot of people from both sides are going illegally over the border. While walking over the bridge, I saw over ten people in total doing it.

The border crossing experience was easier than expected, important to know, that you can’t order a shared ride, from the border back into Colombia. 

Shared Taxis to the bus terminal in Cucuta will cost 4000 Pesos and a single Taxi 10000, it is easier getting the shared Taxi price, because they will try to rip you off.

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Written by

Nico Koch

I am Nico Koch from Hamburg in Germany and happy that you are interested in seeing the world through my eyes and want to join me on my journey.