Golfo de Cariaco, Venezuela
The Golfo de Cariaco, about 40 miles south of Margarita is a great stop before getting to the mainland.  A large
gulf  tucked behind the Araya peninsula, it is a cruising ground with many unique delights; red rock hills and
cactus-laden islets, fantastic snorkeling plus the civilized joys of Medregal Village, a posada (hotel) with pool and
restaurant.

We buddy-boated down the way from Margarita with Sid/Manuela on s/v
'Paradise', a great couple and lots of
fun - not to mention the fact that Manuela is from Switzerland and a fabulous cook and hostess.  Sid is very
laid-back and is a pretty savvy & security-minded guy.
Looking westwards towards the mainland
Scarlet Ibis fly home for the night
Anchorage in Laguna Grande
Paradise having a spinnaker run
As we cruised the first 15 miles into the gulf, we were surrounded by pods of dolphin, surfing in our bow wave
and chasing each other around like crazy.  Finally we turned up into Laguna Grande, a large lagoon off the gulf
that offers great hiking and quiet, calm anchoring.  Most of these bays have fish camps set-up in one corner or
another, but the fishermen are very friendly and always wave hello.
The views from up on top of the ridgeline were incredible - we could see all the way back to Margarita and
down to the mainland, plus all the nooks and crannies within Laguna Grande itself.

We made several hikes, each in the early morning to avoid the mid-day sun and thoroughly enjoyed stretching
our legs.  One afternoon we had a big gulley-washer and all the runoff from the surrounding hills turned the
water around the boat red from all the erosion.
Dolphins making their appearance
Ibis roosting in the mangroves during the day
Paradise having a spinnaker run
Dolphins! Lots of dolphins
Anchorage in Laguna Grande
Laguna Grande is a wonderful, quiet lagoon off the main body of the Golfo de Cariaco.  The hiking and diverse
hillsides are stunning.  We saw some magnificiant sunrises, sunsets and golden hour couldn't be believed!  
Below is the view from either direction from the top of the ridgeline.
Looking back west towards the mainland
Looking out east at the anchorage
Dreamtime during
Dreamtime during the "Golden Hour"
Putting my rock on the cairn
One must add one's rock to the cairn at the top
After several days there we moved on to the area at the far end of the Golfo, it's headwaters, the river Cariaco,
the home of a large flock of scarlet ibis.  This was great bird watching - along with the ibis which 'commute'
back and forth each morning and evening, there were 50-75 pelicans fishing the waters all day everyday.  We
eventually stopped being startled by the big SPLASH they made all around us.

We took the dinghy up into the mangroves to get a peek at the ibis which roost low in the mangroves during
the day.  Great stuff.  We also explored a defunct shrimp farm made up of miles of overgrown ponds, each
about the size of a football field, with interconnecting drainage channels and floodgate assemblies.  Pretty
interesting.  I gathered that an earthquake some years back put an end to things, along with a pollution runoff
issue causing some animosity between the plant and the fishermen.
Views of the Rio Cariaco headwaters, quite muddy after a heavy rain.
Great Blue Heron and Scarlet Ibis in flight... fantastic birding
Manuela made these terrific "vases" with the ibis feathers found floating