The Sierra Nevada de Mérida is the only Venezuelan range with permanent layers of snow on the higher peaks, including Venezuela’s highest, Pico Bolívar at 5,007 m (16,427 ft). This area features excellent hiking, mountain climbing and mountain biking among other activities and is also home to several delightful rural villages. The drive from Mérida to Apartaderos within the paramo, the barren zone above the tree line, is well worth a day trip with fantastic lookout points, local restaurants and crafts shops along the way.
Mérida (population 238,000) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Venezuela. Set in the Venezuelan Andes with some great opportunities for mountain climbing, biking, horseback riding, parasailing, trout fishing and bird- and butterfly-watching. Set at an elevation 1.680 m (5,500 ft), Mérida has some beautiful colonial and modern architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t miss a chance to take the teleférico, the longest cable car in the world from Mérida to Pico Espejo in four different stages and ending near Pico Bolívar. You can get off and hike or ride mules at any of the four stops on the way. Bring warm clothes: drastic temperature drops are normal.