Los Roques advice?
While waiting eagerly for the report on the recent trip to Los Roques, I am seriously considering organizing a DIY trip there for myself and possibly a friend.
I've done a lot of searching and reading, but I thought maybe some of those with some experience in the area could help me with a few specific questions.
I'm looking to do it as economically as possible. Basically, I don't really care about where I stay, as long as I've got a place to sleep and somewhere I can safely store my gear. I will likely get a guide for a few of the days, but hope to DIY on others.
I'd appreciate any input:
- Are prices set in dollars or bolivars? If paying in dollars, do they give you the official or the black market rate? I'm wondering if it is worth buying bolivars at the Caracas airport at the black market rate.
FOOD & ACCOMODATIONS:
- Aside from noise, does posada location matter much? Are most of the places in the same general area? Does anyone know of a map of Gran Roques showing the location of the posadas?
- If going in February or March, would it be better to book in advance, or show up and bargain for a room on the ground? Any experience with how much you can bargain down the prices if you stay for a week or two?
- What's the cheapest you can get an edible lunch/dinner for on the island (assuming you aren't going full-board)?
- Are there any of the cheaper posadas that give you access to cooking facilities?
- Any specific recommendations on inexpensive posadas?
- Is there any night life on the island?
I've read a fair bit about the opportunities for bonefishing on the islands. It seems that one can get shots at decent numbers of big bones using gummy minnows (particularly around the pelicans), but there are lots of boats and anchor ropes that you need to contend with. It also sounds like you can get a water taxi / day trip out to many of the nearby smaller islands. So:
- Are there any decent DIY flats accessible on the nearby islands? How is the fishing there? Are they disrupted by other activities (sail-boarding, kite-surfing, etc), or can you get away from the crowds?
- Is it true that you are required to have a guide to fish many of the more remote islands? If not, what would it cost to have someone drop you off to DIY fish for the day?
- Are there any decent deals on guiding? Most of the prices I've seen are in the $350/day range for two anglers. Can you do better than that? If so, are the cheaper guides any good?
- Is it possible to find a good guide when you get there? Any recommendations on where to find one, or who to talk to?
I appreciate your wisdom. Hopefully, any answers will help out others as well.
I think that'd be tough there. There are a bunch of lodges (hotels) and restaurants, but the fishing on Grand Roque seemed pretty limited to me. There's great fishing at the end of the runway, and there are really big and smart bones by the docks to tease you, but you'd want to get around too. There are plenty of captains to take you to other islands, so you can get around.
As far as the exchange rate, that really varies. It's anywhere from 4 Bolivars to 1 dollar at the airport, up to 6-7 to 1 from the guy that drove us from the airport. He said the airport had the worst exchange.
Flies. Gummy's floating and regular. Lots of them and use 20lb tippet. And gotchas and small deceivers.
As far as night life, it seems like there was a lot on Saturday night, but it was the last day of their busy season. The rest of the week was quiet, but there was still a lot of partying going on at the clubs. It's a nice island and the food at Acuarela was freakin awesome.
I've only been there once, there are others here who have gone a bunch. Their advice will be better.
You seem to have done your research pretty well.
I can't really help on the really cheap side of things but a few friends of mine went there several years ago and just arrived and worked it out from there with no real problems.
There are a couple of bars on the island and a disco were the local kids go.
With regard to DIY you can get a taxi to different islands. Kraski for example has a beach that is probably a couple of miles long. At one end there are tourists at the other end it is deserted. You can however catch bonefish in front of beautiful sparsely clad italian girls.
It seems you were looking in the wrong direction if you actually knew there were bonefish there :lildevl:
Hot half-naked Italian girls + bonefish = fishing heaven
I appreciate the input so far. Any details are appreciated.
I assume that the mainland black market would give a better rate than on the island. You would thus obviously benefit on things priced in Bolivars if you converted before getting there.
The question then goes to paying for things you see advertised in dollars, i.e., hotels, guides, etc. Do they only accept dollars? If you wanted to pay for these things in Bolivars, what exchange rate do they use? The official or black market rate? If they use something close to the bank rate, you're ahead again.
It presents the odd scenario of converting dollars to Bolivars on the black market (at say 1:9), then going to the bank and converting back (at the official rate of 4.3:1). Double your money each cycle. Repeat often enough and you're a millionaire. I'm sure there must be some obstacle to this.
EDIT: After further research, it looks like it is basically impossible to buy dollars with Bolivars at the official rate. I'm guessing that places with prices in dollars probably either require you to pay in dollars, or charge you the black market rate if you want to pay in Bolivars.
A relevant question is: are most prices on Los Roques set in dollars?
Normally the posadas etc. want dollars. In fact most people on LR would rather use dollars than Bolivars.
I have been then over a dozen times now and have only ever changed about $100 or so just for incedentals.
The tax etc. paid at the airports must be in Bolivars but just about everything else could be paid for in dollars.
All of our tips were in US dollars.
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