La Colonia Tovar: Venezuela's German side
January 1, 1970
by Andrea Arteaga Rodriguez
When talking about the positive aspects of Venezuela, the first images that come to mind are oil, beautiful women (with already seven Miss Universe winners to their credit and counting!), Paradisiacal beaches and a hot climate. The latter is a common feature in most of the county, however, La Colonia Tovar (the Tovar Colony) is one of the exceptions since it has an average climate of about 15º Celsius (approximately 5º less than Caracas and 7º less than Valencia).
However, the climate is not the only thing that characterizes La Colonia Tovar: this place, which was originally a settlement founded by 400 German colons in 1843, has a special architecture and its soils produce crops some of which do not grow in hundreds of kilometers around.
Also, La Colonia Tovar has tourist sites where you can go hiking and in its surroundings, it is possible to go paragliding. In addition, natives follow the German tradition by making their own sausages and beer – in fact, the first Venezuelan beer was made there: Benitz. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Colonia Tovar.
How to get to La Colonia Tovar
There are basically four sites from which it is possible to reach La Colonia Tovar: Caracas, Los Teques, La Victoria and Carayaca. From Caracas, it is reached by the Carretera El Junquito-La Colonia Tovar (El Junquito-La Colonia Tovar road) and that is probably the busiest and least abrupt of all. In the town of El Junquito many people tend to eat fried pork and take horseback rides. There are also many motels in this temperate zone.
Now, if you want to go paragliding the recommendation is that you go to La Colonia Tovar from Los Teques up to Lagunetica-El Jarillo, because right in El Jarillo you can practice this extreme sport and, by the way, once there it’s possible to appreciate an architecture and Gastronomy similar to that of La Colonia Tovar.
Those who come from the center or west of the country can use the Carretera La Victoria-La Colonia Tovar (La Victoria- La Colonia Tovar road), which is quite steep, as is the Carayaca-La Colonia Tovar road, but both offer impressive views and the latter in particular starts from sea level.
What to do and where to go in La Colonia Tovar
The three favorite activities of La Colonia Tovar’s tourists are eating, walking and shopping. They eat German dishes that include sausages of various types and Tovar beer, but also desserts such as strawberries with cream, bread with jellies of all kinds and hot chocolate. This is usually done just when they get out of their cars. After this, they go to visit the following places:
The San Martín de Tours Church
This church of unique beauty has been modified several times, the last of these modifications taking place in 1952. It has a Germanic structure, wooden armor and the traditional colors of the buildings in the area: black and white painting on their structure, and red on their ceilings. Inside the Church, there are beautiful stained glass windows, mostly lit by the candles that are burned by more than 180 people who visit this Church daily.
La Colonia Tovar’s Public Market (El Mercado de La Colonia Tovar)
In the Church’s surroundings, there is La Colonia Tovar’s Public Market. There you can buy delicious and fresh fruits (among which peaches deserve special mention), vegetables, legumes, flowers, jellies and sauces, all at good prices. La Colonia Tovar agricultural products not only supply the Tovar Municipality but also neighboring cities such as Caracas, Maracay, and Valencia.
Cervecería Tovar (Tovar Brewery)
In this brewery, visitors are allowed to witness how Tovar Beer is manufactured from its beginnings when the grain of the barley is milled to the packaging.
Selva Negra Hotel
The Selva Negra Hotel, located next to the San Martín de Tours Church, was the first one to be built in the Colonia Tovar in 1936 and to this day it is still one of those with the greatest lodging capacity, since it has 40 rooms, in addition to a swimming pool, private parking, gardens, convention centers, and a special suite for honeymoons called “La Torre”, which has a terrace, fireplace, gazebo, king size bed and bathtub.. Finally, this hotel’s restaurant is equally renowned for its SomeGerman and international dishes. The restaurant and gardens can be also accessed by people who are not staying at the Hotel.
Places to visit in La Colonia Tovar during a longer stay
Now, those who plan to stay in Colonia Tovar may visit the following places:
Picacho Codazzi (Codazzi Peak)
Picacho Codazzi is 2,425 meters above sea level and is La Colonia Tovar’s highest point. There is located the “Cruz del Picacho” which can be seen from practically any place in the Tovar Municipality and is Venezuela’s highest illuminated cross. You get to Picacho Codazzi in 4×4 trucks or doing a walk that lasts about half an hour and once there you can enjoy an incredible view of La Colonia Tovar and the Caribbean Sea. On the way to the Picacho, there is a stand which fruits that are harvested in that area and then, in the Potrero Perdido sector, you can see ancient petroglyphs.
Cedro Gigante (Giant Cedar)
It is an immense cedar of more than 100 years, which has a perimeter of 22 meters and a height of 50 meters. Since there is no signage to get to Cedro Gigante, it is recommended to hire the services of a local guide to do this tour.
The mountainous municipality of Tovar has a beautiful beach: Puerto Maya. It is only possible to get to this beach from the Colonia Tovar using 4×4 vehicles for it or by sea from Puerto Cruz, a beach in the neighboring state Vargas, in a walk that lasts about 20 minutes. Puerto Maya is conducive to fishing and diving.
La Colonia Tovar festivities
La Colonia Tovar celebrates festivities with a German background, but also others that are equally celebrated in the rest of Venezuela’s provinces, but also with a German touch. The latter is the case of the Carnivals, in which there is a harlequin named Jokili.
Then, in Holy Week nests are made for the Easter Bunny and its eggs. In addition, at this time godfathers give their godchildren the “öschtragalt” or “öschtrapackli”: a package containing money, sweets, and Easter eggs. Mondays of Resurrection and patron saint celebrations are also celebrated.
In addition, there are musical shows in the area such as the Chamber Music Festivals and its own version of the Oktoberfest. Finally, the Venezuelan and German Christmas traditions come together in December, so Christmas carols and parrandas are sung, advent calendars are followed and sweets from both countries are prepared.
Where to stay in La Colonia Tovar
The particularities of Colonia Tovar make it the ideal place for a family and/or friends trip but also for a romantic weekend with your partner. The most recognized hotel in the area is the Selva Negra, but there are also others of excellent quality such as La Casita del Fondue (Fondue’s Little House), Drei Tannen, Edelweiss, Kaiserstuhl, Bergland, Upper Bavaria, Klein Dorf and Frankfurt among others.