Venezuela | Black Market Magic

Venezuela’s in big trouble. Inflation may hit 160% this year, oil prices have tanked, and the money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Food shortages continue, and the toilet paper situation is bad.


Even kidnapping has taken a beating. According to a recent New York Times article, when a man was carjacked recently, the kidnappers didn’t take him to an ATM to clean out his bank account. They wanted the US dollars in his mattress.

Pack your bags, people; it’s time to head to Venezuela!

Adventure travellers take note: if you want to stay up all night watching a lightning storm, paraglide over the Andes, or hike to the tallest waterfall on the planet, all you have to do is stuff a single croaker in your pocket and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.

Because of Venezuela’s rotten economy, tourists willing to make discrete black market exchanges with locals eager for stable foreign currency can clean up in Venezuelan Bolivar. Current black market rates hover around 700 BsF for 1 USD. The highest note printed in Venezuela is 100 BsF. Bring a backpack.

80 USD in BsF

How can this be? From the New York Times:

A movie ticket costs about 380 bolivars. Calculated at the government rate, that is $60. At the black-market rate, it is just 54 cents. Want a large popcorn and soda with that? Depending on how you calculate it, that is either $1.15 or $128.

Why am I teaching economics when I should be writing about giant anteaters and Orinoco crocodiles? Getting there.

Prices are set according to the official rate. The black market exchange rate is over 110 times the official rate. What does this mean? Sacks of money to spend, y’all.

Disclaimer: this country isn’t for wimps.

There’s the kidnapping thing, and the Colombian border thing, and Caracas has been sitting pretty in the Top Ten Most Dangerous Cities for a coon’s age.

But if a little back alley black market cash exchange doesn’t scare you, (actually, usually a hotel employee, a cab driver or your Couchsurfing Mom) this might be the epic time and place. The trip you’ll spend the rest of your life boring the crap out of the rest of us.

Read up on Venezuela and how to avoid getting kidnapped. Get some adventure travel insurance. With all the fun things you can now afford to do in Venezuela, que fuerte, you’re gonna need it.