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Venezuela seduce no sólo por sus majestuosas playas, montañas, médanos, ríos, saltos de aguas y selvas, sino también por la calidez de su gente y su deliciosa gastronomía a base de productos locales como verduras, hortalizas y semillas que enamoran el paladar de cualquier comensal. El cacao, preciada semilla venezolana reconocida a nivel nacional e internacional por su sabor, aroma y finura, es uno de esos rubros alimenticios que hoy no sólo engalanan mesas de dulces sino también protagonizan hermosas plantaciones naturales a lo largo y ancho de la región de Sur del Lago en Venezuela, un destino potencialmente turístico que debes conocer.

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Precisamente en esta franja geográfica conformada por los estados Zulia, Táchira, Trujillo y Mérida, nació el cacao criollo, un tipo de cacao aromático y dulce empleado en la elaboración del chocolate, apetecido por maestros, chefs y chocolatiers de todo el mundo. De acuerdo a historiadores como Luís Alberto Ramírez o a expertos como la ingeniera agrónoma de Corpozulia, Iraima Chacón, Sur del Lago es el lugar que vio nacer esta semilla celosamente guardada por los indígenas de la zona en la Cordillera andina venezolana. Dicha región lleva este nombre por su ubicación al sur del Lago de Maracaibo en el estado Zulia.

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Además de plantaciones de cacao, la diversidad natural presente en esta región venezolana, hacen que cualquier visitante se quede maravillado con sus montañas, cascadas, riachuelos, senderos, cultivos agrícolas y demás rincones casi inexplorados. Todo este espectáculo pintoresco convierte a esta franja geográfica, en una parada turística por excelencia para el disfrute de aquellos que gozan de la paz y la tranquilidad que emana de la naturaleza.

Recorrer las fincas que albergan cacao criollo, forastero o trinitario y conocer el Banco de Germoplasma de cacao porcelana en Zulia, forman parte de esas actividades que puedes desarrollar en Sur del Lago. De igual manera, existen kioscos artesanales donde puedes adquirir deliciosas tabletas, bombones, licores, chocolate caliente, galletas e incluso jabones derivados de la semilla.

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Otras de las actividades que puedes disfrutar es la visita a los maravillosos pueblitos de Las Virtudes, San Cristóbal de Torondoy, Escuque o La Azulita,  paradas cargadas de mucha calidez humana y un ambiente familiar, que aún siguen preservando sus costumbres y tradiciones de antaño. En ellos podrás encontrar capillas, museos, casas coloniales y rincones especiales que cuentan una historia y te dejan un aprendizaje.

Y si de aventurarse se trata, Sur del Lago otorga la oportunidad de practicar vuelo en parapente en la Azulita, paseo a caballo, recorridos en bicicletas, turismo de observación de aves, fotografías y demás actividades, que despertarán el interés de sus visitantes.

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Sumada a esta entretenida agenda sugerida desde Clase Turista Venezuela, se podría añadir que Mérida, por ejemplo, cuenta con el Pico Bolívar, serranías y demás paisajes, mientras que Trujillo con tradiciones religiosas que giran en torno a José Gregorio Hernández y a la Virgen de la Paz. Táchira, destaca con su deliciosa gastronomía y sus pueblitos coloridos, y el estado Zulia con la devoción a la Chinita. En pocas palabras, estas regiones enamoran a todos aquellos que las visitan, las viven y las degustan.

Cada camino recorrido en Sur del Lago es una caja de sorpresas, al ser ésta la tierra donde se cultivó y se sigue cultivando el mejor cacao del mundo: la venezolana. Aquí la gente se despierta con el aroma a chocolate caliente, disfrutando de esos hermosos paisajes que quitan el aliento a cualquiera, para luego adentrarse a trabajar la tierra que los premia con frutas, verduras y hortalizas. ¡Viva la experiencia!

Por Joselina Rodríguez

 

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