The Walkers: Fleeing Venezuelans travel hundreds of miles by foot

CÚCUTA, Colombia – A steady stream of migrants cross the Simon Bolivar International Bridge - the main gateway between Colombia and Venezuela - every day. Some cross temporarily, for a day or two, depending on Colombia's medical facilities, schools and businesses to survive as their country continues to spiral into an economic, political and health crisis. Others - families carrying babies and toddlers, young men and women, the elderly - heft suitcases packed with clothes, blankets, anything they can carry on their backs - and walk, unsure of when they will see their homes again.

For those who cross in search of new opportunities, the bridge is just the beginning of what will likely be a gruelling journey. Many do not have the means to make the exodus by bus because their currency, the Venezuelan bolivars, has been turned into little more than colourful scraps of paper due to rampant hyperinflation.

Instead, they walk, beginning their journey in the sweltering border desert near Cucuta, Colombia, with the sun beating on their backs and climb towering mountain ranges defined by cold temperatures, pouring rains and winding roads. Some head to nearby towns in search for work, others travel to Colombia's large cities like Bogota (walking 563km or 350 miles) and Medellin (595km or 370 miles), many more flee across the region to countries like Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Almost all are unsure of what waits ahead.

Al Jazeera followed the route many Venezuelans take as they begin their journeys in search of better lives than the ones they have left behind.

Megan Janetsky/Al Jazeera

Dainer Garcia, his 7-month-pregnant wife and 4-, 3- and 1-year-old children left Araugua, Venezuela without a cent and are walking to Ecuador, carrying the kids along the way.

"In Venezuela there isn't anything, there's not enough medicine for her to giv   ···  
Marielis Rojas, a 31-year-old migrant, carries her 2-month-old baby with sock-mittens and packages of food and juice delivered to them just moments before by a passing by car while she and her family were asking to hitchhike. She cried when they handed it   ···  
Joel Pino, a 23-year-old migrant from Valencia, Venezuela, lived eight months in Cucutá, Colombia, working as a "trochero," carrying migrants' bags through illegal pathways running between the two countries. When President Nicolas Maduro closed the border   ···  
Maribel Saez, a 36-year-old migrant from Trujillo, Venezuela, held her two-year-old son on the side of the mountain road where they rested. They had been walking for 11 days and did not know where they will end up. Saez said   ···  
Ramon Antonio Mendoza, 78, was born in Colombia, but moved alone to Venezuela 15 years ago when his family died and the economy was still stable. He journeys back to Colombia alone once again, this time wearing a Venezuela baseball jersey, headed to a sma   ···  
Diana Acosta, 32, sits with her 5-year-old son Dalied among a pile of bags that hold their things. She was working in a farm near the border city of Cúcuta where she broke her arm working and her boss stopped paying her. Without options or a way to feed t   ···  
Sisters Jennifer Borges, 19, and Yenireth Borges, 20, from Maracay, Venezuela sat outside a makeshift refuge in Pamplona, Colombia, wearing jackets to prepare for the freezing, rainy nights that the region brings. Yenireth br   ···  
Marielis Gonzales, 42, her 22- and 8-year-old children, 3-year-old and 3-month-old grandchildren from Caracas, Venezuela being their trek on September 12, 2019 to Medellín, Colombia where she said her son waits for them. The family drag their luggage fill   ···  
Luis Perez, 16 from the border zone of Tarchirá, Venezuela fled the country alone after struggling to get an education and watching his family starve. He walks to Bogotá where he wants to send money home t
"To go to school, i   ···  
Yirlibeth Montes, 37, and her 16-year-old son Antonio Montes from Lara, Venezuela walk day-and-night to Quito, Ecuador after leaving everything they owned behind. The planned to travel by bus, but their tickets and possessions were robbed when they were p   ···  
Adriana Hernandez, 27, walked three days with her 2- and 10-year-old children from Portuguesa, Venezuela to the Colombia border, where they crossed through "trocha." She's entering the final month of her pregnancy and is walking to the nearby town of Pamp   ···  
David Arevalo Acosta, 46, is part-Venezuela, part-Cuban. He works as a Cuban doctor stationed in Cali, Colombia, but after encountering a group of walkers on the border – including Darlinnis Toran, 25, and her son José Lopez, 7, (pictured) – after visitin   ···  
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