South into the Jungle

Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Venezuela  ,
Friday, January 25, 2008

The hour and a half flight to Canaima was beautiful.  We flew in our little rust bucket over green pastures, swamp lagoons to thick jungle which inevitably consumed everything below us, except for the odd river which brightly and crisp in the suns reflection.

Us 4 finally arrived in the dusty airstrip in Canaima, just clearing the trees before landing.  At the airstrip there was a little tin shed with the local Indians sielling their crafts.  We met one Indian, which was to be our guide for the next few days, as you cant get to Angel Falls without one because its so remote.  Matty, Henry, Glenn and I hopped on the back of a truck and got driven a few minutes to the village centre.  The village was very small, and you could circle it on foot within 15 minutes.  The roads were all dirt and buildings made with a mixture of mudbrick, concrete and wood accompanied mostly with leafs and straw for roofs, only a few lucky ones had tiles.  We were soon to hop on a dingie to ride up river for a few hours to our camp for the night, but had a few hours to spare before we left.  Ingrid was introduced to the group - a 32 year old girl from Boston thats on a 5 month travel stint.  We all headed down the dirt road to a lagoon, which was pocketed with lovely white sand, forming several beaches.  The water was stained a deep red from from vegetable roots further up stream.  In the distance was a huge set of waterfalls powering down into the lagoon.  Us 5 boys decided we will get close to it!  So we headed off towards the rocks to climb.  It was so humid here and the cloudless sky made it no easier, as the sun beated down on our exposed skin.  There was a small hydro plant that powered some of the town with electricity, some of the time.  We climbed along the thick tree edge on exposed rock faces for a few minutes to reach the base of the waterfall.  It was quite big and very loud, but have a feeling it will be a baby compared to others we will see in a few days.

We were soon in the 4WD again on our way to the dug out canoe we will be travelling to Salto Angel in.  Before we hopped in, the guide explained to us all about the entire park that we were in.  Its a couple of hundred square kilometres, and in our canoe we were to travel upstream 80km, taking approximately four and a half hours.  We ate lunch that consisted of 2 hamon and queso sandwiches, a few cookies and strangley a peice of bubblegum?  Before we knew it, we were all off downstream in our canoe made from a hollow tree, with a small outboard motor attached to one end.  As we progressed up the river we encounted several rapid sections, which the driver skillfully navigated through.  To protect our stuff from the constant soaking we recieved a plastic bag to wwrap our camera in.  The further we went the narrower the river got and we saw how impenatrable the jungle reall is.  An hour into our trip upstream, we were soon blessed with the incredible view of the famous tabletop mountains that flanked every direction we looked - we were surrounded by them!  The mountains went from thick jungle, too bare rock face extending straight up about 800 to 1200 metres.  The mountains were so high that they forced clouds to form over every single one, so they always had constant rain on top.  As a result most of them had thin waterfalls trickling down a couple of hundred metres.  A couple of these mountains were such giants with such huge surface area´s on top, that they produced their own micro environment, where species of plants grow on top that aren't found anywhere else in the world!  Very interesting...  The sign was simply breathtaking, and the thick density of the jungle surrounded and blanketing everything else just added to the mesmorising effect.

One of the best parts of the trip up the river though was the constant navigation through the rapids, which soaked everyone of us as we pushed through slaming the canoe against the rocks.  We had just started dry season, so it wouldnt be too long before the water level was too low to travel up and reaching Angel Falls would be out of the question.

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