Salto Angel - Angel Falls

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Jun 24, 2010

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Flag of Venezuela  , Guayana Highlands,
Friday, November 27, 2009

Just to clarify, not the largest, not the most water, but the highest waterfall in the world.

Now back to our story, we needed to fly from Bogota to Caracas and then get a connection to Ciudad Bolivar. Then we get a another flight the next day to Canaima, a boat to the base of the falls and then walk to the waterfall. Simple right...of course not.

We only got as far as the check-in desk in Bogota before we hit our first problem. "You have no onward flight!" Will we never learn (probably not), so after so badly spoken english and spanish we get given a phone number and told to phone it at immigration in Caracas when we land. So with a certain amount of dread we head off to Venezuela, not looking forward to another long conversation in Spanglish.

We land in Caracas and Tim throughly confuses the immigration official by trying to explain the whole story in spanish, eventually he understands, tells us not to worry and waves us through. Finally our travels were getting easier, or not. Trying to catch a connection in Venezuela is a little more tricky than you might think. Changing the gate number is one thing, however here they move 6 flights to two gate numbers and you end up with a hall full of irate South Americans all demanding to know where they need to be. Eventually we get on a bus that takes us to our plane and finally to Ciudad Bolivar where blissfully our lift to the posada is waiting and we get to go to bed after 13 hours travel. Tim wasnt well and went straight to bed while I tried to ask a very drunk German owner what the deal was with transport the next day. After an hour of him explaining to me why our next posada, Los Pinos (pine trees) was so named, included in his rant was a tour of his own pine trees as a visual example. With that very useful information planted forever in my mind, it was time to collapse in bed.

The next day it is up early again and back to the airport to get a plane to Canaima, this is the national park where angel falls resides. The plane is a classic prop plane which holds about 16 of us, it is only about 40mins and I guess it must have been quite smooth as I slept from take-off till the plane landed, but Jemma tells me the scenery was pretty. The next leg of our trip is on the river up to our base camp. This means our group of 9 people all get in a small boat made out of a large hollowed tree with a 43hp engine. The other thing that the brochure fails to mention is that during the low season there isn't enough water in the river to drive the boat upstream so every 40mins or so the men (and men only) have to jump out of the boat and push it up whatever rapids it has got stuck on. Still after 4 energetic hours we reach base camp in time for some food and to get ready for bed or hammock as it was.

After swinging the night away in our hammocks we set off for Angel falls, it starts with another boat ride, but fortunately this is only to the other side of the river.  Then a 2.5 hour hike up to the view point for Angel falls.  As almost everyone says, it is a slight disappointment to be staring at the worlds highest waterfall and see only a small stream of water falling from it.  On our way up it was also covered in clouds at the top.  After much picture and video taking we walked on to a small pool where we could go for a swim.  It was pretty amazing to have a cold rock pool to relax in while having water falling from some 500m above you and the view wasn't bad either.  On the way down the clouds had cleared and you could actually see where the waterfall went from flowing water to mist and then back to water as enough of it hit the rocks again.

After the walk down it was boat time again all the way back to base.  This was a little easier now we were going downstream and we only needed to push twice, which Tim much preferred.  Back at base we also got to stay in real beds again which was nice.

The next day was a walking day around Canaima, we walked around the lagoon and took all the tourist shots that we guess everyone gets.  The lagoon is backed by 3 large waterfalls that even in this low season have plenty of water.  We got to walk behind one of them and then stand in the ´shower´ beneath them, it was a fun if a little too ´easy´, like a path had been made to allow tourists to do it.  After the lagoon visit it was time to fly home to Ciudad Bolivar.  Jemma was determined that this time we would get a small plane to fly in, one of the 6 seater ones.  Funnily enough dreams do come true and we got assigned to one of the small planes. 

This was nearly all derailed by a girl who started going crazy and yelling at people, turns out she was afraid of flying.  Fortunately that spat was settled without violence and even better she was moved to another plane, even more more betterer Tim got to be co-pilot of the plane (better depending on your point of view).  This didn't involve any duties, but did mean all the sights got yelled out to him by the pilot who was very animated and wanted us all to know what we were flying over. The views were absolutely stunning, the only down side was that whenever the pilot sneezed or pointed out an indistinguishable sight the plane went careeering left or right. We don't know the spanish for ¨keep your hands on the wheel¨ so we kept quiet. It added to the fun really but definitely not a good idea for those with a fear of flying!

We got to go back to our hostel for about 3 hours and then it was back to the airport again (how many times?) to get a night bus on to Santa Elena and Roraima....

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Jax on

Hi guys..been a while since I read your blog. Glad to know all the stuff you guys are doing. Kam and I hoping to find a cheap place to vacation to for a month in the summer with 4 kids. Those beaches San Gil sound very interesting. Too bad that Captain never got back to me I would have loved you to meet him.

Ciao guys..have tons of fun.

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