The Lost World
Trip Start Sep 05, 2007
26Trip End Jul 04, 2008
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In the bus on the way to Ciudad Bolivar I got to know an extremely nervous Japanese lady, which was also on her way to Angel Falls, so we went to the airport together to check for tours. After a lot of bartering with the two agencies that were open, going from one to the other, time and time again to tell one about the newest price the other had given us, and whether they'd give us a better price. Doing that a few times, we ended up getting the 3 day long tour to Canaima National Park, including Angel Falls, for 950.000 Bs instead of 1.190.000 Bs ($190 USD vs $238 USD at the time), even though my original idea had been just to go on a daytour flying over the falls, but in the end I was convinced the overland adventure would be worth it
ANGEL FALLS, EL SAPO & CANAIMA:
We, me and the Japanese lady, flew from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima in a tiny aircraft with three Estonians and our pilot. I was in the co-pilot seat. It was lots of fun to take a look around below us, the landscape surrounding us, from where we could clearly see the destruction made by the Gurí Dam - massive extension of land, drowned in water, dead trees everywhere sticking up from the water and thousands of tiny islands scattered all over the area, which used to be tops of hills before the dam project. Making dams is said to be one of the most environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity. I am not convinced - and even less so after this sight.
When we were about to land in Canaima, I lost my breath! I couldn't believe the beauty of the place! The village is completely SURROUNDED by waterfalls, all around it! It was gorgeous! With a handful of amazing, mystical tabletop mountains everywhere you looked, which made the place all the more majestical. I couldn't believe how perfect one town could be!!
Once in Canaima and our National Park Fee paid, we were put on a boat and headed to the island between two intensely powerful waterfalls, an island located smack in the middle of the river above the big lake, where it then plunges with an amazing force into the lake
That first day we had the chance to take a nap - a siesta which was just what I needed, since I hadn't slept for even as much as a few minutes on the way from Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar due to the darn military stopping us every hour during the whole trip to check bags, passports and so on, and once in Ciudad Bolivar, jumped onto the first plane to Canaima.
Once we had closed our eyes for a bit, we got lunch and headed afterwards on a hike to a waterfall called El Sapo or "The Frog". We first observed it from above - yeah sure. Nice, nice. Very pretty. But as I am from Iceland, the land of the endless waterfalls, I wasn't all that impressed... but that's because I didn't know what was waiting for me!
We got onto a trail, down to the waterfall and then we continued to walk.... UNDER THE WATERFALL!
The day after we were headed to the legendary Salto Angel - "Angel Falls". Angel Falls is the world's highest waterfall - falling a whole FULL kilometer - 1000 meters (3.280 ft) from a perfect vertical wall of a tepui tabletop mountain, in the middle of nowhere
Today it's easier to reach the falls, but their location is still very remote. In order to get there, one has to go to Canaima - where we were. From there, we had to travel in a dugout canoe for 20 minutes, walk for 40 minutes and then back on a canoe for 4 hours, which was incredible! In those four hours on the boat, it had to sail upwards - change in altitude of about +100 m which meant we had to raft up small waterfalls and pretty big and rough rapids, with waterspashes over us, to match. Didn't really think this simple canoe would be fit for river rafting. But apparently it was. The boat trip was just unbelievable - the landscape was just simply out of this world - I swear
We eventually reached our camp, got our bags out of the boat, left them at camp, taking only cameras, water, towels and swimsuits with us. It was all uphill from there, but nothing too serious, the only thing was the heat - it was intense, but the reward was in sight, each step closer - we were reaching the very bottom of Angel Falls, where it is possible to bathe, in the pool below the second falls, which are not less impressive than the first kilometer high falls!
We started by going to a viewpoint, where we stayed for a while - just gazing. It was amazing. You could barely see the top of the mountain, from where the falls start. In some seasons, Angel Falls is very faint and disappears in the last meters, before hitting ground, turning into a simple spray spread over the whole area
After the viewpoint, we were headed to the pool. Angel Falls plunges 1 km down, into it's pool, then there's another one cascading like a bridal veil down smooth rocks forming an about 70° vertical wall, so you could even climb a little if you wanted to, because the current of the water wasn't so strong. But bathing in the pool was great - in that intense heat of the jungle, dipping into the cool water in this stunning, unforgettable location. It was very refreshing.
This second night was in a hammock as well, in a much more rural camp, without electricity or proper bathrooms - just simple things made of wood, and only light we had during night was candle light
And man - did we have a spectacular view when we got up the next morning - the morning sun shining straight to the center of the falls, with an amazing glow - I wished we had hiked to the falls at that moment, not at sunset the night before when the sunlight was exactly the reverse way around, this was the real deal!! Such vivid colors, my favourite when taking photos.
Then we got on our boat and travelled and travelled, until reaching Ciudad Bolivar again with some stops to eat - Eat, boat, walk, boat, eat, walk, boat and then fly to Ciudad Bolivar, but this time we got a big jet plane! What a difference.
On this tour, I went with Sapito Tours, which have their office at Ciudad Bolivar airport. We REALLY had to bargain the price, but were happy with the result. The guide was fantastic, the food was very good, too! But the best of it all, was where our two camps were located - the first on an island set amidst incredibly powerful waterfalls, with a small beach and the second camp right in front of Angel Falls - no other company has a camp anywhere nearly as close to the falls. So I totally recommend them!