The photograph of Mount Auyantepui above, was taken c.2007 in Canaima National Park. Located in Venezuela, this World Heritage Site is recognised for its flat-topped rock formations ‘tepuis’ which cover 65% of the park.
Also in the park is Angel Falls which, with a free fall drop of 979 meters, is the highest waterfall in the World. It was discovered by the explorer James Angel when he crashed his plane on an expedition in 1937.
Angel Falls is not easy to reach due to its isolated jungle location. Having flown from the UK to Caracas and the following day from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz, a further flight was necessary to reach Canaima. This is the starting point for all river trips to the falls.
We stayed at Campamento Tiuna in the Laguna de Canaima for 3 days which was run by Pemón Indians. This camp was situated off one of the blackwater rivers that flows through swamps and wetlands, the tannin in the water making it look like tea.
With transport around the Canaima National Park mostly by canoe or curiara, we traveled light. Our suitcases were abandoned at a larger camp for collection after our jungle stay.
Most people in the camp slept in hammocks under permanent shelters. We managed to secure a hut which although open to the elements included the bare essentials – a bed and a shower. There was no hot water available but we had privacy and were able to sleep horizontally.
The main photograph shows the cliffs of Mount Auyantepui which is where Angel Falls makes its dramatic plunge. It was taken the day we departed camp for Angel Falls – everyone hoped the cloud wouldn’t shroud the view of the falls.
In the wooden curiara with us was the Chilean family (of 5) and our Pemón guide. The journey to Angel Falls took at least two hours. We passed through two rivers, crossing rapids and giant rocks – one of which we got marooned on when we returned to camp. The men had got out of the boat to help the Pemón who had attempted to dislodge the curiara with all of us in it!
At Angel Falls base camp we were treated to a feast before we embarked on a 90 minute hike uphill. Frequently clambering over slippery exposed tree roots or climbing man-made steps.
It was steep and humid but the view from the lookout directly in front of the falls was spectacular. It’s hard to imagine what a waterfall with a 979 meter drop will look like but its immense. Some of the group even got to enjoy a swim in the pool at the base of the cascades.