World Travel

Angel Falls

23. May: Alexander had told us the previous night that we would start to Angel Falls at 7:00. At 6:00 he gave the whole sleeping community in the shed a 'wake-up call' by calling out loud. The night had been coolish, I had kept on my long pants and my fleece pullover with a blanket. It had been raining most of the night, this could be heard very well on the corrugated roof and by the fact that there were no doors or walls in the shed. Alex was glad about the rain, since that would give us some more water in the river and make the boat trip to the falls easier. I hadn't slept very well, having been woken up frequently by the strange environment but also due to the unusual experience of sleeping in a hammock for the first time.

I washed myself a bit, the toilets didn't have running water since the pump doesn't work. There is a large barrel with water from which you can fetch a pail of water to flush. Breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, cheese, bread, coffee, jam, margarine, and we're off at 7:30. It is a slow journey upstream to Ratoncito Camp (Rat's camp), from where you can walk to Angel Falls.

Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. Both World Trade Center towers could fit end-to-end under it!

Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. Both World Trade Center towers could fit end-to-end under it!

The water level is still low, and we all have to get out of the boat and walk at least twice around places in the river which have extremely low water. The navigator who sits at the front of the boat with a stocky wooden oar is very busy manoeuvring the boat through the very shallow areas. He needs to get into the river and push or pull the water several times. The boat needs to be well balanced too, the captain, who sits at the back of the boar and operates the outboard motor, tells several of us to swap places for better balance.

Our boat is ready for the last leg of the trip to Angel falls The trip involves frequent walks on land because the water in the river is sometimes too low for everyone to be in the boat
Our boat is ready for the last leg of the trip to Angel falls
The trip involves frequent walks on land because the water in the river is sometimes too low for everyone to be in the boat
marvelous Tepuis in the morning mist Huge, strange rock reflecting in the river
marvelous Tepuis in the morning mist
Huge, strange rock reflecting in the river
The river is very narrow at times and requires very careful navigation and hands to push away from the rocks These mysterious rocks are called "The Fingers of God"
The river is very narrow at times and requires very careful navigation and hands to push away from the rocks
These mysterious rocks are called "The Fingers of God"

After about three hours of riding the boat we reach Ratoncito Camp, which is actually just a shed. From there we have the first mist-filled view of Angel Falls in the distance! From here it's a walk of about an hour on a path through the jungle. Alex had told us that we would need to have hiking shoes, but I had left mine in the rucksack we'd left behind in Ciudad Bolivar. So all I had was my party damaged sandals, the left one's strap had partly come loose. They were wearable, but not too comfy. Their soles were worn down and so they would slip very easily on wet terrain. Alex didn't say a word about them so I guessed the walk would be possible with them. Alex went ahead and made a big fuss of kicking and hitting all large tree trunks in our way to scare away any snakes underneath. Apparently the requirement to wear hiking boots was not due to the terrain but because of snakes. The last part of the walk was uphill and a bit strenuous.

The last leg of the trip to Angel Falls involves a hike through the jungle Jungle flower
The last leg of the trip to Angel Falls involves a hike through the jungle
Jungle flower
Jungle flower This flower looks somewhat like lips
Jungle flower
This flower looks somewhat like lips

At last we reach the lookout to Angel falls. Wow, they are fully visible and it is a spectacular view!! The falls are almost 1000m high! It is the dry season and high, high up you could see the source of the falls, then the water pouring down, and a bit after halfway there was just mist to be seen. The water falls straight down due to a concave cylindrical area of the mountain, which no doubt had eroded off. We then walk on further to Angel falls lagoon, which is where the water of the falls collects for a short while before continuing it's course to eventually reach the Orinoco river.

Link: Here's an account with pictures and a video of someone who "base-jumped" down the Angel-Falls!
Link: Here's Tiuna Tours' Homepage with a view from the TOP of Angel falls and a MAP of Canaima 

Angel falls! They are almost 1 kilometer high! The top of the Falls
Angel falls! They are almost 1 kilometer high!
The top of the Falls
Angel Falls in the mist The bottom of Angel Falls. The water falls into a large concave half-cylinder. From afar, the water seems to have changed to mist
Angel Falls in the mist
The bottom of Angel Falls. The water falls into a large concave half-cylinder. From afar, the water seems to have changed to mist
Angel Falls at the top: The mountain seems to be seeping water from many different places Angel Falls
Angel Falls at the top: The mountain seems to be seeping water from many different places
Angel Falls
The base of Angel Falls The falls ending in the lagoon: We will swim there (only the hardy!)
The base of Angel Falls
The falls ending in the lagoon: We will swim there (only the hardy!)
The top of Angel falls now in clouds Looking at Angel Falls in awe from the lookout point
The top of Angel falls now in clouds
Looking at Angel Falls in awe from the lookout point

Alexander takes off his top and swims in the lagoon and, although the water of coldish, I can't resist joining him. Unfortunately nobody else of our group follows us in. It is phenomenal sight, hearing the thunder of the small waterfall right in the lagoon and following up all the way to Angel Falls!! There is a powerful underwater current from the water. Some of the rocks are sharp and I cut my toe on one and got a long, shallow gash of about 4cm, which started bleeding immediately. Right opposite the Angel Falls you could see another set of spectacular waterfalls called La Cortina. They were surely many kilometers away, but their sheer size made them look spectacular even from this distance!

Swimming in Angel Falls lagoon. Here you can see the approximate amount of water coming down from the falls. Swimming in the falls is Alex, our guide The small waterfall leading to the lagoon. You can see a bit of the lagoon at the bottom
Swimming in Angel Falls lagoon. Here you can see the approximate amount of water coming down from the falls. Swimming in the falls is Alex, our guide
The small waterfall leading to the lagoon. You can see a bit of the lagoon at the bottom
1st part of giant La Cortina waterfall in the distance 2nd part of La Cortina waterfall
1st part of giant La Cortina waterfall in the distance
2nd part of La Cortina waterfall
You can see both parts of La Cortina in the distance as seen from Angel falls Angel Falls from the riverside
You can see both parts of La Cortina in the distance as seen from Angel falls
Angel Falls from the riverside

Then we start off back to the camp. The others of our group have sped on ahead, Annewien, myself and Alex are left as a group. We leave Alex behind, he wants to walk slowly since an injury from a Karate accident has left one of his feet vulnerable. Back at the camp, lunch is being served, it consists of chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and ice-tea. From the banks of the river there is a great sight of Angel Falls as well!

We start off back downstream, which means that our speed is much faster than the other way! It is a wild, splashy ride and it takes about 2 hours! As soon as we reach our camp, it starts raining. We have dinner and I feel I need to wash myself, so I take a bar of soap and go into the rain. Annewien joins me and it becomes a wonderful experience.

Beautiful river stones Our   l - o - n - g   boat!
Beautiful river stones
Our   l - o - n - g   boat!
Rocky river, since there is so little water The navigator at the front of the boat with his oar is crucial!
Rocky river, since there is so little water
The navigator at the front of the boat with his oar is crucial!
Look at the size of this rock!! Reddish water here too
Look at the size of this rock!!
Reddish water here too
Our navigator is quite busy, since traveling downstream is much faster than upstream Just back at our camp, it starts raining real hard
Our navigator is quite busy, since traveling downstream is much faster than upstream
Just back at our camp, it starts raining real hard

Alexander persuades us to chip in to buy a bottle of rum for 2500 Bs apiece. All but the Swiss couple are game, so we're all drunk by the time we're finished. Alexander pops up at our table and starts explaining stuff about Venezuela and the falls. Apparently he's done Roraima Tepui (which is to the south of Venezuela near Brazil) a number of times as a guide and he says it is a great experience.

By now we are very tired and we retire to our hammocks. I've gotten used to the thing, and since I now know that you really have to lie in diagonally, sleeping actually become quite comfortable. I'm getting to like these hammocks! It rains throughout the night, sometimes very heavily. Annewien told me next morning that I'd been snoring badly and I blame it on the rum.

Watching the rain from inside the camp Large leaf has gotten wet
Watching the rain from inside the camp
Large leaf has gotten wet
Have you ever seen a yawning cock? Here's one, the camp rooster! Our hammocks are ready for us to sleep on for a second night
Have you ever seen a yawning cock? Here's one, the camp rooster!
Our hammocks are ready for us to sleep on for a second night
Continue to 24.5 Canaima Camp to Ciudad Bolivar