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Angel Falls: World's Highest Waterfall, Jungles, Tepuis, Found in Venezuela and Indians Do Live in the Area
Angel Falls and Canaima
Venezuela is a very beautiful country, with its many dense jungles, arid grasslands, flattop tepui’s, gorgeous beaches, and also the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls. It’s gone through some hard times lately with the government, but I believe it’s still worth a visit to explore what it has to offer. I was there on an expedition of sort, to see the incredible Lost World of Sir Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame. He wrote a book concerning one of the most famous flattop plateaus, or tepui’s, where the plants and animals on top had become separated from the rest of the world because of eroding land around it, and they evolved by themselves over time into indigenous species existing nowhere else. In his book, an expedition found dinosaurs on top of the tepui, which was pretty exciting!
Mount Roraima is the name of the mountain that we climbed on our trip, but sorry to say we didn’t find any dinosaurs up there! Not to say they aren’t there… Anyway, the details of that journey up the mountain and what we found are located in another article called “Lost World”. You can find a link to that lower down on this page.
Angel Falls and Canima...
After that climb we flew over to the little Indian village of Canaima, which was going to be our starting point for the expedition up the river to Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. Canaima is a very tiny place and has several wonderful waterfalls of their own, and you’ll want to see them from a dugout canoe provided by the local Venezuelan Indians if you can. The water has a very reddish color and texture to it, and that’s because it has tannic acid in it because of the lack of oxygen within it farther upstream. Because of the dense jungle and all the decaying vegetation around, the water’s oxygen gets all used up fairly quickly and develops that color. One great thing about that is mosquitoes cannot live in it, and we had no problems with them the whole trip up river!
The next morning we started our journey upriver to Angel Falls in several of the local dugout canoes operated by the Indians. It was a very exciting trip, with whitewater in a few places. We did stop to eat lunch, and none of us thought about where our drinks were coming from but we found out later. The Indians were making fruit punch for us, with the reddish water directly from the river! No filtration or anything… I never got sick though, so I guess the water is fine.
Angel Falls Base Camp...
We finally got close to Angel Falls, and then we came around one last turn in the river and we could see it directly in front of us! What an amazing sight, it was incredible. Angel Falls is named for an American pilot who was flying around there in the 1930’s and had engine trouble and was forced to land on top of the tepui that the waterfall was coming from. He had to find a way down himself and hike out, but his plane is still located on top hidden in a clump of trees! I imagine it’s a little weary of wear though…
We arrived to our base camp at the base of Angel Falls, which was a 50 yard long Indian made “open house” where we would sleep in hammocks open to the environment. There were no walls, just 4 posts to hold up a thatched roof, and hammocks already swung from the beams. We did not have to worry at all about mosquitoes because of the tannic acid water! It was great! I say to this day that sleeping in those hammocks was the most comfortable sleep that I’ve ever had… If you have never tried it, give it a go! I’m sure you will feel the same way. Incredibly, just the week before we arrived a massive flood had wiped out the whole middle section of the shelter we were staying at, and some of the support beams were just hanging in the air attached to no ground below. With adventure travel, you just have to go with it sometimes!
Back to Caracas for Some Flaming Mangoes Ala Mode...
We had a great night’s sleep after a little skinny dipping in the river, and the next day we started on our long hike through the incredibly dense jungle to get to a fantastic pool at the base of Angel Falls that the Indians knew of. I can’t begin to tell you how crazy a dense jungle like that can make you feel, after a couple hours of hiking in it you begin to feel really closed in and a tad claustrophobic because of the thick canopy above you. You couldn’t see the sun at all it was so thick, and we were finally glad to break out into the open and find our swimming hole. We had a blast swimming right there at the base of Angel Falls, but unfortunately it was over too quickly and then we had to begin our long hike back again. That was a great experience, but it really gives you a good impression of what it would be like to live right there in the thick, dense jungle your whole life. Our guides were locals and knew the area well, and walked barefoot the whole way and just wore shorts. My guide looked just like a character from a book I used to read when I was younger, and I called him “Bomba the Jungle Boy”.
Back at camp we had another very restful night in our hammocks, and then hopped in the dugout canoes for another fun ride back to Canaima. It seemed like we had a few more rapids this time, and we had a great time! At Canaima, we settled in for one more night there and got to meet our local guides a little better and one of them invited us to their house to see how they lived. They live very meagerly and don’t have a lot of material goods, but I noticed several jars of hot sauce that they made themselves for their own use. They ranged in color from green to red hot, and I was brave enough to taste a little of each. That was a 5 alarm fire hot! But tasty…
From there, we took our flight back to Caracas and had one last group dinner at a fine local restaurant before departing on our way back home. If you get a chance, definitely try this Venezuelan dessert dish with flaming mangoes atop ice cream, you’ll love it! My trip to Angel Falls was a fantastic experience... Adventure travel is great, there are so many different things and experiences that you can do or have, get off the beaten path and experiment… Give it a try at least once, remember, you might just like it! Have fun!