Angel Falls is the World’s highest waterfall, dropping a total of 978m from the summit of the Auyan Tepuy, and with an 807m uninterrupted drop. There are no overland routes to Canaima National Park, the gateway to Angel Falls, and access is only by air. The area is filled with grassland and dense jungle along the course of the rivers and at the base of the tepuis – plateaus that are millions of years old with vertical walls and flat tops.
We flew from London to Caracas where we stayed in a hotel for the night. The following day, we took a plane from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz followed by a Cessna to Canaima. The best way to see Angel Falls is through an organised tour of 2-3 days which is what we’d opted for.
The settlement of Canaima is reachable by foot but trips to the bottom of the falls are via a curiara or motorised canoe. Our suitcases were left at base camp when we arrived in Canaima. The canoes are not big enough to cater for everyone’s luggage so we had to make do with the bare essentials during our time in the jungle.
We stayed at the Campamento Tiuna where we were looked after by indigenous Pemón Indians who live in the 12,000 sq mile park. This camp was situated off one of the blackwater rivers that flows through wetlands and swamps. The tannin in the water makes it resemble a river of tea.Although the camp was basic, we were lucky in that we secured a bunk beds and a shower when we arrived. The majority slept in hammocks and shared a communal bathroom. There was no hot water but you soon got over the numbing feeling and we were fed well.
Travelling to the bottom of Angel Falls from Campamento Tiuna took 4-5 hours by curiara. Canoe access to the waterfall is not often feasible outside the rainy season. We had two wonderful Pemón Indian guides and travelled with a Chilean family. Although we didn’t speak Chilean and their English was limited, somehow we managed to communicate and get on brilliantly. We laughed a lot while taking in the magnificent flora, fauna and terrain around us.
The first part of our journey took us along the Carrao River then we travelled along the Churun River to the Angel Falls landing point. You then have to hike through the jungle to the falls, it takes up to an hour. Although we were well equipped in walking boots, most of our party wore flip-flops. There are a lot of huge tree roots though so it’s advisable to cover up those toes!
When you reach the bottom of the falls, you can swim in the small pool below it if the water flow is mild enough. The view above that is Mount Auyantepui and an uninterrupted drop of 807m. It’s quite spectacular.