Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Angel Falls - Venezuela

Shortly after the Lost City Trek in Colombia I headed into Venezuela ultimately to see the tallest waterfall in the world.

The trip began in a single prop Cessna flight from Ciudad Bolivar over the Gran Sabana to Canaima Parque. I was sitting co-pilot as we dodged clouds but hit a few for a freefall feeling like a ride at Magic Mountain. As we approached the runway you could see the set of six waterfalls that tumble into the lagoon of Canaima. Truly a spectacular sight and I was pumped to begin this beautiful and amazing adventure.

The water in the lagoon is a dark tannin-stained water from the Carrao river that reminded me of Guinness beer, black in the deeper sections and reddish-brown (see pic) as it washed up on the pink sandy beaches lined with palm trees. We set off in a boat through the lagoon to Salto el Sapo which you can walk behind and witness the pounding pressure of the falls from inside. As with the rest of this adventure the pictures don’t do it justice.

We took a boat down the black river, through the jungle, along pink sandy beaches and table top mountains with waterfalls jetting over the side and down the cliffs. Eventually we pulled up to a basic lodge filled with hammocks and tables set for dinner. For dinner we all sat at our candle lit settings sharing past travel experiences and planning new ones. Of course everyone but me spoke 3 to 5 languages and all from Europe (Germany, Italy, Spain, and France). While I was in Colombia I quickly learned that people from America do not go to Colombia and Venezuela because of unsubstantiated fears about drugs, guns, dictators, etc. It’s a shame that they miss two of the best countries in SA.

On the second day we took another boat and then hiked a while to reach Angel Falls. This is the highest waterfall in the world at 3,212 ft (979 m) over 20 times taller than Niagara. As you look up and try to follow a section of water down the side most of it (60%) drifts off into the jungle before making it down to the pools below. Standing at the base of it was inspiring and for once we were silent (even the Italians) as a sense of awe washed over us. It wasn’t a difficult journey like Ciudad Perdida (see blog) but it was more about accomplishing something and feeling small in the world again.

After Angel Falls I headed back into Colombia (see blog).

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