Canaima and Salto De Angel

The first view of the Tepui in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. 
Venezuela is rich in natural beauty. This past November I had the opportunity to travel to Canaima, one of Venezuela's largest national parks.  This park is home to the famous flat topped mountains known as Tepuis and the world's tallest free falling waterfall, Angel Falls. While my friends and family back home were getting ready for Thanksgiving Feasts, I joined up with a group of friends and headed into the Venezuelan wilderness.

Day One:

We loaded up in two taxis and headed to an quaint little inn located in Ciudad Bolívar. The place was filled with wonderfully carved furniture and was ran out of the first floor of a house. We quickly dropped off our bags and proceeded to hail a taxi to the historical center of the town to take a look before the sunset.

The Inn has reminders of native people who live near Canaima
Historical District of Ciudad Bolivar
A cathedral in Plaza Bolivar
Statue of Simon Bolivar.
In Plaza Bolivar
Day Two: 

We loaded up in the shuttle and were off to the airport. The airport in Ciudad Bolivar was one of the smallest airports I had ever seen. It had one gate and a security checkpoint which consisted of a guy opening up your bag and taking away any flammables including bug spray, spray sunscreen, lighters, matches and deodorant. We watched the pile of contraband rapidly grow larger as person after person had their backpacks stripped of these essential items. But not to fret, about 10 minutes later another security guy gave back many of the confiscated items.

Pilots and baggage guy wait as the engines need to be checked. We are on
Venezuelan time here. Just sit back and relax.
After a few delays we are up, up, and away.

The flight to Canaima National Park was a short one and we were provided with an excellent view of the grand savanna as we flew over the country side. As the plane started to land we got our first glimpse of the lagoon and the famous Tepuis. We then landed at the smallest airport yet, supporting no gate or security checkpoint at all. We unloaded the plane and paid the park entrance fee which was about 200 Bs. Then we spent some time looking at souvenirs while we waited on our ride to the camp.

Friends hanging out at the airport in Canaima.
Our first bit of excitement was a friendly guacamaya who had no problem showing off for pictures or stealing people’s food. After we got settled into our room for the night we took a short walk through the village to the local lagoon. There we saw two spiffy waterfalls and tourist splashing about on one end of the beach while locals were washing clothes on the other end.

These birds are native to the area and will talk. This one kept repeating
guacamaya and hello. 

Hanging upside down spreading his wings for the cameras.
Waterfalls of the lagoon.

Taking a dip in the cool water.
That afternoon our tour guide took us on a short trek behind the waterfalls. We all stripped down to our swimsuits and socks. We were a sexy group to behold.  Both of the falls were an amazing example of the strong force on nature. The loud roaring sound of the falling water and the wind rushing around felt like a hurricane. Our trek also took us to the top of the same waterfall. It was beautiful to see the tepui in the distance while people swam in a natural pool on top of the waterfall. 

At the top of the waterfall to the right is where people swam and the
water flowed under this natural rock bridge to the waterfall on the left.

Rockin' the swimsuit and socks. The socks were for traction. 

This was the second and most powerful fall we ventured under.

Everyone was smiling and laughing as they took pictures
with hands and heads under a calmer part of the waterfall.
Back in camp later that night we were greeted by a tapir. This large animal was about 2 years old and reminded me of a young dog. It was poking its head into the kitchen as far as possible knowing it was not allowed inside. He was waiting on food to be bought out to him making a high pitch sort of whining noise. After he sloppily gobbled up all the food he received a belly rub from one of the cooks. 

Tapirs are nocturnal creatures that are closest related to rhinos.

After we cleaned up from our trip to the falls we ate dinner with the rest of our tour group. We talked with people from all over the world and shared smiles with those we didn't have a common
language with. After dinner a few of us decided to check out the town’s local nightclub. This was an open air bar overlooking the lagoon with patio chairs music and club lights with a total of 15 people present. It was a nice place to have a few beers and exchange stories. We did not stay long because we had to get up for our early departure to Angel Falls the next morning.

Day Three: 

The trip up river the next day was test in patience. We spent 4 hours crowded into a boat sitting under the hot sun on a tiny wooden plank. Wildlife along the river and the majestic flat topped mountains with sheer cliffs looming out of the clouds provided a plethora of natural beauty to observe as we slowly made our way along the river.  About half way into our boat ride we stopped to stretch and had lunch in a very beautiful setting. It was a blessed break from sitting like sardines in the boat.

The traditional style boats used to go up the river.
A short 30 minute trek at the beginning of our trip. 

Flora growing at our lunch site. 

Taking a nap

Meeting the boats after lunch.
As we reached our new camp, we saw Angel Falls cascading over the mountain. We tumbled out of the boats with soar bums and gladly headed up a trail to the outlook. We were running short on daylight so the trip up the trail was a quick one as we picked our way over boulders and tree roots. At the end of our climb we were greeted with a great view. You could see the surrounding mountains and have a perfect picture of the whole fall. We took our pictures and basked in the magnificence of Mother Nature for awhile then we headed to closer to the falls to take a dip in the pool at the bottom. As the sun started to set we raced back down the trail to the boats so we would not be left in the dark jungle without flashlights.

Angel Falls from the view point.
My photo stitching skills need work. 

Angel Falls.
The English speaking bunch. relaxing in the shadow of Angel Falls.
The swimming hole. Be careful of the large boulders
just under the surface of water.
That night we camped across the river from the falls in hammocks and hand a wonderful meal prepared over an open fire. As we all settled into our hammocks for sleep we were lulled to sleep by the quite whispers of people chatting, rain falling, and candle light twinkling out into the dark. Trying to ignore the loud crack of a tree branch here or there out in the darkness I fell into a pretty good sleep. 

Heading to sleep with a bad sunburn from the boat ride. Note: If you
have very fair skin be sure to apply sunscreen more than once.
Our beds for the night lined up under a tin roof.
Day Four:

The next day we awoke to cool temperatures, a high flowing river, and lots of clouds. Our trip back gave us one last view of the water fall partially obscured by clouds. We huddled back into the boats and had a much swifter ride back to town. The journey to one of Venezuela’s most famous natural wonders was worth every sunburn, scrape, sore muscle and bug bite. I highly recommend making the trip at least once in your life. It is truly an amazing place to see. 

Our tour wonderful tour guide seeing us off at the airport.