Canaima and Angel Falls
02 February 2008 | Canaima
Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world and has long been on our list of places to visit. There is no real way to get there quickly. You can take a tour by plane or travel up to Canaima National Park by plane and hike up that way over the course of several days.
We could only be away from Roq for a day so we found a trip that took us up to Canaima, the waterfall country high in the mountains, for a day and gave you a fly by view of Angel Falls. The trip exceeded our expectations in everyway. It would be wonderful to spend a week in the park hiking around.
The only way in or out of the park is by plane. As you fly out from Margarita you get a wonderful view of Isla Margarita and the Gulfo de Cariaco. As you progress back into the mainland of South America you first cross the coastal mountains, sharp, rugged and high. Then you move into the thicker greenery as the rivers and lakes begin to cover as much as 60% of the surface. Next mountainous plateaus begin to rise out of the jungle, so old that they have lost their pointy tops in lieu of vast flat lands coated with trees, scrub and lakes often only feet below the cloud cover. This is where you find Canaima.
Your twin prop (if you're lucky), top wing plane lands on the little air strip just outside the Canaima lagoon. All of the buildings are built in the traditional fashion of the local Amerindians (with some tin roofing hidden in there every once in a while). A guide takes you to an outdoor seating area and gives you some history in various languages. You then work your way down to the lagoon which has four or five awesome waterfalls gushing over the cliffs on the far side. An eco hotel blends into the end of the lagoon on a pretty white sand beach.
Some of the locals help you into a large dugout canoe with a 75hp Yamaha on the back for a tour of the lagoon. The waterfalls in this area are thunderous as you sputter by in your log.
On the far side of the lagoon we took a hike back to a local village and got a tour of the pueblo. It was interesting to see the communal area where families prepared food and worked together to meet the needs of the community. No power, no running water, no toilets. Amidst this the kids play with their cel phones and ipods. They do have to go to town from time to time to charge them.
The hotel and the main village near the airport are powered by a hydroelectric plant that taps off of one of the smaller waterfalls. It is a wonderfully green solution. Now if they could just replace the sputtering two strokes with electric outboards you'd have a perfectly closed ecosystem.
We hiked along the cliff and crossed behind a large wide waterfall. It was a fantastic day in the picturesque mountains of Amazonia. To wrap things up we flew through the flat topped mountains watching countless waterfalls drizzle down the steep cliffs, Angle Falls one of the many.
The plane ride is not pressurized and the ride home was pretty cold. Fortunately Hideko and I had brought our sweatshirts.
We arrived two hours late at the airport. It was great to have the extra time in Canaima and fortunately we had hired Tulio to drop us off and pick us up. Tulio's English is much better than my Spanish but that's not saying much. Regardless he happily taught me some useful Spanish and worked hard to communicate accurately with us. I was almost surprised to see him waiting for us when we landed. It was a welcome sight because we were beat from an amazing day in Venezuela.