Text & photos: Wojciech Dabrowski © Angel - the highest one


Salto Angel - the highest waterfall in the world. In Venezuela they say that it is 1002 meters high, in my encyclopedia it is 1054 meters... The difference is not important, Angel is the highest and terrific! Now, returned from South America I know more about access to the Highest One...

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Angel Fall or Salto Angel is located in the Canaima National Park - sixth biggest in the world. It is a region of unspoiled beauty: jungle, dashing rivers, hundreds of waterfalls and high table mountains called tepuis. The largest one - Auyantepuy or Hell’s Mountain (2560 m above sea level) is the home of Angel. There are two ways to see Angel: you can see the fall from the plane (if there is no clouds) or you can take a boat trip up the rivers from Canaima to see fall from the ground level. In both cases you must go first to Canaima and practically the only method to get there is to take a flight. Land and river access takes much more time and money. Ciudad Bolivar - the capital of Venezuelan Bolivar province is the most convenient gateway to Canaima.
Wdb18.jpg (7088 bytes) Many agencies in Ciudad Bolivar offer to organize your complete package trip to the Angel. Typical price for 3-days tour is equivalent of 210 USD and more. They charge of course their commission. To cut the price down try to arrange all by yourself. There are offices of the small airlines in the airport terminal - go there and buy only a ticket for the flight to Canaima. They also will offer you a package - tell them, that you already booked a tour from Canaima to the fall. We bought a ticket for Aero Servicio Caicara flight: they charge 10.000 bolivares each way. If you want to fly over the Angel before landing in Canaima there is a surcharge of 5.500 bolivares.
Going onward to capital it is worth to fly back with Avensa - they fly with large jet plane directly from Canaima to Caracas and the price of the ticket is very reasonable: 13.000 bolivares. It is worth to pay for Avensa tickets in US dollars - they apply very good rate.
Canaim2.JPG (23161 bytes) Flight to Canaima with small cessna plain takes about 1 hour. Unfortunately we didn’t see Angel Fall from the air - it was covered with clouds when we fly around. Bad luck! In the airport of Canaima at arrival you will pay 2000 bolivares as a fee for the entrance to the national park. Boat tours organizers will wait there for you. You can pay for the tour on the spot and they will stick you to one of the same-day groups heading for the fall. Karamacoto Tours offers good value for money: we paid 25.000 bolivares per person for 3-days tour. Meals were included.

Wdb17.jpg (4548 bytes)Canaima itself is a place of extremely beautiful scenery, its on the bank of the lake, there is sandy beach and view to three waterfalls on the opposite side of the lake. In the Indian village (5 min. walk from the airport) is quite large shop selling grocery and wide range of souvenirs.

Day one:   We started at 1 p.m. from the beach in Canaima. Our dugout or „curiara" boat passed the lake along the Ucaima, Golondrina and Hacha waterfalls (fantastic views!) and landed on the other side of the lake. From the landing place there is 30 min. walk through the forest to the waterfall Salto el Sapo. Apart from spectacular view another attraction will wait here for you: the walk under the fall. Unforgettable experience! Tour company supplies big plastic bags: put everything in and walk down just in the swimming gear. There will be bang of the falling water, wind and streams of water flooding your eyes... Fortunately there is rope - it helps while you are climbing slippery stones.

You must walk back the same way under the fall and climb up to the river to embark the next boat which in about 20 min. will take you to Mayupa. This is the place where the tourists are forced to walk onward about 3 km while the boat with their luggage will pass the unsafe rapids. There is a Indian house in Mayupa where they sell soft drinks and souvenirs. Onward to the fall we didn’t see any villages. Wdb16.jpg (4004 bytes)
We embarked the dugout again and sailed about 1,5 hour up the Carrao river. Be prepared for the splashes of the water and beautiful scenery. It was dusk when we reached camp at Orchid Island (Isla Orquidea). There is hammock accommodation under the roof, pit toilet, no bathroom. Meals are very basic.
Wdb15.jpg (8164 bytes)       Map is located at the end of the page

Day two:

Started with early wake-up and 3 hours sail up the rivers Carrao and Churun, rapids, fountains of water, a lot of wet. Landing at Rat Island (Isla Ratoncito). From this place is the first view of Angel Fall - the highest one... Cloud of white water is falling down from 1 km high table rock. That is what you came for... It is imposing! Then we crossed small river and took about 1 hour walk through the jungle to the view point, close to the fall - trail is quite steep at the end - it is good idea to take comfortable walking shoes.

The view from rocky „mirador" is unforgettable. Sprayed water everywhere in the air - not easy to take good picture, but the light is definitely best a.m. From this place you can also see lower cascade of the fall, about 30 meters high. There is access to the pool under this cascade by strenuous path (another 15 minutes or so). Almost everybody likes to swim in the pool - it is a real pleasure after sweaty climbing in a tropical temperature.
Wdb12.JPG (5729 bytes) Swimming under lower cascade
We returned to Rat Island is by the same way, had lunch there and navigated to Isla Orquidea. Arrival to the camp was at late afternoon. Then second night in the hammocks, no mosquito nets, but they were unnecessary here.
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Day three: After breakfast return by boat down the Carrao River: via Mayupa to Puerto Ucaima, located just above the Ucaima Fall. From this point there is about 20 min. walk to Canaima. We reached airport at 11 a.m. - early enough for the Avensa flight.

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Karamacoto Tours also offers one-day trips to the fall from Canaima. Starting at 5.00 a.m. and running all the day you can be back at Canaima at about 5 p.m. But in my opinion it does not make a sense because you must still spend the night before and night after in Canaima. Karamacoto offers in Canaima dormitory - style accommodation.

Boats to the fall operate only when the level of the water is high (usually May to December). 

Wojciech Dabrowski

Gdansk, POLAND


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