Venezuela: A Journey to Paradise Falls

If you’ve ever seen Disney Pixar’s Up, you will be familiar with Angel Falls. You might not know you know it, but you do. The various animated settings and backdrops for the entire film have been confirmed as being heavily influenced by Angel Falls and Mount Roraima.

To put it in simple terms: Angel Falls are in the middle of nowhere.

It’s so remote, in fact, that you need to travel by plane, truck and dug-out to reach them – and that’s before the hiking starts!

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High-class speedboat to and from Canaíma to Angel Falls.

But when you finally reach el mirador and catch your first glimpse the waterfall in all it’s glory – it is 110% worth the effort and money!

Full excursion packages can be bought online before you leave your home country, in Caracas or in Ciudad Bolivar and Puerto Ordaz. I bought mine from Excursiones Kavac, which was based in the fancy hotel right opposite my teeny tiny hotel in Puerto Ordaz.

I went for the 2-day/2 night package, which included a flight to and from Canaima, a guide and boat to and from the falls, an overnight stay at Canaima, an overnight stay in the hammocks on Isla Ratón at the foot of Angel Falls, and a day trip to see all the smaller waterfalls in the area as well as all food and drink. The whole excursion cost 8556 Bf, which converts now to $1,354.08 on the official exchange rate. However, with the black market and exchanging dollars in-country, the costs was actually more like $317/£225.

CANAIMA

The lagoon at Canaima

On arriving at Canaima, we were met by a lovely local guide called Estevan, who proved infallible over the next two days. He took us back to the main camp to drop off our luggage, and then took us all in a boat to see (and walk through!) all the local Sapos. It was the first time I’d ever been up close and personal with a waterfall taller than a bus, and I couldn’t quite believe the noise! It was like a roaring and gushing sound all at once.

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One of Salto Angel’s little brothers

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The view from on top of one of the Sapos.

On returning from our day trip, it was time for an early night ready to head on out to the big deal the next day.

Our boat to Angel Falls was a lot less developed than the one used on Day 1 – Estevan told me it was because the rivers can sometimes get too shallow for the other boat so it becomes difficult to navigate, whereas their Pocahontas-style dugouts were perfect for deep or shallow waters.

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Just around the riverbend..

The ride to Angel Falls took about 4 and a half hours altogether, and to be completely honest it wasn’t the most comfortable of journeys. As the only solo traveller there, I was given the muy importante of being the ‘boat balancer’ by Estevan. My role basically involved standing up, sitting down, sliding to the left then right and turning completely around whenever Estevan or the other guide (his name was Felix) told me to. To be completely honest, I don’t think it was a muy importante job at all, and Estevan just wanted to give me something to do.

Oddly, the more shallow the water, the more red it became.

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The red waters of the rainforest, and a little preview of Angel Falls in the background

 

We kept catching little glimpses of Salto Angel throughout the boat ride, but they were long distance sneak peeks, something to add to our excitement and anticipation as opposed to wowing us.

The boat docked at Isla Raton (our home for the night) and together we hiked for about an hour through trees and over branches until we finally got to el mirador – the viewpoint.

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View of Angel Falls from el mirador

It was honestly like being on another planet – the sheer magnitude of this entirely natural wonder was incredible. One member of my group cried, she was so overwhelmed. The drop is so huge that the majority of the water becomes nothing but mist, and our guides even took us back down to swim in the basin.

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Swimming in the basin of the world’s highest waterfall

The basin isn’t actually the end of the drop, and it does drop even further again – something I found out the hard way by getting my flip-flop trapped between two rocks and almost plummeting to certain death. Luckily, Estevan was on the case to bring me back from the edge.

The small part of the waterfall you see in the picture above is kind of like a natural waterslide. If you scramble up as far as you go, and then jump onto the water, you glide down effortlessly.

After a while, we headed back to Isla Ratón where we spent the night sleeping in hammocks and reflecting on all we’d been fortunate enough to witness.

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Sleeping in a hammock in the middle of the Venezuelan rainforest.

Angel Falls was the sole reason I decided to travel to Venezuela – there was nothing else that really attracted me to the country.
It was definitely worth the effort, money and trouble of navigating an extremely confusing monetary situation, and I would highly recommend it to absolute anybody!

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10 Comments

  1. 9th March 2017 / 7:54 pm

    I was a little lazy when visiting Angel Falls as I took a flight from Canaima for Angel Falls viewing, this is why my site is appropriately called Only By Land! After reading you post I wish I’d gone for the hiking to the base of the falls option. Swimming at the base of Angel Falls is a very unique experience! These table top mountains are much better looking than the famous table top mountain in Cape Town!

  2. 30th March 2017 / 3:54 am

    The pictures look amazing and like a hidden gem, too bad it is so expensive. When I first visited a waterfall I was also surprised how loud it is. 🙂 I love that the shallow water was red so many experiences in just two days sounds amazing!

  3. 30th March 2017 / 4:24 am

    This is exactly my kind of thing. I don’t blame you for going to Venezuela just for this. Sliding down and swimming in a waterfall that was featured in a Pixar movie is a hat trick!

  4. 30th March 2017 / 5:57 am

    I love waterfall hunting! Look at those pictures you’ve captured. Angel falls seem absolutely breathtaking! Also it feels wonderful when I get to have a dip in a natural pool like a waterfall base. Can totally relate to you!

  5. 30th March 2017 / 3:13 pm

    You know, I’ve lived most of my life in Trinidad and Tobago and never once thought of venturing across the Columbus Channel to Venezuela. Although the price seems a bit steep, Angel Falls looks worthwhile. Any reason why the river water runs red when it’s shallower?

  6. 30th March 2017 / 8:06 pm

    Talk about off the beaten path!! What an adventure! Such a pristine and quiet place for a relaxing get away. The photos are glorious and it is clearly worth the difficulty in getting there! My kids would LOVE the natural water fall. How fun!

  7. 30th March 2017 / 8:25 pm

    Wow, I’m familiar with Angel Falls but I didn’t realise it was so remote or expensive to visit. There is something magic about waterfalls – I loved my trip to Iguazu. I remember seeing the scene in the new (and quite terrible) Point Break movie and it just looked remarkable. Cheers for the info!

  8. Jean
    31st March 2017 / 12:26 am

    I loved reading this. We’re off to Sth America later this year and were trying to decide if we can make it to Angel Falls. Now the debate is hot again. Despite the difficulties in getting there it looks like it was worth the adventure

  9. 31st March 2017 / 3:09 am

    Angel Falls seems like it was definitely worth the trip (and doing a version of the hokie pokie on the boat ride). We are crazy for waterfalls. We’d love to make this trip too. Hopefully we get a guide as good as Estevan.

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