The world’s highest waterfall is Venezuela’s premier highlight and a place no adventurous traveller should miss visiting. It’s not only that the falls are spectacularly dramatic (which they are) nor the fact that getting there is half the fun (which it most definitely is). But the fact that Angel Falls are set deep within one of the most impenetrable national parks in all of South America.
By the time you’ve hiked to Angel Falls in the heart of the Canaima National Park, you will have immersed yourself in one of the most pristine and unspoiled corners of the world.
For nature lovers who have seen it and done it all, there are very few challenges that can match the sheer irresistible pull of Angel Falls. And for those who want to experience a completely disconnected natural paradise, a place where our modern and fast-paced civilization seems but a distant memory, a visit to Angel Falls will be the ultimate soul-reviving experience.
Highlights of the Canaima National Park
Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, in the south-eastern corner of the country bordering Guyana and Brazil, is one of Latin America’s most prized UNESCO-listed natural wonders. Over three million hectares of outstanding wilderness, comprising picturesque high mountain tableaus (called tepui), impossibly sheer cliffs, numerous spellbinding waterfalls and luscious tropical rainforests. Hikes and river boat trips in the Canaima National Park are sensational to say the least. Depending on the time of year you travel, and how many days you have at your disposal, you can fit in quite a few of these highlights in your itinerary. Even a short but terrific 4-day Caracas and Angel Falls Tour will gift you plenty of action, and you can fill your days with an Angel Falls overflight, thrilling kayaking trip and heart-pumping hikes.
Canaima National Park is effectively divided into two sections (west and east) with light Cessna planes providing thrilling links in-between.
Aside up close and personal visits to Angel Falls, you can also include a walk behind the stunning wall of cascading water of Salto el Sapo waterfalls or tackle a hard-core hike to Mount Roraima on the eastern tip of the park. This is one of the most challenging but life-changing experiences you can have in Canaima. A week-long trek among ethereal landscapes, and a full day spent atop the summit overlooking sensational canyons, tepuis, savannahs and valleys. Disconnect from the rest of the world, with an array of natural hot springs, flower-filled valley and dramatic rocky cliffs, and enjoy the sensory overload.
For a mix of cultural and natural highlights, then set off from Canaima Airport on a chartered flight and set your sights for Kavak, a remote indigenous village made up of just a handful of huts and inhabited by some of the most hospitable Venezuelans you’ll meet. Rudimentary accommodation awaits the adventurous soul. But who needs wifi and mod-cons when, in return, you get to experience this piece of paradise on earth? The flight itself is eye-popping – a swoop over Angel Falls an absolute highlight – and once in Kavak you can spend several days hiking.
Angel Falls – the ultimate Canaima highlight
First discovered in 1933 by American aviator Jimmie Angel, after whom the falls are named, this mesmerizing natural treasure is awe-inspiring to see. Jimmie Angel was so enamoured with his prized ‘discovery’ that he even had his ashes scattered there upon his death in 1960. We certainly couldn’t blame him. There isn’t a more astonishing place on earth where you could rest blissfully forever more.
In the local Pemon language, the falls are called parepuka-meru, which translates to ‘waterfalls of the deepest place’.
From the top of Auyantepui Mountain to the base of Devil’s Canyon, Angel Falls plunges for a mind-boggling 979 metres. Among all the stellar highlights in Canaima, Angel Falls reigns supreme. Open to tourism for barely 20-odd years, this is still one of the most unspoiled natural wonders of our planet, and the falls’ remoteness ensures it will stay this way for many, many years to come. The peskiness of its location also means that as far as attractions in South America go, Angel Falls is still among the least visited. Everyone knows about Angel, everyone wants to see it, but when a place requires a little bit of effort and a bit of sweat to reach, there simply aren’t that many who eventually do.
Flights to Canaima depart from Caracas via Puerto Ordaz. The best time to see the falls at its fullest is during the rainy season, in the months between May and November. It is during these months that you can reach the base of the falls by boat, an experience that feels much more like a true-blue adventure, rather than a simple tourist excursion.
Although this is true of a visit to Canaima anyhow.
When visiting Angel Falls for a few days, you can soak in natural thermal pools, walk through jade-brimming landscapes, and take jungle hikes to nearby falls for refreshing dips. Camp by the falls and spend a glorious night under the stars, falling asleep to the wondrous thunder of cascading water.
Angel Falls may not be the easiest place to reach in South America, but if you want to experience a truly incredible masterpiece of Mother Nature, then you really couldn’t pick a more rewarding destination.
Want to see Angel Falls? We can take you there! Check out our Venezuela tours for itinerary ideas or Chimu Adventures can tailor a private tour to fit with all your needs and wishes. Click here for more information.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”