Bryony and Nick in South America travel blog

Tepuis from the plane

Happy boat person (before we saw the coral snake)

Angel Falls before the rain

A dip under the falls

The Falls at dawn the next day following 4 hours torrential rain

Hammock barrack

Plane refuelling (look out for smoking pilot)


After leaving the Caribbean behind we took a bus to Ciudad Bolivar (in the pre name everything after Simón Bolivar days it was Angostura). The bus had to cross the Orinoco River by car ferry (apparently there is only one bridge on the whole length of the river), which meant one hour waiting in the blazing sun in a sweltering bus which rapidly turned into an oven. We had to resort to ripping the covers off books to use as makeshift fans.

Ciudad Bolivar had a pleasant old colonial centre (a rarity in Venezuela) and the biggest cockroaches I have ever seen. The regular incursions of these beasts into our room encouraged us to make a swift exit on a 3 day tour to Angel Falls and the Canaima national park.

The only way to reach the park is by plane, however on arrival at the airport we were expecting something slightly larger than the 4 seater Cessna we were directed to by a somewhat unshaven and hungover looking pilot.

Fortunately we were not the lucky tourists whose windscreen got spurted with oil mid-take off (quickly removed with a cloth before starting again) or had fuel leaking out from one of the wings, and it was a really pleasant flight. We floated along at about 3000 meters watching the plains gradually turn into rainforest, swamps and the extraordinary tepuis (the biggest table top mountains in the world).

When we arrived and squeezed ourselves out of the plane, we were quickly whisked off to start our Angel Falls tour.

This started with a 4 hour boat trip up the Rio Canaima, which involved a few ascents up rapids and consequential soakings, seeing as we were in the front, and became slightly unnerving after the Indian boatman pointed out a coral snake (the 2nd most deadly in South America) swimming along beside us, but told us not to worry as the rats ate them all.

Definite highlight of the trip was the hour-long walk up to the foot of the falls, and taking a dip in the pool below. The tour company had a camp in the jungle nearby, so we spent our first ever night in a hammock with only minimal amounts of snake/spider/crazy monkey paranoia.

During the night there was an absolute deluge of rain which lasted about 4 hours and made sleeping quite tricky as we were under a tin roof, however at dawn we realised how lucky we had been as the river level had risen several meters and the Falls themselves were transformed from the day before.

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