Angel Falls (Salto Angel) – the highest waterfall on the earth was chosen as the first destination in Venezuela (how banal).
I’m not sure if one can get there by himself as it’s a very long way – flight and boat… But I guess one can try if has JPRS navigator, machete and hell of time.
But still, the thing is that they kinda obliged you to buy the tours and go everywhere with a group. There is even something that it’s established not just by tour-sellers but by law.
I arranged my trip to Salto Angelo (and all rest) via Ruben Alberto Salazar (<email@example.com>).
He is a cool man (even if not really talkative) and arranged everything in a good way. Besides tours he helped me whole the way through his country – spoke for me by phone with locals when they didn’t understand my English and I – their Spanish, bought bus tickets without any fee, changed money (actually he suggested the best rate I could find).
The first adventure was to get to the Cuidad Bolivar – start point for major of the trips to Salto Angelo. I was sure that it would be easy to get to the bus station, buy tickets there and be in an hour max in a bus – it was a work-day, early evening – so, I mean that Google promised that I would easily purchase the bus ticket. But oh, first it took hell of time to change money – many reviews in the Internet says that it’s better to change money in domestic airport. But no, I could find nobody who desired to get my buсks there, so I had to spend extra time to get back to the international airport to change money. And then I took a taxi and seems that I was in all traffic jams across Caracas city. It took really long to get to the bus station. And the worst thing – yeh, right – when I arrived there I figured out that they don’t have any tickets for that night. Only for the next day what basically means that I loose a day – and it’s really bad as I had planned whole 3 weeks almost by minutes.
What to do??? I took another taxi and fly back to the airport in hope to catch a flight to Cuidad Bolivar and spend a night there. But no success – the last flight departed when I tried to buy the bus ticket. There was a flight at 8 am next morning but they already switched off the system, so they can’t sell me the ticket now – only tomorrow before the flight.
As it was around 10 pm and I had to be at the ticket office in the airport by 6 am I decided that there was no point to search for a hotel in the night to spend couple of hours there, so I had to find a place to sleep a bit in the airport.
And yehh… The airport of Caracas is probably the worst airport in the world (ok, there are worse in Asia but still…) to stay overnight there. No benches, AC work very strong (God, Venezuelan people love AC! Too much…) But I had no choice… So, I didn’t feel hot or comfortable that night sleeping in the airport in my sleeping bag and warm hat.
6 am. “Dos billetes de Cuidad Bolivar, por favor!” Ta-da-dam!!!
The nano-technology at the airport of Cuidad Bolivar were really fantastic!
Ruben met us asap we landed. Chat, money, tickets – go! Cuidad Bolivar – Canaima. I decided that it would be fantastic as soon as we took off and I saw the views…
The pilot entertained passengers by reading a newspaper. I guess everybody who took this flight has similar picture.
So, as we landed in the airport of Canaima – our 3 days tour to Salto Angel began.
What is Camaima? – It’s a small village 2 steps from a nice lagoon and waterfalls. All newcomers spend their first day there before they go to Angel Falls.
Best of all I liked local kids. They are really cute and not afraid of camera:
And yeh, three palms! Another must-be photo from Canaima.
We had an excursion around that lagoon and surroundings that day. Walking under the waterfalls, swimming in a river which ends up as in all proper cartoons with the waterfall and more nice outdoor activities.
First night there I spent with guys who was in the same tour group drinking Venezuelan rum on the shore of the lagoon. There was sweet sound of the waterfall, lightnings somewhere far-far away and sky with numerous stars on it. I never saw the sky like this. And another wonderful thing – at least once in half of a minute a star fell down. It was awesome!
The program for next two days should look like that: day two – in the early morning we start our boat trip to the camp in front of Salto Angel, and day three – we are climb to the waterfall in the morning, take pics, swim in lagoon and after that going back to Canaima village to catch our flight back to Cuidad Bolivar.
But it started wrong from the certain beginning. First, we were supposed to start the trip at 7 am. But then they delayed it for an hour, then for an hour more… So, we we on boat only around 11 am. It was too late.
Trip started with 4 hours boat drive.
It’s funny, but after 2 hours or around you start to be tired of all these tepuis and surrounding beauty. Hard to believe but it’s so.
Then, we lost hell of time cause our awesome guides lost boat engine detail which they broke on the way… They dropped it into the river with thick brown water. I think they would search for it until now if one of the passengers didn’t give them goggles.
But after all, here we go! Ta-dam! Arrived! We landed on the shore where Angel Falls was located. So, the camp was on the opposite side of the river. We could not see waterfall yet. It was around 3 pm.
And the guide said that we would go for a walk. All right! As all our stuff and good shoes everybody had were in the boat we asked in case if we were going to Angel Falls, but he said no. Good!
But then, after 15-20 minutes of walk we figured out that it was a walk exactly to Salto Angel. When we started to complain about it the guide just pretended that he didn’t understand English. Bastard! They always did this trick – as soon as something bad for them was coming – they forget English immediately.
Anyway, we had nothing else but to continue the walk. It took as around 1,5 hours to get to the waterfall – but we walked incredibly slowly. There were several old fat guys who could not walk fast and all of us were not allowed to go faster than they. I do admire that they did this trip in their physical condition but then the guide behaved like a teacher in an expensive kindergarten – “kids, we are going for a walk, but all of you must go behind me! – for your safety, you know!”
We could be way faster as the path is good and it’s easy to follow it.
But my enthusiasm was weaker and weaker with each step as it was very late. It’s getting dark there around 5 pm. What basically means that we had almost no time to enjoy the waterfall. Plus, there is a rule in the tropic countries – in the morning it’s sunny, and after noon – it’s cloudy and rainy. So, that day was not an exception and the sky was just nothing… White and inexpressive.
But still, I decided that nothing (even bastards guides) would spoil me the moment… Deep exhale.
And… tada-da-da-dam! We reached the place. It’s stunning! But not super-stunning. It would be super-stunning if I got there alone and had all time in the world to sit there and meditate, to enjoy this place fully, without disturbing sounds rest of tourists make. And I would love to get there in the morning, so I won’t have to hurry cause half of an hour – and it’s dark.
View point is very small, it’s not comfortable at all especially when there are 10 people more besides you. We had time only to take pics “Angel Falls” and “Angel Falls and me” ant that’s it. And the bad thing – that all these pics are crap. You need some sky to get good pics. But there was none…
After that we went a bit down to swim in the lagoon under Salto Angel. The bottom of the lake is made of big stones which are sharp and slippery – as any stones in the water. But then water was very warm and it was a pleasure to sit under the waterfall. There is no jacuzzi better that that in the whole world!
Our guide didn’t have to tell us be quick as it was getting darker and everybody hurried to get down – almost all of us were in flip-flops what is not the best shoes on the slippery jungle path in the darkness.
Luckily, I was in a proper Keen shoes, so there was no reason for me to hurry but anyway me and my fried were in front of the whole group on the way down except two guys who were not just in sleepers but without any light – they could beat any Olympic record in running that night.
So, we reached the river and the place where we left the boat. But the trick was that there were neither boat nor those two guys who were in front of us on the way down.
Hm… Maybe that’s a wrong place and we left the boat not here? Ah? Nope, we were sure – the place was correct. But…
Anyway, we spent some time on the river side but nothing was going on. It was already dark. So, we decided to go back and meet our group on the way. The guide was there and so on.
We did half of the way back to Angel Falls but met no one. What the hell??? Almost whole group was behind us – we must meet them somewhere here! And then we got an idea that might be there was a turn we didn’t notice or something like that.
So, we started searching for that turn. But surely there was none. It was just one path. You can’t miss it and turn somewhere – jungle was around!
So we went back to the river. There were still no one. God, why???
We waited, shouted, but no success.
So we went back to the jungles. Woh, that’s weird, you know that it’s too popular path to meet any wild animals over here but still, things look different in the night… In jungle. So every liana turned to be a stake, strange sounds and so on…
Finally, we decided to shout again – you just feel better when you make some noise. But this time we were lucky – we got a respond and in several minutes we reached our guide. He was with another guy from a group who twisted his ancle and almost could not walk. But where was the rest of the group?! – The guide said that everybody should be by the river side now. Wufff… How???
So, we reached the river side with the guide. And yeh, it could not be simpler – there were bushes on the shore. And the boat were behind them. So, basically to reach it we should just pass through bushes. But we didn’t… And we should miss rest people when we were wondering around the shore looking for the boat.
Anyway, another two minutes and we were in the camp.
Another good thing was that we were going to sleep in the hammocks. I never did it before. So, I got mine but… God, it stank so much… It was just impossible to sleep in it. After some claims I got another one. It was better. But then – my first one was given to another guy who had no place in the next camp and was told to come to ours. Poor guy…Photo by Alexander Davidovich
Summing up, I can’t say that Angel Falls really impressed me that day. I guess it’s not its fault but cause of the weather, darkness and stupidity of our guide. I hoped that it would be a way better next day – when we go there again in the morning as it was promised by tour-agent.
But… Yeh, surely in the morning we figured out that we were not going to the waterfall. The plan was to have breakfast and go back to Canaima village to catch the flight. When we started to complain – yeh, right, the guides forgot their English again…
It was very disappointing… Extremely disappointing cause the weather was good – exactly what I needed for good shots. But… we were going to Canaima… Ashhh…
But then, when I went to the “dining room” – I saw something special. Salto Angel was way wiser and kinder than our guides and it showed itself in all its beauty and glory. That was stunning!
After that I lost idea to go back to civilization totally. I wanted to stay there, I regretted that I didn’t have my own boat to get their by myself and stay there as long as I want to. Just with Angel Falls and surrounding nature. Would be wonderful…
But that were just dreams. I had to move on to the boat after the breakfast with rest of the group and we started our trip back.
Good thing that we drove back by different way, so there were more awesome scenery.
After couple of hours after arrival to Canaima my friend and I were in the plane to Cuidad Bolivar. Roraima, Merida, Los Roques were coming next.
If you haven’t got any accommodation for your next trip booked yet, try it here: Airbnb.
You will get $25 discount for your first booking
and would be able to stay in a nice room or apartment rented from locals and not just in a dorm!