Canaima to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuelau
Apr 12, 2014
|Thursday 10th April 2014
Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima then by river to base of Angel Falls camp, Venezuela
After breakfast we were picked up and transported to the local airport where we were all checked into 1 eighteen seater plane and 2 five seater planes (these were Cessnas). We were on one of the Cessnas and we set off to Canaima, which is the gateway to the largest national park in Venezuela. When we arrived there, we were transported on an open truck to the lodge about 5 minutes away. There was quite a deal of confusion about who was doing what and when as there were two options – one was to go up river to the camp and the other option was to stay at the lodge and go to the Kavak Village on the next day. The guide thought that everyone would be able to go up river to either see the falls or hike to the falls and those who were going to the village could still get back in time if they left from the camp very early in the morning. So we all went up river in 3 canoes, 6 in one canoe, 8 in the second canoe and 10 in the third canoe. They told us that the river was quite low (being the dry season) and we might have to assist getting the canoes up the rapids. So off we set at about 11:45am with an expected arrival time of about 5:00pm (about 5 hours). The day was beautiful and fine and the scenery was absolutely stunning – tepuis (flat topped mountains) and jungle and the beautiful river. On the main river, we went along quite fast with only a few pushes and getting out into the river, but after we had lunch, we then turned into the tributary that had less water and more shallow rapids to negotiate. Each time we grounded the guides in the boat and the guys from the trip had to jump out into the fast flowing river and assist in getting the canoes up the rapids. As the day wore on, it became very tiring and we literally had to jump in at least 50 times. Eventually it got dark and we were still out on the river without having reached the camp. We were in the last boat and arrived at 7:30pm, nearly 8 hours after we left downstream. We were very wet and very cold. After walking up from the river to the “camp” where we were to sleep in hammocks, we got changed and after about an hour we had a very nice dinner. After dinner they told us that the hike up to the lookout below the Angel Falls would start at 5:00am the next morning and the people going to Kavac would start back at 6:00am, after seeing the falls from across the river. At about 11:30pm, we went to sleep in our hammocks on the top level of the building in which we were staying to the sound of falling rain.
Friday 11th April 2014
Hike to Angel Falls and back to Canaima, Venezuela
It rained most of the night but had stopped by the time we woke up at around 4:30am. David got dressed for the hike to the lookout beneath the falls – Lynn was woken up at the same time, but wasn’t leaving to go back until 6:00am, so David set off with the group. The walk was quite difficult especially because it started well before sunrise and the terrain was wet, stony and then on the main track lots of tree roots. Anyway we walked up for almost two hours and reached the lookout and were able to see Angel Falls. It is a magnificent sight and was well worth the hard slog through the jungle to get there. After taking photos and spending some time there, we walked back and had breakfast. In the meantime, Lynn had seen the view of the falls from the camp and also from across the river and had departed with 7 others in the group back down the river to meet up with the plane to take them to Kavac. We should say that Lynn had only decided to go to Kavak the day before – it was an optional additional activity which was supposed to be to an indigenous village and sounded interesting. She would not have done it if it was an alternative to the falls but given it was possible to do both she said she would go along. After breakfast, David’s group went in the other two canoes downstream back to Canaima. It was so much easier going downstream and because of the rain overnight, the river was about 40-50cm deeper so the canoes only bottomed out (and had to be pushed) about five times. This time the trip took about 5 hours and they got back to the lodge at around 3:00pm. When we arrived the people who had gone back without doing the walk were still there as they had missed the booked flight to Kavak. They had enjoyed a slightly more leisurely breakfast, leaving at 6am. Lynn sat and viewed the falls whilst eating her breakfast, then they all packed their things and went by canoe to the opposite bank where there was a good view of the Falls. They then set off back down the river. The going was slightly easier as they were travelling with the current this time and the night rain had slightly increased the river level – however, 2 of the guys still had to jump out many times to assist with dragging the canoe over the rocks. Once in the main part of the river it started to look as if the going was too slow to make the flight. They even went down several sets of steep rapids instead of walking around them – this was fun! – but to no avail as the flight was missed. It was arranged to take the trip to Kavak the next day instead. So, once David’s group arrived at the lodge we all relaxed for the remainder of the day, had a really nice dinner then to bed, exhausted after all our efforts.
Saturday 12th April 2014
Canaima to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela
Today after breakfast, they confirmed that the people who were going to Kavak yesterday would be going today. The others would be doing a flight over the falls, so after a few false starts, David went off to do the overflight and Lynn went to the airport to catch the flight to Kavak and then both would separately fly back to Ciudad Bolivar. Today, clouds covered the falls so it wasn’t possible for David to see them on his overflight but luckily he had seen them yesterday. Meanwhile Lynn and 7 others headed off for Kavak in 3 different planes. They were becoming a little confused about the activity as the proposed visit to an indigenous village appeared to be morphing into a visit to a cave and they had been told to take swimwear. They flew for about an hour and arrived at a very open and dry valley. The airstrip was packed dirt and so, after a bumpy landing, they all met up together in the basic resort next to the landing strip, changed into swimmers, and were led by a local guide along a track which ended at a chilly but fresh pool in the rocks. Once they had swum across, they entered a small canyon and partly paddled and partly swam about 40 metres until they entered a large cave which had a waterfall coming down in the middle. It was a delightful place and, although there was no indigenous village, they all had a good time until it was time to return to the planes and the flights back. Lynn’s plane flew directly back to Ciudad Bolivar and so later in the day around 4:30pm we met up back at the hotel in Ciudad Bolivar, had a few drinks, chatted to other members of the group, had dinner and to bed around 10:30pm.