Lies and Water

Trip Start Sep 20, 2008
1
6
29
Trip End Sep 2009


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Flag of Venezuela  , Guayana Highlands,
Thursday, October 9, 2008

After a long discussion about if it was worth it to spend the amount of money that they were asking (1400 bolivares each) we decided to venture ourselves to Angel Falls... We had already given up on our first plan of Los Roques, and stubbornly Ali will not give up on the idea of seeing at least one of the major attractions of Venezuala before running to cheaper shores of Colombia.

Arriving to Ciudad Bolivar (the getaway for the falls) after a 5 hour bus trip Guillermo (the person that Andreina put us in contact with) was waiting at the bus terminal. He had arranged a posada for the night and after explaining to us the itinerary for the next morning dropped us there. Compared to the other posadas this was extremely different (sadly we didn't get the name) it had more the look of a hotel than an actual posada, and even though the surroundings weren't the safest, inside was very well organized and the people helpful. After realizing we could save 50Bolivares by sleeping in a dorm, with loads of beds and an open balcony view of a center plaza with palm trees and only one other occupant, we went to prepare ourselves for the next early morning´s adventure and called it a night.

As promised Guillermo was there nice and early - strange for southamerican timing - to take us to the airport, and even though we were the first to arrive, we were one of the last ones to leave. The planes that take you to the natinal park, are not your traditional 737 planes... these are tiny planes with 4 or 5 seats (one with the pilot), in which you can feel every tiny breath of wind is gonna blow you out of the sky. The lack of safety is first apparent, and we begin to adjust for the basic lifestyle we would be enduring these next few days. Ali's door on the way back was still open, but this first part of the trip was really exciting and the view amazing - our first glimpses of Tepui´s waterfalls, and lakes.

We got to Canaima, and after been divided in indigenous camps met with our group (us, a colombian guy,  and a venezuelan family), and were told we had 10 minutes to get changed, because we would be going straight to the falls. From now on - not even one minute to breathe... one activity after another. The next part of the trip would be by boat. These were around 3ft by 20ft, with a large motor at one end, and rows of arsenumbing benches through the middle. Once 'comfortable'  the "chalupa", started its journey up the river, straight into rapids which make the beginning of the journey very exciting/scary/wet, meeting half way with the rest of the group who had started already (more colombians, spanish and japanese).

Ernesto (our guide) suggested from here it would take us two and a half hours, and more than 4 hours later (our first lie!), soaked with river water and rain water, and the seats doing a good job of flattening our backsides, we would arrive at the campsite. Half along the way ernesto had told us to put on our rain coats beacuse it was going to rain, not much use after getting absolutly soaked with river water however the journey was amazing with the river winding through tepuis and little waterfalls all around.

Campsite is an overstatement. This was more similar to a barn - without walls. Though its basicness was part of the charm, with the kitchen outside, and the Angel falls in plain view (apart from the clouds) just behind it, with a long table in the middle. Best of all Ernesto promised there were no mosquitoes, yet 5mins later as ppl came to him with evidence of bites, and demanding the beer promised as a guarentee, mosquito nets were added to the hammocks he had begun to hang around the 'campsite'!!! (2nd lie)

After a quick swim in the river we got changed and sat around the big table getting to know the others and waiting anxiously for food - spit roasted chicken cooked on a fire under the falls, and eaten by candlelight with river and waterfall noises as the background! Food was absolutly amazing and after a massive discussion about colombian and venezuelian politics, held mainly by Almar 'The Costeņo', the night got a bit more musical with a classic singsong mainly held by the colombian part of the group (Almar, Eliana and Caro).

Our first night in a hammock is uncomfortable, and, due to the mosquitoes and general strange feeling of sleeping while hanging, most of us seemed to have been already awake for our 4:30am alarm time. A beautiful trek through the rainforest, with a distinct lack of wildlife, up rocks and in and out of tree roots, mainly uphill, we arrive to the falls view point... and what a good idea to go early because climbing up that hill with a lot of sun wouldnt have been so much fun!! Got to the view point at around 6:30, and while the view was spectacular, the vast majority of the falls themselves were shrouded in heavy mist. Not to be disheartened and anyways, thankful for the short rest, some of the group went to have a dip under the falls, while we stayed with the other half to see if the mist would lift sufficiently til we could see the falls to the top. After two hours waiting very patiently, and violent swatting of the mosquitoes all around us, the mist finally opened fully for a total of 30 seconds, Enough time to be dumbstruck by the size and beauty, and then to get that elusive picture, before being lost again to the mists. Made all the wait worth it and much more special... it was a very memorable moment!!!!

Another long walk back to camp, where breakfast of arepas and scrambled eggs were waiting and got ready for another long chalupa trip back to Canaima, this time not as exiting and much more tiring, and wet enough that all our semi-dried clothes could endure another soaking. Despite this, still some stunning views.

Back at Canaima we say goodbye to half of the group, namely the two spanish couples, we went to have a quick lunch and get prepared for the second main part of the trip.

Another chalupa, though a much shorter trip this time and less rapids across the Canaima Lagoon, before starting a walk through hills and savannahs to the top of a smaller waterfall, named Salto del Sapo (Frog - though saw no evidence of frogs), where we started with photo taking, before Ernesto - thinking we were all too dry, took us a little further for a trip behind the falls, where we got absolutly soaked! It was amazing to hear the water roaring all around us, and have a curtain of water in front of us. More photo opportunities, and half a chance to dry ourselves before heading back underneath and behind (our drying session seeming a little pointless), and then walking back to Canaima lagoon for the next watery experience. Should point out that this was now around 5pm, and the light was starting to fade, the light here is gone by half past 5, and its is essentially pitch black by 6. A walk through the knee high river to Salto Hacha (Axe - though thankfully no evidence of falling axes), and more slippery rocks, deadly drops we walk thrhough another curtain of water, into a cavern under the waterfall, for more photos. This fall was much bigger than the 'Sapo', and the sound and feeling of power just mindblowing. Unfortunately this awesome experience had to be cut short before essentially running back before the night set in and we would not be able to see the way forward. Feeling the extreme lack of safety being replaced by hunger and a feeling of permanent dampness, headed back to the main park for dinner, and a reflection on the incredible days we had spent here. Both so different, both so intense, and completely 'vale la pena'.

Next morning an early breakfast before heading round the indigenous villages, and souvenir stores, then being loaded onto the tiny planes back to Ciudad Bolivar.

Sorry for the lack of photos this time, just waiting on them to be sent to us!

Hope your all well, hasta luego!

Ali and Caro
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Comments

mmcigarro
mmcigarro on

Do Alentejo com amor
Caro e Ali esperamos que as vossas aventuras continuem a acabar sempre em beleza. Portem-se bem...
Beijos e Abraços
Manel e Inês
Love you

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