Published: January 20th 2010January 20th 2010
Having bought a ticket to fly from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima National Park (one of the largest national parks in the world!) on Saturday, the tour operator then informed me that the plane had a mechanical fault so he would put me up in a hotel for the night and start the trip the following day. Needless to say I wasn’t pressed for time and a free night’s stay in a good quality hotel will always be appreciated. On the Sunday morning there were no such problems with the plane. The 6-seater Cessna got us to Canaima Village without any problems, but because of it’s size there is no room to store bags, so I was incredibly cramped on the back seat with luggage all around and couldn’t wait to get out. The flight took us over some of the Canaima National Park (with some spectacular views) before landing in Canaima itself. The hostel I was booked in for didn’t realise I was coming so I was the only person left at the airport (more of a shack really), but the incredibly friendly pilot decided to walk me to the hostel himself as he knew where it was. 20 metres from
the shore of Canaima Lagoon, with 7 waterfalls in view, the hostel certainly didn’t have a bad outlook, but on the inside looked like more of an unconverted barn. As the holiday season has just finished over here there aren’t many tourists around, so it’s feels very tranquil and relaxing. The hostel offers free tours every day of the Lagoon and the waterfalls, and I was the only one on the tour, so basically chatted to the tour guide for 3 hours as he showed me the area. Even though it’s dry season the waterfalls were spectacular, and one of the highlights must have been walking behind the biggest one (and getting rather wet in the process). Another highlight was arriving at a crystal clear lake surrounded by white sandy beaches and 2 rather dry waterfalls. Tranquillity was only broken when a group of rather loud Czechs arrived. After a somewhat uncomfortable night in a hammock, the next day it was the flight over Angel Falls followed by the flight back to Ciudad Bolivar. Unfortunately it is very difficult (and therefore too expensive for me) to access Angel Falls on foot as there are no roads and in the dry
Remember that it's dry season!
season the rivers to it are impassable by boat, which is why I went for the flight over instead. The flight was postponed from the morning due to low cloud, but in the end we had to go around midday or else we would miss the flight back to Ciudad Bolivar. As you approach the falls you see a cliff face on one side, which stretches for as far as the eye can see, with waterfalls cascading down every few hundred metres. Angel Falls, being nearly a kilometre high, stretched into the clouds above and therefore we could only see the bottom half, but yet it was still a spectacular flight. Not very easy to get good photos off though! The pilot flew at low altitude (50 m) over one of the rivers back to the airport, including over one of the waterfalls in the Canaima Lagoon, which was also quite a sight!
After the flight back to Ciudad Bolivar, I caught the night bus for the city of Malacay, as the one bus of the day to Mérida had already left. Upon arriving in Malacay the following morning, I switched to a bus for the town of Choroní, a 2 hour ride away through winding mountain roads (very scary when the bus driver rarely slows for bends and only relies on tooting his horn to make any oncoming traffic stop!). This is the main town in another of Venezuela’s National Parks and has lovely beaches on the Caribbean Sea. There is absolutely nothing else to do here besides the beaches, which is why this afternoon I will be heading back to Malacay, and from there onwards to Mérida.