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Published: December 4th 2012
Ready for Christmas
At the Hotel before heading into the national park.
For a completely different Thanksgiving, I and six other teachers ventured to Canaima National Park to see the number one tourist attraction in Venezuela - Angel Falls or Santo Angel. We started off the day before Thanksgiving with a four+ hour bus ride to Ciudad Bolivar where we spent the night in a hotel that was already decorated for Christmas. It was a bit strange seeing a Christmas tree all lit up and decorated when it was still over 80 degrees outside. We were up early Thursday morning for an hour long flight into the national park. Our plane was small, though we saw smaller ones leaving the airport, and it was a pretty bumpy ride. Once we landed, we were picked up by one of the guides with a few other people and shuttled about five minutes to our base camp. Now, when I had read the information about the trip and saw that we would have "standard accommodations at the base camp" the first night, I saw "camp" and figured we would be roughin' it. However, we were put up in what amounted to a hotel room - bathroom and all - on the edge of a town/village that
Seats only 18
lay next to the airport. This town had its own school with more students than go to ours, several "camps" like ours, and a few souvenir shops boasting hand-made crafts. Before lunch, we had a couple of hours to hang out down by the lagoon, into which 4 different waterfalls poured. The water was warm and varying shades of red (from the rocks) that Allison said made it look like we were "swimming in blood". It would have been perfect water to use in "The Ten Commandments". After lunch, we took a boat ride out across the lagoon to see the waterfalls better. After a short hike, we were able to swim in a pool fed by one of the waterfalls and then walk behind another fall. Most of what we walked across would have been underwater if it had been the rainy season. It was quite amazing to see what is underwater for a good portion of the year; it also really gave you a sense of how much water there is during the rainy season.
The next morning, we were off early to canoe (granted the canoe had a motor on it) up the Ucaima
River. It was about a 5.5 hour journey. During the rainy season, we were told, the trip only took about 3 hours, but during the rainy season though you may go faster you miss out on the experience of pushing and pulling the canoe up the river through the really low patches. Our group from Anaco consisted of 6 girls and 1 guy. An older woman - 73 - joined our canoe along with our guide Daniel and our captain and our steerer. We were told before we left that - because we were girls - we would not be allowed to push so it might take us a bit longer. Of course, we took offense at this, especially since several of us are quite outdoorsy. About an hour and a half into our upriver battle, we finally convinced our guide and steerer to let us get out an help push. We progressed much faster. Though I fully enjoyed this completely interactive experience, I realize it is not for everyone - so if you are considering a visit to Angel Falls, take this into consideration and bring plenty of guys along with you 😊 Around 2:00 we reached the base
Dereek, Allison, and I
Such cool water color!
of Angel Falls and began an hour hike up to the higher base. Though not as impressive as it would be in the rainy season, Angel Falls was certainly worth the canoe ride/walk. Again we were able to swim below the falls. The water was extremely cold, but my Finnish blood came through and after about a minute, I was numb enough to enjoy the water. Before it got dark, we headed back down and across the river to our camp where we enjoyed a huge dinner of chicken and potatoes and sleeping in hammocks. As comfortable as sleeping in a hammock sounds, it was one of the most uncomfortable nights I have spent camping in a long time. I believe if I would have had a pillow, I would have been much more comfortable.
We were up even earlier on our third day - mostly thanks to the group who was leaving first and was unable to get ready and pack up quietly - for our trek back down the river. With the help of the current, we did not have to get out and push/pull the canoe though our captain did some pretty amazing maneuvering
- at one point we went down a small set of rapids backwards and then turned between two giant rocks to face forward again. The clouds and reflections in the water were beautiful, and I could have stayed on the river for a lot longer. After lunch, we boarded our small plane again and left the national park behind. Hopefully more jungle/wilderness adventures are in my future!!
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