07.09.2010 - 12.09.2010 39 °C
So after a long long bus journey from Merida with a window that wouldnt stop whistling, we arrived in Ciudad Bolivar at about half 6pm. Normally this would be plenty of time to get sorted with a hostel and get some food, except everything shuts at bang on 6 for some unknown reason in Ciudad Bolivar. So we quickly checked into a small pousada and legged it to a bakery in town that was still open.
The next day we did a bit of shopping around to find a tour to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world (nearly a kilometer high). After looking around a bit we realized that most tours were the same, and most tour groups got lumped together anyway, so just went with the cheapest company- one that also gave us a couple of nights free in their hotel which was a bonus. We spent the rest of the day walking around the town, which was relatively pleasant by day, and watching fishermen chucking fish nets into the Orinoco river to kill time.
The next day was an early start to get to the airport, even though we spent a good 2+ hours sitting around doing nothing. Finally at about half 8 we bundled into the tiniest little Cessna airplane, that had room for just 5 people and the driver. Sadie was properly bricking it at this point, saying things like ´its too small´ and ´my car is bigger than this´, but by the time we´d taken off she was enjoying it. Got some awesome views of jungle and Venezuelas famous ´tepuis´, or table top mountains.
Once we arrived in Canaima, the launch pad for Angel Falls, we had a few hours to kill which we spent on the beach. Its really strange because it looks almost like a seaside beach, with white sand and palm trees and that, but a few hundred meters away there are these two giant waterfalls, which is quite cool.
After lunch, we got taken up to these falls to see them closer and then went for a little walk through the jungle to get to these two waterfalls that you could walk right underneath. You can actually cross from one side of the river to the other by walking behind the water, which is really cool- although you get completely soaked and the ground is pretty slippery. We also climbed up to the top of the waterfall for some really nice views of the mountains and jungle all around.
That evening we went in search of a place selling beer, but to no avail, so a french couple shared some rum with us and we sat up chatting for a while before heading to bed. Just before settling down, Sadie made the discovery that the bathroom sink was only attatched to the wall with glue when she tried to rest her foot on it to put on some insect repellent. To most people, it would probably seem like a sensible idea not to rest your foot on the sink again, in case the sink took a bit of a tumble. Not Sadie. I was sat on the bed getting ready for the boat trip to Angel Falls when I heard a massive smash come from the bathroom. A couple of seconds later, Sadie emerges, ashen faced from the bathroom- having completely desecrated the sink, leaving shards of porcelain everywhere. Luckily we didnt have to pay for it, but I just hope it gives people an idea of what I have to put up with!
So after that small episode, we all set off on a 4+ hour boat ride through the jungle to Angel Falls. It was a really fun journey, despite all getting numb arses, with amazing views of all the table top mountains. Apparently, these tepuis were caused by millions of years of erosion, and life up there on the tables has evolved differently from anywhere else- so you get loads of endemic species of reptiles and plants, which is where the idea of The Lost World came about. Its a really cool experience being surrounded by all these bizzare rock formations jutting out of the rainforest- it almost does feel like being on a different planet!
So eventually, having navigated some fairly tricky rapids in the canoe, we arrived at the trail head for Angel Falls. You could see the falls in the distance, and to be honest they did actually look a little more impressive from a little further away, as you get a better view of how high up they actually are. Nevertheless, we started along the trail head throught the jungle to the falls, which took a good hour and was a sweaty experience. Here is a good point to state that our guide was crap- he was about 16 years old, didnt speak any English (we had a group of non spanish speakers on the tour, who didnt have a clue what was going on), and knew less than I did about Angel Falls and the area (good old Wikipedia). We did manage to get him to tell us how high the falls were- 976 meters. Pretty big. The viewpoint of the Falls was cool too, you can see it really close up and it looks all big and waterfally.
After that we went off to a little pool at the bottom of the falls that you can swim in in the dry season, but because its the rainy season, the currents were too strong. We had to head back pretty quick too because our guide liked to run on ahead and a bunch of Germans got lost in the jungle. So we raced back, narrowly avoiding a dangerous encounter with a deadly poisonous snake, and found them at the start of the trail head safe and sound.
That night we headed across the river and ate and slept (in hammocks) in a small shelter right across the water from Angel Falls, which was awesome. We got to watch the sun set across from the waterfalls from our shelter which was nice.
The next day we got up at 6 and ate breakfast while watching toucans and macaws fly past the falls, and then got in the boat to head back to Canaima just as a load of clouds rolled in and obscured all the views. The journey back was a lot of fun too as we were going with the flow of the river so we sped down the rapids, nearly wrecking the boat at a few points. The views of all the tepuis covered in clouds was really eerie and cool too.
So after flying back to Ciudad Bolivar, we spent another day in the free hotel and then hopped on a nightbus to Santa Elaina near the Brazilian border. Time was running out for us, and the country was getting expensive because we had run out of all our black market bolivares, so we darted straight across the border to Brazil and caught another nightbus down to Manaus, where we are now. Smack bang in the middle of the Amazon. Which is pretty cool.
Ps- Its 40 degrees in the shade here- killer!