In previous instalments of our 'Extreme Destinations' series, we have looked at the Arctic, the Amazon and Chile's Atacama Desert. The one thing all three have in common is the extreme environmental and weather conditions that can challenge even the most robust travellers. However, today we have a new extreme destination that is challenging in an entirely different way. It is a destination that requires an incredible amount of personal effort just to achieve the pinnacle – the lookout point at Angel Falls, Venezuela.
Angel Falls has two different names in the native Pemon language. One name means 'waterfall of the deepest place' while the other means 'the fall from the highest point'. Both names are appropriate for a waterfall that is the world's highest and one of the most inaccessible on the planet. Visiting Angel Falls will give you a new perspective of extreme destinations.
The falls are located within the Canaima National Park in the southern region of Venezuela's Bolivar state. Travellers believing they can just drive in and spend a few hours enjoying the wilderness are surprised to find out things are not that simple. What they discover is that there is no overland route to the park. It is accessible only by air.
Complicating matters is the fact that visitors to Canaima have only two choices for airlines; those airlines service only Ciudad and Caracas. However, you may have to transfer flights two or three times just to make it to one of the two cities. At the termination of your flights, you will likely spend the night in a base camp before taking a four-hour river ride deep into the park, followed by a 1-2 hour trek to make it to the lookout point.
Getting to the falls is such an arduous and strenuous exercise that most tour companies set aside three days to get in, see the park, and get out. Depending on your flights to and from home, your entire holiday could be nothing more than going directly to Angel Falls before turning around and heading home. It is a challenge that millions of travellers accept every single year though.
Things to Do
A trip to Angel Falls is not one intended to be packed with activities outside of the park. Seeing Canaima is all about experiencing a vast region of undisturbed nature in all of its glory. The activities you are likely to find include guided boat tours, kayak rentals, base jumping, and swimming in one of the many tranquil lagoons located in the park. There are a number of small villages in the region at which travellers can do a bit of sightseeing and interact with locals.
Angel Falls is one of those destinations in which the challenge of getting there is a significant portion of the thrill. If you are up for an arduous multi-day trek involving planes, boats and old-fashioned shoe leather, consider a trip to Angel Falls. The view makes it all worth it.