Although I am a person who totally loves spontaneity, there is something to be said about “knowing” that you are about to have a great adventure in life. Such was the occasion when good friends Nels and Linda Hagenson, along with Paul Carrell (Village Cay Marina Dockmaster) and his lovely wife Judy, flew down from the BVI to visit in Nel’s private Cessna 206 airplane. As with all close friends it is always fun to be together, but this particular visit was a fantastic expedition. Flying with Jaime Escribens, a Venezuelan tourist executive, friend and interpreter, we entered into the canyons that house Angel Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall measuring some 3200 feet high, exploring the area from almost every angle – what an opportunity. The canyons are steep in rock, wildlife and green foliage and we flew through in some unbelievable angles. By comparison, Niagara Falls has a drop of only 190 feet so Angel Falls is 15 times higher.
Fellow pilots at the nearby runway of Canaima National Park Airport, where we eventually landed, wanted to know what type of pattern Nels had flown as he did not seem to be following the usual route. As a commercial pilot in Canada for some 40+ years he told them, “I simply followed the river.” It makes sense to me and certainly provided us with a terrific thrill.
Angel Falls is located in the southeast of Venezuela in Bolivar State along the border with Brazil. The nearest city is Ciudad Bolivar some 600 km to the north. There are wonderful rapids running along the rivers that connect all of the many falls that are located throughout this area - and there are a lot. We visited at least six separate falls systems on foot and by canoe.
After such an experience one would think that landing in the Amazon Jungle to spend a few days would be anti-climatic. Usually it would be, but this was definitely not the case during this occurrence. After having a two hour air tour of The Guri Dam, and the resulting lake areas, we landed in Canaima National Park, which is where we settled. The Guri Dam, which provides most of Venezuela with electricity, is just amazing and is one of the largest in the world. It is also located in Bolívar State on the Caroni River - is 1300 meters long and 162 meters high. The construction started in 1963, with the first part concluding in 1978, and the second in 1986. Flying over it was absolutely spectacular; all I could think about was what an excellent spot for chartering, in these huge lakes made by the dam itself, would make for international boaters – certainly an untapped resource.
The beauty of the Amazon is unbelievable; there are millions of shades of green with sounds that range from the softness of hummingbirds to the thunder of the many nearby waterfalls. At a location just 5 degrees north of the equator and 350 miles inland, this paradise can be visited either by boat or plane - fortunately, we were able to do both. Our adventure ended at Jungle Rudy’s, a wonderful posada that was beautifully and naturally landscaped, sleeping in screened cabins or outdoor hammocks. After touring in canoes with our Pemon Indian guide, Antonio, we hiked on jungle trails through wilderness, and also trekked behind furious waterfalls, an event that I shall cover in next month’s All At Sea. I happily admit that I will remember this trip for the rest of my life; during which I became convinced, even more than I already am, of the great beauty of our planet and the total necessity of preserving that which is still wondrous.
WATER LILIES IN AMAZONIAN POOLS - ABOVE CASCADING LEAVES AND FLOWERS FROM THE JUNGLE'S ROOF - BELOW