Angel Falls and Canaima National Park: The Complete Guide

Arriving at Canaima National Park in southeastern Venezuela is like being transported millions of years ago to a prehistoric era.

Appropriately, the area inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's dinosaur-filled novel, "The Lost World," which later inspired author Michael Crichton as he wrote "Jurassic Park."

Here, undulating savannas, moriche palm groves, mountain forests, and dense river forests meet steep cliffs that drop from impressive flat-topped plateau mountains called tepuis.

The waterfalls cascade down many of the steep sides of the tepuis, but one, in particular, is Canaima's biggest attraction: Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world and considered one of the seven natural wonders in all of South America.

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Things to Do

Canaima is a huge national park that spans over 12,000 square miles, but since there are no roads and most parts are inaccessible, most visitors are limited to the western region around the city of Canaima, which serves as a gateway to the park.

In the municipality of Canaima, there is a lagoon that is a popular meeting place to cool off during the day, although an even better place to dive is Cachoeira do Sapo.

The hike to Sapo takes about two hours round trip, but hikers can swim at the base and even hike behind the waterfall for a different perspective.

What is most sought after in Canaima is, without a doubt, going to Angel Falls, or Angel Falls.

At 3,212 feet, it's the tallest waterfall in the world and an impressive sight (which is roughly 15 times taller than Niagara Falls, to put it in perspective).

Angel Falls falls from the most popular tepui in the park, which is Auyantepui, although not the highest.

This distinction is for the tepui known as Monte Roraima, which is located on the triple border of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana.

More experienced hikers can climb to the top of Roraima, although the round trip takes between five and six days.

An unusual excursion is to go deeper into the park and camp in one of the towns of the Pemón indigenous community.

The Pemón people are the stewards of the land for a long time and it was originally called Angel Falls Kerepakupai Merú, which means "waterfall from the deepest place" (the name Angel comes from the American explorer Jimmie Angel, who "discovered" the falls when they crashed his plane.

The most popular place to visit is the village of Kavac, at the southern tip of Auyantepui, which is a traditionally recreated village and visitors can spend the night in a palm tree hut while learning about local customs.

Kavac, you will need to take a single-engine plane from Canaima, as there are no roads leading there.

Angel Falls

Many flights entering Canaima will fly over Angel Falls to get an aerial view, but the only way to actually get to the falls is to book a river tour from Canaima city via curiara, which is a motorized canoe.

You can book a tour from abroad before you arrive in Venezuela, but you will find the best deals when you are there.

The most competitive rates are generally found in Ciudad Bolívar, from where most visitors fly to reach Canaima, although you will also find tour organizers in Caracas.

Tour groups generally include your flight to Canaima and then a two- or three-day excursion to Angel Falls, including your room and food during the expedition.

The Curiaras depart from Canaima and take between four and six hours to reach Angel Falls, depending on the level and current of the river, followed by a one-hour walk.

Once you are there, the tour leader will take you to explore caves, hike, observe wildlife, and swim in the park's rivers.

Please note that boats can only reach Angel Falls during the rainy season, from June to December.

Where to Be Near

Camping is not allowed in the national park to maintain its natural beauty, but there are many campgrounds around the park that offer similar camping accommodations.

You may not pitch your own tent, but cabins and rustic cabins are reminiscent of campgrounds.

Most of the accommodation options are in the city of Canaima, but there are also some options along the road that runs through the eastern part of the park.

Ucaima Jungle Rudy Camp

One of the most popular places to spend the night in Canaima is this eco-lodge.

It is located about three kilometers from the city of Canaima, so you will feel in the middle of the jungle, without being too far from civilization.

The lodge can also organize excursions to Angel Falls for guests departing directly from the property.

Wakü Lodge

Located in the city of Canaima on the shores of the lagoon, Wakü is on the edge of the luxury options of the national park.

The bungalows are fully equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay and all your meals are provided while you are there.

Parakaupa Camp

This accommodation option in Canaima is close to the airport and is more basic than Ucaima or Wakü, but also much more affordable, making it a favorite for budget travelers.

All rooms have private bathrooms with hot water and your meals are also provided, so all basic needs are covered at Parakaupa.

How to Get There

The isolation of Canaima National Park is part of its fascination and getting there is half the adventure.

To get to Angel Falls you have to start in the city of Canaima, which is the center of the entire western region of the park and accessible only by air.

When you book an excursion to Angel Falls in Caracas or Ciudad Bolívar, almost all include your air traffic to Canaima.

The east side is less visited, but if you are climbing Mount Roirama, there is a road that runs through the eastern part of the park to the border with Brazil.

Tips For Your Visit

  • The park is open year-round, but you can only take a boat to Angel Falls in the rainy season, when the rivers are full, which runs from June to December.

August and September are the wettest months and while the falls are at their peak, cloudy weather often spoils the views.

October and November are the best months to visit, as the falls are still impressive, but the sky is clearer.

  • There are also advantages to visiting in the dry season.

Not only is the park much less crowded and fares are lower, but the always clear skies mean that the tepui peaks are easily visible and you can fly over them in a plane.

  • The park is almost on the equator and, apart from the rains, the weather does not fluctuate much during the year.

However, if you are spending the night on one of the tepui peaks, the temperatures can drop to zero, so make sure you pack properly.

  • There is a fee to enter the park, which all visitors must pay upon arrival at Canaima airport.

Your admission is valid for your entire stay in the park.

  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Canaima National Park.

If you do not have a document proving that you have been vaccinated, you will be vaccinated for free at the airport.

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