Venezuela: Angel Falls and Orinoco (15 days)
An exceptional non-trekking journey into the more remote regions of Venezuela which takes in some of South America’s least visited and most amazing sights.
Stay in a stilt house and explore exotic flora and fauna by dugout canoe. Sleep in hammocks at riverside enveloped by virgin forest. Explore the Venezuelan wetlands of Los Llanos.
* Experience the natural beauty of the highest waterfall in the world at Angel Falls
* River journey by dugout canoe to the base of Angel Falls
* Explore the dense jungle with awe-inspiring views above the canopy
* Trekking to the summit of Auyan Tepui
* Unique and rarely trekked route on Auyan Tepui
2017 Departure Dates and Costs
June 30 - July 14
September 1 - 15
December 8 - 22
2018 Departure Dates and Costs
June 29 - July 13
August 31 - September 14
December 7 - 21
Tour Cost: $ 3,995 CAD / $ 3,370 USD
Includes domestic flights Ciudad Bolivar/Uruyen/Kavac/Caracas (WE)
Day 1 Arrive Caracas
You will be met on arrival and transferred to the group hotel for overnight accommodation. The remainder of the day is free to acclimatize and take in your first impressions of Venezuela. Caracas is a large modern city. You should be careful when walking after dark, and should avoid walking alone. A group briefing with your tour leader will be held at dinner.
Day 2 Drive to Ciudad Bolivar (B)
This morning we take the 8 hour drive to Ciudad Bolivar. The drive will offer an early insight into Venezuela and its people.
Day 3 Fly to Uruyen, trek to Guarayaca (approx 3 hours walking) (B,L,D)
This morning we fly from Ciudad Bolívar to Uruyen which is a one hour 15 minute flight in a five passenger Cessna. During the flight it will be possible to see the back waters of the Guri Dam, which produces 80% of Venezuela´s electricity and the open cast mine of Cerro Bolivar, one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits. As we fly over the Paragua river, the bare plains change to tropical jungle.
Keen eyes sometimes spot macaws flying in pairs and then we see the first Table Mountains, called tepuis in the Pemon Indian language. As the plane follows the course of the Carrao River, we view the beautiful waterfalls plunging into Canaima Lagoon, (which is where we shall finish the trekking portion of the trip). We then have an option to fly over Angel Falls, a truly unforgettable experience. The walls of Auyatepui loom up ahead and as we get closer we see the castle like towers and crevices of this ancient structure. We fly into the Devils Canyon and as the aircraft rounds a corner we see the 947-metre freefall of Angel Falls. After a couple of heart pounding passes our pilot takes us to the valley of Kamarata, home to our hosts for the next two weeks, the Kamaracoto Indians of the Pemon tribe. Uruyen, our destination, is a village built of typical Indian huts, Churuatas, which are nestled right in front of the mighty Auyan Tepui – an almost unreal sight of peace and beauty.
We continue our journey in Toyota Landcruisers. The vehicles take us and our porters across four rivers and through a beautiful jungle ringed savannah, as close as possible to the foothills of Auyan Tepui. Here the porters arrange their loads and we begin the hike up a very, very steep hill to our beautiful campsite at Guaracaya. Located next to a brook, surrounded by trees, our guides will prepare a delicious meal and tell stories of Indian legends and past exploits.
Day 4 To El Peñon (7 hours walking) (B,L,D)
Another early start on the longest day of the trip. We have an altitude gain of over 1500 metres. The trail takes us across a marsh, home to at least 2 species of insectivorous plants, lush tropical jungle with huge trees, vines, and up a near vertical never ending jungle clad hill which leaves even the fittest wishing they had done more training. We have lunch on a small plain and continue hiking uphill, now on the mountain’s upper talus slope, to our second night’s campsite, El Peñon. Once again there is a cascading mountain stream nearby where we can take an invigorating (if not to saya little chilly) but definitely needed bath. El Peñon (The Rock) is a huge boulder under which about 50 people can sleep. Looking south from our vantage point we can see an endless sea of junglewith Tepuis jutting above it like black icebergs. On a moonlit night the view from the campsite is spectacular. To the north looms the totally sheer rock face we have to negotiate tomorrow. We can see the ramp we will take to reach the top. Our guides point out that the rock we are sleeping under is one of the oldest on the planet, over two thousand million years old!
Day 5 Ascent to El Libertador (4 hours) or El Oso (7 hours) (B,L,D)
Today is the steepest day of the hike. First we have to negotiate an area of boulders, which can be treacherous when wet. The flora in this area is fascinating, and extremely photogenic. Next we have a near vertical muddy trail which leads us up to the very base of the sheer cliff. Here we rest and prepare ourselves for the final assault. The trail follows a crevice strewn with huge boulders, which we negotiate our way over, around, or under. There are 5 fixed ropes, which we use to aid our ascent. At one point we will stop and look in awe as we find ourselves in a gully inside the heart of the mountain with ancient species of plants, eerie wind-blown patterns on the rocks that tower all around us, dizzying views across the plain far below, and echoes of every sound we make. We go through a maze like area of underground chambers and then emerge onto the incredible summit of Auyantepui. Tepui means house in the Pemon vernacular, and Auyan means Spirit. Our guides believe that this is the home of their ancestors, and not the good ones either. Botanists also believe that it is heaven since 95% of the plant species that exist on the mountain are only found on the Tepuis. The views west across the nearly flat summit are awe inspiring on a clear day. Huge crevasses; chunks of rock lying strewn like giant dice; valleys so enormous they stretch into the hazy blue horizon. To the east the Kamarata plain where we began the hike, is now so far below us that a human figure is indistinguishable. Here we rest and your leader will decide either to camp here in Libertador, or continue for another 3 hours to a spectacular campsite called “El Oso”. Here, another fallen boulder provides shelter right in the middle of the mountain’s summit and a nearby river provides the possibility of a relaxing swim.
Day 6 On the summit - nature hikes (B,L,D)
Today we take short nature hikes, seeing and photographing orchids, bromeliads, all kinds of wonderful vegetation (all very ancient species ), swimming and experiencing the atmosphere of this “Lost World”. On the flat summit of this mountain there are jungles, rivers, waterfalls and entire ecosystems.
Day 7 Descend to El Penon (5 hours) (B,L,D)
Today we make the descent to El Peñon by the same route we ascended.
Day 8 Descend to Uruyen (about 7 hours) Complete trek (B,L,D)
We walk back along the same trail we used to climb up. Down through the jungle where we have spotted white lipped tapir, deer, howler monkeys, coati mundis, jaguar tracks, tarantulas and the dreaded 2 inch long 24 hour ants. We arrive in Guarayaca, our first night’s campsite, at lunchtime, and have a break. Then we continue downhill to the Río Ocoñe where a vehicle will be waiting to take us to Uruyen, a small Indian village near the river Uruyen. Here we have basic rooms with private bathrooms, showers, beds and cold beer.
Day 9 Around Uruyen (B,L,D)
Today we take an exhilarating hike to Uruyen Canyon. In order to get to the 80 foot falls located at the end of an extremely narrow canyon, we have to hike through jungle, wade and swim across the river, and pull ourselves up a rope. Our Kamaratacoto guide will carry our cameras in waterproof bags so we can photograph the stunning canyon. We visit the Uruyen canyon, similar to that of Kavac but with more attractions, a 10-foot waterslide, a dizzying 3-foot whirlpool, and a possible visit to our porters´ village, Santa Marta. (Depends on the blisters, bruises and weather)
Day 10 Fly to Canaima (B,L,D)
Today we fly over Auyan Tepui to Canaima, the gateway to the Angel Falls. Upon arrival in Canaima we have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy this scenic village and the surrounding lagoons and waterfalls.
Day 11 To Angel Falls base camp (4 hours) (B,L,D)
Today we leave the Carrao River and enter the Devils canyon. The water becomes a raging torrent, the sheer walls of Auyan Tepui hang above us. The trees crowd into the river and the master Kamaracoto boatmen leave us breathless and applauding as they negotiate impossible rock barriers in the foaming current. We finally arrive at Ratoncito Island, our camp at the base of the falls. We take a 45-minute stroll to Laime’s lookout, where the world’s highest waterfall looms directly above the white spray and takes an aeon to touch the rocks below. A truly unforgettable and awesome sight. Conditions permitting we can take a swim in a pool at the base of the falls.
Day 12 Angel Falls to Canaima (4 hours) (B,L,D)
This morning we set off downstream from Ratoncito and then hurtle down to the Carrao River, breathing a sigh of relief when we reach the tranquil waters of the Carrao. We continue to Canaima where, after a tour of Salto El Sapo, a thundering waterfall that we can walk behind, we bid a fond farewell to our good-natured Kamaracoto boatmen, and we stay in a camp close to the Canaima lagoon.
Day 13 Fly to Ciudad Bolivar and Caracas (B)
We board our charter plane to Ciudad Bolivar or Puerto Ordaz for the scheduled commercial plane to Caracas. On arrival in Caracas we are met and transferred to our comfortable beach hotel in Chichirivichi on the pristine Caribbean Coast for our last 2 nights.
Day 14 Caribbean Coast at Chichirivichi (B)
Today is free to enjoy this coastal paradise. You can snorkel or swim or simply relax. A perfect finale to an amazing adventure.
Day 15 Trip concludes in Caracas (B)
The trip concludes after breakfast with a departure transfer to the airport.
Orinoco Delta & Warao Indians
We begin at an isolated Indian village east of Tucupita deep in the Orinoco Delta Nature Reserve, a luxuriant mangrove forest of outstanding beauty. Staying for three nights in stilt houses, we use local dugouts and meet the native Warao tribe. We’ll observe exotic flora and fauna, and see how the great Orinoco shapes the life of the Indian villagers.
Rainforest Canoe Journey & Angel Falls
Flying into the Indian settlement of Kamarata on the Rio Akanau, our next four days are spent travelling to Canaima by canoe, guided through the rapids by our skilled Indian boatmen. Sleeping in hammocks in simple shelters on the river bank at night, we are enveloped by virgin forest and eerie silences broken only by shrieking jungle calls. The glistening waters of Angel Falls knife downwards in a single unbroken cascade, leaping some 975m off the vertical escarpment of Auyan Tepui (‘Devil’s Mountain’, 2400m) - the tallest waterfall in the world. When water levels allow, we’ll make a day-hike to the base of the falls.
Alligators, Anacondas & Anteaters
The Venezuelan wetlands of Los Llanos are a little visited showcase of tropical wildlife. On our stay at a working cattle ranch we hope to see alligator, anaconda, capabari, turtle, freshwater dolphin and armadillo. We may be lucky enough to spot the huge Orinoco crocodile and the giant anteater as well as over 100 of the 750 species of birds found in the area. We may also see the Venezuelan cowboys close up as they work with the cattle on the ranch. We will have an opportunity to fish in the rivers where we can expect to catch piranhas!
This trip is graded moderate to challenging and is suitable only for fit and healthy people. Prior trekking is not necessary, although you would be expected to be comfortable in the outdoors and enjoy camping for successive periods. These adventures involve trekking for up to 6 - 8 hours a day at a steady pace and may include longer days up to 10 hours combined with high pass crossings. These trips may spend successive days at altitudes not generally exceeding 3,000m and the actual treks are usually between 10 and 15 days in duration. You will need a good level of fitness and be in good health. * Suggested preparation: 45 minutes of aerobic type exercise, three to five times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. Hill walking with a pack in variable weather conditions is also recommended. To prepare for a walking holiday we recommend you take every opportunity to walk up and down stairs and/or hills, for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness. Please remember the fitter you are the more you will enjoy your holiday.