The Venezuelan Diaries
Journey To The Falls
We awoke before sunrise, 4 am for our adventure to find Angel Falls, the tallest uninterrupted drop of almost 1km, one of the natural wonders of the world. We shared an early snack of biscuits and a shot of coffee to line our stomachs for the epic journey ahead. The simple curaria was a dug out canoe with an outboard motor and bum numbing hard planks as seats. The river began, still, calm and the majestic Tepuy mountains shot through the gums of the earth baring their jagged and crooked molars, belonging to an ancient age. Thin yellow streaked across the sky as a messenger preceding its master. Then the orange presence of the sun crept up behind the Tepuy forcing them to submit their dark shadows across the green spongy mattress of spiky tall grass, heavy trees refreshed by the night rainfall.
Cruising along the river barely eight inches above the surface, something awoke in me. It was the recognition that this landscape was like no other I had experienced. It was totally foreign. We disembarked for a brisk’ish walk as the shapely families along with their respective siblings, Ibrahin, an eight year old lad with machine gun Spanish and Estephanie a charming and aware teenager followed. We boarded the boat for our next part of the journey up river. The water was dyed deep red orange from the decomposing vegetation and rock minerals. One imagined how the indigenous Amerindians lived along its shores, fishing, trading and washing in its luminescence. The hard bumpy ride lasted for 4 hours with a short break for breakfast…it was fuel for the day rather than a gourmet experience. The skipper and his lad safely manoeuvred us through the rapids around boulders sporting long hair grass wigs, toucans journeyed overhead from canopy to canopy as electric blue swifts accompanies us as an advance party. Trees bowed to the river’s dominance and the jungle beyond remained tangled and wild with vines dressing the branches with elegance. The sun scaled the sky and blessed everything in its sight with its energy and splendour. Regular soakings became predictably amusing and offered no nuisance in our journey. The river coursed its way around Tepuy after Tepuy teasing us with glimpses of waterfalls one after the other, they never ceased to impress. The boat chugged, the motor dropped gear and we banked at a tiny island. Was this it? Our eyes questioned Ruben and he replied ‘It’s one hour and thirty minutes walk through the jungle’. Excitement gripped our feet and we left Ruben’s small sturdy frame to encourage the women, whose footwear was sure to slow them down.