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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Hiking Angel Falls


After doing the Andes World Travel  Angel Falls - Rappel & Trek trip (Explora Treks in country) we come out with some handy tips for anyone who is looking to do this trek/rappel or another tour which may offer something similar. If your interested in a bit of Angel Falls history and background click here

Fitness and Experience

This trip covers 15-20km per day undulating terrain walking on un-maintained trails. Approx. 8 hour days with jungle bathrooms (if you know what I mean). Abseiling with all your bags and being on some precarious high ledges. With that said you get to see some stunning scenery, meet great people and experience something of a lifetime!

Guides are experienced in taking people on this tour, have climbing experience and very helpful. Abseiling experience is not required but recommended. ExploraTreks recommend a minimum of basic rappel rope management skills. We didn't do much prior however a day course from the Australian School of Mountaineering helped boost confidence.

Revised Packing List 

Amendments to the provided packing list:
  • Snacks (whilst breakfast lunch and dinner is always provided, snacks for the day is not)
  • Soap/shampoo/conditioner (nearly all camps have the opportunity to bath in a river or stream, also handy for washing clothes)
  • Gators or old shoes (not a huge fan of gators but there is some serious mud on this trek)
  • Ear plugs (charted plane sounds like a lawn mower for an hour or two - music earbuds may do the trick)
  • Mosquito (puli puli) net (optional - not on our packing list provided but you do sleep open air a couple of times where they can be bad
  • Plates, cups and forks were on the list but not required

Itinerary

Additional notes to existing itineraries here and here

 

Day 1 - Arrival - Caracas - Cuidad Bolivar

Arrive 3am transit to Cuidad Bolivar arrive midday (9 hour car ride). Transfers normally by connecting flight if available in country (wasn't available for us due to issues in country). Option to leave bag with the tour company at airport and pick up on return flight from Canaima. 

Day 2 - Cuidad Bolivar - Uruyen Camp

Up breakfast 7am fly 8-9am (take ear plugs - leave stuff at airport) to campsite (1.5 hours - 7000ft). Arrive noon. Hike to swimming hole (3 hour round trip - no box lunch). Dinner around 4-5pm plus briefing

Day 3 - Uruyen Camp - Guayaraca Camp

7am weigh gear hike by 8.40 first campsite 5-6 hours 15km (4 hours with lunch - 1 hour to cliff 2 hours climb 1 hour to camp site with lunch stop). Arrive around 2. Go for swim in near by river


Day 4 - Guayaraca Camp - El Penon Camp

Up at 6.40 hiking by 8.40 up hill Forrest across plain to jungle take water before going up ascent in jungle. Lunch at big rock with site seeing of previous levels. Continue up jungle forest to campsite (6 hours). Setup camp under the rock and refresh in the stream 2 mins away.


Day 5 - El Penon Camp - El Oso Camp

Up at 6.40 for 8.30 start walk to cliff face up similar terrain as before. At the cliff face walk and climb your way using various rope systems to the 3rd terrace. Take lunch and continue to walk to the next camp site over flat rock. Make sure you pack your toggs in your day pack for a mid day bath in the orange river. Short 45 minute walk to camp (finish at 4.30 - 8hours). Fill water at orange river since no water available at the campsite.

Day 6 - El Oso Camp - Lecho Camp

Short day today. Set out at 9am across the terrace walk through forest to the Churun river, arrive at 11.30 and take a swim while lunch is prepared. Another 45mins through undulating terrain alo
ng the river to the next camp site (1.45pm arrival). More swimming and relaxing

Day 7 - Lecho Camp - Neblina Camp

Mud day! Long pants a must! Ascend away from Churun river up to the ridge to make your way though the labyrinth of trees and rocks. Now the fun part! Navigate the swampy plateau to the creek to refill drink bottles and energy tanks (3hours) then onward through the swamp to the lunch spot by the stream (1 hour). After lunch a little more mud until the downhill decent to the campsite to relax by the creek to wash off all the mud. (9am - 4pm with lunch break).

Day 8 - Neblina Camp - Salto Angel Camp

Early start as the last day hiking will be the hardest. Set out north east through thick scrub for about a hour to the weather station then cut back into the forest where the track will wind through the bush to the lunch spot by the river. After lunch continue for about 2 hours through the bush on the narrow track lined by tree roots to the next camp site on the edge. Take a break or a bath since you earned it and prepare for the rappel.

Day 9 - Rest Day

Rest day today (or at least on our trip since its negotiable) is a good opportunity to get your gear in order, possibly a couple of test rappels and go see the edge of angel falls. Take a moment to view the Kerepacupai river as this is what feeds angel falls.

Day 10 - Rappel: Salto Angel Campsite - La Cueva Ledge

Rappel day. A very early start (5.30) to have breakfast and packed and ready to begin repelling by 7am. Take a short walk to the first rappel point and follow the instructions of the guides. Take a deep breath before launching yourself into almost 1km of decent over 2 days (14 rapells varying from ~20m - 95m in length). First day is 7 rappels and half the distance to the cave camp spot. You will most probably arrive in the dark so get your sleeping arrangements sorted, something to eat then rest.

Day 11 - Rappel: La Cueva Ledge - Isla Raton Campsite

Wake up to stunning angel falls views from the campsite if you managed to get some sleep! After a quick breakfast and packing up the camp its straight back into it for another day of repels. Today most repel s are through jungle like terrain hit another 500m none the less. After deciding the 7 pitches you find yourself in jungle on there side of the wall. About an hour walk to the best ground viewing point of angel falls. After a quick group photo it's on the trail again to the next camp site (2 hours) where other team members are waiting with a hot cooked meal and drinks. Likely a bath in the river at night since its been a long day. Sleeping in hammocks.

Day 12 - Boat: lsla Raton Campsite - Canaima

The last of the early starts. Take breakfast then a boat ride down the Churun/Carrao river (approx. 5 hours). If the river is shallow a few walking stops along the way may be needed to get the long boat through. Arrive at Canaima pier and unload bags onto waiting transport to take you to the nights accommodation (Morichal Lodge) where lunch and drinks are available. Take some downtime and or a boat ride to see the falls in the afternoon followed by dinner and a free evening.


Day 13 - Canaima - Cuidad Bolivar - Caracas

Early morning flight from Canaima to Ciudad Bolivia then a transit back to Caracas (car or plane). Nights accommodation near the airport (ole something).

Day 14 - Caracas - Departure

Following day transfer to Caracas airport by inclusive transfer.


Money

At the time of travel (Dec 2018) the exchange rates for Venezuela was as follows. It was a bit confusing with the whole official and unofficial rates but this article gives a bit of insight. There is some controversy about the unofficial rate which apparently is influenced by the information on this website. Most people in country pay with a bank card since carrying around cash is a little inconvenient. We only found one place in Canaima where we could exchange currency (USD for Bolivars) but our new Venezuelan friends were kind enough to cover our costs until we found a place to exchange money.


Official Rate:

25,000 = 2.50c USD
100,000 = 10 USD
1,000,000 = 100 USD

Unofficial Rate:
25,000 = .25c USD
100,000 = 1 USD
1,000,000 = 10 USD


Exchange in Canaima:
80000 = 1 USD
50 USD = 4,000,000 Bolivars

Costs

Porter cost approx. 35USD (15kgs / 3 USD per day) for Tupi hike. Need to take your bag down the abseil with you (strapped to your ATC belay device)



Equipment hire was $50 USD for the following
1 x harness
1 x helmet
3 x carabina
2 x sling (one for bag and one for you)
1 x black diamond ATC belay device


Some approximate costs to get an idea of budgeting:

Postcard and magnet  = 15,000 Bolivars
Dinner meal (hotel) =  500,000 Bolivars
Beer (Canaima) = 1USD
Bottle of Rum (Cacique) = 660,000 Bolivars

Hotel food costs as per picture



If your looking to travel to other places in or near Venezuela why not try some of the other large cities or somewhere in the Caribbean.

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