Thursday, August 23, 2007

Southern Venezuela

After Manaus, I headed to Boa Vista, a mere 3 hours from the Venezuela border. I got to a hotel that was next to the spot where taxis wait to take people to Venezuela at 2. I needed to leave at 6, so could have either stayed up or gone to sleep. Problem was I had no alarm clock and my phone was dead, and the only chance of waking up was the security guard sleeping on a hammock in a closet in the lobby actually knocking on my door at 6 (plus if you know me, the chances of that knock waking me up are slim). But I was tired and went to bed, and somehow found myself on a taxi at 6 am. Crossing into Venezuela was a piece of cake despite threats of bureaucracy on their website. You only need the yellow fever vaccination, for the record.

I was headed to Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world. But getting there is a bit of a chore. You have to take propeller planes to Canaima, and then take a four hour boat ride from there. And this is Venezuela so the 9:30 plane that was advertised of course didn't exist. So finally at about noon I headed off. The propeller plane was an adventure. You get in there with only 4 passengers and the pilot, and then you're off. What's cool is that you can actually look down from the windows and take pictures.
Being able to take pictures was great because this was the Gran Sabana, the rolling hills. There were all sorts of interesting geographical features. Winding rivers, forests and plains mingling, several different colors of water bodies, and especially, high plateaus.
Really, the plateaus were gorgeous. This formation is a "tepui," or tabletop mountain. The only place in the world they are found is the Guiana Highlands, especially in Venezuela. Someday I'll run into a geologist and he'll explain to me exactly how this is possible.
As you're turning to land into Canaima, you see Salto Sapo, a waterfall downstream from Angel Falls. At any other place, this would be a big attraction, but not when a 3200 ft tall waterfall is upstream.....


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