World Travel GuidesAngel Falls, Venezuela

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Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world. It is located in Canaima National Park, in the Gran Sabana region of Bolivar State in Venezuela. The waterfall is also known by its Spanish name Salto Angel, and by its native American names Churun Merú and Kerepakupai Merú.

Angel Falls was named after American aviator James "Jimmie" Crawford Angel, who flew over them on 16 November 1933 while he was on an exploratory trip in search of mineral ore. Venezuelan explorer Ernesto Sanchez La Cruz saw it in 1912, but did nothing much to publicize his discovery. On 9 October, 1937, Jimmie Angel returned to the waterfall with his wife and two other companions. He tried to land his plane on the top of the flat-top mountain, called Auyantepui (translated to mean "devil's canyon"), but his plane was damaged in the process. The team had to climb down the tepui on foot. They took 11 days to trek back to civilization, but the story that they brought back about the waterfall eventually got it name after Angel.


Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela
by Yosemite (GFDL)


For 33 years, Angel's plane remained at the top of the tepui. Eventually a helicopter airlifted it. Restored, it is displayed outside the airport at Ciudad Bolívar. On top of the tepui itself a replica is placed.

The first person to climb the Auyantepui was Latvian explorer Aleksandrs Laime. He accomplished the feat in 1955, 18 years after Angel's crash landing. Laime managed to reach Angel's plane. From his exploration, Laime name the river that feeds the fall after one of the most beautiful rivers in Latvia, the Gauja. It is also widely known by its native Pemon Indian name, the Kerep. The Churun river runs from the base of the fall. Laime cleared the trail that leads to the river. It is now named Mirador Laime, or Laime's Viewpoint in Spanish, in his honor, and is now a popular tourist trail to view the falls.

As Angel Falls is located deep in the jungle, tourists has to take a flight from Caracas or Ciudad Bolivar to reach Canaima camp, the starting point for river trips to the base of the waterfalls. One and two-day tours are available at US$240-US$300 per person.


Jimmie Angel's plane
Jimmie Angel's plane
by Yosemite (GFDL)


On cloudy days, the falls can often disappear into the clouds. Tourist can make river trips to the base between June and December, when the rivers are deep enough for the canoes used by the native Pemon guides. During the dry season, between December and March, the falls are less spectacular, but it is more likely not to be clouded over.

Movie

Angel Falls was the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the 2009 Walt Disney full-length animated movie Up.

Angel Falls Renamed

On 22 December, 2009, it was reported that Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez renamed Angel Falls to the indigenous name of Kerepakupai Meru. This is so that the waterfall will be publicised with a local name.

Photo Album

  1. Angel Falls Photo Album
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