The highest waterfall in the world

Hidden in the inaccessible jungle of Venezuela is Salto Ángel, the highest waterfall in the world. Our reporter visited the natural highlight of 2013: an adventure for a lifetime that hasn’t let him go to this day. Just like his pain for a country that is no longer what it was then.

Sometimes, when your lucky stars are particularly favorable, you have a chance to go on an adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life. Probably each of us holds in his heart such a special moment, an experience, an encounter with eternity. However, all these great words can’t even begin to describe what I felt when I visited Salto Ángel in 2013. The highest waterfall in the world in Venezuela.

At that time I was traveling through South America on behalf of “Deutsche Welle”, Venezuela was my first stop. In my search for a not exactly everyday tourist destination, I immediately came across Salto Ángel. 978 meters of pure force of nature, gushing from a mountain called Auyantepui in the middle of the evergreen Canaima National Park. It is named after an American pilot named Jimmy Angel, who accidentally discovered it in 1935.

Adventurous flight

Salto Ángel is a unique force of nature that can only be reached by water or by planePhoto: Getty Images

It was only thanks to the efforts of my host Pablo that two months later this fantasy would actually materialize in front of me. Even then, traveling to Salto Ángel was not easy. To this day, Pablo himself has never seen it with his own eyes. However, he arranged a flight for me via Puerto Ordaz in the north-east of the country. So the adventure of my life began in a small 20 passenger propeller plane that still wonders how it actually landed safely.

At one point a small scar appeared in the eternal green of the Venezuelan jungle, which turned out to be a very short airstrip. After landing, a jeep took us to a kind of base camp, where we boarded a boat. Salto Ángel can be reached by water on the Churún River or by plane, which is more like a children’s toy model. The walk to the highest waterfall in the world would take several days. That’s right, let’s be clear.

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Inspiration for novels and successful filming locations

Angel of the somersault
In addition to the Salto Ángel, Canaima National Park also has many other natural attractionsPhoto: Getty Images

Soon there will be only our boat and the Churún. It is inconceivable that other people have ever been to this archaic area before us. The tepuis, gigantic table mountains, rise continuously from the dense jungle, from not a few waterfalls plunging into the depths. We, who don’t know where the journey will take us, keep asking ourselves: “Is Salto Ángel already back there?”, To which the guide laughs and says: “Don’t worry, you’ll know when we get there.”

Behind every bend in the river there is a new, almost incomprehensible spectacle. It is as if creation is really doing its best in this place, and then time has stopped. A travel companion reverently says he wouldn’t be surprised if a dinosaur suddenly appeared here. Indeed, Canaima National Park and its natural wonders inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his 1912 novel The Lost World. Decades later, Steven Spielberg shot scenes from his Jurassic Park films here, in the area known as the Gran Sabana.

How high is a kilometer?

And then it is right in front of us, the highest waterfall in the world. Beyond the flat edge of the Auyantepui, somewhere at an unrealistic-looking height, a mighty torrent of water rushes down, its roar like a permanent rumble of thunder. Feel the somersault Ángel long before you see it. If the cameras were hot, they are now literally on, you can only photograph the waterfall as a whole from a greater distance.

It is difficult for most people to imagine how long a kilometer actually is. But have you ever thought how HIGH a kilometer is? Everyone standing in front of the Angel Falls has at least an idea. From there, where it pours into a huge basin, just like a drizzle, the tip is no longer visible. It doesn’t matter how much you stretch your neck.

Also Interesting: The 9 Most Spectacular Waterfalls on Earth

A true force of nature

Angel of the somersault
Salto Ángel falls from mount Auyantepui, which translates as “devil’s house”, in the depthsPhoto: Getty Images

We only receive a brief audience with this majesty, then we must return to our camp for the night as darkness approaches. No matter how loud the jungle sounds are at night, the muffled roar of Angel Falls drowns them all. Because the giant regains strength, which is actually unimaginable, when it starts to rain.

The next morning, the waterfall is shrouded in heavy, low clouds. But you can clearly see that its water volume has increased again. He gives us a few more photos before veiling himself again. Then you have to go back to the “real” world, which from now on is enriched with a real fairy tale. It’s hard to leave it here in the jungle knowing you’ll probably never come back.

Flight for eternity

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So loud that I ended up getting back on the toy plane for a surcharge to admire the Angel Jump from above. Every little gust of wind violently shakes the car, swings dangerously in an oncoming storm. But the pilot doesn’t think about going back, flying in difficult conditions is a very special honor for him.

A carpet of deep green jungle stretches from one end of the horizon to the other, from which the mountains of the Table of Tepui rise again and again like stalagmites. According to National Geographic, they are among the oldest rock formations in the world up to 1.7 billion years old. The bird’s eye view makes the viewer even more amazed by the magnificence of nature, which may even have been invented by someone.

Also interesting: it flashes up to 60 times per minute on Venezuela’s largest lake

The astonishment before the crisis

Our little car is therefore very close to Salto Ángel before it’s finally time to say goodbye. A short time later, when I am firmly convinced that our plane is about to crash due to strong gusts of wind, I am not even particularly worried, I am still amazed. Other guests feel the same way, long after landing safely, nobody says a word.

The next day I go back to Caracas and prepare for the trip back to Germany. The visit to Salto Ángel was the proverbial highlight of a three month trip. At this point, I still have no idea of ​​the profound crisis that would have gripped Venezuela shortly thereafter. To date, it has expanded and turned into a humanitarian catastrophe. The country with the richest oil reserves in the world is also the one with the highest inflation of all, millions of people have fled abroad.

hoping for an end

It hurts me even more when I know the beauty of Venezuela. Among the South American countries for me it is a kind of diamond in the rough. Unfortunately, the country seems to be slipping more and more into misery, especially as media around the world have long been looking in other directions. International airlines have severed their connections to Venezuela, my friend Pablo fled his family in Costa Rica several years ago.

Venezuela is a country that has the best prerequisites for thriving again. That’s just what I’d like very much, because here I found the travel adventure of my life. It would be a great dream to sit down with Pablo one day and exchange experiences. Experiences on visiting Salto Ángel, the highest waterfall in the world.

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