thegillclan graphic
thegillclan graphic part 2


In 1997, Grace and I flew to the island of Margarita just off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela.

We stayed at the Portofino Mare Hotel in the north of the island and took advantage of an organised trip to Canaima National Park.

In the 1930's when pilot Jimmie Angel landed his plane atop Auyan tepui (a tepui is a sandstone mesa) in the southeastern corner of Venezuela, and got bogged down in the marsh, he didn't find the gold he was looking for.

Angel Falls

If you want to know more about Jimmie Angel, click here to open a short historical account.

At 979 meters (3230 feet) with an uninterrupted drop of 807 meters (2663 ft), Angel Falls is sixteen times the height of Niagara Falls.

In the dry season (January to May), the waterfall may be just a thin stream of water fading into mist. In the rainy season (June to December) the falls are often voluminous and spectacular. The top of the tepui is often shrouded in mist. Viewing the falls from the air is the best way to see the grandeur and the height.

Angel Falls are accessible only by air. No doubt there are trails through the dense forest, but tourists come by air. To reach Angel Falls, located in Canaima National Park, you fly into Canaima about 50 km (31 miles) away then take either a small plane or a boat to the falls.

Some tours may fly into Kavac, an Indian settlement south of the tepui, and proceed from there by curiaras, an Indian canoe, down the Akanan and the Carrao river to Canaima.

Canaima is located on a wide, peaceful stretch of the Rio Carrao, known as Laguna Canaima, just below the point where the river becomes a chain of magnificent falls. The rose-coloured lagoon is bordered by a pink beach. Other popular attractions in Canaima National Park are the falls of Salto Hacha and Salto El Sapo. Here is a short tour of a popular tourist excursion to El Sapo.

Canaima Lagoon The excursion starts off at the Canaima Camp. The party is ferried to the Anatoly Island by indian canoe, getting close to the falls of Salto Hacha (but not too close).

The canoes are left on the beach at Canaima Lagoon, bottom right in the picture to the left. You can clearly see the trail through the savannah leading to the El Sapo falls at the top of the photo.


After disembarking, the tour takes a 15 minute walk through the savannah towards the falls of El Sapo which is Spanish for frog.

Steps at el Sapo The guides encourage people to bathe in the water at the steps and explain that the colour and properties of the water are leached from the rainforest. The chemicals in the water are a byproduct of the decaying organic matter and are apparently very good for your hair.

el Sapo

Now we are at the falls of El Sapo. The guides keep an eye out for snakes, spiders and ants, some of which can be poisonous. The falls are very impressive during the rainy season.
el Sapo Passage under el Sapo
Through the other side

The adventure continues ... the tour passes under the falls via a passage about half way down.

el Sapo

It is quite exhilarating being drenched by the thundering water cascading over the edge.

Have a look at the video clip

You do not have the Flash plugin installed, or your browser does not support Javascript (you should enable it, perhaps?)


This web site uses the very latest techniques in XHTML and CSS and should be available to all the latest browsers.