From Ciudad Bolivar airport we took a small 18 seat plane for the hour-long journey to Canaima National Park. As you approach Canaima the flight travels over a beautiful landscape of lush green savannahs, rivers and mountains, giving you a glimpse of the true size of the national park.
Upon landing you are asked to pay the entrance fee of 150 VEF per person, and then asked to wait at the airport hut for your resort rep to come and get you.
Once everyone had arrived we were escorted to Kavac lodge where we were split into 2 groups, one would head out to the falls the same day and the second would head out tomorrow instead. We would be going straight out at around lunch time. Unfortunately for us this meant hanging around for a few hours in the lodge with nothing much to do.
At around 12.30pm we finally set off with a new group to the falls. It was explained that we would take a 4 hour boat ride with 2 breaks, one for lunch and one further along for a swim. It was also advised to bring only what you would need for the night and following day as we would then be back to the lodge for our second night.
With everyone packed we headed down to the river to take what looked like a long canoe with an engine at the back. Shortly after setting off we arrived at our first stop and had lunch by the riverbank.
Following lunch we had to walk to the other side of the riverbank to take the boats from the other side due to some rapids. From here we could already see the scenery start to change and glimpsed our first table top mountains in the distance.
The boat journey continued for about an hour until we reached a small waterfall where we stopped and had the opportunity for a swim and a stretch.
In total we travelled for 4 hours on the boat, the first part was amazing with beautiful scenery and sunshine, but for the last 2 hours it was incredibly cold due to the wind and the sun setting, plus our backsides felt badly bruised from sitting on wooden planks for so long.
We finally arrived at the site just before 6pm and set ourselves up with hammocks. A word of warning though, no matter what the agencies tell you there are no mosquito nets provided and there are plenty of mosquitos around! Another thing that was not mentioned to us when we booked the tour was that we would need some warmer clothes for the evening, we knew we would be spending a night in the hammock but had assumed it would be warm at night, we were very wrong!
After dinner and hot drinks we retreated to our hammocks for some sleep and despite wearing nearly all the clothes I had with me and having the blanket over me I still felt cold. To make matters worse there were at least 5 very loud snores in the group that not even the ear plugs could drown out!
The following morning, after a cold night and feeling a little groggy, we had breakfast and headed up to the falls. The trek takes about 2 hours with stops at the various viewing points, the best of which is the second one where there is a large stone that you can carefully climb onto and have uninterrupted views of the falls and the valley around.
We found out that you are able to climb to the top of the waterfall but it would take around a week to do the round trip. It’s a shame we didn’t know about this when we booked as we would have liked to do this.
After lunch at our site it was time to head back to the lodge, the journey back was an hour shorter as we were heading downstream but unfortunately after a sunny start we were plagued by rain for most of the journey, which seriously decreased the appeal of the ride.
Once back at the lodge we checked in and were able to relax for the evening. The next day the group was yet again split, as some people chose to stay on an extra night. In a smaller group of just 4, we headed off to the Kavac beach to take another boat for a tour of the waterfalls in the area.
We crossed the lagoon and headed up for short walk to the Sapo waterfall. This is where you have to cross under the waterfall itself. We left our belongings on the side and headed down through the crevice on the front of the waterfall. The area is extremely slippery and you will need sandals with a very good grip. Luckily we had 2 guides between the 4 of us so there was always someone at hand to help us along the way.
As you cross the wall of water you are completely and utterly drenched, for a split second you are unable to actually see where you are until you step right through, but in the morning heat the cold water is a nice relief. We visited the waterfall at the start of July and were told that by August the amount of water doubles to the point whereby the whole wall of the area is covered in water.
We then headed up to the top of the waterfall for the views and although the waterfall is not very high it is impressive in width and can only imagine how much more so in August. One thing we learned about the water is that the rusty colour comes from the high level of iron found in water, apparently it is perfectly fine to drink but it does have a strange taste!
After our tour we were taken back to the lodge for lunch and then onwards to the airport for our flight back to Ciudad Bolivar. This time we ended up flying back with 2 girls on a tiny 4 seat plane, it was so small that our backpacks took up one seat and one of us had to sit at the front as co-pilot!
The flight back was just as spectacular and we were sad to be leaving the park after such a short trip, but we have decided that we will definitely return to Canaima to see the top of Angel Falls and to do the 6 day trek to the Gran Sabana as the park is just too beautiful to not return