Angel Falls header

Angel Falls, The Highest Waterfall In The World

Visiting Angel Falls, or Salto Angel in Spanish, is an experience that can only leave you with incredible memories.

In the heart of Canaima National Park, getting closer to the gigantic rock walls of the Auyán-Tepui never fails to impress and fascinate. It is the largest of all tepuis (table-top mountains found in the Guiana Highlands), Mount Roraima being the highest.

From the top of the tepui, the Salto Angel falls into the Churun River, forming the world’s highest waterfall, with an uninterrupted plunge of 807 m (2648 ft). The total height of the waterfall is an astounding 979 m (3212 ft), almost a kilometer!

The waterfall is located inside a large untouched, jungle-covered valley called the Devil’s Canyon, that was dug into the Auyán-Tepui by the Churun River.

Its poetic-sounding name actually comes from an unfortunate event. It is named after Jimmy Angel, a US pilot who crashed on the top of the Auyán-Tepui in 1933 and discovered the falls. His plane can now be seen at Ciudad Bolivar’s airport.

Despite its remoteness, Angel Falls has long been among Venezuela’s top attractions. Even though the Salto Angel itself is very safe to visit, the country’s situation makes it more difficult than before to visit it. The waterfall now only receives a small fraction of the tourists it used to receive.

Indeed, you are probably aware that Venezuela is going through difficult times. I have visited Venezuela and Salto Angel in 2019. Of course, I can’t officially say that it is safe to go to Venezuela – because it’s not – but there are ways to limit the danger is you really want to go. For more information, read: Is it Safe to Travel to Venezuela? My Recent Experience.

In this page, I will go over everything you need to know about visiting Angel Falls and what to expect.

Quick Info

Disclaimer: I am sharing the hotels and travel agencies I have used for information purposes only – I am not affiliated with them in any way and paid the full price!

GPS (Waku Lodge, Canaima): 6°14’41.96″N, 62°51’13.06″W

GPS (Salto Angel Camp): 5°58’40.63″N, 62°30’58.07″W

How to go: Book a tour with the Waku Lodge or a travel agency. I booked with Nativa Tours Khasen

Duration of the tour: 3 days

Price: 700 USD per person for the full package via the travel agency (includes return trip by plane).

Best season: All year round. However, during the dry season (December to April), there may not be much water. I visited in January.

Hotel recommendation (Puerto Ordaz): Hosteria Waipá Hotel

Hotel recommendation (Canaima): Wakü Lodge

How To get To Angel falls

Can You Go To Angel Falls On Your Own?

Definitely not! Angel Falls is located in an extremely remote region, deep inside Canaima National Park. Just look at it on Google Maps and you will see nothing but pristine wilderness.

There is no way you can get there by yourself, without the logistics provided by a travel agency and the experience of the local boat drivers. And in any case, given the country’s situation, I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere totally on your own in Venezuela right now.

Angel Falls Tours

Tours to Salto Angel are typically included in 3-day packages to Canaima. They depart from Puerto Ordaz (Ciudad Guayana), from where you take a small plane to Canaima.

I will be going over the Angel Falls tour itinerary in more detail but if you choose the overnight trip, it basically goes like this:

  • On the first day, you are flown to Canaima, and you are given some time to enjoy your Lodge. In the afternoon, you are offered a tour to explore the various waterfalls around the Laguna de Canaima.
  • On the second day, you take the boat trip to Angel Falls, and hike to the base of the waterfall – Sleep at the camp facing Angel Falls.
  • On the third day, you take the boat trip back to Canaima, and you directly fly back to Puerto Ordaz.

Keep reading for more information on what to expect, and my impressions about this trip. Hint: fabulous… but some frustrating aspects as well.

Rio Carrao Morning

Rio Carrao in the morning

A Word About The Weather at Angel Falls

Trips to Angel Falls can be done all year round. However, depending on the time of the year you are going, the experience can be a little different.

In the Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park, the dry season runs from December to April. It is of course difficult to predict how much rain there will be at any given time but it is safe to assume that during this period, there will be much less water in the waterfall and the rivers will be much more shallow, hence more difficult to navigate with more rocks sticking out of the water.

I visited Angel Falls in January, in the heart of the dry season and you can see in my pictures and virtual tours the amount of water flowing from Angel Falls is not exactly spectacular. On the other hand, we had a beautiful sun all along which was really pleasant.

The rest of the year, the waterfall may get much bigger but you also have a much greater chance of rain, and a greater chance of having the Auyan-Tepuy engulfed in the clouds without much visibility – but I doubt it would be like this for the whole trip.

To sum up, any time of the year is fine, go in the dry season is nice weather is important to you, and go in the rainy season if your priority is to see Angel Falls at full flow.

Getting to Puerto Ordaz

Before getting to the Angel Falls itinerary itself, you may be wondering how you can reach Puerto Ordaz.

Puerto Ordaz is the western half of Ciudad Guayana (Guayana City), Venezuela’s 6th largest city. It is located along the south bank of the huge Orinoco River, right at the confluence with its tributary, the Rio Caroni.

Puerto Ordaz is a dangerous city. Trust me, you don’t wanna be a lost gringo there. Please don’t try going around the city all by yourself.

If you need to spend the night in Puerto Ordaz, I highly recommend sleeping at the Hosteria Waipa Hotel. It is like a small island of safety and peacefulness in the middle of the chaotic city. You can even enjoy some tropical gardens and a small pool to dip yourself in. The other good news is that it’s very close to the airport, to take your flight to Canaima.

Option 1: Arriving By Land

Since I entered Venezuela by land from Brazil, I was based in frontier town of Santa Elena de Uairén. This is where the travel agency I used (Nativa Tours) is based. So before coming to Venezuela, I had arranged with them to have a private car and driver to take me to Puerto Ordaz safely. I usually like to be more independant but since there was no more flights between Santa Elena and Puerto Ordaz, it was the only reasonable option.

The driver was very friendly and street smart. First, he managed to get some cash in Bolivares (Venezuela’s currency), which was really hard to find. Indeed, in Santa Elena, everyone uses either US Dollars, or Brazilian Reais – but in Puerto Ordaz, only Bolivares are accepted.

This driver was going through all the military checkpoints as if he was a minister or something.  He just seemed to know everyone. I felt safe at all times with him, and we had good chats on the way.

And it’s a good thing because it’s a long, long way to Puerto Ordaz. From Santa Elena, it’s a 600-km / 375-mile drive. You are on the road the whole day. Luckily, Venezuelan roads are in generally good condition.

It is an interesting drive, crossing the Gran Sabana, then crossing rainforests, then crossing really bad, gang-controlled towns, then crossing peaceful countrysides… you get a glimpse of this mysterious and fascinating country.

And then you arrive in Ciudad Guayana – which looks pretty awful – you can see the devastating effects of the economic crisis that hit Venezuela.

It’s a city that looks abandoned, dirty, chaotic, and empty – a big part of its inhabitants have fled to neighbouring countries, Colombia or Brazil. But once again I was kept safe at all times, and I was taken to the Hosteria Waipa Hotel where I could enjoy a nice dinner and a good sleep.

Option 2: Arriving by Plane

If you are arriving in Venezuela by plane, you can get to Canaima independantly by finding a flight from Caracas or wherever you are to Puerto Ordaz, and a get a package including the flight to Canaima (more on that later). You might even manage to find direct flights from Caracas to Canaima.

If you need to spend the night in Puerto Ordaz, just book a night at Waipa Hotel. Again, the airport is a 5-min taxi ride away.

Canaima Tours & Flight from Puerto Ordaz to Canaima

If you are getting to Canaima by yourself, what you will need to get is an accommodation in Canaima – and I can heartfully recommend the Wakü Lodge. Actually, the airline you will take to fly to Canaima is called Transmandu, and it works exclusively with the Wakü Lodge and the flight is included in their package. So when you book nights at the lodge, you get the flights automatically – no separate ticket to book.

What I basically bought is the “Plan 3” package from the Wakü Lodge, including the return flights on Transmandu airline, the waterfall tour on the Canaima Lagoon and the overnight tour to Angel Falls.

The only difference is that I bought it through a travel agency because they were already arranging my private car from Santa Elena to Puerto Ordaz. But you might be able to save some money by booking it from the Wakü Lodge directly.

It is the package I recommend because a simple day trip to Angel Falls would feel really rushed, and you would miss the experience of spending a night there which would be too bad! What I would recommend even more is to get this “Plan 3” package and add one more night at the lodge after your Salto Angel tour (more on this later).

Canaima & Salto Angel 3-Day Itinerary

Day 1  •  Puerto Ordaz → Canaima

230 km (140 mi) ⁝ 1 hour

The trip to Canaima is a quick and easy 1-hour flight heading south along the Caroni River and the Guri Reservoir, the largest artificial lake in Venezuela. During the descent to Canaima, you are greeted with the vast landscapes of Canaima National Park – endless savannahs, tepuis, and an outstanding view of the Canaima Lagoon with all the waterfalls flowing into it.

 

Wakü Lodge & Laguna de Canaima

1 Day

This is the first day of the package. When you arrive at the Canaima airstrip, you will be greeted by their staff and taken to the lodge, which is 5 minutes away. You can immediately feel the very relaxed atmosphere of Canaima and you instantly understand that here, you are very far from the world and far from the country’s issues.

The Wakü Lodge is a gem. Its location is exceptional, right on the bank of the Canaima Lagoon, with a complete panoramic view of the waterfalls flowing into the lagoon, and some tepuis on the horizon. What we call the Laguna de Canaima actually is a wide and partially closed meander of the Rio Carrao, that is lower than the rest of the river – hence the waterfalls.

It is a rather luxurious place to stay, with comfortable air-conditionned rooms, resting areas with amazing views, gardens, restaurants… and parrots. My favourite spot? The 2 simple hammocks that are hung between two moriche palms, right on the edge of the lagoon. I can tell you that I have spent quite a bit of time on these hammocks!

I was quite excited to walk to the beach on the Canaima Lagoon and see, in real life, the famous image of the lagoon with the three aligned moriche palms in the water in the foreground. The clear sand is really soft and beautiful. I was not disappointed.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Laguna de Canaima Beach

Walk on the clear sand of the Canaima Lagoon beach  (3 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Laguna de Canaima Beach

Laguna de Canaima Beach

In the afternoon, my group was taken for a tour on the Laguna de Canaima to explore all the waterfalls that make this place so unique. At first, I was a bit reluctant to go like this in a group tour because I know how it’s usually like… Time strictly monitored, never wander slightly away from the group or get scolded by the guide…

I won’t lie, it was a little like this. But honestly, this tour is a good memory. We really went very very close to the various waterfalls and even behind two waterfalls. It was a one-of-a-kind experience!

Important safety tip: wear socks! Rocks around the waterfalls are extremely slippery. It is really almost impossible to walk bear foot. You would almost inevitably fall on the rocks. With socks you have a good grip even on algae-covered rocks.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Laguna de Canaima Waterfalls

Walk on the clear sand of the Canaima Lagoon beach  (3 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Back from the waterfall tour, you get a nice and quiet evening to spend at Wakü Lodge, enjoying the facilities, the fantastic environment and the general peacefulness of the place. Unless like me, you prefer taking the tripod out and doing some photography!

Check out the panorama below of the Canaima Lagoon with a sky full of stars!

VIRTUAL TOUR – Laguna de Canaima by Night

Enjoy a beautiful starry sky over the Canaima lagoon (1 panorama).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

Day 2  •  Canaima → Angel Falls

Canaima to Isla Orquidea, on the Carrao River | 34.6 km (21.5 mi) ⁝ 2:15 hours

Isla Orquidea Breakfast Stop | 45 mins

Isla Orquidea (Carrao River) to the Churun River | 5.7 km (3.5 mi) ⁝ 40 mins

On the Churun River to Angel Falls | 31.4 km (19.5 mi) ⁝ 2:35 hours

Hike to the base of Angel Falls | About 2 km (1.25 mi) ⁝ 1 hour

The most exciting moment of the trip has come! Time to get ready for a memorable expedition deep into the wilderness of Canaima National Park. I had rarely been somewhere so remote. So far from civilization.

The boat trip on the Carrao River starts like a simple, relaxing river trip, watching the forest going by on both sides… I hadn’t realized this trip would be an absolutely fascinating discovery of Venezuela’s tepuis.

These table-top mountains, typical of the Guianian Highlands, are almost unique to Venezuela. Only a small percentage of tepuis exist in Guyana and Brazil.

With this trip, you get to approach the mammoth of tepuis: the Auyán-Tepui. This giant is not only the largest of all tepuis, but it is also home to Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall.

What’s really stunning is looking at these impressive rock walls going on and on mile after mile, and thinking that all of this is only a small part of one single tepui.

Auyan-Tepui

All of this is only the northern tip of the gigantic Auyán-Tepui

 

After 2:15 hours on the Rio Carrao, including a few small hikes along the river when the boat had to pass some rapids without passengers, you arrive at a camp call Isla Orquidea (Orchid Island) Camp which is actually not on the island but facing it.

The tour leaves early in the morning without having breakfast, which is fine to me since I am rarely hungry in the early morning!

It is at this Isla Orquidea Camp that you will have a well-deserved, 45-minute breakfast stop, which is of course a great opportunity to explore the banks of the Carrao River around camp as well! Unless all you want to do is sit on a rock and contemplate the majesty of the nearby Auyán-Tepui.

Rio Carrao

Rio Carrao – All the mountains you see are parts of the Auyan-Tepui

VIRTUAL TOUR – On The Rio Carrao Towards Angel Falls

Follow the Carrao River in the incredible landscapes of Canaima National Park and along the Auyan-Tepui (8 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

After that, there is still a 40-minute trip on the river to get to the confluence with the Rio Churun. From the boat, it’s easy to know when you reach the confluence as there is a huge sand bar (actually pebbles) where the two rivers meet so you suddenly find yourself in a large, open space.

Once you enter the Churun River, everything feels even more remote, wilder. The rock walls of the Auyán-Tepui suddenly look much closer and intimidating, the details of the weird-shaped rocks at the top of the cliffs become more visible. You are entering the Devil’s Canyon, dug inside the tepui.

The Rio Churun is really beautiful. Its incredibly transparent waters display a surprising intense amber, reddish color, contrasting with bright green water plants.

VIRTUAL TOUR – On The Rio Churun To Angel Falls

Penetrate deep into the wilderness to finally reach the fascinating Angel Falls (5 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

It’s a wonderful two-and-a-half hour trip on the meanders of the Rio Churun, each getting you closer to the marvel, the highest waterfall on the planet. You can actually spot it long before arriving and seeing it for the first time feels exhilarating. For the first time you realize that this place is not a myth, it’s there, in front of you!

The camp has a really great location, not far from the river bank, with views to Salto Angel, and has a large table to have good meals all together.

In the afternoon, you get to hike through the jungle to breathtaking viewpoints from where you have a good view of the pristine, forested Devil’s Canyon.  It’s a rather easy hike that takes exactly one hour. If you continue the rail a little further, you can get to the base of Angel Falls. Well, when I say “the base of the waterfall”, it is not entirely true. You can’t go to the base itself, but a little further down to a pond where you can swim.

My brain was super conflicted between not wanting to go into this freezing cold water and missing the opportunity to swim at the bottom of the world’s highest waterfall! I ended up going in, and I am glad I did! From there at the bottom, the height of the falls is spectacular.

VIRTUAL TOUR – Hike To Angel Falls

Cross the jungle and hike to the base of the world’s highest waterfall (5 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

After this rejuvenating bath, I was full of energy for the hike back to the river, where the boat was waiting to make us cross back to camp.

The night is spend on comfortable hammocks, just pray you don’t get heavy snorers in your group…

Day 3  •  Angel Falls → Canaima → Puerto Ordaz

Full Day

This early morning, after breakfast, is your last chance to contemplate the Salto Angel, with the pinkish light of the golden hour approaching.

On that day, the guides make it clear we need to go quick and leave early. So we went back on the river, first the Rio Churun, watching Angel Falls getting further and further away until it can’t be seen anymore, and then on the Rio Carrao with the majestic undulating rock walls of the tepui half shrouded in mist and clouds.

In early morning, the atmosphere is different and the river trip felt equally enjoyable as the first one, it didn’t feel redundant. With such a scenery around you, it’s hard not to be filled with wonder.

Rio Churun Morning

Early Morning on the Rio Churun

 

VIRTUAL TOUR – On The Way Back From Angel Falls

Morning trip back from Angel Falls on the Rio Churun and Rio Carrao (2 panoramas).

The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.

This is where the trip gets a little frustrated. You are just getting back from a wonderful expedition to an extraordinary place, and now you feel a little kicked out.

You are just given a room and a little bit of time to change clothes before taking the flight back, but it is clear you need to hurry and clear the space for the next batch of tourists coming. It is not a very pleasant feeling.

In addition, I was also thinking, we are staying at such a fantastic lodge, but how much time did we have to truly enjoy it, after all? We barely had half a day, an evening. It’s really not much. That’s why I was saying earlier in this article, the best would be to have this tour with one more night at the lodge.

So if you are planning to visit Angel Falls, that’s my suggestion. Take the 3 day/2 night package that includes a night at Angel Falls, and add one night at the Wakü Lodge at the end.

After a while looking through souvenirs shops next to the airstrip, we all took our flight back to Puerto Ordaz and spent the night at the Waipa Hotel.

What to Bring and Wear for The Tour to Angel Falls

Since visiting Angel Falls can only be done through organized tour groups, most things are taken care of for you and you don’t need to bring a lot of gear with you.

What should you wear in Canaima and Salto Angel?

  • The first thing I would recommend is a rain poncho to avoid getting drenched during the boat ride. Even if you don’t really get spashed that much, you spend hours and hours on the river and many small splashes accumulate and at the end of the day, you are wet.
  • It is also good to bring good hiking shoes. I recommend hiking boots rather than simple hiking shoes, to be sure your ankles are well supported and protected. This way, you can go around along the river and in the jungle with no issue at all.
  • It’s also recommendable to bring a fleece jacket to keep you warm, because even in the tropical jungle, nights can be a little chilly.
  • Wear hiking pants for the overnight trip to Angel Falls and maybe something more relaxed for your stay in Canaima.

TRAVEL MAP – Canaima & Angel Falls

Visualize on the map the precise locations of panoramas in the virtual tours and places of interest to help you prepare your trip to Canaima and Angel Falls. Don’t hesitate to zoom in and explore!

Click Here to View The Map

The map opens in a lightbox. Zoom in to explore!

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