The Heart of Adventure: The World's Top Jungles
Known only to native Indians until 1935, when it was spotted by bush pilot Jimmy Angel, southern Venezuela's Angel Falls is the world's highest cascade. From a high plateau, the river overshoots a sheer sandstone edge and falls clear for over 3,200 feet. The water doesn't actually spill off the top. It drops into crevasses, then comes out of the mountain just below the rim. Thus, you can stand on dry land at the lip and look down. And the world's tallest waterfall is actually very quiet. The drop is so great that, except at the height of the wet season, very little of the water ever reaches the base of the falls. It becomes spray, carried off by the winds.
A few day's trek from Angel Falls is 9,688-foot Mt. Auyantepui, "Devil's Mountain," a dramatic table mountain with 3000-foot sandstone cliffs, savannah, and dense rainforest wilderness largely untouched by civilization. This region served as the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's science fiction work, The Lost World, about a land forgotten by time, where dinosaurs still roamed. Here in this jungle heartland are found species that go back to the epoch when South America and Africa were one continent. Few who visit this region are disappointed. For most, the view of the Falls alone is worth the price of admission.
The adventurer has a number of Lost World itineraries from which to choose. For travelers with limited time, a niced eight-day trek up Mt. Auyantepui may prove the idea option. Begins with a flight over rolling savannah to the Pemon Indian settlement of Kavak. Three days of strenuous hiking from there will take you to the summit of Mt. Auyantepui. The route passes through savannahs with panoramic views of the surrounding tepuis (steep-sided, flat-topped mountains towering 3000 feet above the plains), and dense rainforest. At the summit's plateau trekkers encounter one of the world's most unique landscapesan otherworldly environment of strange rock formations, carnivorous vegetation, endemic bromeliads, and mysterious pools.br
For those explorers with more time to spare, head out on a 15-day trek that tours the Mochima National Park, hikes up Mt. Roraima, and journeys by motorized canoe to the base of Angel Falls.
The best time to go to Venezuela is May through November, when the water is high enough to allow the canoes to navigate all the way to the base of the Falls. Depending on the time available and kind of experience you desire, costs can range anywhere from $1,500 for a five-day trek to $3,000 for fifteen days out in the bush.
The Lost World region near Angel Falls in Venezuela features two distinct environments, savannah and rainforest, with year-round temperatures in the high 80sF, and cool nights in the 50s. The Lost World's Grande Savannah is a vast grassland spotted with moriche palms and patches of rainforest. On the flat horizon loom tabletop tepuis. Expect the climate to be hot and dry. In the rainforest it is always hot and humid with a rainy season occurring June through October. You don't need to plan your trip around the rainy season: It rains hard, but for short periods, and you'll experience these showers year round. There are mosquitos, no-see-ums, and ticks so remember your bug repellant. Precautions for malaria are advised in some regions, but usually the biggest health risk is sunburn and a good sunscreen is a must.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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