February 12, 2009 @ 1:17 PM – annikenbinz
Half a year ago I met Ana from Venezuela at a base jump event in Spain. We immediately connected and it turned out we were both interested in hiking to Angel Falls in order to jump it. My friend Livia from Australia was also present, and we ended up promising each other to go to Angel Falls together.
After a lot of planning we found to camera guys to go with us and document the whole experience. We all met up in Caracas in the beginning of January. Everything was very exciting and we felt like there were still too many details we had to sort out before we could go. 2 full days were spent organizing and packing, so when we finally got on the night bus which was to take us south it was almost a strange feeling.
We flew in to a small indigenous settlement called Uruyen after a long night on the bus, where we were met by our guide and a few 16 year old porters! They carried a maximum of 15kg worth of our equipment and did a really good job. The hike was breathtaking! Every day we moved through very different environments as we gradually climbed up. We started with savannah, and then made our way through different types of forest.
On the third day we summited the mountain or Auyan Tepuy as it is called, but it is approx 700 square km big so it took us three more days to cross it! It was difficult to move fast because we had to go through thigh deep mud and make our way through dense rainforest and crawl under and over slimy roots. When we eventually made it to the falls we were just cold and wet and tired and not as happy as we probably should’ve been, but then there was also a sort of empty feeling after hiking for so many days and then suddenly stopping. We said goodbye to our porters, set camp, and started preparing for the jump the next day.
The conditions were beautiful when we woke up, but by the time we had finally organized all our gear, and were all ready and waiting on the edge the clouds rolled in. We realized we had been too slow, and cancelled jumping for the rest of the day. But just half an hour later when we had pitched our tents again the conditions suddenly were perfect and we decided to go for it. I had just spoken to my boyfriend who said that the forecast for the next days was rain, and we were afraid of being stuck on the mountain for a long time. This time it all went well. We did a 3-way girl jump, and the visuals in freefall were fantastic. When you jump you’re inside a bowl and there’s a lot of water so plenty to look at!
The sketchy part was the landing. The landing area is very small and surrounded by steep hills with tall trees, and on top of that you have strong winds pushing off from the water fall which are not very consistent. It was therefore not an easy task to make the landing area safely but we did.
The second task of the day was crossing the river, and to do that we had to hike up towards the falls, and cross the fierce white waters. The wind pushing off from the falls had gotten so strong that we had problems maintaining our balance on the slippery rocks, and after we crossed, we had to make our way through the jungle until we found a path and eventually made it to safety. By the time we arrived at one of the camps below the falls we were starving and tired. Luckily there was a guy present there who cooked us the best pasta in the world, and offered us hammocks for the night. The next day we were able to catch a canoe out to Canaima, and from there we got a small plane to pick us up the following day. Very happy, we arrived in the town called Ciudad Bolívar, went to an Italian restaurant, and ordered all we could possibly eat.