It is about the same size as the state of Maryland. It is one of the most popular travel destinations in the entire world. Canaima National Park is located along the border between Brazil and Guyana, in the Southeast of Venezuela. The whole park spreads over 3 million hectares. Yes, that is almost the size of the state of Maryland. One of the most exciting things about Canaima National Park is the fact that a massive area of the park is pretty much covered by the table-top mountains known as “tepui.” Its establishment as a National Park took place in 1962 and later in 1994, it was recognized as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It is a beautiful place to explore.
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Spectacular and Unique Landscape
Sharing a few similarities of sandstone with the mesa-like structures and the cliffs in the Western Sahara, the rocks found in Canaima is rumored to be originated from between 1500 and 2000 million years ago. This automatically makes these stones as one of the oldest geological formations in the world. Canaima is a fascinating place. In the National Park, you can easily find a lot of different types of animals including the Widow Monkey, Jaguar, Cougar, Giant Otter, Harpy Eagle and Giant Armadillo. There are also around 300 species of distinct flowers and plants, which cannot be found elsewhere in the world than in Canaima National Park.
For around 10,000 years, the forests and savannah of the region of Canaima have been occupied by the people of Pemon. These people are from various groups of Amerindians of the Carib family. To support themselves, the traditional way of life is still being practiced by these people through hunting, agriculture, and gathering. In Canaima National Park, there are two archaeological sites which have been found by archaeologists. The various stone tools, which were all hand-fashioned, were found in the National Park. The estimated age of these tools is to be around 9,000 years old!
How Do I Get To Canaima National Park?
If you visit the western area, it means you will be arriving by air from Isla Margarita, Santa Elena or Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima Lagoon and the Angel Falls. However, along with the National Park’s eastern border, you can quickly travel on the main road via the Troncal 10. To go to the settlement of Canaima, most of the time you will need to fly to Caracas or Ciudad Bolivar by Avior or Rutaca. Once you are in the National Park, expect to be spending at least two nights if you are planning to cover up a whole trek and river trip Angel Falls. However, this doesn’t mean there are no full day trips available if time is insufficient for you.
A Trip in Canaima
There is an entrance fee of around Bs. 215 to be collected once tourists arrive at the Canaima Airport. Other than that, those visitors who wish to fly out to the Canaima National Park will also need to have proof that they have received their vaccination for yellow fever. But those who cannot prove this will get a vaccination for free at the airports at Ciudad Bolivar or Puerto Ordaz.
Usually, for a three-day and two-night tour, you can expect to pay around the US $250 (approximately Bs. 500,000 and 600,000) that will bring you all the way to Angel Falls. Due to its popularity, any tours and accommodations can easily be arranged by visitors with any tour company upon arrival in Canaima. Unfortunately, camping is strictly not allowed especially in the region around the Angel Falls. This is to maintain the purity and the natural landscape of Angel Falls.
Below are two of the most common accommodations among visitors:
Canaima Camp is easily a great place to spend a couple of nights of your trip. There are 120 rooms in Canaima Camp, which are all built as cottages. They are categorized into double, triple and quadruple rooms. You can expect to have private baths, electricity, hot water and even daily maid service. The natural landscape is well-kept with its excellent and respectful architectural approach. If you need a place to dine, the restaurant of Laguna de Canaima is the place where you can enjoy a variety of exquisite cuisine.
Campamentos in Canaima
Another great and comfortable place is the Campamentos in Canaima. They also offer excellent cuisine and excursions. One of the best facts about this accommodation is that it is owned by the descendants of Jungle Rudy. If you do not know who Jungle Rudy is, he was the first person to discover the Angel Falls back in the 1950’s.
What Can You Do?
Even before you arrive in Canaima National Park, you are already going to be taken into a beautiful trip towards the fall itself. This is because it has so many attractions along the way. The walks and boat ride through the jungle itself offer such an exquisite view of flora, fauna, and terrain of Venezuela’s natural landscape. Just below the Angel Falls, there is a small pool in which you can swim if the water flow is mild enough.
Canaima National Park also offers some of the most challenging trekking trips which can be arranged by any tour company in Ciudad Bolivar. It usually takes around three days to trek to the top from a tiny village of Uruyen on rough tracks. Once you do your final but tough climb, you will reach the area where you will barely even meet a soul. The landscape is surreal. The rewards are beyond any word could decipher.
When you’ve reached the plateau of Auyan-tepui, you’ll typically spend one to two days on the top. This will allow you to experience the natural landscape of the National Park before you take another two days to return to the Uruyen’s tiny village or Kavac. So if you are planning to do some trekking in the National Park, always make sure you bring waterproof gear and warm clothing, because the weather can be wet and chilly on the tepui!
If you head back to the village of Kavac, you can warm yourself up by hitting up the bar there. Or, if you are interested in some of their arts and crafts, just head to a small shop in the village that sells majority of the handcrafted masterpieces by the villagers. There are also some traditional huts with comfortable hammocks and beds for you to stay for a night before your flight the next day. Other than that, expect to get an offer by someone who will show you a narrow canyon or the “caves” that lead to a waterfall nearby. You can take a refreshing plunge in the waterfall after a long, tough hike in Canaima National Park. Typically, this will happen if a local is generous enough to show you some of the hidden gems. But if they don’t, it won’t hurt for you to ask around.
Exceptional Place to Explore
There is no other place like Canaima National Park. It is easy to see why. The natural landscape, the unique history, and culture behind the discovery of the National Park and even the challenging trekking trips that will take days to complete are all the reasons behind why you should go to Canaima for this experience. It is indeed an exceptional place to explore!