The Salto Angel waterfall in Venezuela

El Salto Ángel is the world’s highest waterfall

El Salto Ángel (or just Salto Ángel) towers 979 metres above Canaima National Park in southeastern Venezuela(19 times the height of Niagara Falls!), with water pouring down from a plateau known asAuyan Tepuy (« Devil’s Mountain » in the Arekuna language). It is the highest waterfall on Earth.

It is from the top of this tepuy (a high plateau with a summit bordered by immense cliffs) that the rio Kerep flows, crashing almost a kilometer below (sometimes the water evaporates before even touching land).

Salto Ángel Venezuela

Flickr – ferkel

Contrary to what you might think, « Salto Ángel » does not mean « angel’s leap »: « salto » means « waterfall » in Spanish and « Ángel » comes from the name of aviator Jimmy Angel, who first flew over the falls in 1933. Before the name was coined, the falls were known as Kerepakupai Vená, meaning « waterfall of the deepest place ». At the time, Jimmy Angel was looking for a supposed « river of gold » on behalf of a mining company.

But it’s not until October 1937 that the story gets interesting. After 15 days of meticulous scouting for a suitable landing strip, Jimmy Angel and his crew, aboard a small Ryan/AMAC G-2-W Flamingo plane christened El Rio Caroni, crashed on the summit of Auyan Tepuy. Only the plane was damaged in the crash. Declared dead a few days later, they still managed to descend from the immense boulder. This « adventure » would make Jimmy Angel a legend in the years to come. Today, the El Rio Caroni plane is a national monument and is located at the Tomás de Heres airport in Ciudad Bolívar.

Salto Ángel

Flickr – Un mamarracho con una Nikon D3100

Getting there: After first flying to Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolívar to reach the park, visitors are taken to the foot of the falls by guides in pirogues. There are many agencies offering guided treks to the park, including on the Internet. The best time to go is during the rainy season, as in the dry season there may not be enough water and you may have to carry the pirogue.

Getting to the Salto Angel requires a bit of trekking, so it’s a perfect site for adventurers. If you get the chance to go, do it – it’s well worth it.

And here are some more photos of the falls: the scenery is breathtaking, and it’s a real land of adventure!

Trek Salto Angel Venezuela

Trekking in the jungle – Flickr – César González

Did you know about Angel Falls (Salto Angel)?