Canaima the hard way !
Canaima is located in the hearth of the jungle in the Western Sector of the Canaima National Park, West of what is known as the Gran Sabana, the land of the tepuis, at the SouthEastern corner of Venezuela.
We will reach Angel Falls and Canaima an unconventional way: hiking for 7 days in the jungle, and then by motorized dugout canoe for another 3 days, stopping at Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall, before ending in Canaima.
Kavanayen - Kuana - Canaima
12 days trekking expedition
The description below, at least for the first 7 days is only indicative, as our progress will depend on the state of the trail and the physical conditions of the group. Although we may be delayed on some river crossings, extra hours have been included, so we will be able to complete the itinerary in the days specified. Also there are no requirements to arrive at a specific point during a day, as the camps are for the most part improvised along the way.
In a 4x4 vehicle, we will travel all day from Puerto Ordaz to Kavanayen, a Pemon Indian community in the Canaima National Park, 90 kilometers (55 miles) West of the main road, the Truncal 10, connecting El Dorado to Santa-Elena de Uairén. We will spend our last night in a bed in the mission. Good night, tomorrow begins a week of hardship and adventure.
After breakfast where we will fill up with energy, we meet our guides and Indian porters to start our hike, first crossing the Kavanayen airstrip, heading West-North-West. All day, we follow an old jeep trail destroyed by nature. We are gratified by mirific sights of the forest downwards, the majestic P-tari tepuy, and the triangular form of Wey Tepui in the background.
After 5h30 of walk, we reach a conuco (small indigenous farm), 5 minutes from the waterfall Salto Karuay, where we make a well deserved rest.
We then board into a motorized dugout canoe and, in about an hour, we join the rapids Salto el Hueso where we are welcomed by a Pemon family. Repairing swim at the foot of the falls, and first night in hammock and mosquito nets (under roof).
Things are getting serious! A climb of about half an hour in the savanna, and we then plunge in the forest, which we will not leave until our arrival at Kuana (except for 4 little clearings along the way). Very quickly, we encounter the first difficulties: rivers to be crossed, sometimes with a canoe when the river is too wide, or on unstable tree trunks, roots made treacherous by moisture - all elements that we will very quickly assimilate as part of our new reality.
After 7 hours of walk, we improvise a campsite in the jungle, near the river Churue. The occasion to see our guides at work, preparing a makeshift campsite with the cutlass, first clearing the necessary space, then using all the resources of the forest: trees are used for the walls structure and lianas for the roof , and a plastic is used for the roof, the branches make a small impromptu kitchen and the lianas hold the whole! et Voila ! You can also prepare a fire, then have nothing any more to do but enjoy a meal which will undoubtedly have a very particular flavour.
From now on, rain or not, your clothes will be wet and will not dry any more.
Today will be a new long day. Departure at dawn after a hearthy breakfast rich in proteins for a day of walk in the forest. We will probably make a few scratches and small cutaneous allergies caused by unidentified plants (but were they ever already inventoried?), oh look at that nice minuscule mushroom; perhaps we will see tracks of tapir or jaguar and feel the attacks of horseflies and ticks. Nothing serious, you are already a bushman!
We reach at the end of the day, marked by the effort, an extraordinary point of the Gran Sabana: Teunepatei, the point of separation between the basin of the Karuay river and the Akanan river; the water flowing either towards the East in direction of Kavanayen, or to the West towards Kamarata.
A healthy walk to recover from the previous days - only 4 hours of walk in the forest before reaching, atop a hill, a house, a family living here, in the middle of nowhere... it is even equipped with a table: luxury! With a little chance, we will have fresh pineapples and lemons, and sugarcane to be licked as a dessert. We will perhaps even have right to Indian specialities, accompanied by succulent spicy termites. Just besides the camp flows a river rich in bagrecitos and mincabas. What could be better than a small fishing party tonight?
The morning, in forest, is punctuated by a lunch on a great site: "the Swiss rock". In the middle of a delightfully refreshing river, a stone accomodates us for a repairing buffet.
The afternoon, we will meet with the dreaded "laid down trees", cut down by a most terrible storm. It is a long climb (90 minutes approximately) where we will have to by-pass or climb half rotted tree trunks laid down in the jungle.
At night, after 7 hours of walk, after more bridges, sometimes, cautiously we prefer wading across, we will improvise a campsite on an unstable ground, praying that an enormous tree will not fall on us during the night... ("that almost happened to us, it did not fall far... it appears that it made a terrible noise when it was uprooted ... but I was sleeping so deep that I didn't hear anything!!" - Patrick M.) .
After walking all morning, another delicious spot to lunch, on the bank of a small river. The occasion to make a bit of washing, possibly! In the afternoon, we have right to a beautiful descent towards Kuana.
6 hours of walk. Last night under a plastic cover, in the jungle - definitively time to take in hands the construction of the campsite, and to listen, sitting around the fire, your guides tell us pemons jokes and legends.
Only 2 hours of walk separate us from the Indian village of Kuana, where live only a few families, all confused to see us arriving from nowhere. They lend us the "communal hut", we drink the traditionnal welcoming cachire, make an all is under control call, and then follow by a never-ending bath in the river Kuana, under the eyes of the children who will observe us wash with delight all our clothing, by then at the limit of rot and mould.
Free afternoon, in the village.. Later arrive our new Indian river guides with our dugout canoe and fresh food (at last a change of menu !!) and we celebrate the crossing of the jungle by an anthological barbecue.
From now on, we will continue our journey by river. We take first the Kuana river down to the Akanán River, which we will follow down to the Carrao river. Sail is pretty smooth and uneventful, except for the occasional sight of animals;
We will stop at Campo Carrao, an old mining camp, to see the remnants of a DC-3.
There are also a few rapids to pass, and depending on the water level, we may have to disembark the boat.
We will sleep in our hammocks again tonight (but we are used to it by now) on the edge of the river, at a place called Arenal.
A bit further downriver from Arenal the Carrao meets the Churun. If there is enough water, we will go upriver the Churun into the Devil's canyon, up to the island Ratoncito, where we leave the dugouts and continue walking up to the base of Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall.
After enjoying a bath in the pool at the base of the fall and lunch we then go back to our boat and down the Churún, back to our campsite at Arenal where we will spend our last night in hammocks..
Down the Carrao again to the waterfall El Sapo, where we can walk behind the curtain of water and then Canaima, our final destination. We spend the last night in Canaima in a comfortable rustic lodge... at last a bed!!
Leaving Canaima by plane to Ciudad Bolivar. Magnificent aerial views of the tepuis
End of excursion.
Departure dates and General Observations
There are no scheduled departures for this trek. In fact there is very little demand for this type of excursion, we do it once every 2 or 3 years; that is why we can almost guarantee you will not meet another traveller, except for Angel falls and Canaima of course.
We recommended this trip for the ones who want to reach an objective, involving both hardship and capacity of adaptation, the "achievers".
This trip is not adequate for the observer of nature who wants to see wildlife in the jungle. In this trip you will actually see very little wildlife, animals will see you but you will very rarely have the opportunity to see them, unless your Indian friends show you, but over all, our pace and the distance we have to cover don't allow us to stop for long hours of observation. Moreover 6 days in the jungle in such rudimental conditions is too much for the nature observer who will experience enough of the jungle in 3 days. In that case a trip in the Orinoco Delta may be adequate.
We need a minimum number of participants in order to offer this trip, like 4 or 6, especially to make it affordable, as the fixed costs of the logistics are very high. Contact us for a quote.
Everything is included: guide, porters for the food and camping equipment, all meals, ground, water and air transportation, hammocks and mosquito nets. Departure from Puerto Ordaz (Ciudad Guayana), return to Ciudad Bolivar.
Does not include:
insurance of any kind, gratuities, airport taxes, souvenirs and items of a personal nature.
Departure from Caracas, contact us, we can make the arrangements for the internal travel, flights and hotels for you.