8 days / 7 nights
Difficulty level:5 on a scale of 5
6 to 8 hours of walk daily - 2 days of bouldering
The trip starts from Ciudad Bolívar, Capital City of Bolívar State. We can also start the trip from Puerto Ordaz or Sta-Elena, ask us.
Itinerary of the Trek
We leave Ciudad Bolívar around 7:30am on: small planes (Cessna, Piper). We fly almost due south. The Cerro Bolívar, one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world lies below us like a red wound in the surrounding green. Soon after appear the outskirts of the 8th biggest man made lake in the world the Guri Lake.
Passing a few small tepuis we enter the Canaima National Park. There in front of us rises the imposing northern wall of our goal Auyantepui.
Weather permitting we continue alongside the eastern wall of the tepui until Devils canyon beckons on our right. The great canyon swallows us as we follow the meanderings of the Churun river to Angel Falls, with 979 meters (3,212 ft.), the highest free falling waterfall on earth. Coming out of the canyon we turn south again until finally we reach the south-east corner of the tepui and turn west.
Soon Kamarata is discernible to the left. We leave Kavak on our right and soon descend to Uruyen, our destination and Auyantepuy's trailhead.
The famous bush pilot Jimmie Angel made this Indian village his base. Hunched over a radio set an Indian received messages of the pilot looking for a place to land on the summit of Auyantepui. Jimmie, his wife and a friend were searching for the source of the gold of the Kukurital river. The last message was: “We crashed. Trying to find our way down. Try to meet us”. Where nowadays ropes facilitate our ascent the Indian fought his way up unaided. He met the bedraggled survivors just below the summit 11 days after. It was and still is the only access to this gigantic sandstone fortress. For a short story of Jimmie Angel, click here.
We land well before lunchtime so there is time to take a swim before a light lunch. In the meantime luggage and food for 7 days is distributed between the Indian porters. We start the trek heading to Guayaraca, the camp on the first terrace of the mountain. Along our way from the Low Sabana to the summit we encounter various distinctive changes in plant life. Eta in camp Guayaraca: 1700 Hours.
After breakfast across a typical High Sabana (already changes in the flora are noticeable). Before the sun gets too hot we reach the shady and silent sanctuary of the Middle Rain forest. We stay in the shade until the second terrace where the vegetation changes quite dramatically. For a short while we are exposed to the sun before entering yet another type of flora: The mysterious Cloud Forest. The wall gets closer. Here the first members of the endemic tepui flora meet us. What also meets us are tangled, slippery roots making life a bit difficult. Eta at El Peñon camp (rock overhang): 1500-1600 hours.
Morning in El Peñon: From a height of 1600 meters (5240 ft.) we look down into a sea of clouds. With the heat they will rise slowly to their proper station more or less where we will enter the summit of Auyantepui: El Libertador. After one and a half hour walk we reach the Paloma wall where the wall disappears into the clouds, we have a little rest. Then begins the ascent proper, technically speaking: bouldering. On five occasions, we will need to use knotted ropes to help us climb some of the larger boulders which do not offer any hold for the hands.
There is just no way to describe the lush vegetation along this one hour trip through the ancestry of our planet. On top a different landscape awaits us. Right near the abyss at Pico Libertador, weather permitting, we have lunch. From there approximately 3 more hours and 2 ropes to reach El Oso our friendly rock overhang, home for three nights. There is time for a bath at a beautiful cascade. Eta El Oso 1700 hours.
This morning we relax. We are able to wash our clothes and hopefully dry them. The cascade to take a bath is about 15 minutes from El Oso.
On this little sortie everybody can hone his skill to discern the little stone cairns marking the path.
After lunch and a little siesta its orchid time. We dont have to walk far. There is also time to explain tepui flora in detail.
Dinner and Tepui Brew. No Eta.
After an early breakfast we are on our way to Campo Lecho behind the big bend in the Churun River. Walking through this desolate landscape where the rocks are black, small island of plant life reveal an astounding variety of mostly endemic plants. There is no visible end to this elevated country. Up here all the rivers are called Churun the reason why, our guide tells you in the Indian stories.
We turn away from the bleak plain to enter a green haven of rain forest signaling the vicinity of the river. Soon we walk along it and arrive at the bend of Churun in time for lunch. This place is charmed. We swim and jump from rocks into the red, clear water.
Path permitting we continue to a place where the river disappears into the rocks for about 300 meters (900 ft.) it appears again boiling out of the rock fissures. It is time to start on the trek back. We arrive at El Oso around 1600 hours.
We break camp as early as possible because on the way down we stop at El Peñon only for lunch. it is a long leg but at least it is all downhill.
We negotiate the descent with care especially where the ropes help us through the difficult spots.
Reaching the long stretch through rain forest we are nearly home free.
Guyayaraca welcomes us like an old friend. Eta:1700-1800 hours.
A leisurely breakfast prepares us for the last leg before civilization beckons. In Kavac, which we know only from the air cold drinks are available. We sit at tables after 7 days a nice experience and have the special Kavac chicken barbecue.
In the typical round huts hammocks await us for a good nights sleep.
Eta. Kavac: 1500 hours.
While the planes make their way from Ciudad Bolívar we use the wait to visit the famous Canyon of Kavac.
The cameras safely packed in plastic bags we swim part of the way to a very impressive waterfall in a cave like opening in this narrow canyon.
When we get back the planes might be waiting already and it is farewell to a unique Island in time
Services of a knowledgeable, bilingual, and responsible guide, a cook, all meals, a tent for 2 persons, airfare to and from Cd. Bolívar
Discounts for groups of 6 and more, for departures from Caracas, Puerto Ordaz or Sta-Elena.
More pictures of the trek to Auyantepuy: