Quick: Think of some of the most famous waterfalls in the world. Niagara Falls comes up, for sure, and maybe Iguassu Falls if you’ve travelled through South America. But that continent is also home to Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world’s highest recorded waterfall at a height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a plunge of 807 m (2,648 ft). It was also reportedly the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the Disney/Pixar movie Up!
It may not be the huge shelf of water that Niagara is, but the fact that the water of Angel Falls, ahem, falls uninterrupted from such a great height is pretty darn cool. In fact, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Venezuela, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The first time explorers managed to measure the height of the falls, it took them nine and a half days to ascend up the slippery cliffs!
The name itself holds some controversy in Venezuelan history. Angel Falls, however pious the name, was actually named after US aviator Jimmie Angel, the first person to fly over the falls in November 1933. But in 2009, President Hugo Chavez announced that he wanted to change the name of the falls, since it was indigenous land to the Venezuelan people and thus should not be named after an American. He later backtracked on his words, however, and it remains Angel Falls to this day.
Because the Angel Falls are so isolated – they’re located right in the thick of the jungle – it’s a bit of a trek to get there. On our Trekking Roraima tour, the journey to Angel Falls includes a flight to Canaima National Park, then a boat ride, then a hike up to the falls. But all this activity is well worth it once you get a glimpse of the viewpoint from the top of the world’s highest waterfall.
So if you’re looking for a new type of bucket-list adventure, why not put Angel Falls at the top of your list? It’s wet, it’s wild, and it’s right out there waiting for you to discover it. Anybody can check out Niagara Falls – journeying through the jungle to see Angel Falls makes a way better story.