Of all the magnificent waterfalls in the world, this is the highest.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting facts about Angel Falls, one of the most magnificent feats of nature in Venezuela.
1. It drops over the edge of a table-top mountain
Angel Falls, known in Spanish as “Salto Ángel,” is a magnificent waterfall in Venezuela. It is located in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State. This state is located in the east of the country and both its capital, Ciudad Bolívar, and its largest city, Ciudad Guyana, are located about 260 kilometers (160 miles) to the north-northwest of the falls.
One of the most fascinating facts about Angel Falls is that it drops off the edge of a tepui, also referred to as a table-top mountain. This mountain is called “Auyán-tepui” and has a total summit area of 666.9 square kilometers (257.5 square miles).
This remarkable natural miracle reaches a maximum elevation of 2,450 meters (8,040 feet) above sea level.
2. It’s located in a famous national park in Venezuela
This tepui along with the waterfall is located in the Canaima National Park (Parque Nacional Canaima). This immense park covers an area of 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) in the southeast of the country and borders the countries Brazil and Guyana.
The immense park, which was established on June 12, 1962, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, mainly because of its most features, the magical tepuis which cover about 65% of the entire park.
3. The waterfall features the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall
As the waterfall tumbles across the edge of the steep tepui known as Auyán-tepui, it falls nearly 1 kilometer (0.6 miles).
The total height of Angel Falls has been set at 979 meters (3,212 feet) which makes it the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world!
To give some reference to this figure, this is about 19 times the height of one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls!
4. The main drop consists of less than 80% of the total height
One of the things to know about the total height of Angel Falls is that it doesn’t consist of a single drop. Even though the main drop has a height of 807 meters (2,648 feet), it also includes the other features of the waterfall.
These features are the 400 meters (1,300 feet) of rapids near the bottom and the final plunge of about 30 meters (98 feet) into the rapids at the foot of the waterfall.
Regardless, the main drop is also the tallest single drop in the world, making this an extremely remarkable waterfall!
5. The water of the falls eventually drains into the Orinoco River
After the initial rapids at the foot of the waterfall, which are part of the “Río Kerepacupai Merú,” the water flows back into the small river that initially feeds the waterfall, the “Churún River.”
This river eventually drains into the Carrao River which is one of the many tributaries to one of the longest and most famous rivers in South America, the Orinoco River
This massive river flows north toward the two major cities in Bolívar State and has a total length of 2,250 kilometers (1,400 miles).
6. The waterfall was named after an American aviator
So how did Angle Falls get its name?
The waterfall was named after an American aviator named James “Jimmie” Crawford Angel (1899-1956) who was flying his airplane in the region in search of gold or other valuables which he might come across in this unexplored region of the world.
This expedition happened on November 16, 1933, which is the first account of a Westerner seeing the falls in modern times. He came back in 1937 and the first account of the falls being referred to as the “Salto del Ángel” was published on a Venezuelan government map in December 1939.
7. The former Venezuelan President didn’t like the name of the falls
Even though the official name of the falls became “Salto del Ángel” in the late 1930s, the waterfall also has a couple of different names in the local Pemon language.
These names are either “Kerepakupai Merú,” which translates to “waterfall of the deepest place,” or “Parakupá Vená,” which translates to “the fall from the highest point.”
The former Venezuelan President named Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) wasn’t too fond of the name of one of his country’s national natural treasures, obviously because it was named after an American.
Even though he expressed the idea of officially changing the name of the falls to its local, indigenous name, he never issued a decree. This means that the name remains “Salto del Ángel” today!
8. It’s unclear who the Westerner to first see the falls really was
Many claims have been regarding the identity of the first Westerner who presumably laid eyes upon this natural wonder, but none of these can be made official.
The first contender is Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), an English explorer who roamed around in the region during the Anglo-Spanish War in 1595. His goal was finding the city of El Dorado, which presumably was covered in gold.
Other men who presumably saw the falls were Spanish explorers named Fernando de Berrío (1577-1622) and Fèlix Cardona (1903-1982), but none of their accounts could be verified, even though it’s likely some of them are true.
9. Angel’s 1937 plane now decorates a local airport
This means that the first Western man to officially lay eyes upon the falls now bears his name, Jimmie Angel. After his initial discovery in 1933, he came back in October of 1937 and tried to land his airplane, a Flamingo monoplane called “El Río Caroní,” on top of Auyán-tepui.
This didn’t work out as planned as the plane got stuck and he and his wife Marie and 3 companions were forced to descend the tepui on foot. It took them 11 days to go down the gradually sloping side of the mountain, out of the isolated jungle that the falls are located in, and back into civilization.
One of the most fascinating Angel Falls facts is that his airplane was stuck on top of the tepui for 33 years. It was eventually recovered by helicopter and restored at the Aviation Museum in Maracay.
This remarkable piece of history can now be admired just outside of the airport at Ciudad Bolívar.
10. The most popular viewpoint was named after a Latvian explorer
After the shocking discovery of the tallest waterfalls in the world, other explorers started to get attracted to the region as well. One of these included Latvian explorer Aleksandrs Laime, locally known as Alejandro Laime.
After reaching the falls for the first time in the year 1946, he discovered multiple other things as well, including:
- The upper side of falls in the late 1950s by climbing the less steep side.
- Jimmie Angel’s plane on top of the tepui.
- A trail that allows visitors to go from the Churún River to the base of the falls.
- The best viewing point to take pictures of the falls.
This viewing point is now referred to as “Laime’s Viewpoint,” or “Mirador Laime” in Spanish, in honor of the Latvian explorer.
11. The face of the falls was first climbed in 1971
One of the most remarkable achievements in the history of Angel Falls was climbing its face, an almost vertical cliff. The first attempt was made in 1968 but had to be abandoned. Trying to climb the slippery cliff during the wet season wasn’t the best of ideas after all.
The first successful attempt was completed on January 13, 1971, an endeavor that took the climbers 9 days and one and a half days to get back down.
12. It’s one of the most popular isolated tourist attractions in the world
Regardless of the efforts of Aleksandrs Laime, the trail he discovered is still located within an isolated jungle without any roads leading to it. The Canaima camp can be reached by airplane from any of the local airports and is located just a few kilometers (a few miles) away from the falls.
River trips are available between June and December when the water of the river is high enough to accommodate boats that can bring tourists to the base of the waterfall.
Regardless, the trip to this amazing natural phenomenon is part of the adventure, and an amazing sight awaits people who make the journey, don’t you think?