The aim of this classic expedition to Venezuela is to climb the tabletop mountain (tepui) of Auyán-tepui and to abseil down the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls.
Venture into Venezuela’s lost world, the Canaima National Park, to trek and climb to the summit of Auyán-tepui. This imposing tabletop mountain is the precipice from which the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, cascades to the earth. Then, abseil down this incredible natural phenomenon.
To get to the summit you and the team will first undertake a trek through the Canaima National Park, along the route which was charted in 1937 when American aviator and adventurer Jimmie Angel was forced to descend through the jungle on foot to reach civilisation after he crash-landed on the summit.
The 979m waterfall takes two days to rappel down over 13 abseil pitches, with out-of-this-world views over the jungle below and nearby tepuis.
Why you'll love this adventure
- Abseil off Auyán-tepui down the 979 metres of Angel Falls.
- Retrace Jimmie Angel’s escape mission route to the summit.
- Experience the region made famous in Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
- Explore the Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Discover endemic flora and fauna on the ancient tepuis.
- Overnight camp halfway down the length of the falls!
- Complete your return journey by dug out canoe.
10 February 2024
24 February 2024
This trip operator runs expeditions with framework itineraries, rather than guided tours with set daily plans. A fuller itinerary is provided in the handbook which is available on request or upon application to join the team.
- Professional trip operator expedition leader carrying full medical and communications kits.
- Specialist abseil guides.
- All accommodation throughout.
- All food (snacks and meals) and soft drinks.
- All transport as outlined in itinerary including airport transfers.
- Special permits and permissions if required.
- Some technical kit (see kit list in Handbook).
- International flights/ travel to and from the start and end points.
- Travel insurance (obligatory).
- Visas if required.
- Tips to local guides (discretionary).
- Alcohol unless provided by hosts with meals.
- Personal equipment (full kit list in the Handbook).
Who is this trip for?
Teammates must be comfortable with the following.
Minimum Fitness Requirements
- Daily activity: up to eight hours per day on tricky terrain. Abseil for at least two long days, over 750m of abseiling.
- Carry: up to 25kg per person.
- Abseil: off sheer vertical cliffs and at times over overhangs with no wall at all.
- Terrain: very varied. Through deep and dense jungles, marshy swamps and up very steep paths. You’ll ascend with the aid of fixed ropes and scrambling techniques.
- Climate: temps around 26°C – 32°C with high humidity. Cooler at nights and at the summit with temperatures to as low as 10°C. This part of Venezuela can be very wet.
This is one of the longest and most involved abseils in the world so previous experience of abseiling is necessary for this expedition. You must be completely confident of tying and clipping into anchors and using your rappelling equipment. If you have no prior experience this is not a problem as you will be able to learn these techniques prior to the trip: there are many climbing instructors that can run bespoke training sessions to teach you these required skills.
On arrival you’ll need to be able to:
- put on a climbing harness.
- tie yourself into the system.
- clip yourself into a hanging anchor system and make yourself safe.
- rig your belay device (ATC or similar (NOT Fig 8), for abseiling.
- tie and use a French prussik knot.
- abseil an overhanging pitch so that you have no contact with the rock or wall.
- abseil with a 15kg bag attached via a daisy chain to your abseil device.
Applicants will receive a Handbook with further expedition information.
Far from the clutches of civilisation, the remote location of Angel Falls (Kerepakupai Meru) keeps it out of reach. Few people attempt the journey to reach it, and even fewer face the abseil down the total length of the 979m long drop, which makes it the highest waterfall in the world. It is 15 times higher than Niagara falls, and it will take two days and 13 abseil pitches to reach the bottom. You will need to have a head for heights as you rappel off into free air with the falls cascading to earth beside you. An expert team of guides will be supporting you as you descend. Plenty of patience will be needed as we get all the team members down each rope length – providing ample opportunities for reflection, contemplation, and time to simply enjoy the view.
To reach the abseil, you must first reach the top of the tepui. The geographical formations of the tepuis are some of the oldest in the world, with some estimated to be 1.5 billion – 2 billion years old. Coined the ‘islands of time’ by naturalist and explorer Charles Brewer-Carias, they are thought to be remnants of an ancient continent that broke apart to form South America and Africa.
The Auyán-tepui is one of the largest table-topped mountains in Venezuela, a colossal sandstone mantle towering above the rainforest below. It was made famous in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World. Due to the stark separation and difference in altitude, the tepui’s ecosystem on the 700km2 tabletop has evolved independently from the jungle below. As such, you will encounter a variety of endemic plant, insect and animal species at the summit.
Fantastical Trekking Route
While the epic conclusion of the abseil sets this expedition apart, it is the trekking phase which presents the infinite rewards of venturing deep into the Canaima National Park. Taking a rarely-trodden route from the low lying grasslands, up through tangles of jungle vegetation and rock to the stark and heart stopping view from the top of tepui, you will need a high level of fitness and all your willpower not to reach for your camera at every turn to make good time to the top of the falls. A porter team will assist you on the trek up, but teammates applying to this expedition must set out their level of fitness or plan to demonstrate their capability to carry up to 25kg, as the end phase of the trek is unsupported.
The falls owe their name to the aviator and explorer Jimmie Angel (1899-1956), an American pioneer in the early years of air exploration. There are many unverified stories concerning Jimmie’s first visit to Venezuela in 1921, but in 1937, he famously crashed his plane on a landing attempt on the top of the Auyán-tepui. He and his three companions were forced to abandon the plane to forge a route through the jungle on foot to escape. Stories of their adventure and successful return after 11 days trekking through the jungle spread, and falls were named after him in his honour.
The name of falls has been contested, with many Venezuelans of the opinion their most famous national landmark should bear a local name, the original Pemon term of Kerepakupai Meru, meaning ‘waterfall of the deepest place’.
When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry. Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.
Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority. Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.
Venezuela: Abseil ‘The Lost World’
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