Those on group flights will arrive in Caracas this evening and be transferred to our hotel. Those on Land Only arrangements should arrive at the hotel during the afternoon.
We fly to Puerto Ordaz early this morning and after a short city tour (time permitting) drive for around 8 hours to the Grand Savannah. Our accommodation for the night is in a simple guesthouse at Rapidos de Kamoiran.
Today we drive to the 100m high Aponguao Falls, one of the most attractive waterfalls in Venezuela, before continuing to the small Indian village of San Francisco de Yuruani. The short walk to the falls takes us through some lovely scenery. We also visit two smaller falls before arriving in San Francisco where we spend the night in a simple posada (guest house).
This morning we set off by 4WD vehicle along the dirt road to the Pemon Indian village of Parai Tepui, the start point for the Roraima trek. The first day's hike (around 12km) is a relatively straightforward 5 hour walk which takes us across gentle hills and open grasslands to our campsite near the banks of the Rio Tek (altitude: 1,050m). Any excess baggage can be left in the 4WD and taken to Santa Elena to be collected on day 9 at an extra charge - see note below.
Today we walk to the Roraima base camp, crossing plains and hills, with Roraima always visible. In the early afternoon we arrive at the base camp (altitude: 1,800m), directly in front of the steep wall of Roraima. The 10km hike takes around 6 hours and involves fording two rivers, the Tek and the wider Rio Kukenan - we will normally wade across, but if water levels in either river are high, it may be necessary to use a line to assist with the crossing
Today is probably the most challenging part of the trek as we ascend steadily from the base camp to the plateau on top of Roraima - we climb about 1,000m today to an altitude of 2,800m. The hike generally takes around 5 hours and we pass under a waterfall which tumbles from the top of the mountain. The waters of the tepuys nourish many of Venezuela's major rivers, such as the Orinoco and the Esequibo, as well as the Amazonian tributaries. There is plenty of vegetation including a spectacular variety of mosses, cacti and orchids. We may also see unusual species such as the tiny Oreophrynella toad, which can only be found on the tepuis and is known for its distinctive black colour. Lunch is served at the summit so we can take a well-earned rest. We usually camp either in a large cave or under a rock ledge which offers protection from the strong winds and low night time temperatures which are common on the plateau.
Today we have a full day to explore the sparse volcanic top of the tepuy. Since it is largely flat, the walking today is not too challenging. The exact routes that we take will be heavily dependent on weather conditions, but one of the highlights is the 'Kukenan Window', a precipice which offers spectacular views of the eastern face of the neighbouring Kukenan Tepuy and the broad expanse of the jungles of Guyana. Thousands of years of rain have weathered the rocks of Roraima into interesting formations and there are several sinkholes lined with quartz (locally known as crystal jacuzzis) and valleys across the top of the mountain. We will spend another night in our summit camp after the day's explorations.
Today it's time to say goodbye to the ancient world as we return to the Tek River on our longest trekking day. The first part of the 8 hour walk is moderately challenging due to the steepness of the descent and the fact that there are loose rocks close to the summit, so caution is advised as we set off. We reach the base camp in time for lunch, and then continue across the Kukenan and Tek Rivers to camp at the same place as on day 4.
After breakfast, we walk back to Parai Tepuy (about 4 hours), where we will be picked up by a 4WD vehicle for the drive to Santa Elena de Uairén. A stop will be made at the most beautiful waterfall in this area, the Quebrada de Jasper. The striking flamelike orange and red colours of the falls are the result of the water polishing the jasper rocks in the stream bed. From the falls we continue to Santa Elena where we spend the night in a pleasant lodge just outside the town. There will be a chance to do some laundry in Santa Elena, as well as take a well-deserved shower!
This morning we transfer to the airport (possibly with a short diversion to the Brazilian border) for our charter flight in small Cessnas to Canaima (only 10 kg luggage allowance). On arrival we will transfer to our lodge and then in the afternoon we have a walking excursion to Salto Sapo. These stunning waterfalls are quite broad, and it is possible to cross from one side to the other following a path behind the falls.
After breakfast we start at about 9am for our boat trip to Angel Falls. We are taken along the Carrao and the Churun rivers, passing Pozo de Felicidad ('Well of happiness'), Isla Orquídea ('Orchid Island'), Cañon del Diablo ('Devil's Canyon') and Wey Tepuy. We pass close by the impressive Auyan Tepuy whose steep walls tower over the river. Finally we arrive at Isla Raton where we will have lunch. Afterwards we hike for about 50 minutes through tropical rainforest until we get to the lookout point directly opposite the Angel Falls, which we can admire in its full height if weather permits. At almost 1,000m it is the highest waterfall in the world. Its waters form a natural pool at its base, which makes it an ideal place to have a swim. We walk back to the camp close to Isla Raton for dinner and spend the night in hammocks in front of the island.
Please note: In the dry season (January - May) it is not always possible to get to the Angel Falls by boat. In that case we take an excursion to Orchid Island to explore, and swim in the river, returning by boat to Canaima.
After breakfast and a last look at the falls and Auyan Tepuy we return to Canaima following the same route as yesterday, passing through beautiful savannah landscapes. We arrive in Canaima at around midday and the rest of the afternoon can be spent relaxing or bathing in the Canaima Lagoon.
In the morning there is still time to explore the small village of Canaima and buy some of the traditional Indian handicrafts. Subject to weather conditions, there is an optional flight available today over the magnificent Angel Falls - the view from the air is very different to the one available from Isla Raton. Around midday we fly in a Cessna to Ciudad Bolívar (10kg luggage allowance) where the rest of the day is at leisure to discover the colonial city centre.
This morning we drive for an hour to Puerto Ordaz to join our flight to Caracas, where the trip ends. Those on group flights will continue their journey back to London.