Angel Falls is an incredibly beautiful waterfall in Venezuela. A local name for is is either Kerepakupai vena, meaning “waterfall of the deepest place”, or Parakupa-vena, meaning “the fall from the highest point” which is pretty accurate when you learn that Angel Falls, at 979 m (3,212 ft) , is the highest waterfall in the world. It has a plunge of 807 m (2,648 ft) and is of course a UNESCO World Heritage site. The height of the Falls is so great that most of the water evaporates or gets blown away as a fine mist.
It was not given its name ‘Angel’ for what one might expect the obvious reason, but because US aviator, Jimmy Angel, was the first person to fly over the waterfall, way back in 1937! The name, however, is very appropriate.
Although Angel Falls is one of Venezuela’s top tourist attractions, it is a difficult place to get to. The Falls are in the jungle in the Gran Sabana National Park, one of the large national parks in the country. You need to take a flight to reach Canaima camp, the starting point for river trips to the base of the falls.
It is hardly surprising that these amazing Falls are an irresistible draw to BASEjumpers from around the world.
But it is a hazardous jump. The great height causes its own weather patterns. Tremendous gusts of wind are created by the crashing water.
The waterfall emerges through a slot (canyon) at the top, falls for about 100 ft and then disappears into a cave from which it emerges a little lower down and then cascades to the bottom. At high water level, the crashing of the water on the rocks and in the cave causes great gusts of unpredictable wind and waves of spray.
For this reason, BASEjumpers always jump at low water when the winds are less violent.
Expedition organisers helicopter jumpers to the top of the Falls where, as you can imagine, the view is spell-binding. But you don’t have much time to enjoy it as if you’re at the top waiting to jump it means you’ve got a good weather window and you have to take advantage of that. From launch you have about 10 seconds before deploying your canopy – at this stage you will be dropping at about 90 mph. 3-seconds into the flight you need to extend your legs, and open your arms into a cross position to begin the lateral flight away from the cathedral wall.
Having done all that with great skill, you know that the challenge is still not over. The landing point, a red cross in a 20 x 40-ft area dotted with boulders and 100-ft trees, is on a 20-degree slope ! At about 50-ft from the ground there is a wind shadow that can suddenly increase your speed!
If you’re searching for an adrenaline kick, Angel Falls has it all!
As one elated jumper put it: “I felt satisfaction and complete contentment. I had once again placed myself at the edge of doubt and fear, and found a path through its tentacled maze. I had stepped out of the safe bubble I’ve created for myself, and took a bold step to explore the world outside the box. I jumped off Angel Falls…and I liked it!”
p.s. The oldest person to jump off Angel Falls is 72 years old!