We were the First! Two madmen on a journey into the entrails of a giant

The story behind the first images at the foot of Angel Falls

There are experiences that change your life and although the word magic is repeated in this story, this is a true story, of exciting seduction, but real. The Greek writer Constantin Cavafis already said it, in the poem Ithacas, when you undertake a journey it is your heart that imposes what you will find.

That is why this is the story of two brave and passionate madmen who did something unique: photograph the bowels of the largest waterfall in the world. We, Valery and Emmanuel, are those crazy people and we want to share our memories with you.

Arriving in Canaima, no matter how many times we visit, we are always captivated. That is our experience. From the moment we board the plane in Maiquetía, the senses are awakened. Our gaze never tires of the infinite variety of greens in the forest and the changing reddish colors of the river that in the distance are guarded by those gigantic rock formations called Tepuy. Here the adventure begins, whose first destination is the area near the Canaima lagoon.

From the moment we take our first steps in that land, the comforts that have been carefully organized per Soco Adventure family, it always ensures the beginning of a journey full of intense adventures, but with all the advantages of high quality tourist services.

TOWARDS THE KINGDOM OF THE GIANT

After enjoying the welcome and resting one night, we started the new day by letting ourselves be seduced with a three-hour tour under the expert guidance of an indigenous person from the area. Sailing in a curiara through the winding Carrao River, we surrender to the intense spectacle of sunrise with its pink and orange skies that also stain the strangely scarlet waters. It is as if you were navigating the veins of a giant where the blood flows full of life.

Although we know that we are heading towards the enormous Auyantepuy, which stands imposing like a titan in the distance, we know that the best is yet to begin. Enraptured by each tepui that outlines the horizon and ecstatic by the tranquility of the route that connects with the Churun river, a small curve in the flow hides a secret that is soon revealed loudly. When the boat turns, the colossal Auyantepuy, rocky and firm, exhibits with equal mythical intensity, a feminine torrent of water that falls sinuous and solemn like the ancestral fluid and creator of mother earth. It's a dream and a show. The largest waterfall in the world is there for the first time before your eyes. Its original name is Kerepakupai Wena, granted by the indigenous people of the area, although due to an unfair history we know it as the Angel Falls.

 

IN THE EARTH WITHOUT TIME

The climate in the area is changeable. It almost always delights us with a clear sky. But that day was special. The sky was very cloudy. When the curiara stopped at Isla Ratón, we took a comfortable and quiet 45-minute walk on relatively flat terrain. Our stop was the first viewpoint. Although we knew that this is one of the most emblematic and photogenic places, we felt the urge to go further. After another walk (for about an hour) on a more rustic path we reached the viewpoint of the Japanese, in honor of the first Asians who rested there before climbing the mountain.

AN INTIMATE ENCOUNTER

 

When we left the viewpoint of the Japanese we already knew. Something unique awaited us on the way. Before leaving, it was our turn to seduce the sun so that it appeared imposing, as it is, in the sky. Our indigenous guide told us about invoking him by asking aloud to come closer. Even if you are not a believer in the power of subtle energies, you may have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the gaze that quantum physics talks about so much. The truth is that the fire star came out, and cleared the clouds. Therefore, every time you travel these lands it is easy to be captivated by its charms, but it demands that you seduce it too. That kingdom demands that you surrender to its majesty, that you awaken the heart.

In a 35-minute walk (which depends on the natural rhythm of each traveler) you are once again seduced by the smell of the humid earth, the soft feeling of the floor, the sound of the leaves of the trees or the birds, and the sweet taste of the air. No one needs to tell you that you are walking through the oldest place on earth, so that you feel the footsteps of your ancestors at every step.

That delicious route fills with adrenaline when finally, at the foot of the tepui we touch stone wall. Putting your hand on the rock is like caressing the heart of the earth and feeling a throb that whispers to you the most hidden mysteries of the universe. Time does not exist there, you are small in the face of so much immensity and still you can feel the infinite. When we touch the stone, we feel life running through our veins, energy flowing through our bones. We assure you that if you place your head on the rock that giant whispers the secrets of the world to you. The stories of indigenous deities make sense. There you also feel the presence of those first men and women who inhabited the earth, like a past that becomes present.

 

TOWARDS THE BOWL

Filled with the energy of the place we wanted to do a feat. Our wish was to go further. No one was risking it, but we felt the call of the water, the invitation of the giant to penetrate its entrails. That day we were the first to do that walk that lasts about an hour. With our camera in hand, step by step we entered towards the foot of the waterfall. On that rocky road, you experience water in all its intensities. From a dew that caresses you, to large drops that shake you like a dry leaf. On the way we discover vestiges of the past: pieces of planes and helicopters that have crashed into the force of the water. They are wounds and at the same time warnings of our fragility as human beings in the face of the immensity of Mother Nature. It is enough to calculate with our scientific mind that from the top to that place there is approximately 807 meters of free fall.

We are proud to say that we are the first to document that intense experience and make that journey possible for travelers who have taken risks after us. Our adventure has become inspiration. That day, responsible and aware of the risk, we were delighted with the sound of falling water. When you are there, and you hear that torrent fall, it is as if you heard your own blood running through your veins. All the senses expand: colors have flavor, sounds textures, smells resonate. There is no hallucinogen that surpasses this magic.

Although the wonder of the experience is once in a lifetime, this part of the journey is not for all travelers. While walking, great care is required as the stones are slippery and the water that falls with force can easily wash away even the most athletic body. That's why Soco Adventure organizes expeditions for all audiences only up to the wall. The rest of the journey is unpredictable and must be assumed by everyone under their responsibility. Let's just remember that up to the foot of Angel Falls, the water descends with force from 807 meters high and then slides down the stone and melts into a gigantic well that is diluted in a river. This is the point that is taken as a reference to calculate the 979 meters that makes this waterfall the largest waterfall in the world.

Thus ends this story but begins a new stage in our lives. We wanted to share the memories of that trip with the hope of stoking the fire of adventure that lies inside everyone. But remember, what you find along the way will depend on your own heart.

Valery Saa and Emmanuel Vieira

Editing and Writing: Alejandra Fernandez