La Gran Sabana
5 days of exploration
A load of activities, walk in the savanna and the tropical forest, swim, dive and climb waterfalls, fly over the Amazonian jungle, climb a tepuy, sail an Indian dugout, and see the gold and diamond mines.
On the contrary to our other expeditions and hiking trips, this particular trip does not require any special physical ability, only open mindedness and good humor, we provide the rest.
This trip can also be done the other way around, that is flying from Ciudad Bolivar or Canaima and ending by ground in Puerto Ordaz. That way it is easier to connect with a trip to Canaima and Angel Falls before the Gran Sabana and then going to the Orinoco Delta after finishing the trip in Puerto Ordaz.
Description of the trip
You will meet your guide in Ciudad Bolívar where you will have arrived the previous day, directly from Caracas or on your own. You will probably have strolled the boardwalk along the Orinoco River. Ciudad Bolivar is hot and humid and it is easy to imagine last century’s adventurers in search for rubber, gold and diamonds passing by...
You will meet your guide after breakfast, board your vehicle and head East to Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Guayana, an important industrial center on the Orinoco: iron ore and bauxite mining, the world's second largest hydroelectric dam, aluminum plants and heavy industries.
At Ciudad Guayana we turn right and will now head South up to Brazil, first passing through a cattle farming area, Upata, Guasipati, and then into El Callao, which was in 1887 the world's richest gold mining area, when one ton of material would give five ounces of gold!
We will visit a small artisanal mine and continue our way to El Dorado, where we will stop for the night in a rustic camp on the Cuyuni River, sleeping in hammocks and mosquito nets. A kilometer or so upriver is the penitenciary "las Colonias de El Dorado" where Papillon was incarcerated after his escape from "le bagne de Cayenne" in French Guiana.
After breakfast, we will first cross the Cuyuni River on a bridge of the well-know French Engineer Gustave Eiffel and continue our way South. The road, although paved and an important one is getting narrower as the jungle is slowly invading it. We are in the Sierra de Imataca, a National Forest, but where the primary forest is being exploited.
Then Las Claritas and San Isidro, the last mining towns before climbing "La escalera", "the staircase" where we will climb from 400 to 1400 meters to what is the beginning of the Gran Sabana. The forest we cross here is a typical cloud forest and a preferred area for bird watchers.
After 2 more hours of driving, part of it on a dirt road, we arrive at the Indian village of Ibo-Riwo. After a quick lunch we will board an Indian dugout that will bring us, after a 30 minutes sail at the head of Chinak Merú, a spectacular waterfall, 105 meters (345 feet) high, on the river Aponwao. We can walk down to the base of the waterfall, and have a swim in a natural pool.
After lunch we continue on the dirt road up to Kavanayen, an Indian Mission, where we will stop for the night. Interesting here is the architecture of the houses, built with stones, construction method introduced by the missionaries for the church.
The morning to walk around the village, and then time to return on the main road. We will stop on the way at Kouchik, and then Kaui-merú, pleasant waterfall on a bed of Jasper rocks. We will stop for the night in a little Indian community at Kama Merú.
Early in the morning, we will go down the waterfall to see it in all its extension, 63 meters high (205 feet), we then continue South and branch off-road to the viewpoint called El Oso, where we have a nice view on the chain of the oriental tepuys (tepuy is the Indian name for these vertical walls, flat top mesas, characteristics of this region): Trámen, Uru, Wadakapiapo, Ivarkarima and Matawi-tepuy. Back on the main road, we stop next to Quebrada de Pacheco, another nice waterfall and we stop finally at Suruape, the best natural pool in the area and where the most intrepid will be able to enjoy a natural toboggan of some thirty meters long. We will have lunch here.
In the afternoon we will go through San Francisco de Yuruaní, the most important Indian community in the Gran Sabana (and where we start our treks to Mount Roraima, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World) and reach Quebrada de Jaspe (Jasper Creek), a natural wonder, where at the same time a waterfall and a stream 10 meters (30 feet) wide is flowing on a bed of Jaspe, a red and yellow semi-precious stone.
From there we continue directly to the town of Santa Elena de Uairén, stopping on the way to the best spots to take pictures of the savanna and the morichales.
Sta Elena de Uairén is the largest town in the area, it is a typical mining town of about 8,000 people, tied to the mining activities of the area. In the actuality, due to the weakness of the Venezuelan currency, there is a strong commercial activity with Brasil.
We will spend the night in Sta-Elena.
After breakfast we will drive to El Paují. El Paují (from the bird's name "Crax nigra") is a totally nontypical village in the Gran Sabana. Its population of about 300 is composed of native Indians, miners, and professionals that decided to leave the big city in the sixties and live here an alternative life. They have been joined since then by a number of foreigners from Europe, other Latin American countries, Canada and USA, giving to that remote corner the claim of being the most cosmopolitan village in the whole Amazon-Orinoco basin! You will appreciate this singularity through the architecture that has been developed over the years, the local handicraft and the importance of education and culture in the life of its inhabitants. Small-scale gold and diamond mining, tourism, handicraft and apiculture are the main economic activities of the area.
Once in the village we will first climb up the tepuy Woipan (45 minutes), better known as The Abyss, about 1200 meters (3900 feet) high, will reward us with a spectacular view of the Amazonian jungle on its feet. We will also be able to observe the flora characteristic of the top of the tepuys. check-in at our inn and have lunch. In the afternoon we will go for a short excursion along the banks of the river Chaverú to observe the mining process, where gold and diamonds. On the way back we will stop for a swim in the Pozo Esmeralda, a small natural pool in the middle of the woods.
After lunch, on our way back, we will stop for a swim in the Cathedral waterfall, and then head back to Sta-Elena for our last night in the Gran Sabana.
After breakfast, at the airport, you part company with your guide and you board your flight to Canaima and/or Ciudad Bolívar.
From here you may choose between 3 alternatives:
1. Fly directly from Sta-Elena to Ciudad Bolivar and your final destination.
2. Stop in Canaima for a tour to the base of Angel Falls. This tour is normally available only from May to December when the water level in the river allows the passage of the dugout canoes. Check our Angel falls 3d/2n tour.
6 days, 5 nights. Min. 4 persons, dbl./triple occ., from Ciudad Bolivar to Sta-Elena, (ask us for more persons)
These prices include:
• Ground transportation for the duration of the tour
• River transportation (Ibo Riwo) .
• Accommodation: one night in hammocks, 5 nights in rustic, but comfortable inns.
• Three meals daily (exception for the day in Ciudad Bolívar, no meals included, and the 2 dinners in Sta-Elena are excluded, so that everyone can choose according to its own preferences the restaurant and meal.)
• Services of a bilingual, knowledgeable and friendly guide.
The prices does not include:
• Return flight from Sta-Elena, insurance of any kind, alcoholic beverages, optional tours, gratuities, airport taxes, souvenirs and items of a personal nature.
Other alternatives to explore the Gran Sabana
What to do before and after the Gran Sabana:
Like mentioned above, visit Canaima and Angel Falls, 3d/2n then fly from Canaima directly to Santa-Elena
Spend 3 days of adventures in the rivers of the Orinoco Delta followed