Located deep in the Guayana highlands within the Canaima National Park in Venezuela, the great Angel Falls (locally called Salto Ángel in Spanish) is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. It leaps from a cleft near the uneven and heart-shaped summit of the Auyanatepui table mountain (also known as the Devil’s Mountain), with a height of 3,211 feet (979 m) and a plunge of 2,368 feet (807 m). The height of the Angel Falls makes it the highest waterfall in the world, which is15 times higher than the great Niagara Falls. The water of the falls almost turns into fog as it thumps the hard ground from the towering height.
Along with the main plunge, the falls also includes about 1,312 feet (400 m) of sloped cascade and rapids below the drop and a 98 feet (30 m) high plunge downstream of the talus rapids. It flows into the Churnun River, a tributary of the Carrao River, which itself is a tributary of the Orinoco River system. The Angel Falls is 150 meter wide at its base and is also known as ‘Kerepakupai Meru’ (waterfall of the deepest place) and ‘Parakupá Vená (the fall from the highest point) in Pemon language.
The spectacular Angel Falls, regarded as one of the greatest and the most dazzling natural wonders of the world, was unknown to the mankind till the early 20th century, as it was virtually hidden in the virgin forests and the rugged mountain of Venezuela. It was located for the first time in 1933, when Jimmy Angel, an adventurous pilot from Missouri, United States, flew to the air circus Lindberg searching for the legendary McCracken River of Gold, or the Golden City. He came back to the spot again in 1937 with his second wife Marie and his friends Gustavo Henry and Miguel Delgado, abroad his fixed-wing plane. He had an emergency landing on the top of the Auyantepui, near the falls, to prove his point to the world. However, he failed to take off again for their return journey, as the wheels of the plane were stuck in mud. Consequently, they had no choice but to take the risk of trekking down from the vertical cliffs to the civilized world and in the process walking through the muddy and slippery trek with the exposed roots of the jungle for eleven days. In recognition of this marvelous feat of Jimmy Angel, the falls was subsequently named after him and after his death his ashes were scattered over the falls on 2 July 1960. Angel's plane remained on top of the tepui for a long period of 33 years and then recovered by lifted out by helicopter. Subsequently, it was restored at the Aviation Museum in Maracay and is now displayed on the front of the airport at Ciudad Bolivar.
Later, a Latvian explorer Aleksandrs Laime or Alejandro Laime reached the falls alone in 1946. He was the first person to reach the upper side of the falls in the late 1950s, as he climbed from the back side of the mountain, where the slope is not vertical. He also saw Angel's plane 18 years after its crash landing.
In 2009, President Hugo Chavez announced his intention to change the name from the Angel’s Falls to its original name in the indigenous Pemon language, as it is an indigenous property. Later he explained that he would not take any official action to change the name, he was only defending the use of the original and traditional name Kerepakupai Vena.
Canaima National Park, located in the south west of Venezuela, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. For its proper protection, the National Executive declared it as a national park on 12th June 1962. The almost surreal world of Canaima National Park is a perfect combination of magic and reality, shaped by the massive breathtaking mountains shrouded in clouds, countless rivers, lakes, waterfalls, dense forests and savannahs spread like a huge green carpet. It is a living testimony of the geographic history of our planet. The huge park, occupying an area of 3 million hectares, is the second largest protected area of Venezuela and sixth in the world. The trek through the jungle is a surreal adventure and can be easily compared to traveling through the prehistoric Lost World.