Angel Waterfall of Venezuela - The World's Highest Waterfall • 360° Aerial Panoramas
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In March of 2011, Dima Moiseenko flew to Venezuela to shoot Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. Due to extremely unstable weather conditions that covered the region, a long distance and technical difficulties the photo session lasted for two days. However, all of these difficulties were overcome. Dima managed to shoot Angel Falls and two other waterfalls that flow from the Tepui. He also managed to shoot some spherical panoramas while flying over the gold mines.
First part of the photo shoot (near the waterfall) can be seen here
Now we invite you to a virtual tour: Angel Waterfall of Venezuela — The World's Highest Waterfall
During last several years we have shot aerial panoramas of the world's most famous and exotic waterfalls: Iguazu Falls in Brazil/Argentina; Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe; Black Waterfall in Iceland...
Naturally, when I came across discounted tickets to Margarita Island (the Mecca of windsurfers and kite boarders) in Venezuela, Salto Angel (Angel Falls) seemed an easy target. It is a well-known fact that Angel Falls is the highest in the world!
The highest point of the falls reaches 979 meters, with water falling from a height of 807 meters. The height of the falls is so great that by the time it reaches the ground it becomes tiny particles that turns into fog.
It should also be mentioned that Venezuela is a unique country. In addition to having Hugo Chavez and the unusually cheap price of gasoline (it only cost 100 rubles to fill up a Jeep), it is also home to the Tepui Mountain formation.
Tepui (or Tepuy) is a strange-looking mountain with a flat top called a "table-top" (because it is flat like a table). These unique geological formations are found mostly in the Venezuelan Guiana Highland in South America.
The word ‘Tepui' comes from the language of the Pemon Indians. Tepui means ‘house of the gods'. The Tepui formations are completely isolated from each other. The Tepui towers over the jungle making it a home to unique plants and animals.
According to the article in Wikipedia the Angel waterfall was discovered when American aviator Jimmie Angel flew over Tepuy on 16 November 1933 on a flight while he was searching for a valuable ore bed.
Returning on 9 October 1937, Angel tried to land his Metal Aircraft Corporation Flamingo monoplane El Río Caroní; atop Auyan-tepui, but the plane was damaged when the wheels sank into the marshy ground, and he and his three companions, including his wife Marie, were forced to descend the tepui on foot. It took them 11 days to make their way back to civilization,via the gradually sloping backside but news of their adventure spread, and the waterfall was named Angel Falls in his honor.
Here you can also find some of the highest waterfalls in the world. Imagine kilometers-high mountains with steep vertical walls and flat tops in the middle of dense jungles. On these, water accumulates after even a slight amount of rainfall, eventually coming down in numerous waterfalls.
Angel Falls is just one of the waterfalls but it's the highest one since it is almost a kilometer tall. This attribute gives Angel the status of being "the highest waterfall in the world." Other affluent rivers descent from the same Auyantepui mountain, but they are "only" 200 — 300 meters high.
Since mountain waterfalls are fed by rain, travel time needs to be planned carefully. During the dry season, Angel is just a trickle of water. In the rainy season, it is a full-fledged waterfall. However, the weather is so unpredictable that it is possible to not see it in all of its glory, even in as much time as a month...
Although the current season turned out to be dry, our informers reported a recent heavy rainfall. This would yield a full-fledge waterfall — we had to hurry up!
While in Moscow, I researched that there was no helicopter service near the waterfall at the Canaima National Park. Small airplanes that successfully served tourists in this area wouldn't have worked for us. With this in mind, I started searching for transportation on the first day of my arrival to the island of Margarita. Angel Falls is located in the jungles of Venezuela, so anyone can only get there by air or river.
After 3 days of searching, I called a company that services the gold mines with a Bell-206 helicopter. The company is located 100 kilometers from the waterfall. It very well could fly "dear Russian guests" to the coveted Angel Waterfall in the first part of the day.
It took two planes, the Orinoco River crossing, and 8-hours long jeep ride to get from Margarita Island to the company office... But we are ready to go through all difficulties. So soon enough I found myself standing next to the yellow helicopter ready to take off.
The first day we took off at 7 am and arrived at the foot of Angel Falls at 8:15 am. The helicopter landed near the camp, from which a hiking trail led tourists to the waterfall. Our informers did not disappoint us: there was a full-fledged waterfall coming down from the mountain top. Even at a considerable distance, Angel made a strong impression on us. After falling from a kilometer-high distance water is broken in the particles at the foot of the falls. It leaves you standing in a cloud of "water fog" wondering where is this river coming from... It was down there, under a shower of a million tiny water droplets, at where it seemed that nowhere else could one feel the grandeur of the surrounding nature.
So, the final preparations for the flight were made, we removed the doors and the helicopter was ready for takeoff. Although the sky above the waterfall was clear, it was heavy overcast above Mount Auyantepui (from which flows Angel).
I decided that we should just fly to the mountaintop and wait there. We barely found a landing site among the "forest" of rock formations covering the top of the mesa.
It is only from a distance Tepui seem smooth, but in fact it has multi-metered crevices and steep walls ranging from a height of ten floors. It slightly limits your ability to move around the "table" surface. Within an hour blue gaps would open up in the clouds, only to close again. Unfortunately, they happened far away from the waterfall.
Suddenly, within about five minutes, an ascending cloud engulfed us, and we were in dense fog. Within hours, the fog was so thick that the pilot not only refused to do the photo-shoot, but also did not even consider taking off. This kilometer-high cliff and the clouds emerging from down below would excite us at any other time. But now, unfortunately, we were seriously stuck on top of the mountain. The pilot's words didn't encourage us either: he mentioned that fogs like this could last more than a day.
However, we were lucky. By lunch time, the fog started to thin out, so we took off. The pilot found a gap in the fog and we quickly and joyfully flew down to the camp. Throughout the descent I felt something surreal — we were flying through a tunnel of fog that formed around us. I managed to get one shot before the top of the mountain completely disappeared from our sight.
When we reached the ground and started to hang the helicopter doors back in place, the waterfall, as if it were laughing at us, suddenly appeared in all of its beauty. The dense wall of fog had completely dissipated in ten minutes!
Although the high clouds over Auyantepui persisted, I decided to shoot spherical panoramas with the available light. As a result, I was able to capture all the targeted locations during the first day (but with remnants of clouds and fog, and no sunlight).
In the evening, I put together previews of these panoramas on my laptop: unfortunately it didn't give me satisfaction.
I decided to fly back to Angel on the second day. This time we flew out from a village of gold miners simply called "88 km". One hour ride to the waterfall. The sky was overcast. What was the weather like at the waterfall? It is over 90 kilometers away. No one knew.
When we landed at the base camp at 8 o'clock in the morning, the waterfall was not visible at all. Even Auyantepui mountain walls were completely covered with constantly growing fog.
At 10 o'clock, about half of the waterfall became visible. By 11 o'clock, the top started to appear. I decided to go ahead and take off to shoot the cloud in the middle of the waterfall.
I set my second camera with a telephoto lens on a tripod to capture the helicopter with Angel Falls in the background. The camera was programmed to automatically capture the waterfall (shooting in 5 second intervals) with my helicopter in sight.
The sky above us was grey. As we took off and began to ascent, the top of the waterfall disappeared once again in the fog... Never the less, I shot one spherical panorama... On the second lap around, I felt like there was something wrong with the camera. It turned out that my shutter was malfunctioning. We had to go down, change the camera, and once again... wait.
The sky suddenly became clear and by 12:30 it was almost completely blue, but... as ‘Murphy's law' would have it, both Angel waterfall and the top of Auyantepui were still invisible.
So, for the sake of not wasting time, I decided to capture the nearby waterfalls. We circled around a magnificent 300-meter high waterfall with a scary name "Dragon". Then we moved to "Salto Cortina" with two cascades of 200-meters each. Still Dragon waterfall was my favorite — located in a very beautiful place and surrounded by the cliffs on three sides, it made one of the best panoramic views.
At the end of shooting the Dragon Waterfall, I saw that the cloud above Angel had lifted. We then immediately flew back. Within just a few minutes the fog was completely gone, and I started shooting Angel Falls from above.
It was one o'clock in the afternoon, only the very top was in the sun and the bottom of the falls was covered in shade. It lasted 15 minutes. I managed to get a helicopter to fly 800 meters from the mountaintop along the falls down to the ground and shoot about a dozen spherical panoramas. It was particularly difficult to shoot at the bottom of the falls. Water vapor completely enveloped the helicopter, so much so that I had to clean the lens after shooting each panorama. While shooting my next spherical photo, I saw that a low cloud at the top of the waterfall was only slowly moving in; however, I made it. On the ground, in the camp, while our pilot fixed the removed doors, I looked back only to see that the cloud had completely covered the waterfall... This is how nature treats us: she gives us 15 minutes in 2 days!
On our way back we spotted surreal red and green colors down on the ground. It turned to be the gold mines!
After a bit of quarreling, the pilot agreed to hover over the mines with a removed door for a small tip. But he warned us that if locals see a man with the camera, they might start shooting. The prospect of running into an angry gold-digger was not the ‘gold at the end of the rainbow' so to speak. At the same time I remembered how the pilot exaggerated about spending the night in the fog at the top of the mountain, and decided to risk it.
The most popular association people make with the gold mines is the city of El Dorado. According to the legend, the Spanish explorers of South America encountered many people that wore gold jewelry and used gold products in their daily lives. There arose a myth of a gold city, which according to the legend, was located somewhere on the border of modern Columbia and Venezuela. This story of El Dorado drew the Spaniards deep into the heart of the continent. Although El Dorado has never been found, variations of the legend can still be heard across the land of Venezuela.
Only upon our return home, we found out we were circling over one of the major gold mines. They have open-pit gold mining here, which explains its bright red clay. Gold miners live in the village, located directly at the borders of the mine. It's called Ciudad Dorada. Sounds very much like El Dorado, doesn't it?
And although I did not see the Golden City, I am glad that the flight over the mines went well. Perhaps the miners were tired of working at the 40-degree heat and the humidity of the jungle, or the rain scared them off (the rain that came with a rainbow). Or perhaps our pilot did his job well to earn the tip. But no one even paid attention to us, so we finished our photo shoot in one piece.
On our way back, I finally had that feeling of satisfaction from my finished work. Everything went well. The mission to shoot Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, as well as its beautiful surroundings, was now a success.
Photo and text by Dmitry Moiseenko
12 November 2011
"From my reading of Conan Doyle's Lost World as a young person I have had a lifetime fascination for Mt Rorima. I've read histories, travel adventures and some geological accounts of the tepuis and would so love to visit: but if I cannot do so in this lifetime, I have now had a "peak experience" at Angel Falls. I am glad you had to struggle to acheive your stunning aerial panoramas-- it makes the result even more inspiring!"
Gary Rees, USA
"Bedankt om ons mee te laten kijken naar dit mooie wereldwonder. Mmijn dochter Barbara, die in Caracas woont, is nu de Angel Falls aan het bezoeken. Hopelijk heeft ze ook enkele mooie foto's kunnen schieten.
Colette Cappaert-Truant, Belgium
"Absolutly stunning. Well done and thank you for sharing this beatifull experiance."
gary edwards, United Kingdom
"absolutely stunning vista, what an amazing person you are, thank you for sharing this beauty"
Susan Lett, Australia
ravindran nair, India
"The most beautiful pictures of places I will never see otherwise. It was totally enjoyed and will be visited again and again.
Thank you to 'you' that did this."
Sharun Houston, USA
"Meh, OK I guess"
Paul Brett, Venezuela
"thank you for giving someone who will surely never travel to Angel Falls this magnificent opportunity to "experience" it."
Jo Anne Sanger, USA
"Thank you. That's very beautiful."
mansore forghani, Iran
"IT/S JUST WONDERFUL. BEAUTIFUL. GREAT JOB DONE."
DIWAKARA MAHADIULWEWA, Sri Lanka
"A beautiful landscape that offers my country Venezuela. Mother Nature left a beautiful work of art planted in this blessed land.
Thank you all for your comments to our beautiful land. "
Ibraim Piñango, Venezuela
"Excellent! Your panorama has inspired me to add Angel Falls to my bucket list!! Thank you very much. Dheeraj Chauhan. Mountain Guide India."
Dheeraj Chauhan, India
"it should have been a running film , FANTASTIC."
BRAJENDRAN MURALIDHARAN MURALIDHARAN, India
"Thank you so much what a treat, read the article wonderful site I will pass this on to others"
jeannette johnston, USA
"it really amazing or just beyond of description i cant find any words to describe my feelings.Thanks a lot"
narmin muz, Azerbaijan
"wonderful work by your guys. why don't you work on water resources those countries suffering from water scarcity and how the natural rivers water turns to useful purposes instead of wastly going into the oceans"
suresh siddha, India
"Though born in Honduras, Central America; I was raised in that virtue of nature called Venezuela. As past of a hydrological study team, I was blessed with the possibility of travelling through all the river courses in La Gran Sabana and the LLanos Centrales.... We tried once to escalate the wall but the weather was unforgiving and we had to cancel....
What AIRPANO has done with so many places is simply breathtaking!!!
Thank you so very much for bringing back wonderful memories and for sharing your art and work with the world.... Saludos Cordiales
Arturo Varela, Venezuela
"What can I say! I lived in Caracas from 1954 - 1962 and in December 1957 I was invited by my good friend Rudi Trufino later called "Jungle Rudi" , his daughter is still managing his base-camp in Canaima), to take part in his first official trip to Angel falls
together with 2 other fiends and 2 Pemon indians.An Pemon canoe and a small aluminium boat with a small outboard motor was our transport to carry us and all our food for 7 days,hammocks,cameras etc.I always will remember the 4 days crossing many rapids up-river to come close to the falls, spending a "Happy New Year 1978" on the banks of the Churun river. next day we started our walk on
a long path along the river to reach a point to sea the falls.It took a while, then the fog lifted and with admiration we admired this natural
colossus of the Auyantepui and the veil of the the falls! Back to the camp, next day again to the falls and the next day shooting the rapids all the way back to Canaima.I thank you so much for the most beautiful pictures and they brought me back to this most unique part in the world. Having seen many places in the world, but Canaima/Salto Angel was my greatest adventure I ever had!Photography was always my hobby, and I salute you with heart-felt "Smile" Hanns Reiter, California, USA"
Hanns Reiter, USA
Varvara, AirPano: Many thanks for this informative comment!
"Its beautiful and breathtaking. Felt as if I have been there."
Parwin Kamaludeen, India
"Great work full marks.. I loved watching this.."
Manu Emmanuel, India
"Awesome work!!! I REALLY enjoyed looking at this panoramic picture! Thanks for sharing such beautiful images and your talent with the world! I'd like to have a wallpaper of this image. Could you set that option in your webpage?"
Carolina Alvarez, Venezuela
"Superb superb superb !!!! Good and hard work nice"
Jayesh Soni, India
"Out of this world :)"
Vaishali Pande, India
"Beyond imagine! Simply great."
paresh shah jayantilal shah, India
Thiruvengadam soora, India
svannie svanidze, Georgia
"Wanted to choose 6 stars for the rating.Brilliant work! It is so magnanimous of you to share it with everyone. Merci Beaucoup."
Sridhar Neelakantan, India
Varvara, AirPano: Grand merci ;)
"Thank you verey beautifull."
maryam sharifi, Iran
"Its got be the best photography ever, you can spend time looking at this beutiful world we live in, Only to be spoilt by war's, thankyou for letting everyone taking a look. Jack"
I forgot all other words to express my feelings."
Rajasekaran Annamalai, India
"EXCELLENT...."i really loved this panomara .it is so amazing and wonderfull waterfall that ive seen it since now.... thanks alot Congratulations""
BASAVARAJA. E, India
"Awesome pics.....recently I visited Victoria Falls...it was awesome too...."
Mohammad Arifur Rahman, Bangladesh
"All the coverages are extraordinary.This is one of the amazing job done by you Guys....Carry on.... and on on on on"
RAVI GUPTA, India
"Such stunning photography. Thank you for this trip! In 1979, I was flying a 1966 Cessna 182 around Venezuela, largely in support of my husband's work at an institute for water and forest research in Merida. A Canadian brother in law invited me to take them to Salto Angel...and so of course, we flew over the top and dropped down feeling like tiny flies against the immensity of the tepui face and the height of the falls. Unforgettable and I so enjoyed viewing these pictures. THANKS for the memories!"
sally dickinson, USA
"Masterful work! I last studied Salto Angel in 1978 to determine the origin of the waterfall. Unfortunately, very heavy rainfall so swelled the river that we were unable to reach the base and the geological study was never completed. Your photography has provided great insight, and I believe we now can understand how the waterfall formed and why it is there. I still need to sample rocks at the base before writing the scientific paper oroginally planned for 1979. I hope to return soon."
Patrick Gisler, USA
"Feel sorry for anyone who can look at your wonderful pictures and not believe in God. A truly wonderful experience from an old man who knows."
H.L. Payne, USA
"Simply Mesmerizing, awesome and Thanks to AIRPANO team for providing viewers such a great oportunity to view the heritage as well as natural sights in a 3-Dimensional never before experience."
Vinamra Trivedi, India
"Visited the falls in August, 1998. It was wonderful including the boat trip from Canaima to the base of the falls, the hike up to near the top of the falls. We left our sailboat in Puarto la Cruz. Took the Exutivo bus to Ciudad Bolivar, where we stayed in a hotel overnight. Then to the airport for the flight to Canaima & canoe up the river to a base camp sleeping in a large pavilion in hammocks overnight. Then by large canoe (like the one in the photograph) to the base of the falls."
David & Joyan Rehberger, SV Madrigal, USA
"Just breathtaking photos,excellent innovation on the part of team work.Keep up the good work,mother nature always the most beautiful."
Jagdish Khatwa, Thailand
"Sir, The IDEA and the Photography is really really Amzing-Fantastic-Marvelous-Faboulas. Really enjoying the things....getting real bird view by best photography. Hope will get some more places. Thnx."
viren sheth, India
"Your photos and panoramas are stunning!!! Many thanks for sharing these marvels of Nature and taking the trouble to write this making-of posts! We really appreciate it! The team at AirPano is awesome :) --- Best regards from Portugal, Ricardo Nuno Silva http://www.google.com/profiles/ricardo.nuno.silva"
Ricardo Nuno Silva, Portugal
"I loved the pics and the way they are captured from every angle.... Really ammmmaaaazing...Thanks a lot for giving me a wonderful experiance Airpano Team....Thank you..."
Rashmi Devaraj, India
"Than,s for all pictures and I visited and enjoyed. I would like to see more different picturs."
Mehran Aslani, Iran
""EXCELENT" JANNAT SA EHASAS......THANKS ALOT DEAR MESSANGER THANKS."
BIPIN PRAKASH, India
""Excelent work. congratulation Airpano...""
shailendra mishra, India, India
"Speechless, awesome, great photography, thanks a lot you guys.. my last word "He Is Great!" for being the creator of the universe."
Mawar M Muhidin, Malaysia
Varvara, AirPano: Thank you. Your opinion is very kind.
"Its truly splendid job :)"
Nagh Raj, India
"I visited the falls in Feb.1999, flew from Margarita Island to the falls in a Rutuca Airline DC-3 and we made a big loop in front of the falls and like you were at the mercy of the clouds as we just finished the second loop in the canyon and the clouds closed in. Beautiful country, but dreaded the thought of the plane going down in that thick jungle, would never have been found. Seen Jimmy Angel`s airplane at the Cuidad Bolivar airport when we stopped there to refuel."
Gordon Meyers, Canada
"I found this website by chance and I am so glad that I found it. Great photos, surreal experience and while reading the story I felt like I was there. I have never been to Venezuela, but I visited Colombia back in 1998. The photos of the Angel falls and the surrounding landscapes reminded me of the great landscapes and the emerald green colour that I saw in Colombia landscapes. Thank you Dima for being so generous and for sharing these wonderful photos with all of us. Keep up the great work."
Slobodanka Matakova Lakinska, Macedonia
"ameiiiii...lindo lugar, sem comparação!!!"
Cleidiano Trentin, Brazil