Angel Waterfall of Venezuela - The World's Highest Waterfall • 360° Aerial Panorama
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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
Paul Porter, Canada
"Najlepsa hvala za to estetsko prekrasno in tehnično dovršeno predstavitev izjemnih lepot dela Venezuele. Posredoval bom velikemu številu prijateljev, da se tudi oni naužijejo lepot tega cudeza narave.
Keep up the excellent work"
Dusan COTAR, Slovenia
"Amazing photography, beautiful scenery, great website"
Joy Killeen, Australia
"I have been to this wonderful part of the world.
It feels like going back into a lost world.
It is a shame that such a beautiful country has
fallen into the hands of an unfriendly government
that hurts tourism and its people."
Juvenal LLanes, USA
"Wonderful natural beauty !!!, Excellent job for worldwide. I am very proud of my country !!! Venezuela has magnificent lansdcapes that we can not find in any other ! I Love my country ! God blesses who promote the best of this beautiful place !! :-) :-)"
Virginia R, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Many thanks for your kind opinion.
"Muy Hermosas las imagenes que tomaron de Nuestro Salto Angel, los Venezolanos somos afortunados de tener estos paisajes milenarios unicos y tenemos que hacer mas por conservarlos... Felicitaciones por su trabajo, desde Puerto Ordaz Edo. Bolivar"
Ada Guerra, Venezuela
vahid tam, Iran
"Soy una Venezolana radicada en USA, y aunque le estoy muy agradecida a este país por abrirme las puertas no puedo dejar extrañar y de emocionarme al ver una vez mas la imponente belleza del Churum Merum. Gracias por compartirlo y lo lindo es que entusiasmo a otras personas a ir a conocerlo. Excelente trabajo!!"
Sara Espinoza, USA
"Great Images! Just as I remember them from my long-gone travels in the area. Keep up this work. PS. I would like to include a link to this site on our web site at www.losaltosdesucre.com"
Gorgias Garriga, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Thanks for your opinion! As for the link, sure, you can use it.
"Churum Meru una maravilla de la naturaleza!"
José María Lucas, Spain
"Hey guys I wanna use a couple of your photos only for facebook timeline but without the logo, can I get those? I would understand if not"
Jose dd, Peru
Varvara, AirPano: Dear Jose, you can freely use the links or the screen shots. Have a nice day!
"I just came from Venezuela,(January 2012) where I have been in the Angel waterfall...and will never forget such a beauty !!! I'm not a religious person but if there is a place where you can feel an spiritual experience is in this magic place.Unforgettable"
cristina soler, Spain
"Me lleno de emoción por tan maravillosa creación de la naturaleza que injustificadamente aún no ha sido catalogada entre las siete maravillas del mundo.Siento verguenza, pero reconozco públicamente como venezolana, que no conozco aún en persona ese enigmático lugar.De igual manera, desapruebo como ciudadana y con mucha tristeza, el daño irreversible que la cultura del oro ha ocasionado a esa parte del Amazonas venezolano y que se extiende junto a todo tipo de explotaciones suicidas a través del territorio amazónico de este continente Suramericano, pulmón del planeta!!! Que Dios bendiga y llene de luz, a quienes realizaron de manera tan mágica este valioso trabajo audiovisual."
Beatriz Pérez Noguera, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Otra vez gracias, Beatriz, por su mensaje. Es muy informativo. Le agradecemos por sus palabras buenas y agradables.
"Just one word - Magnificent"
Marzia Rajabali, United Kingdom
"Excellent job ! Well done guys and THANK YOU so MUCH for showing the entire world this Venezuelan jewel. Mother Earth is surprisingly BEAUTIFUL."
Marly Suarez, Canada
"But for your perseverance, I'd not ever known of this Avatar-like landscape. Thanks for sharing of it."
Nancy Landry, Canada
"Excelentes panoramicas y que buen trabajo, una bonita forma de recordar mi país. Bravo Venezuela."
Ricardo Rampazzo G, Panama
"excelente y hermosa mi venezuela grande."
barbara serrano, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Yes, we agree with you, it's truth.
"Thanks for this work on my country, to make it known to the world. Excellent! Congratulations."
Anabel Fuentes, Venezuela
"Very,very beautyfoul panorama!
Thank you! good day!:)"
Herbály Tamás, Hungary
"Thank you for sharing your extremely excillerating wonderful photography Awesome!!"
Sal Dorion, Canada
"Amazing panoramas. I'm just getting in the the hobby of taking landscape photos, and this is a great inspiration! I'm going to be whistling Lonely Shepherd for days now, thanks a lot :-p"
Bill Martin, Canada
Varvara, AirPano: Thanks, Bill, and have success in your new hobby!
MENIEM ALMSMARE, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
"Gyönyőrű és egyben fantasztikus is. Nagyon jól meg lett csinálva ez a panoráma funkció is."
Peter Vécsei, Hungary
"Dima, congratulations, beautiful images, a wonderful job! cheers Laszlo"
Laszlo Kollar, Hungary
"Köszönöm ezt a fantasztikus felvételeket. Gratulálok és remélem lesz még más szép felvételeket látni Tőled !!! Sok Sikert és Szerencsét !Üdv : Tihi Budapest ( Magyarország )"
Tihamér Poszlovszky, Hungary
"My partner who is living abroad in China just shared this with me. Thanks for bringing two people who live thousands of miles apart to the same beautiful place!"
Loba Art, USA
Varvara, AirPano: This is the key point of our project - to share such Earth's beauty with people like you ;) you are welcome!
"My partner who is living abroad in China just shared this with me. Thanks for bringing two people who live thousands of miles apart to the same beautiful place!"
Loba Art, USA
"In two words..... Thank You!"
Michael Burton, Australia
"Ez annyira fantasztikus!Örülök,hogy rátaláltam.Gratulálok!Még nagyon sok szép élményt szerezzenek nekünk!"
Gizella Hlavácsné Bódi, Hungary
"Excelente images and music (George Zamfir -romanian nai interpret)"
PASCU IOAN, Romania
"muy buen trabajo.. lo voy a compartir... lo que considere malo es la mineria ilegal... dejan un vacio muy grande e irrecuperable a la flora y la fauna..."
williams santacruz, Venezuela
"EXCELENTISIMO TRABAJO. ES INCREÍBLE, ESTA REGIÓN DEL PLANETA Y QUE ES NUESTRA, LAS FOTOS SON SIMPLEMENTE DESBORDANTES Y MARAVILLOSAS, TUVE EL PLACER DE CONTEMPLAR ESTE SALTO Y LLENARNOS DE SU ENERGIA POSITIVA.... NO HAY PALABRAS PARA DESCRIBIR LA FUERZA DE DIOS EN ESTE PARAJE NATURAL... VIVE VENEZUELA Y CONOCELA,,, ES NUESTRA Y ES DE TODOS... c(`c`)c"
ALFREDO RUBIO, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Thank you very much!
"Que buenas fotos excelente calidad pero esto para para ELISOL ALCALA.
Primero no vengas a mezclar aqui la politica con esto tan bonito que tenemos en el estado bolivar.
Segundo SI ES CHURUN-MERU!! por que antes de que tu,ellos,yo y todos nosotros estaban aqui los INDIGENAS! y fueron los que la descubrieron asi que por antiguedad y tradicion deberia!! de llamarse churun-meru solo que SALTO ANGEL es mas comercial tienes que leer mas sobre algo para poder escribir algo asi.
Pido Disculpas airpano pero es que tenia que responderle mi condicion de venezolano me obliga hacerlo! muy buenas fotos saludos."
Harold mata, Venezuela
Robert Morán, Venezuela
"i just want to thank you so much for the god job you do it, it is amazing to see the hole world from your home, i will be thankfull if you come to saudi to take some shot in the real desert, that will be good for the world pepole.
Please if you need my help. I will.
Naif Almoammar, Saudi Arabia
Varvara, AirPano: Dear Naif, thank you for interest in our project as well as for invitation. We'll think about it. Have a nice day!
"Adoro a mi pais por su gente, su clima, sus riquezas naturales, su estabilidad politica, economica y social, ademas de estos lugares como el salto Angel (ahora Churu Meru, que es su nombre indigena original, el Pico Bolivar, los medanos de Coro, sus paradisiacas playas y sus selvas virgenes... Les agradezco y felicito por este excelente material que es obra de verdaderos profesionales como ustedes."
Mario Rodriguez, Venezuela
"The world is beautiful just because of the people like you who display your best to explore and describe it. Congratulation for the excellent work."
Jagpal Patwal, India
Varvara, AirPano: We are doing our best for you. Thank you for a high appraisal!
"Superbe, magnifique ! Je connais bien Canaima pour y etre allé 4 fois depuis 35 ans. Nous sommes allés al Salto Angel en pirogue depuis le campement. Mais nous avons dû nous contenter de le voir d'en bas. Merci à vous de nous montrer aussi le sommet inaccessible. Félicitations pour votre réalisation. Cordialement. Guy"
Guy BARNOUX, France
"very nice pictures. Thank you very much, and you receive your eye health.
Greetings from Turkey"
Mennan Özdemir, Turkey
Varvara, AirPano: Thank you for the greetings from Turkey! The eye health, undoubtedly, will be useful ;)
"¡¡¡Should photograph the entire planet would be so beautiful ... For example, Maracaibo, the city where I live!!!"
George Miquilena, Venezuela
"Saying excellent is not enough to describe your work. Congratulations!"
Enrique Arteaga, Venezuela
Varvara, AirPano: Your words are very kind. Thank you!
"Très beau travail - Les vues sont superbes , magnifiques . Toutes mes félicitations !!!!!
Je vais passer des heures sur votre site .....!!!!
Michel Ménard - France"
Michel Ménard, France
"FANTASTIC - EXCELLENT WORK - CONGRATS"
BHUVANRAJ MK, India
Varvara, AirPano: Thanks!
"Change the name of the Angel Falls or Salto Angel (name in spanish)to Churun-Meru is other stupid and ridiculous decision of Chavez. The Angel Falls is and will always be El Salto Angel for the Venezuelan people. So, please AirPano, do not call it Churun-Meru, no one will not what you are referring to, not even the Venezuelan. Excellent job! Congratulations and thank you so much for bringing us this part of our country to the Venezuelan who have emigrated to another country."
Elisol Alcala, USA
"Excelente trabajo que permite dar a conocer al mundo una de las maravillas naturales de Venezuela. Ojalá puedan hacer lo mismo con bellezas como el pico Bolívar, Las cuevas del Guácharo, el rio Orinoco, el lago de Maracaibo, los médanos de Coro, etc. Muchas gracias"
Luis Miguel Canosa, Spain
"the best pics that ever be seen.
Mohammad Karami, Iran
"Gracias mil por facilitarnos conocer las maravillas de la Creacion"
Berrio-ategortua y Pagadigorria, Carmen de, Spain
"Gracias a Dimitri y Airpanoru por este excelente trabajo.Tanto la lectura como la visual son excelentes. Felicitaciones y gracias de nuevo por ver con ese lente maravilloso a nuestra querida Venezuela"
Myna González, Venezuela
AirPano: Dear Myna, we are very content with your opinion. Many thanks to you!
"Excelente trabajo, felicitaciones. Solo a titulo informativo, el conocido Salto Angel, yo no es tal , oficialmente se llama, Churún-merú. De nuevo Felicitaciones.."
José Manuel Hernandez, France
AirPano: Thank you, Jose!