Angel Falls is the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. It is named in honor of Jimmie Angel, an aviator who flew over the falls in the 1930s. Plunging off of Auyantepui Mountain, it has a direct vertical drop of over half a mile, and a further broken drop of another quarter of a mile. Located in Canaima National Park, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Venezuela. As part of Canaima, Angel Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Angel Falls was almost certainly visited by local people long before the arrival of the Spanish in the area. It is not exactly certain when the first European (or any westerner) ‘discovered’ the falls, but amazingly the world took little notice until Jimmie Angel accidentally came across the site in 1933. He later returned to visit the area in 1937, and was soon followed by others. The first person to truly explore the falls and the mountain was Alekisandrs Laime in the 1940s and 1950s. Angel Falls was the inspiration for ‘Paradise Falls’ in the 2009 movie “Up”.
Angel Falls emerges as if from nowhere at the top of Auyantepui Mountain, but is in fact fed part of the Orinoco River basin. It has a total height of 3,212 feet, including an initial uninterrupted drop of 2,648 feet and a further 564 foot drop over sloped terrain until it joins the Churun River. The falls are generally more spectacular during the rainy season, which runs from June through December.
Located in an extremely isolated and heavily forested region of Venezuela, access to Angel Falls is difficult, but with better infrastructure is growing easier every year. It would probably be Venezuela’s number one attraction if it were not for this isolation. It is part of Canaima National Park, which is home to a rich and diverse selection of wildlife, including cougars, jaguars and sloths. Web: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/701 (official UNESCO site).