The sun rises over the falls, a golden light that pierces the mist. The water cascades down, a curtain of white that dances in the wind.
The birdsong pierces the silence, a symphony of life and joy. The nature shows its strength, and the world is full of possibility.
This is the dawn at Salto Angel, a time of new beginnings. A time to dream big, and to believe in the impossible.
Travel is one of my favorite ways to search for something unexpected, not because it can change destiny, but to affirm the meaning of being alive.
I really love to travel and enjoy mankind's culture, but I always make sure to visit natural environments, which have arisen from non-human creation.
When we travel, we are often surrounded by nature, which can be a powerful reminder of our connection to something larger than ourselves. This could be a spiritual connection, a connection to the natural world, or a connection to the universe. These connections can be magical, as they can give us a sense of peace and belonging.
Also, when we are traveling, we are often open to new experiences, which means that we are more likely to encounter unexpected things. This could be anything from meeting new people to seeing amazing natural wonders. The magic of these unexpected experiences can help us to see the world in a new light and to appreciate the beauty of the whole around us.
In the last 10 years, I have always referred to my trip to Salto Angel waterfall on New Year's Eve to explain this.
The trip to Angel's discovering
It was a gift that my wife and I gave to my son, although in reality, maybe I was looking for the meaning of the end of some things and the beginning of others.
Salto Angel, also known as Kerepakupai Merú, is the world's tallest waterfall, with a height of 979 meters (3,212 feet), and It is located in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
In 1933, United States aviator James Angel was flying his plane over the area when he was forced to make an emergency landing on a plateau near the falls. He was the first outsider to see the falls, and his name was given to them in his honor.
We decided to go on December 29, to arrive in front of Salto Angel on the 31st and thus receive the New Year at the base of the waterfall.
Arriving at the Canaima Airport is the standard way to start this journey.
We spent the first night in a nice lodge in front of Canaima Lake, and the next morning we made a tour of the Salto Hacha one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Canaima Park, giving us the chance to experience the traditional way of navigating the lake in a curiara. The curiara is a traditional wooden canoe that is used by the Pemón people, the indigenous people of the region.
The tour took us to the base of the Salto Hacha waterfall. The Salto El Hacha is a 60-meter (200-foot) waterfall that cascades down a sheer cliff face. The water is a deep blue color, and the spray from the falls creates a refreshing mist.
After visiting the Salto El Hacha waterfall, the tour continued to the Salto El Sapo waterfall.
The Salto El Sapo waterfall is fed by the Carrao River. The waterfall creates a stunning optical illusion, as its tributary makes it appear like a huge source of light spilling everywhere. The view from the waterfall was amazing, also offering a glimpse of three of Canaima's characteristic tepuis: Auyantepui, Kukenan, and Roraima.
What makes Salto El Sapo unique is the intermediate path that runs through the rocky part of the waterfall. This path allowed us to walk behind the curtain of water, giving us a truly unique experience. After crossing below El Sapo, we continued walking to the second waterfall, called El Sapito, which is also very beautiful. We could see its amber-colored waters, which combined with the foam and currents create a truly formidable spectacle.
On the third day, a truck transported us to the Port of Curiaras. Going upriver from the Carrao for about two hours, we reached the junction of the Carrao and the Churum rivers. We continued up the Churum for about four and a half hours, passing the rapids where sometimes we had to get off the curiara to push.
This trip takes place inside the Auyantepuy Canyon, whose cliffs look spectacular, reminding us that they are the oldest mountains on Earth.
A magical encounter
After one stop at the Isla Orquídea, we continued until we reached the viewpoint.
And before we got on the curiara, something strange happened: suddenly a whirlwind of tiny yellow butterflies surrounded my wife for several seconds and then rose above her.
The xapiripë. Said our guide.
The xapiripë have approached to deliver a blessing. The blessing of birth. Explained the guide.
The Pemón people, to which our guide belonged, believe in the existence of xapiripë, which are luminous spirits of nature. They are said to be the souls of animals, plants, and even rocks. Xapiripë are said to be benevolent spirits who protect the rainforest and its inhabitants. They are also said to be able to shapeshift and appear in different forms, such as animals, plants, or even humans.
The Pemón believe that xapiripë are attracted to light, so they often leave offerings of food and drink near waterfalls and other bodies of water. They also believe that xapiripë can be seen at night, especially during the full moon.
The belief in xapiripë is a way for the Pemón to join magic with the natural world and is their way to express their reverence for nature. It is also a way for them to explain the mysteries of the rainforest, such as the presence of strange lights and the disappearance of people.
If you are in the Canaima region and you see something strange, the Pemon people explain that you may have seen a xapiripë.
When we finally reached the Salto Angel waterfall, we were amazed by its beauty and power. The mist from the falls surrounded us, making standing in front of the Salto Angel waterfall a unique experience. For some visitors, it can be a moment of great awe and wonder, and many explained that it allowed them to have time to reflect on their own lives, and what is truly important to them.
Leaving the curiaras on the river bank, we began a walk of more than one hour through the wooded jungle to the base of Angel Falls, where a beautiful well allowed us to take a bath that made the moment vibrant. After making the walk back, we embark on the curiaras to the camp located on the other side of the river. We had dinner there and slept in hammocks.
That New Year's Eve at the Salto Angel was an unforgettable moment, with the night sky filled with radiant stars, even with an often full moon.
And although we were a slightly large group, we spent a quiet night, where only the continuous sound of the waterfalls stood out.
The next day, some of our traveling companions, including my son, retraced the route to climb back to the base of the Salto Angel, to then embark again in the curiaras and thus return to Canaima Lake.
Two years later, in January, my twin daughters were born. In response to the blessing announced by the xapiripë.
The path to a sense of magic
Many people describe the journey to the Salto Angel waterfall as a journey of magic. They say that it is a journey that can open the eyes to the beauty and mystery of the world, and it can also be a journey of self-discovery.
For me, magic can be found in one particular path of many that anyone can make in the course of life.
Magic is often thought of as something that is out of reach, something that only happens in fairy tales or movies. But the truth is, magic is all around us, and it can be found in the most ordinary of places.
The sense of magic is an event that is only perceived internally, as a response to the way our environment is perceived when something indescribable draws our attention.
That feeling often strengthens something that we are doing and we are passionate about. We say that it feels magical, and we reaffirm that our lives have a reason for being, and are connected to something larger than ourselves, making us believe that anything is possible.
But magic can be found in all the paths, or maybe just in one. The real meaning of the search for magic is found in the mere fact of starting a new path and being open to new experiences. When we step outside of those we know and are used to, the comfort zone as some people say, we open ourselves up to the possibility of the unknown.
The path of life is full of choices. We all have the opportunity to choose as many routes as we can travel, and each path is unique. There is no right or wrong path, and the best path for us is the one that feels right for us.
When we find a path that we are passionate about and that we are willing to follow, we will find magic. We will find joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. And for sure, we will also find challenges, but these challenges will make us stronger and more resilient.
The journey is the destination. It is not about getting to the end of the path, but about enjoying the journey along the way. So, it is a natural issue to take risks, to try new things, and to follow our heart. We will always be surprised where it might lead us.