Special Geography Features Angel Falls in Venezuela

About Angel Falls in Venezuela, the highest drop in the world, description and geography of the falls.



Angel Falls (the Spanish Salto Angel), in eastern Venezuela, is the world's highest cataract, plummeting 3,212 ft. from a mesa top to the rocks below, a distance greater than twice the height of the Empire State Building.

The Guiana highlands, lying south of the broad Orinoco River, are Venezuela's lost world. In the midst of a huge, almost impenetrable jungle are several high mesas, four days by water from the nearest settlement. One of these mesas, Auyan-tepui ("Devil's Mountain"), is a sheer stone escarpment 1/2 mi. high. topped by a deeply creviced plateau that catches the heavy rainfall.

This rain collects in subterranean pools, bursts from great streams through rocky crags below the mesa's rim, and roars out into space, dropping 2,648 ft. in one leap. Much of this water turns into mist and spray before it reaches the rocks below, and often shrouds the entire cliff. The rest of the water falls another 564 ft. into pools at Auyan-tepui's base. These pools drain through the Churun gorge to the Carrao River, a tributary of the Caroni.

Angel Falls, known to the Indians as Churun-Meru, were first reported to the outside world by Ernesto Sanchez La Cruz in 1910, but they were quickly forgotten or ignored. In 1935 an American soldier of fortune named Jimmy Angel was flying his plane up the Carrao River searching for gold when he rediscovered the natural wonder. The waterfall was later named for him.

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