Monday, March 22, 2010

Angel Falls Photo album

This is a great collection of photos of the great Angel Falls.  I find the name Kerepakupai merú somewhat curious as the word meru is used in India in association with a great sacred mountain that subsided millennia ago.

It suggests a linguistic connection that I am not particularly surprised to find but still interesting.

Angel Falls or Kerepakupai merú (which means "waterfall of the deepest place", in Pemon language, or: "Parakupa-vena", which means "the fall from the highest point"; Spanish: Salto Ángel) is the world's highest waterfall, with a height of 979 m (3,212 ft) and a plunge of 807 m (2,647 ft). The waterfall drops over the edge of the Auyantepui mountain in the Canaima National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Canaima), a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State, Venezuela.

The height of the falls is so great that before getting anywhere near the ground, the water is atomized by the strong winds and turned into mist. The mist can be felt a mile away. The base of the falls feeds into the
Kerep River (alternatively known as the Río Gauya), which flows into the Churun River, a tributary of the Carrao River.

The height figure 3,212 feet (979 m) mostly consists of the main plunge but also includes about 0.25 miles (400 m) of shallowly sloped cascades and rapids below the drop and a 100-foot (30 m) high plunge downstream of the talus rapids. While the main plunge is undoubtedly the highest single drop in the world, including the lower cascades somewhat stretches the criteria for the measurement of waterfalls. Some other waterfalls, such as
Yosemite Falls in North America, also include intermediary cascades in their height figures, but, in the case of Yosemite Falls, the middle cascades are much steeper and have less run than those of Angel Falls.

In the indigenous Pemon language Kerepakupai merú means 'waterfall of the deepest place'. The falls are sometimes referred to as Churún-merú, an error, since that name corresponds to another waterfall in the
Canaima National Park. Churún in the Pemon language means "thunder".

The waterfall was known for most of the twentieth century by the named '
Angel Falls' after Jimmie Angel, an American aviator who was the first to fly over the falls in a plane. According to the British newspaper, The Guardian,President Hugo Chávez announced his intention to change the name to "Kerepakupai Merú" in 2009, on the grounds that the nation's most famous landmark should bear an indigenous name. Explaining the name change, President Hugo Chavez was reported to have said, "This is ours, long before Angel ever arrived there...this is indigenous property." However on December 23rd, President Chávez clarified that he will not decree the change of name, but only was defending the use of Kerepakupai merú.

Angel Falls (Kerepakupai merú) is one of Venezuela's top tourist attractions, but, even today, a trip to the falls is a complicated affair. The falls are located in an isolated jungle region of Venezuela, and a flight from Caracas or Ciudad Bolívar is required to reach Canaima camp, the starting point for river trips to the base of the falls. River trips generally take place from June to December, when the rivers are deep enough for the wooden curiaras used by the Pemon guides. During the dry season (December to March) there is less water seen than in the other months.

An alternative possibility is to purchase a package that includes an aerial flyby of the falls. However, since the falls cannot be seen on cloudy days, there is no guarantee visitors will see them from the air.

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