Night started to fall on the Churun River in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. We were travelling upriver to our basic hammock camp at the base of the world-famous Angel Falls. I and the others had just leapt overboard our wooden canoe for the umpteenth time. We pushed hard to get our boat up the rapids on which it had become marooned. Each time we did not know how deep the water was – or what creatures may be in the water. I found it best not to think about that issue.
We ploughed on through the darkness for another two hours until we reached the camp. I was physically shattered and ravenously hungry. I distinctly remember eating nearly a whole roast chicken from the campfire before collapsing into my hammock. We couldn’t see it yet, but we were sleeping in the shadow of one of the world’s giants. Angel Falls is renowned as the highest waterfall in the world at 979 metres (or 3,212 feet, if you’re so inclined).
I awoke the next morning early buzzing with anticipation, a sort of Christmas-morning excitement. The falls could be glimpsed from our camp, but it would take a hike of several hours to get to the pool at the base of them. It seemed like no time at all once we were rambling across rocks and rivers to get to the prize above. As I stood on top of the pool gazing up at the highest waterfall in the world, I felt that sense of freedom which makes travel so addictive.