Again we started the day with breakfast at 6 am. If you think that was early you need to know that we had already been awake for several hours. We always woke at around 5 am because it got light then and because we couldn’t wait to see what the day would bring.
One hour later we were taken from the camp to our boats. Several times during the following two-hours we had to leave our boat and continue on foot, while the local people got the boats over the dry rapids.
And so we were given the chance to stroll through an indigenous village with idyllic huts and to hike through a steppe-like landscape at the foot of the Salto Angels, the world’s highest waterfall. The hike took more than an hour. Why? We couldn’t get far before finding yet another lizard. Some of us even caught sight of a coral snake.
After a short onward journey we got out again, passed a few rock formations, and were then able to continue the last 45 minutes on the water to the so-called Isla de La Orquídea, the orchid island. Despite the name there were no large stocks of orchids because they were almost totally picked by tourists in the 1970s and the stock has never really recovered. Instead there were plenty of fish and interesting biotopes waiting for us. This place had everything we wanted: from snorkelling in strong currents to a few centimetres deep dry river course, which had no fresh water because of the dry period.
As in the last days we saw a lot of tetras, especially the X-ray fish (Pristella maxillaris). This was the first time we came across such an incredible number of pencil catfish (Trichomycteridae), which were everywhere in the current. In the spaces between we also found a lot of species, which were new for us. Sucker catfish, barbs, cichlids and many tetras, which we will determine in the coming weeks using the video and photo material. Moreover we came across some livebearers in the flat pools between the many grass-like aquatic plants. The mossy areas on the shore, where the water meets the land, was a popular area for a lot of microorganisms.
Absorbed in our need to discover and measure the water values and the environmental data in this wonderful landscape, we totally forgot the time. Thankfully our guides had prepared chicken and salad over an open fire. This way we could happily continue to collect the last data, but had to make our way back at around 3 pm. The way back was the same as the way and involved us getting out several times to cover the distance on foot. The icing on the cake was watching the sunset over the waterfall at the Canaima lagoon – it was like a glance back at a “forgotten world.” Wonderful!