Today was our last day. We felt like we had only been in Venezuela for a few days, but we’d remember it for years. Even before the sun went up the first of our expedition members were roaming around the camp. They were intending to find and photograph dart-poison frogs at sunrise. And they managed it very well. Luckily breakfast wasn’t scheduled until 8 am today because we were out and about for almost three hours. Observing the animals and researching their habitats was more thrilling than any film could be. We had lost our sense of time.
Since we didn’t set out until midday, the group drove back to the lagoon with the waterfall to watch out for fish while snorkelling one more time. After lunch we were brought to the mini airport by vans. There we spontaneously decided to book a sightseeing flight around the waterfall Salto Angel with a direct onward flight to our destination airport in Ciudad Bolivar.
We wanted to see the world’s highest waterfall, which majestically towers out of the jungle at its foot and spits water out of the mountain at a height of 979 metres, from above as well.
Our small Cessnas held space for five people each, so that we needed 10 planes for all of us. Our pilot really kept his cool! After the sightseeing flight around the Salto Angel his right tank was empty. But no problem: there was another one! So we flew for 70 minutes with only one tank towards Ciudad Bolivar. We couldn’t make out any landmarks from above. Would the fuel last? Soon we were making jokes about staying a night in the jungle. Luckily we had our luggage with us. The pilot frantically texted with two different smartphones and tried to get someone on the phone. But when he started making jokes over his radio and the other side started to laugh, we didn’t understand what was going on. Was he talking about forgetting to fill up his tank or was it just a simple joke? At last we saw a town. And both fuel gauges had been completely on zero for over 10 minutes.
Finally the pilot safely landed the old plane with a 90° curve and told us quite coolly, that you shouldn’t loop the loop in a plane like that – a fact which completely fitted in with his empty tank.
At the airport we met our fellow group members and retrieved the luggage we had left here 3 days ago. And set straight off on a short city tour. For dinner we drove to a finca in the middle of the “slums” outside of the town.
Part of our group was to stay here overnight. The other part stayed in a hotel and rejoined us the next morning. Because we needed to get up at 3 am, some of us didn’t go to bed at all. There was so much to talk about that the time just flew by. At 4 am we were back in the bus and on the way to Caracas. Having arrived in Caracas we waited 6 hours for the flight to Madrid / Frankfurt, which started punctually at 5 pm. Our tactic of staying up all night paid off: in the plane we slept through till Madrid. After a short change, walking kilometres through the airport to the other gate, we arrived in Frankfurt after a 25 hour journey.
Having such a great expedition team made it easy for the JBL members to meet our targets there. We wee able to gain some great experiences, discussions and measurement data, which now need to be processed. I myself took almost 200 videos and I have more than 2500 pictures to sort through. But first I needed 14 hours of sleep to recover from it all.
In about two months you will be able to find all the measurement data, species lists and detailed descriptions of the biotopes under Expedice .
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