Thursday 24 October

The airport is only a few minutes away from the hotel and we have breakfast in a café just opposite after having checked in. After a considerable wait, we finally board the three 6-seater single-prop planes, which carry us the hour and a half to Kavak in the Canaima National Park. Space for luggage is limited, so we are bringing only essential items. I have left most of my spare clothes with Miguel and the bus, taking only a spare tee-shirt and swimming shorts in addition to what I am wearing.

We touch down on the dirt runway next to the village and dump our kit in the hut which is to be our sleeping room. We have a morning trip to the nearby Kavak Canyon, which will involve swimming part of the way along the gorge, so clothing is limited to sandals, shorts, and a tee-shirt. Patricia suggests socks to those who don’t have suitable sandals to protect against sharp stones. Debbie in bikini and socks could start a new fashion trend. Or perhaps not.

We wade and then swim to the end of the gorge to reach a spectacular waterfall crashing down from high above us. The water is rather cold, but a few brave souls take the opportunity to swim in the deep pool surrounding the waterfall. Despite the strong current, one of our guides makes it to steep rock face on the other side of the cascade. We would have liked to stay longer, but in the perpetual shade of the gorge it gets cold quickly.

After lunch back at the village it is too hot really to do anything so most of us take an extended siesta. A bit later, I walk with Sim up the hill to the Toma Waterfall. The biting insects are a real nuisance and it is best not to stand still in one place for too long. After a stiff climb following the water supply pipe, we come eventually to a smooth stone pavement next to the river. A short distance back downstream, the water crashes down a narrow hole into a smaller version of this morning’s canyon.

The light is beginning to fade as I return a little ahead of Sim and there are orange highlights on the clouds over the crags of the tepuis behind us as we come down the hill. Long trousers to keep off the insects is a priority; then I walk across to the dirt runway next to the village to watch the gathering dusk.

The camp is dark when I return, but it is soon dinner time – grilled chicken and mashed potatoes. In the absence of any other light, the stars shine in the sky outside like jewels. It later clouds over and there is a distant electrical storm.