Saturday 26 October

I must have slept soundly from the moment I lay down in my hammock until dawn. Leaving the others, I quietly slip out and go to sit by the rapids watching the slowly shifting morning light on the distant tepuis.

Back at the camp, we have breakfast and then return to the river. We make rapid progress (with lots of spray) and alight after about an hour and a half on the edge of a vast plain. We leave the canoes here for a short walk to an Indian village.

Across the plain we come to the skeletal wreck of a DC-3 aircraft. Patricia tells us that it made an emergency landing after an engine failure, but the creation of the National Park and the end of diamond mining meant that it was never repaired and flown away. A little further, we come to a small Indian village, and just beyond this we rejoin the canoes.

We continue down the river until lunch time, where we stop at a sandy bay on the inside of a large bend. The sand slopes steeply into the water, and the swimming is good. There is a slight upstream current on the inside of the bend. Sim is a strong swimmer and wonders if she can reach the other side of the river. She gets about half way out before she is forced to turn around by the strong current.

It is only another hour and a half after lunch to our campsite, “Campamento Arenal”. A wide shelter with a corrugated iron roof lies a short distance up the hill with grand views of the surrounding tepuis and Devil’s Canyon in the distance.

It is incredibly hot. We set up the hammocks under the shelter, and then after much dithering, I venture down to the river to do some washing – just as it starts to rain. Shortly after I get back the heavens open. The falling rain roars like an avalanche on the tin roof of the shelter. We take the opportunity to fill up our water bottles from the cascades coming over the edge and soon every available container is brimming with delicious sweet fresh water. (Up until now we have been drinking boiled water from the river.) The rain should certainly help us tomorrow as it will give the boat more clearance in Devil’s Canyon, and increase the volume of water coming over the Angel Falls when we get there.

As the storm continues, bright lightening flashes around us and thunder like I have never heard before. The closest strike seems to pan across the sky from right to left directly in front of us in deafening Dolby surround. The rain goes on right into the night after we have eaten dinner and thunder continues to echo around. But the roar on the roof is curiously soothing, drowning out the nearby snoring, and I am soon asleep.