Merida Travel Blog› entry 61 of 123 › view all entries
Well, my hopes of going to Catatumbo were quickly dashed on Sunday morning. The 2 Germans cancelled, which meant there wasn't enough for the tour. So I hunted around for something to do and came across Guamanchi Tours who were offering canyoning for 320 BsF (£40/US$60) - I was game and signed myself up without really knowing what I was getting myself in for!!
In turned out there was just me and Phillip (from Germany), our instructor and the driver, and we set off in the 4x4. I don't actually know where we went as the instructor only spoke Spanish, so communication was a bit limited!! But we were going 1700m up in the Sierra Nevada National Park and after a 25 minute walk, we soon arrived at the river to be shown the ropes (literally!). Canyoning is basically hiking, rapelling and sometimes swimming down a river valley - a new experience for me for sure. We got our wetsuits on started our way down the river, with yours truly constantly loosing balance on the rocks and falling over and generally looking a bit of a twat (no change there I hear you say!). When you can't see where your feet are going because of the rushing water, its pretty damn difficult.
The first fall was 6m - but there was an unbelievable amount of water as you go down, which makes it pretty challenging to breath and see where you're going. and not great if you're wearing contact lenses - I managed to lose one of mine, which pissed me off - had to squint through the rest of the day with one eye! The second fall was 17m, but we went down with our backs to the rocks and again sh*t loads of water - this time I managed to burn myself with the rope as it caught my neck as I whizzed down - ouch! Left a pretty big gash which may take a week or so to heal! The last fall was 30m and was pretty intimidating looking over it just about to go down. Just as I was going to ask for new pants, I was beckoned to go down - arrgghhh! Going fast seems to be the way to go (as the instructor later showed doing it in about 3 seconds!) and I was sure glad to reach the bottom, with German Phil looking pretty petrified awaiting his turn! A bit more trudging down the river and we were finally at the pick up point - I have to admit I was relieved to finish it! I'm glad I did it, but not entirely convinced I would do it again in a hurry...
I had some time to catch up on internet in the afternoon (I finally found wirless at Guamanchi's!!) and bumped into Frank and Jochen from Angel Falls (cheers for the dinner lads!) before I headed off for yet another night bus....only a titchy 9 hour one this to Maracaibo, so not too bad....and then Colombia!