One of my friends nearly fell into the lake after climbing down a ledge by the falls. He was unable to swim and fortunately he didn't fall in, as he would have drowned. The rock is extremely slippery due to the moisture from the falls. Thank goodness we were around to rescue him from his ordeal and escort him back to safety.
I thought that every ant was a 24 hour at while I was there as the bugs in Venezuela get so much bigger then then do at home. However, once you see the 24 hour ant you will never forget it. They are about an inch and a half long. You can see huge pincers on their mouth that actually look like they will hurt when bitten. A bite from the 24 hour ant can cause nausea, vomitting, fever and halluncinations. When angry they emit a loud buzzing sound that you can't believe is coming from an ant!
The only 24 hour ant we saw in the first five days was the one that the guide had in a pill bottle. But, of course we saw a trail of them hiking one day (the only day I was hiking in Teva sandals).
As with most bugs and animals, if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone.
Meet the most dangerous animal: it's not a tiger, it's not a snake, it's not a scorpion, and it's not even a piranha. It's a humble ant - longer and larger than all other ants, and blacker too - but still an ant it is. It's locally called hormiga 24 hora - the ant of the 24 hours... And do you know why? if it bites you, you are assured of 24 hours of high fever, hallucinations and delirium. If you're healthy, you might not even die. keep an eye out for it. we saw several of them - although to be fair they eemed shy enough.
Our venezuelan Tigre Mariposa is smaller than a Bengala tiger. It the cuttest thing and very dangerous. Is yellow-orangy and has black spots all over. These spots are buttefly shaped. Black butterflies over an orange backround. Really pretty.
When ever an idiot Bambi aproaches -"tralali-tralala"- the tiger doesnt moves, doenst even blinks. But he starts moving, rotating slowly all of his skin. Not his muscles and bones, just the skin. This superficial movement makes the illusion of a hundred of butterflies flying more or less in the same place.
The stupid Bambi looks at the butterflies that hypnotise him and says: "Ooohhh boy, how beautifull are these..."
(that was the Tigre Mariposa jumping, killing, eating and swallowing that silly thing).
If you ever wander around in the venezuelan jungle... beware of black butterflies.
Now, if you sleep in a hotel, in the middle of the jungle, you have nothing to fear. Do not go out for a walk in the middle of the night, though. Next morning go check the foot prints of the animals that came to drink water at the lagoon over night. You will easily see Tigre Mariposa`s foot prints. And they are big.
The only thing I really hate about Tigres Mariposa are the hunters that kill them. I really hate this guys. I swear.
Today´s word: "whirlpool".
I had to look that up in the dictionary. In Spanish is called "remolino". I was going to write about a tornado, but in the water, but I decieded to do some researching. Whirlpool. (I thought that was a washing machine...).
In the beautifull lagoon of Canaima there are many, many, whirlpools, here and there, specially where you dont expect them to be. This "water in swift, circular motion, as that produced by the meeting of opposing currents, often causing a downward spiraling action" is really dangerous. If you are caught in one of those "downward spiraling actions" ... you are dead.
Every now and then, brave and profesional swimers drown in Canaima. Those who dont swim that well, or those who dont swim at all, never drown. Because the right and logical thing to do is to be in the water, but close to the shore. I wouldent let the water be above my waist. Once I was caught, in that lagoon, not in a whirpool, but in a current and it was pulling me away really fast. It took me lots of strengh and hard swimming and adrelanine (I got really scared) to come back to a safe spot.
So, even if it sounds dangerous, get in the water, a little bit and enjoy. Never, ever, lay back to float and relax... or you might end up in the Caribbean Sea (if you are lucky).
Be alert and enjoy.
They are also called pirañas, piranhas, piranas (but not in Venezuela). But however they are called: beware!!!
A bunch of these carnivorous fishes will easily and quickly eat you up.
Before taking a swim in a lagoon or in a river in the venezuelan jungle, ask your guide: "are there caribes around here? Caribes, pirañas, piranhas, piranas... Fishes most of the time very hungry and with the mouth full of teeth? Ca-ri-bes... do you know what I mean?".
If you dont understand your guide's answers, wait and see if he goes for a swim. If he swims is allright then. But if he is eaten by Caribes take pictures! Film! Bring back home a filmic testimony of that adventure.
We have a huuuuuuuuge snake that we call TRAGAVENAO.
Tragar = to swallow
Venado, venao = deer
a Deerswallower. (But this animal also swallows indians and tiger hunters. Not tourists, because they are smart enough to sleep in a hotel in the middle of the jungle).
That humongous snake catches a deer, a big one, twists around him and kills him by crushing all of his bones. Little by little. Ouch, crack, uy, crunk, ghhk, krunch. When the deer looks like a bag of smashed potatoes and is all well crushed, then the TRAGAVENAO unlocks her jaw, opens her mouth wiiiiiiiide open and stars swallowing the deer from his rear end up to the front, to the head. When she arrives to the horns of the deer, the snake stops swallowing cause she "aint" stupid. Everybody knows that you cant eat horns. The TRAGAVENAO locks her jaw once again and rests still for 4 or 6 months. Digestion period... During this time is a very funny animal to look at. Imagine something reaaally long, with a big thing inside right in the middle of her stomach and horns sticking out of her mouth. (At some point she ill spit the horns as if they were a watermelon seed: "PTTT").
Is during the diggestion period of the TRAGAVENAO that they are easily killed by an even more dangerous animal: man.
5 hours in a canoe on a wooden seat can be extremely uncomfortable, I reccomend taking your towel to sit on, or a cushion, people may think you are mad but you will be very glad.
Dont worry about the spiders and grass hoppers - just watch where you are walking and dont step on a rattle snake