Canaima National Park

Canaima National Park in southeast Venezuela, at 11,720 square miles (30,360 km2) one of the world’s largest, is a U.N. World Heritage Site set among jungle, savannah, and some of the world’s most surreal landscape with high vertical-sided table-topped mesas or tepuis where ecologies have evolved in isolation for millions of years, some with biota found nowhere else. These include purple-red sunflowers and frogs that walk instead of jump, possible remnants, theories go, of prehistoric times when Africa and South America were joined. Some tepuis are still not fully explored. Countless waterfalls include the world’s highest, Angel Falls, tumbling 3,230 feet (985 m) from Precambrian rocks 600 million to 2 billion years old on the side of Roraima mesa in the world’s longest uninterrupted drop of 2,663 feet (812 m). Wildlife, while not abundant, includes increasingly rare giant and collared anteaters, giant armadillos, giant otters, bush dogs, crab-eating foxes, and little spotted cats, plus some 550 birds including redbilled and red-and-green macaws, fiery-shouldered parakeets, king vultures, paradise tanagers, velvet-browed brilliants, and Guianan cocks-of-the rock, along with 72 reptiles, 55 amphibians. Scheduled flights go to Canaima Lake, where excellent lodging (also camping) is available and tours can be arranged.

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