When is the best time to visit Angel Falls?
The answer to this question is tricky. There are a plethora of contradicting factors that both enhance and arguably “hurt” your viewing experience at the falls.
A lot of this is due to the very fickle tropical equatorial climate, the height of the falls (increasing the chances of clouds obscuring it), and the odd rainforest and cloud forest ecosystem in and around the tepuys of Canaima National Park.
I’ve managed to dig up some information breaking down the climate and conditions in and around Angel Falls. It seems to corroborate somewhat with our field observations so there might be some merit to the research.
That said, admittedly it’s hard to extrapolate from our sample size of one. In any case, our field observations coupled with historical data should at least give you an appreciation of how variable the weather can be here, while also facilitate your decision as to the timing of your visit.
Like most things in life, it’s always a roll of the dice, but you try to call on historical data (including our field observations) to “play the percentages”.
Our Personal Experience
We’ve been to Canaima National Park and Angel Falls in the last week of November in 2007.
During that visit, we managed to experience the variability of sunny and dry weather mixed with clouds and spotty downpours at the start of the visit followed by a major downpour towards the middle of the visit, and finally followed up by mostly sunny weather on the days we departed.
When we were in camp at the start of the visit, the sunny weather made for hot temperatures (think around low 90s) but the humidity (while definitely there) didn’t seem to stifle us too much. While mosquitoes were always present, they didn’t seem to bother us too much as long as we either had DEET on or we were within the mosquito nets (especially while sleeping in the hammocks).
When we made our motor boat journey to Angel Falls, there was some concern about whether there was enough water in the rivers to make it there without portaging, but it seemed like us and the groups that went before us made it there no problem.
The weather during our transit to the falls was overcast during the entire boat ride. It seemed like by the time we finally made it to the nearest lookout for Angel Falls, we lucked out as there were swirling clouds constantly obscuring the waterfall, then briefly revealing itself before concealing itself minute-by-minute.
The waterfall itself was in a lighter flowing state, but it was definitely satisfactory, as you can see in the adjacent photo.
Eventually, when we had to retreat to the remote camp, the clouds seemed to have gotten thicker, and there was even the threat of rain that was looming.
Overnight, we had a seemingly unending rain storm that lasted a pretty solid eight hours or so. We could hear this from the thick droplets of water hitting the tin roof shelter loud and fast (making it a pretty uneasy sleep).
When we woke up the next morning, the rain finally stopped, but there was a persistent layer of clouds that made viewing Angel Falls next to impossible.
It wasn’t until another hour or two later (during which we got our stuff together and had breakfast) that the clouds started to clear up. That was when we finally saw the Angel Falls in its full flow for a pretty solid few minutes before the next round of clouds started to pop up and swirl around the waterfall again.
The rest of that day was noticeably sunnier but at the same time the rivers were definitely very swollen. We could totally tell by how much water was in the Salto Hacha opposite the lagoon from our camp at the Canaima Lagoon.
On the next day, when we finally had to leave our camp at the Canaima Lagoon, we were fortunate with the mostly sunny weather that we got to have an overflight (sobrevuelo) of the Angel Falls in full flow on the way back to Ciudad Bolivar.
The rest of the evening was relatively mild and dry.
So while our visit was said to be towards the tail end of the Wet Season and the start of the Dry Season, clearly the variable conditions we dealt with didn’t provide any clarity as to whether our came at a good time or we were just lucky.
In terms of year-to-year climate patterns, all we can really glean from historical data was that the there were pronounced wet and dry seasons, which was pretty typical of tropical climates.
More specifically, the wet season (where the months of heaviest rain would occur) seemed to be from May through August. That said, there also seemed to be appreciable precipitation (at least historically) in the transitional months of April, September, October, and November.
Then, it appeared that the historicaly dry season was during the months of December through March.
The wet season could be characterized by stifling heat and humidity. The tropical downpours would provide momentarily relief from the high temperatures, but it would also mean increased mugginess due to the extra moisture in the air. I’d imagine the insect population would also be greatest at this time.
The dry season could be characterized by more mild humidity but the temperatures would still persist in the high 80s and low 90s (as temperature variations in the tropics tended to be pretty consistent throughout the year). While the most sunny days were said to occur during this period, having the odd tropical rain wasn’t out of the question either.
I recalled the guide saying something about the beginning of the year being the peak season, and that would seem to make the most sense from a weather standpoint.
In our case, we came at the very tail tend of the transition from the wet season to the dry season, and that seemed (at least in theory) to give us the best of both worlds of the saturation from the wet season with the start of more agreeable weather of the dry season.
But as you can tell from our personal experience, there was no hard and fast rule as we had our share of anxiety due to the thick cloud cover that always threatened to mute the Angel Falls viewing experience.
More Photos From Our Late November 2007 Visit
Just to give you an idea of how our experience went at Angel Falls, here are some more pictures taken from that Thanksgiving Week 2007 visit.
So in this writeup, we’ve provided some pretty inconclusive field observations couple with historical data about when would be the best time to visit Angel Falls.
Based on climate alone, if I were to play the percentages, it seemed like the transitional period when we showed up (late November in our case), was not bad. Of course with hindsight being 20/20, anyone can look like a genius.
We were told that the dry season (around January time frame) was said to be the peak season, even with the potential for low water and the difficulties it might bring.
If you’re really rolling the dice, it seemed like the height of the wet season which coincided with Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, would promise to yield the greatest flow of the waterfall. But then you’d have to deal with the humidity, insects, and the complications of swollen rivers and creeks.
Finally, while we’ve focused largely on timing a visit based on playing the percentages with climate, one other factor that is far less predictable is political stability.
During our visit, we were fortunate that Venezuela was relatively stable under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. However, we were keenly aware (especially during election times or under the reign of a de-stabilizing leader) that this can change at any moment.
So the political factor can’t be overstated. And we’re bringing your attention to this because regardless of whether the climate and weather conditions are ripe for a satisfying visit, rolling the dice with your safety during politically troubling times may not be the most wise move.