Kayaking in Orinoco Delta
Venezuela’s wild jungles are full of animal encounters
Kayaking in the Okavango Delta, the world’s second largest delta after the Amazon.
A kayaking trip to the Orinoco Delta is the ultimate escape from the interruptions of the modern world. No cell phones, no Internet connections or Blackberrys here.
From the concrete jungle of Caracas, the crew and I travelled overland to the almost inhabitable jungles of eastern Venezuela for a week-long kayaking adventure.
As we paddled downstream, Chris, our knowledgeable tour guide, gave me a few fast facts. The Orinoco is the eighth longest river in the world and is one of the main tributaries to the Orinoco Delta. What’s the Orinoco, you ask? Well, Chris had an answer for that one too. The Orinoco is the world’s second largest delta after the Amazon. It’s known for untapped oil reserves, pristine nature, indigenous cultures and rich animal encounters.
Paddling along the muddy waters of the Orinoco River, I kept my eyes peeled for signs of life. A bright-beaked Tucan, (dead ringer for the Fruit-Loops Tucan Sam) soared high above the treetops. It’s a little known fact that Tucans, Amazon Parrots and the Golden Macaw mate for life. When one bird dies, his partner dies shortly after. Their monogamy, though terribly romantic, eventually proves fatal.
I dipped my paddle in the water and the kayak skimmed silently above the surface. Though there are faster ways to travel through the Delta’s narrow waterways, I’m convinced that kayaking is the best and most unobtrusive way to go.
Flesh-eating piranha are among the many creatures who call the Orinoco River home.
Chris pointed out a family of capuchin monkeys hiding among the tree branches. While some scampered playfully, leaping from tree to tree, others snacked on fruit from the Morichi tree. Curious, the monkeys crept in for a better look at us gringos. They watched us. We watched them. It was an evolutionary face-off.
Though we couldn’t find the elusive manatee or giant river otter, we were lucky enough to see pink dolphins, Howler monkeys and Guacheracas, reptilian-like birds with a set of claws on their wings.
After a long day of kayaking, we pulled into camp. The A-frame hut had the most basic of amenities: a thatched roof, planks for a floor and some thick wooden beams. Out in the bush, it’s goodbye mattress, hello nylon hammock and mosquito netting. There’s no running water and toilets are make-your-own. Sure, it wasn’t the most comfortable of accommodations but jungle camping isn’t supposed to be.
As the team of local guides prepared a dinner of freshly-baked bread and veggie stew, I slipped into piranha-filled waters for a quick swim. Quick and quiet were key. With razor-sharp teeth, piranha have been known to bite off human fingers and toes. “They’re attracted to splashing,” Chris warned me, “so it’s best not to make waves.” Paranoid, I scrambled out of the water with body parts still in tact.
At dusk, there was a changing of the guards – diurnal and nocturnal insects punched out their time cards and swapped shifts.
Mosquitoes buzzed around like winged vampires, anxious to suck my blood. My only escape was the safety of my net. I climbed into my hammock, stretched out diagonally and fell asleep to the meditative sounds of the Venezuelan jungle.
For more articles on Venezuela or other parts of the world check out Julia's website at thetraveljunkie.
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*This article was first published in Metro metronews.ca
- Jakera Tours offers multi-day adventure kayaking trips through the Orinoco Delta. Visit jakera.com for more information.
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