El Rio Churun

Rio ChurunArriving at Canaima’s main campsite, we were given a quick briefing of the trip to Auyan-tepui, bundled into a dugout canoe (made from a single, huge tree) with an outboard engine, and started the five hour journey up Churun River. There were ten tourists—a family of 4 Mexicans, a French couple, an English couple, and us—plus three Pemon indians: the boatman, the pilot, and our guide, Francesco.
Rio ChurunAbout an hour and half from Canaima, we disembarked and walked across a stretch of grassland to the other side, while the boatman and pilot navigated a tricky part of the river, with violent rapids and massive boulders, too dangerous and difficult to take us all through. We walked about half an hour, through wildflowers and scrubby plants, the tepuis all blue and mysterious in the distance.
Rio ChurunBack in the canoe, the next three and a half hours were spent slicing through the deep red water of the river. The water is red in these parts from centuries of leaf tannin seeping out of the dense selvas (forests), and no other pollutants, industries, communities, people or mines are to be found along the riverbanks, so there’s nothing to silt or darken the water with added clay, rubbish, chemicals. That’s how clean it is. It’s like canoeing through freshly steeped black tea.
rio rojo
Rio ChurunAs we approached the tepuis, Francesco made it very clear that, from thereon, every tepui we saw around us was just one tepui: Auyán-tepui. It’s one of the most expansive tepuis in the Guiana Highlands.

So the hulking citadels in the foreground, and crenelated towers in the background, are part of the same massive sandstone plateau:
Rio Churun
Rio Churun
Rio Churun


17 thoughts on “El Rio Churun

  1. Nat, I’m enjoying your tour just as if I was there with you! It’s wonderfully exciting!
    I’m afraid you and Kris will drop anchor for good in this part of Venezuela! It’s the
    world all fresh and new, yet ancient and mysterious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ha ha, no, we like the place but couldn’t live here…I’m going to need bath soap at some point, and don’t want to stand in line for 6 hours to get it! The economy cannot sustain the current rate of inflation, something’s gotta blow, we hope to get out before it does.


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