Salto El Sapo

Useful Information

Location: Canaima, Canaima National Park, Bolívar state.
(6.2544749, -62.8376942)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyErosional Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Salto El Sapo, Canaima National Park, Bolívar state.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1994 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Salto El Sapo is considered the greatest attraction of the Canaima National Park by some. And despite being a waterfall, we listed it as a cave. The reason is simple, there is actually a cave behind the waterfall, which was formed by the forces of the falling water. This erosional cave is now a little higher than when it was formed, the waterfall deepened the pool into which is plunges, and so the cave is now dry. A trail was built into the cave, so it can be visited quite easily and safe.

Starting point of this trip is the Laguna de Canaima at the village Canaima, which is actually a bend of the Rio Carrao. This river splits into three streams, and each forms a spectacular waterfall, but the bend below the falls, where they meet again, is calm. A boat brings visitors across the river, with a good view of the first waterfall, a twin waterfall called Cascadas de Salto Ucaima y Golondrina. The second is called Cascada Salto Hacha, and finally the Waka Wená lodge on the island is reached. From here it's a 1 km hike across the island to the third waterfall, the Salto El Sapo. The trails are marked and easy to find. There are actually two caves behind waterfalls, the second is behind Cascada Salto Hacha and less spectacular.

However, like all those water related sights in the area, the amount of water depends on the season. During the rainy season, the waterfalls are quite spectacular, but it's actually impossible to visit the cave and stay dry. Either wear bathing clothes or bring rain protection with you. Be careful with equipment like cameras and smartphones. During the dry season, the river almost dries up and the waterfalls are mostly gone. Of course, it is possible to visit the caves anyway, but without the massive wall of falling water its much less spectacular.

This site does not have any open hours or other restrictions. It makes sense to visit during daylight hours though. And there is the problem to get a boat to the island, as far as we understand, they are a sort of water taxis used by tourists and locals, and available all year round.