Cuevas de Kavac

Useful Information

Location: Kavac, Canaima National Park, Bolívar state.
Kamarata valley, southeast end of Auyán-Tepui.
(5.7170578, -62.4263903)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge SpeleologyQuartzite Karst Caves
Light: n/a
Guided tours: D=2 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cuevas de Kavak, Parque Nacional Canaima, Uruyén 8001, Bolívar, Tel: +58-424-8690911.
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 Cuevas de Kavac (Kavac Caves) is despite the name not a cave, it's a gorge with a waterfall at the end. Located in the southern tip of the Auyán-Tepui, the almost straight gorge cuts into the quartzite of the tepui. The site is reached by small planes which land on Kavac airport at the foot of the tepui, from here it's a hike through the spectacular canyon to the waterfall at the end.

The gorge is surrounded by reddish, greenish and yellowish rock walls up to 150 m high. The river cuts into the extremely resistant quartzite which is 1.8 Ga old, from the Precambrian. The reason why the tepuis still exist, and are not eroded completely by the massive tropical rains, is the fact that quartzite is the most resistant rock. Like quartz, it cannot be dissolved by most acids, and as a sandstone it is not as brittle as normal quartz. Nevertheless, a very long time and enormous amounts of warm water full of acids have created karst caves of enormous size in the tepuis, and of course enormous gorges. This is so unique and spectacular that the area is not only a National Park, it is also listed by UNESCO and world-famous among cavers.

The village Kavac is inhabited by indigenous people, who offer guided walks into the gorge. As there is actually no trail, the trip is not only strenuous and wet, it is also dangerous and guides which help to avoid deadly accidents are essential. The name Kavac is derived from a parrot which is abundant here, the Loro Real (Amazona ochrocephala) which is locally called Kavac.

This southern part of Venezuely, at the border to Brazil, is famous for its Tepuis, which are plateaus surrounded by vertical walls, which make them almost inaccessible. The surrounding land is only 300 to 500 m asl, while the plateaus of the Tepuis are 1,700 m asl. They are typically reached only by helicopter, while the villages are reached by small plane. There are almost no roads in this area, but each hamlet has a strip of gras which is called airport.

The typical trip is a 3 or 2-day trip to the Canaima National Park which includes transportation, overnight stay and guides. But it's also possible to book a half-day trip from Canaima. Beneath Kavac Gorge, the Salto Ángel (Angel Falls) on the eastern side of the tepui is visited, which is the highest waterfall in the world, with a drop of 979 m. The starting point is Canaima airport, a 30-minute flight across the waterfall, a 2 h hike, a lunch with the locals, and then a flight back on different route takes about 6 h in total. The best time for a visit is during the rainy season, between May and January.