Rising from the rain-forest-covered Guiana Highlands of southeastern Venezuela, Angel Falls is the highest uninterrupted cataract in the in the world, dropping 807 m from the mesa of Auyán-tepuí or "Devils Mountain". At about 15 times higher than the Niagara Falls or twice the height of New Yorks Empire State Building, the falls barely makes contact with the cliff face as it plummets to the forest floor.
Similar to the other great escarpments of South America and Africa, "Devils Mountain" was raised in the late Tertiary Period (between two and a half to sixty-five million years ago). Through the following millennia, erosion has dug fissures and crevices on the flat top of the enormous mesa, trapping the heavy tropical rainfall characteristic of the area and forming the source of the thundering falls. The water accumulates underground and spurts out of "Devils Mountain" between sixty and ninety metres below the edge of the sheer cliff falling straight for 806.6 m and then another 171.8 m for a total of 978.4 m. By the time the water reaches the ground, the falls are 152 m wide and end in a huge pool, darkened by the spray. The water then drains to the Rio Churún, a tributary of the Caroní River.
Today, because of the difficult access of surrounding jungle, the waterfall is still best observed from the air. Tourists may go there with guides on prearranged tours.
Apart from its extraordinary height, the falls also have the distinction of being the most recently discovered of the worlds natural wonders. This amazing natural phenomena was first located in 1935 by the American aviator and adventurer James C. Angel. This man, after which the falls was named, saw the natural wonder while on a search for gold in the region. In 1937, Angel and two other companions returned and crash-landed their plane on the boulder-covered swamp of a nearby mesa. Unfortunately, the party was still unable to reach the falls on that first expedition. It was not until 1949 that an American-led expedition succeeded in reaching the foot of the falls to confirm that they were indeed the worlds highest.
Previous land-bound explorers were prevented from discovering the site because of a huge escarpment in the area. In 1971, three Americans and an Englishman climbed the sheer rock face of the falls in an adventure that took ten days.