Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paradise Falls - Adventure is Out There

Adventure. What a wonderful word. Adventure is often associated with travel, a journey, although that need not necessarily be so. And journeys are often seen as a metaphor for growth, for life.

I'm revisiting Up! (see older post) because this film hits me at so many levels. And because it's the year end, when most human beings take a turn towards being more thoughtful and reflective.

This time, I'm focusing on one of the non-human characters in the film. Paradise Falls. Nestled deep within, and at the top of the Lost World.The real inspiration for Paradise Falls is the Angel Falls in Venezuela. It's nearly a thousand meters of unbroken free-fall, and thanks to the great height, much of the water never reaches the ground as part of a stream. Instead, it's vaporised, carried away by the winds before it reaches the base, and according to Wikipedia, the mist can be felt "a mile away".

My earliest memory of the Angel Falls is a photo, in an old children's encyclopedia (Lands & Peoples, from Grolier ..... I think). The photo, in black and white, features the falls in portrait mode, with a small aircraft flying in front of it. I've done a search on google images for this picture, but no luck finding it yet.

More recently, the Angel Falls was featured in the Freshwater segment of David Attenborough's incredible documentary series, "Planet Earth". The camera follows the streams that flow atop Auyantepui, over the edge, then turns backwards so we see more and more of the falls as the camera continues it's flight path away from the tepui. Throughout the series, Attenborough presents Earth as a system that is built up around and driven by the flow of energy, a system made up of living things and the physical aspects of the planet, and fed by the solar radiation it receives. Having this at the back of one's mind makes the viewing of the camera work, of the water plunging down through open space in the bright sunlight all the more exhilarating. That's a huge amount of potential and kinetic energy at work there.

In an enjoyable blog post by Eric Salituro (at, the writer points out that when studying a map, you'll notice that the falls clearly drain into a river at the base (Kerep), but strangely, there is no corresponding stream at the top of the Tepui. The water supplying the falls is the result of moisture from the clouds that enshroud the tepui, and there is well enough of it to generate it's spectacular result.
There's so much to learn, to discover, to see, to experience, to stir the heart. Adventure is out there. And inside.


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