TO SEE: --
attractions include the waterfalls near the village (Paují
and Esmeralda (best at midday)), before
it (Catedral and the Pozo),
and the walk to the Abismo, an escarpment on
the Pakaraima chain which defines the beginning of the Amazon
basin. The Abismo has interesting tepuyan vegetation, and is breathtaking
at sunrise or sunset. Trips into the forest of the Abismo can
be organised and there's a good chance of spotting plenty of wildlife.
west of the Abismo, lies El Altar which is similar,
only more dramatic and more haunting still. It takes five hours
to walk there from the village. Bring plenty of water for the
Waiparu is the nearest
Pemon settlement and it takes about three/four hours by foot through
forest to get there. Boat trips to the village can also be arranged.
THINGS TO DO, ETC: --
Most villagers will be willing to act as guides. For German and
French speakers, Marcos Lutzenberger, a Swiss,
is your best bet, while Pierro is a very experienced Frenchman.
Don't forget to visit the Dance Hall to the east,
or ask about the Casa de la Cultura artworks. Many
of the villagers produce attractive arts and crafts
which they sell in the shops in the village.
There are also bee-keepers such as Carlos Scull and Nicole Marcel,
and Pierro, who sell excellent honey. Nicole is
the village dance teacher, and anyone is welcome to join in.
Many of the villagers are also musicians,
notably Rudi, who can also act as a good English-speaking guide.
Getting there and away :--
By air :
El Pauji lies 70kms west of Santa Elena
along a rough road. Sometimes the workers improve it, reducing
the journey time to about two+ hours. During the rainy season,
however, times can escalate to four hours.
Unofficial taxi-jeeps run up and down this in
the very early morning and afternoon, usually on their way to
and from Ikabaru.
In Santa Elena, the
best place to find a jeep is by the Panaderia Gran Cafe, close
to the schools. People from Pauji tend to congregate around the
other Panadería Trigopan, down the road from
the Cuatro Esquinas crossroads. Fares were around $5 in Dec 2002.
You can hitch a ride
to the airport, or take a taxi there ($2). All the traffic going
west stops there and you can try your luck.
Otherwise, most tour operators in Santa Elena
offer tours of the Pauji area. You can ask one of them to take
you there, and make your own way back. If you put four people
in a jeep, it should come out at no more than $10 per person.
Try Ruta Salvaje, Kamadac, or New Frontiers Adventures. If the
Argentinian 'PJ' of Offbeat Tours is about, he'll also organise
If the road sounds like too
much hassle, then fly. The 'biggest' carrier in
the Gran Sabana is Rutaca.
By boat :
It costs about $15 from Santa Elena one way. It takes 20 minutes
and is a wonderful flight.
Take a taxi or hitch a ride from Santa Elena to the airport and
enquire there for flights, or ask a local travel agency/tour operator.
The airstrip lies in the heart of the village.
Planes take off regularly if sporadically throughout the day, most
going on to Ikabaru. You could ask to stay in the plane and see
the mining damage from the air if you wanted to.
Only joking... Ah, but, you could come up the river Caroni from
Canaima, then the Ikabaru and get pretty close...