A unique frontier community in
the Gran Sabana, Bolívar State, southeastern Venezuela

Nature -- Community -- Culture

El Pauji en Español


Pozo EsmeraldaLocal 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.

View from El Abismo towards the Maripak Tepuy (right)Further 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 walk.

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.

The DanceHall at Amariba

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 :--

bad patchBy road:

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 transport.

By air :
If the road sounds like too much hassle, then fly. The 'biggest' carrier in the Gran Sabana is Rutaca.
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.
By boat :

Only joking... Ah, but, you could come up the river Caroni from Canaima, then the Ikabaru and get pretty close...

These pages are part of the larger site:

The only English-language site dedicated to
the wonders of the Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park