Within the 11,583 square miles of southeastern Venezuela’s Canaima National Park is a massive plateau called Auyán-Tepuí, which also goes by “Devil’s Mountain.” And cascading from Auyán-Tepuí is a 3212-foot waterfall—the world’s tallest—known as Angel Falls.
The waterfall wasn’t given that moniker until the 1930s, when a U.S. pilot named James Crawford Angel landed his aircraft atop Auyán-Tepuí (on purpose) and then left it there for decades (not on purpose—the plane got lodged in the mud and Angel had to trek back to civilization on foot).
But long before Angel ever embarked on his headline-making adventure, the Indigenous Pemón people of the region had christened Angel Falls “Kerepakupai-Merú” or “waterfall of the deepest place.” In fact, in 2009, Venezuela’s then-president Hugo Chávez decried use of the name Angel Falls on television. “One could say [Angel] was the first one to see it from a plane,” he said, per The Guardian. “But how many millions of Indigenous eyes saw it, and prayed to it? No one should refer to Angel Falls anymore.” His pointed comments weren’t quite enough to make Angel Falls disappear worldwide.
All naming disputes aside, everyone can agree that the waterfall is one of South America’s most majestic natural wonders. Pixar animators even used it as the inspiration for Paradise Falls in 2009’s Up. And while most people aren’t willing or able to pull an Angel, there’s another, far less dangerous way to witness the formidable cataract.
As Nerdist reports, Swiss drone pilot Ellis van Jason traversed the jungle over the summer and captured footage of Angel Falls that’s about as close as you can get to parachuting off the plateau yourself. It’s on YouTube, in glorious 5K, complete with stunning aerial views of the dense greenery surrounding the falls. Press play below to see for yourself, and explore other intrepid virtual journeys on van Jason’s YouTube channel.