The Natives in Venezuela had known about the "Salto Angel" since the beginning of time. Then United States pilot Jimmie Angel was flying over the area in 1935 when he landed on the top of a lone mountain in search of gold. His plane got stuck in the boggy jungle on top of the mountain and he noticed a pretty impressive waterfall plunging thousands of feet down. He wasn't too happy about the 11 mile hike back to civilization, and his plane remained stuck and rusting upon the mountain as a monument to his discovery. Soon the whole world would know about the falls, which came to be known as Angel Falls, after the pilot who "discovered" them.
Angel Falls plunges from the top of a mesa, or what the natives call a Tepuyi. Named "Auyantepui", the Angel Falls mesa is one of over a hundred of its kind which are scattered about the Guiana Highlands of southeast Venezuela. Like so many slumbering giants, what characterizes these mesas (Tepuys) is their massive heights soaring up towards the sky, each with a flat top and totally vertical sides (check out the picture at left). Also called "table mountains" (which accurately describes their shapes) these Tepuys were formed out of sandstone billions of years ago. Their vertical sides are continually being eroded by the action of water from the heavy rainfall the Guiana Highlands gets.