CATATUMBO guiness world record


South of Maracaibo lake in Venezuela is a place in the world for highest concentration of lightning ,1.6 million per year according to NASA.

I was born in Venezuela and I always presume how well I know my country but two years ago talking to someone I met on a trip, he asked me how much I knew about my country, he  wanted to ask a question, and I of course answered 100%;  my surprise he asked me about the Catatumbo Lightning, I could not believe the question, a lesson of humility for me, I knew it was south of the Maracaibo lake, but I could not tell him how to get there or where to stay , because I have never been there.

Of course back to my country my next trip would be to visit this place,  I waited a bit to go at best season (October-November). Unfortunately, even of almost all Venezuelans knows about this special place , it is not a place that is promoted for touristy and there is just a simple place to sleep the  owner bis  Alan Highton, (for me he  is a  hero who is originally from Barbados, he  loves Venezuela and keeps this trip  although all the problems of the country in recent years ).

The Catatumbo Lightning is a very special meteorological phenomenon, not only by the quantity of strikes , also  by how they are formed.

 There are two points one the mouth of the catatumbo river and the other point (which really is the one with the record) is In the  lake, both sites can be seen from Alan’s camp in the Ologa lagoon.

The reason for these storms is the differentials of climate between the warm waters of the lake and the cold weather  that comes from the Andes mountains that begin just south of the lake, usually the clouds begin to form at the beginning of the night, and you can observe its growth, around midnight the lightning strikes starts without stopping until the sun rise. And is funny because the clouds do not move , you can see when they vanish.

Of course this is the general behavior, but is nature , there may also be storms in the day, The season to see it is always the same, this happens from April to mid-November.

The way to get to Ologa  is  beautiful, spectacular fauna and flora (dolphins, butterflies, etc) but  I will write about it  in a future post.  The place to stay is very basic is a floating house (palafitos) typical of the indigenous people of the area and you sleep in hammocks, although they have beds for the less adventurous.

I spent two nights awake, watching the lightining strikes  and trying to take pictures, I had made a mistake with my camera  lens that I brought  , which made me feel frustrated, I could still make some decent pictures and Alan was very kind to send me some pictures  of that night, and one in particular that  I love with my silhouette  at midnight with the reflections in the back.

In January of 2014, the Guinness World Record certified with the Nasa reports that in this place it was the highest concentration of lightning in the world, of 250 lightning flashes per square kilometer per year; almost double the second spot that it is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Apart from being a wonderful spectacle, these strikes  generate a large amount of ozone, which is very important for the planet, and  for the regeneration of the ozone layer.

I loved the experience, the two nights without sleep were worth it, it is amazing how such a fascinating place is so little visited.