Lake Guri, Venezuela

Lake Locations:

Venezuela -

Also known as:  Lago Guri, Guri Lake, Guri Reservoir

Lake Guri, in the Guiana Highlands region of Bolivar Province, Venezuela, is the dream fishing destination for many a fisher folk. Guri Dam provides water to the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Power Station, generating upwards of 50% of Venezuela’s electricity. The dam impounds the Caroni River within the Necuima Canyon, approximately 62 miles above the mouth of the Caroni River in the Orinoco Delta. Venezuela desires to produce as much hydro power as possible to free up oil reserves for profitable export and Guri Dam helps the country reach its goal of producing 82% of it’s electrical needs via renewable resources, saving 300,000 barrels of oil a day.

The development of Lake Guri for power production has been fraught with contention due to displacement of both indigenous tribes and wildlife. Built in two stages, the first stage was completed in 1974 and drowned thousands of square miles of forest formerly renowned for its biodiversity. It also submerged under 350 feet of water the only place where the recently-discovered Carrizal Seedeater Tanager had ever been seen. Local tribes worked round the clock to try to rescue as many animals as possible from the rising waters by boat but are quick to tell visitors some animals haven’t been seen since the flooding.

The second stage flooding at Guri Lake was a slower process and far more wildlife escaped. However, National Geographic has been studying the effects of the overpopulation of certain types of primates. Some of the mountaintops-turned-islands have no large predators left in their new home to keep them in check. This has been a case where the search for renewable energy for economic reasons caused much environmental damage. The lesson learned is that progress, even with good intentions, often comes at great cost and should be undertaken with great care.

There is little development along the shores of Lake Guri. The shoreline, composed of inlets, wetlands, coves, islands and submerged forests, makes for ideal fish habitat. Several resort-like fishing camps provide guided fishing packages for two varieties of peacock bass or pavon, South American silver croaker, payara (alternately called dog tooth characin, sabre-tooth tetra or vampire tetra), alumassee and catfish, along with other varieties of edible fish hunted by the local peoples. For the most part, the lake has not yet been exploited for its charter capacity, either by powerboat or sail. One reason may be that Lake Guri is serviced by few roads, all in poor condition. Travel warnings from the United Sates State Department discourage foreign visitors from striking out on their own due to the danger of narco-terrorism. The wise visitor will arrange their visit through a reputable travel agent or the fish camp they intend to visit to assure an enjoyable and safe visit.

There are limited lodgings available in the vicinity of the dam at Lake Guri. Vacation rentals are available along the lakeshore in the form of fishing resorts, often with private air conditioned lodgings, pools and dining halls. Some have facilities for golf and hiking. Visitors wishing for more luxurious accommodations may wish to look for vacation rentals in Cuidad Guayana or Cuidad Bolivar. These medium-sized cities have air transportation, shopping, entertainment and fine dining. From here, the adventurous visitor can arrange to visit Canaima National Park to the south. Established in 1962, the seven-and-a-half million acre park is a World Heritage Site. The park protects five endangered mammal species: jaguars, giant anteaters, giant river otters, ocelots and giant armadillos. Canaima contains more than 9,000 plant species that occur nowhere else. Nearly half of the neotropical migratory birds that winter in South America are found here; many are protected species including the osprey, American swallow-tailed kite and broad-winged hawk. The park’s highlands provide habitat for nearly 100 bird species, including species found nowhere else.

The trip from Lake Guri is worth a visit if for no other reason than Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world. Angel Falls drops 3,212 feet from the top of a tapui, or flat-top mesa, and can only be seen optimally by air. Many small aircraft charters ferry visitors to the area to see the falls for a nominal fee. And Angel Falls is not the only spectacular waterfall in Canaima National Park; the geology of the park contains many tapuis that are considered sacred to the indigenous Pemon who have lived in the area for over a thousand years. The mesas themselves are old sandstone formed before South America separated from the African continent. Many tapuis contain varieties of plant and animal species native only to that particular mesa due to their long separation from encroachment. Some vacation rentals are available in the area of Canaima National Park and the easiest method to access the area is to fly. Hiking is available to some tapuis but excellent physical condition and proper gear is needed. Guides are available.

Around the edges of the park, bordering Brazil and Guyana, illegal mining for gold is going on. Few licenses to mine in the area have been issued but the mining continues with much damage to the environment. Lake Guri already shows evidence of mercury contamination from the byproducts of such mining in the watershed. Again, economic considerations will likely win out over ecology as the Venezuelan government appears to be cooperating in the building of transport roads to facilitate mining in the region. The hope of making a fortune in gold will likely drive real estate pressures in the area, making it more difficult to protect this unique environment.

The Lake Guri region of Venezuela is beautiful. It, and the wonders of Canaima National Park make the trip worthwhile. Make arrangements today to visit Lake Guri. It will be the trip of a lifetime.

Things to do at Lake Guri

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Guri

  • Alumassee
  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Payara
  • Peacock Bass
  • South American Silver Croaker

Lake Guri Photo Gallery

Lake Guri Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: CVG Electrification del Caroni C.A. (EDELCA)

Surface Area: 1,050,198 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 886 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 867 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 892 feet

Maximum Depth: 492 feet

Water Volume: 110,256,994 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1986

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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