The mother of all waters

Or the great "bluegreen mountain" ( in local indian speak ) , straddles 3 nations (Venezuela,Brazil,Guyana).
It has a surface area of 34 square km and is encircled by sheer cliffs in excess of 500 m. Highest point is 2800 m.
This Tepui ( ancient tabletop mountain ) is many things.
A perfect botanical garden. A botanistīs dream. A potential rockclimbing paradise and base jumping mecca.
To sir Arthur Conan Doyle it was "The lost world". In any case itīs a place of stunning world class scenery that
rivals Antarctica in remote endemic splendour. It is indeed a rewarding excercise for the modern soul to hike around
in such an uncompromised ancient world surrounded by an extraordinarily high degree of endemic flora.
It is probably also one of the few places in V where you can still breathe fresh air !
It is however not a "lost world" as this would imply it having been "found" before. In fact this fascinating
place was only recently discovered by the modern world ! , but it does have an otherwordly ambiance which makes you
appreciate that such remote and ancient feeling places still exist on our planet in 2006. (at least in low season , may).
But of course there are problems in paradise...
Even in this remote wilderness we had dirty clothes stolen at the base camp , had to watch our ok but uninformative
indian guide bathing with soap in one of the pristine? "jacuzzis" on top of the tepui and often wonder about the safety
of drinking the streamwaters as ney the goverment nor the indians provide toilet facilities along the popular trek.
This results in the camp surrounds being minefields of shit and toiletpaper.Doesnīt take a genius to figure out where
the turdjuice ends up....the indian guides of course insisting the water is safe....canīt imagine what itīs like in high
season when thereīs hundreds as supposed to a dozen wanderers on the trail.....
All said , if you are ever in this part of the world , do NOT miss this hike !
It is equally heavy duty but far more rewarding than the Inca trail !

All set and ready for a little adventure.

The indian village Paratepuy is the closest inhabited place to Roraima. From here the trek begins.

The beginning is about 20km ( I think ) of uneventful flat hot walking over the savannah.

The whole time Roraima and her sister Kukenan are beckoning in the distance.

The first night's camp is relatively luxurious. Still on the flat savannah.
We went with " Roberto's mystic tours ". Roberto insists that 5 % of all visitors to Roraima
experience some highly mystic activity due to this mountain being the epicenter of all mystic energy
fields eminating from various hotspots around the world...
For this reason this place is LOADED with UFOs and ETs , he says , very sincerely , obviously serious.

As we toured the Gran Sabana with him in his old cruiser which has some serious gas fume leakage into
the passenger compartment that makes you feel like you are touring with your nose up his tailpipe
I could not help but wonder if this may have something to do with his LSD - like visions...

Here's some pseudo-native construction inhabited by local indians.
As mentioned in the intro , there are no crapfacilities beyond Paratepui.
This caused me , while waiting for mystical shit to happen and inspired by the turdminefield surrounding us ,
to come up with some awsome hardhitting names for any aspiring Roraima tour company.
How about "Bens fantastic fart tours" , "shit expeditions" or "hot turd adventure tours" among others...
Those are just the obvious home runs.
Conversation overheard in Santa Elena restaurant ; " I'm with hot turd , who you goin with ?....
oooh , Ben's fantastic ! yeah I hear they're better than Shit or even Floaters ..........

It's dinnertime.

Everyone patiently waiting for food...

The local dogs.

The dogs and the indians were very keen on collecting and eating the huge flying ants
that come out at night. Very delicious and nutritious , I'm told.

That 600 m waterfall falling off Kukenan apparently is the 6th highest in the world.

We wake up to a beatiful view at dawn and start the second day of savannah walking.

Yep , that's a church out here in the middle of nowhere.
The basecamp from where missionaries are hard at work destroying the local indian cultures and
molesting the virgins in the name of Jesus.
Round the campfire our indian guide told us some disturbing , if not mystical ,
tales of abuse purpertrated by these angels.
One of the few good things madman Chaves recently did in some bout of anti-imperialist fervor
was deport a few hundred of the aforementioned american missionary scumbags.
Viva la revolucion !

The next stream is swollen enough to give an enterprising indian a good source of income...

ferrying hikers across instead of having to swim.

Next night it's a little bit less posh.
This camp is at the base of the mountain.

It's a fair bit wetter already...and colder !

So consequently the botanical wonders of Roraima are beginning to appeart.

Orchids hangin everywhere...

It's going to be wet ascent today , up that wall along the so called "ramp".

But first some low elevation jungle.

Gradually getting steeper.

On the "ramp"

Dramatic stuff. Lots of clouds & rain.

This cawling mini toad is one of the only animals up here other than birds.
Hardly one of sir Arthur's dinosaurs but mystical enough though. A toad that can't jump...
We're getting there we're getting there...

Finally on top of the lost world !

A wet and cold welcome , and another 5 star dinner in our newfound rocksheltert.

When it cleared up we go to check out the nearest drop-off.
That's our camp there in the middle of the moonscape.

In this harsh soilless climate some special plants thrive and have become endemic.
What makes Roraima feel extra special is the lack of weeds.
Itīs all a Japanese garden.

The fog rolls in within seconds of clear sunshine !
Makes for a very mystical ambiance.

Those little red carnivorous plants are the raptors of the lost world.

Almost full moon

A hike to "El Canoyn" , a huge crack in Roraima , was interesting.
It is filled with night birds making bizarre sounds.
They only leave at dusk like bats out of hell through that canyon entrance.

Next a visit to the "crystal" valley.

Then it's off to the jacuzzi valley...

And the best for last...

A dawn hike to the Guyana drop-off !!!

Tremendous luck with the weather affords stunning views of the lost world realm !

Some of these inaccessible remote waterfalls are the highest on earth.

Below the clouds...

and above the clouds.

Low clouds being sucked out between Roraima and Kukenan to the Gran Sabana
from the unexplored depths of the Guyana Amazon.

That's a mile high freefall 1m to the left , right & behind me !

Fuckin creepy !
Where's my parachute !?
Problem is , there's nowhere to land
and the place is full of dangerous up & down and sideways aircurrents that could really ruin your day.

These lucky plants have one of the most haunting perches in world to hang out
and watch the fogs battle the sun in a realm where little has changed in eons.

It's also a perfect place for one of us newcomers ( humans ) to sit and meditate.

Let's hope it stays that way for eons to come.

Finally it's time to leave this enchanted place.

In contrast to the ascent our descent from the lost world was very different.
No rain or waterfalls to walk through.

Arriving back down at dawn.

The botanical wonders of Roraima

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Slideshow pauses when you move the mouse over the picture , ok.