Venezuela · Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima is the highest of South America’s Pakaraima Mountains and one of the world’s most extraordinary natural geological formations. It is surrounded by 3 different countries (Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana) whose borderlines intersect on the massive shelf, with all four sides being sheer 400-meter high cliffs. While its cliff walls are only scalable by the most experienced of climbers, there is a path up the mountain’s natural ramp-like path (usually a two-day hike).
However, the mountain is worth a visit for more reasons than its impressive cliffs. Mount Roraima, part of Venezuela’s 30000-square-kilometer Canaima National Park, is the site of the highest peak of the country of Guyana’s Highland Range. The mountains of this range, including Roraima, are considered to be some of the oldest geological formations known, some dating back to 2 billion years ago.
Mount Roraima is largely sandstone without much vegetation, though a few sparse bushes can be found. The isolated nature of the plateau makes it home to many unique species of flora, such as pitcher plants, bellflower and Rapatea heather. Its near daily rains have also created some of the highest waterfalls in the world and a unique ecosystem (which includes several endemic species).
Culturally, Mount Roraima has long held significance to the indigenous people of the area and features prominently in their myths and folklore. This remote landscape of jungle and cliffs has inspired the dinosaur infested landscapes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World, and the dramatic waterfalls dubbed “Paradise Falls” in the 2009 Pixar film Up.
Mount Roraima has always had special significance to the indigenous Pemon Indians, and is central to many legends and myths passed down through generations. They view Roraima as the stump of a ginormous tree that once held all the fruits and vegetables in the world.
Mt. Roraima was the first major tepui (table-top mountain) in the world to be climbed in 1884, when Everard Thurn trekked up a forested trail.