Wow Sites 03: Mount Roraima, Venezuela
Mount Roraima, also known as Tepuy Roraima and Cerro Roraima is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is defended by 400-metre-tall cliffs on all sides. The mountain includes the triple border point of Venezuela,Brazil and Guyana. The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The triple border point is at 5°12′08″N 60°44′07″W , but the mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock, 2810 m, at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
Guyana, Mount Roraima Tepui. Photo by Klaus Fengler
In 2006, Mount Roraima was the destination for the award-winning Gryphon Productions two hour television documentary The Real Lost World. The program was shown on Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater and OLN (Canada). Directed by Peter von Puttkamer, this travel/adventure documentary featured a modern team of explorers: Rick West, Dr. Hazel Barton, Seth Heald, Dean Harrison and Peter Sprouse who followed in the footsteps of British explorers Im Thurn and Harry Perkins who sought the flora and fauna of Roraima in the mid-19th century. The adventures of those explorers may have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s seminal book about people and dinosaurs, The Lost World, published in 1912.
To reach the trailhead, you must make your way to San Francisco de Yurani. San Francisco de Yurani can be reached by bus. Most people ride the bus all the way there from Caracas, Ciudad Bolivar, or Ciudad Guyana. Others fly to Santa Elena which is only a few hours south of San Francisco de Yarani, and take the bus up from there. There are some rather grubby hotels in the town, and a few restaurants. There is a small selection of food in some stores, but travelers recommend bringing most items from a larger city. The actual trailhead is in Paratepui, which is 22kms (14 miles) east of SF de Yurani. Most hire a vehicle in San Francisco de Yurani, but it can be walked in a day for those who wish to save a few bucks (not recommended). A vehicle cost $100 and can hold 6 people with gear. Most people take two days to summit and two days to return, making the trip four days if just reaching the summit and back. At least five days is recommended so that you can spend at least one day on the summit plateau.
When To Climb
The only time to safely make this trek is December through March, which is the “dry” season. The river crossings would be very dangerous in any other season.