Exploring Mount Roraima

by Donna 16. March 2011 08:29

Mount Roraima, a tepui (tabletop mountain) in South America was described for the first time by Walter Raleigh in the late sixteenth century. Part of the Pakaraima Mountains, Mount Roraima rises over 2,800 meters above sea level or 9,220 feet. The amazing rock formation lies amongst cliffs that are approximately 980 feet (or 300 meters) in height, and is the highest peak in the range. Distinguished as the border point for the South American countries of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, Mount Roraima is one of the natural wonders in Canaima National Park, which is also one of the world’s largest national parks. Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, is also found in the area and is located about 120 miles from Mount Roraima.

The tepui was the first of its kind to be climbed in 1884, with Sir Everard Ferdinand im Thurn leading the first expedition to the summit. The explorer, who also served as Governor of Fiji, was a botanist and writer as well. Much of the vegetation on the way up to the top is unique to that locale and includes such species as a rare kind of heather, algae, and pitcher plants. However, plants are rare at the top with most of the soil washed of its nutrients due to the daily rain activity.

Only rock-climbing enthusiasts who are well-versed in the activity or hikers who have hired a local guide should attempt to climb the tepui. If you choose to tramp up Mount Roraima, you’ll follow the same path that Sir Everard climbed on the Venezuelan side. The path you’ll follow is a staircase-type of course and can usually be reached in a day with a native guide’s assistance. Again, you’ll no doubt be greeted with rain - the showers creating cascades over the sides of the massive rock. Also, if you plan to trek up the large mesa, you should plan on taking a couple days to return. Spending the night on top of the mountain too will lengthen the journey, so the sojourn and return can take as long as five days. Of course, you can always arrive at the summit by less rigorous means, or take a helicopter instead. Arrangements for this kind of transport can be made in Venezuela in Santa Elena de Uairén.

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Rock Climbing

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