What if we told you that in South America, there was a land far up in the clouds with rivers the colour of gold and valleys of crystals? This land is not straight out of a novel but is the Tepui plateau, a collection of tabletop mountains which look like islands in the sky as they “float” among clouds hundreds of metres over forest level. They are ancient formations; millennia ago they were connected with the coast of West Africa. They are situated in Canaima national park, 30,000 km2 of protected land in South-Eastern Venezuela bordering Brazil and Guyana.
The remote and ancient nature of these tabletop mountains cannot fail to inspire the adventurer within, and the cultural significance to the locals can be seen in the native Pemon meaning of its name Tepui, House of the Gods. Mount Roraima, one of the highest plateaus where the borders of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana meet, is a mythical place for the local Pemon Indians. Legend is that it is the stump of a tree which once bore all the fruits of the world, their own “paradise lost”, which was felled by Makunaima and unleashed a terrible flood on the world.
These tepuis have captured the attention of scientists worldwide who recognize the extraordinary uniqueness of this ecosystem in which a very high number of the plant species are endemic. The endemesis means that their survival is at risk, think of it as all the eggs being in one basket. Just last week the Tepui plateau was listed by an international team of scientists as one of the top ten irreplaceable nature reserves in the world (incidentally three other South American reserves also made the cut).
Fortunately, although many Tepui’s are closed off to visitors for conservation reasons, you can still embrace your inner adventurer and hike up Mount Roraima without having to scale the dizzying overhangs on each side. The climb will normally take two days before you arrive at the shelf, where you will be able to camp a few days to explore the bizarre natural phenomena of this unique environment. The best time to visit the Angel Falls and to hike the Tepui is in November or December at the end of the rainy season. Although you probably won’t find the dinosaurs of which Arthur Conan Doyle described in his novel The Lost World you will find things which seem other worldly, such as …
Strange and beautiful carnivorous plants …
Exposed veins of Quartz (otherwise known as the crystal valley)
Strange rock formations shrouded in an eerie mist
If you wish to get off the beaten track and explore the House of the Gods don’t hesitate to contact us at Dehouche.