RIDDLES PLATEAU RORAIMA.
Roraima is an interesting mountain located in the Guiana Highlands. The peak actually shares the border with Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana, but the mountain is almost always approached from the Venezuela side. The Brazil and Guyana sides are much more difficult. The mountain's highest point is Maverick Rock which is at and on the Venezuela side (thought some other sources may differ on this).
The Guiana Highlands is a very unusual mountain range covering parts of Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The highlands are made of ancient sedimentary rock that is over two billion years old and are some of the oldest sedimentary rocks on the planet.
There are some wonderful places on Earth that offer such breathtaking views that they might just stick with you forever and ever down in some rusty memory box. And there are others worth discovering that we do not even know about. This site is about unconventional traveling ideas, a place where people can find unworldly landscapes and a new way of seeing things. And this definitely one of them.
Long before the European conquistadors took over these lands, Mount Roraima was considered a symbol of these regions, an “axis mundi”, an enormous tree within which all the vegetables and fruits of the world grow. This mountain, surrounded by 400 meter (1,300 ft) tall cliffs was a place of mystery, myths and legends for the indigenous people that used to live here centuries ago.
Mount Roraima is part of the Guiana Shield, the highest point of the Guyana's Highland Range and a part of Canaima National Park. These are a series of table top mountains that date back to the Precambrian Age about 2 billion years ago.
Today this unusual looking mountain can be visited by anyone having the will to discover it. The ascend starts in the Pemón village of Paraitepui which can be reached via the town of Santa Elena. Getting to Mount Roraima is possible by taking a plane to Santa Elena de Uairén airport. This is a town in Brazil, very close to the border. From here on, you will see there are buses or shuttles that can get you close to the ascending point- the village of Paraitepui.
Hiking here is not hard and you can also get help from the indigenous population, as they organize tour guides in exchange for a small sum of money. If you are on your own however, try to reserve at least four days for this fantastic journey, as there are plenty of things to see and enjoy up there. Mount Roraima is said to have some of the most fascinating hiking trails in the world.
You should not leave after 2 p.m. from the village as trekkers are no longer allowed after this hour. At the beginning of your climb, your baggages will be strictly checked and you can not take more than 15 kilos with you. So careful how you organize things. Being given that this is a national park , you are not permitted to take rocks or plants along the way.
The top of the mountain measures 2772m, it offers amazing landscapes and establishing a tent around here is possible. However, you should know the weather changes suddenly in this area so be prepared.
The Pemon and Kapon natives of the region believe that Mount Roraima was once a mighty tree that held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Makunaima was a trickster cut down the tree and created a terrible flood. Mount Roraima is the stump of that great tree. In the language of the Pemon roroi means blue-green and ma means great.
There is no easy way to climb to the top of Mount Roraima. There is what is considered the easiest way. There is a natural stone stairway path called La Rampa that goes all the way to the top. The first recorded climb was by Sir Everard im Thum in 1884.
Because of the heavy rainfall there are some of the highest waterfalls in the world flowing from the top of the mountain. They are the source of many of the rivers of Guyana and the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers.
Once you are on top of the mountain you will see the soft pink quartzite covered with dark colored algae that lives on the surface. You will want to establish a camp under one of the rock formations known as Los Hoteles. Human wastes are to be deposited in holes that are dug and covered when finished. Any paper products are to be stored (including used toilet paper) and disposed of when you get back down.
There are trails leading from the "hotel" to various sights. You can go to the Valley of the Crystals. It is one of several spots where quartz crystals have eroded from the quartzite bedrock. There are bathing pools called jaccuzzis. The floors of these pools are covered with loose white quartz crystals. Don't let the term jacuzzis fool you. These little pools are full of very cold water.
As you follow the trails try to stay on the trails. The algae growing on the surface of the rocks is tender and you don't want to damage it. It is also very easy to get lost if you stray from the paths.
At the rim of the plateau there are deep fissures that form impressive chasms. They are very deep and are the result of erosion in the geologic fractures in the quartzite. Some believe that these fissures were caused by the breaking away of South America from Africa when Pangaea broke apart.
Near the pools on the surface of Mount Roraima there is more vegetation. There are ferns, mosses, and orchids. There are many carnivorous plants. they feed mostly on insects that seem to flourish here. Many of the plants are unique to the table top mountains.
Some of the animals you might find are hummingbirds, a very small black frog that is so primitive that it does not hop or swim, and a water cricket that is very large and gives a painful bite. Coatimundi and possibly mouse tracks have been seen but they are hard to find because they are nocturnal. They are fairly new to the plateau and may have come to eat food scraps left by human visitors.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is said to have based his book Lost World on Mount Roaima. In the book people discovered dinosaurs here. In real life there has been no evidence that dinosaurs were ever on top of Mount Roaima.
It is strictly forbidden to take any souvenirs of any kind from Mount Roraima. That means no plants, no animals, no traces of these at all. And certainly no rocks including the crystals that are there. And don't try to sneak a few thinking nobody will know. They have been known to search belongings and people when they reach the bottom.
Leaving Mount Roraima is easier than climbing up and so it takes a little less time. It is still a long walk and should be started early in the day.
Another way to see the top of Mount Roraima is by helicopter. There are charter services that will fly you around and above the mountain. They can't land so you would have to settle for looking and taking pictures. I have seen some of the pictures of clouds surrounding the plateau. Others show how straight up and down the cliffs that make the sides of the mountain are.
Culturally, the mountain 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 inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his classic novel The Lost World in 1912. He envisioned cavemen and prehistoric animals running amok atop the summit. Although far-fetched, the idea is a valid one: the tepuys are regarded as ‘islands in time’ by scientists since species have developed in complete isolation on top of them over millennia.
Modern day adventurers and seekers of the paranormal will not be disappointed with an expedition to Mount Roraima. Roraima is known for its incredibly high frequency of UFO sightings, both atop and around the plateau. Once travelers embark upon the journey, the mundane is left behind. Roraima becomes another world and strange things happen up there. Unexplainable twirling lights spotted by tourists on numerous occasions hover above or between Roraima and another nearby tepui, Kukenaam.
Many unsuspecting tourists are known to experience altered states up on Roraima. Mesmerized by the euphoria of the summit, some go leaping about the rocks. Women in particular, perhaps channeling the Amazonian Goddess, often experience intense feelings of reverie and at times promiscuousness. Susceptible men have reported being startled awake by bizarre dreams involving extra-terrestrials…
One intrepid explorer, David Joshua Jennings wrote the following about his experiences atop Roraima…
“Upon reaching the summit, the environment up top is otherworldly, with giant craggy boulders carpeted in moss, black craters and steaming fissures that stretch as far as the eye can see. There is an ever-present, eerie fog out of which bizarre rock formations appear and disappear, shaped like mushrooms, elephants, flying turtles and cathedrals. Everywhere are pools, trickling streams and beaches of pink sand. Among fields of scattered crystals rise crooked, withered trees and drooping orchids. Purple carnivorous plants sprout among hundreds of miniature pastel flowers."
"I would assert that I am (probably) not insane, nor would I believe any story of paranormal activity without experiencing it myself, but up on top of Roraima… things are downright spooky. There is a constant feeling that you are being watched, or that you are interacting with invisible beings. I survived Roraima without being abducted. Although I did not see any aliens, I cannot help but feel I encountered something. Even now I get goose bumps when I think of that mysterious, lost world.”
Mount Roraima has been studied by botanists, zoologists, geologists, herpetologists, orchidologists and ecologists, but it is the anthropologists that have shed light on the mystery that is Roraima. One indigenous tribe, the Pemon, tell an ancient tale of their creation which includes a deluge myth. The great flood motif is a global phenomenon.
Before the dawn of time, the Pemon people were the descendants of the mythic Hero, Macunaíma. While exploring the primordial world, Macunaíma came across the Wazacá tree – tree of life – in whose branches grew all the types of cultivated and wild plants eaten by the people. Macunaíma therefore chopped down the trunk – Piai – of the Wazacá tree, which leaned towards the northeast. Hence all the edible plants found today fell in this direction, especially in the areas covered in jungle.
From the trunk of the Wazacá tree spouted a torrent of water, which caused a great flood during this primordial period. According to the myth, this trunk remains still: this is Mount Roraima, whence flow the rivers that pass through the traditional territory of these peoples. This also gives insight into the naming of Angel falls, which cascades from Roraima’s summit.
The myth thus tells of the origin of agriculture and humanity, as well as touching upon another universal and powerful creation symbol, the tree of life. Thus does Mount Roraima take its place as one of the most mysterious and sacred places on Earth… Mount Roraima – Sacred Mountain.
The ascent to Summit Camp, though tiring, was in no way dangerous. The ledge... which from Paulo appears so insecure and tiny, proved to be a broad slope of soil and rock detritus large enough to bear a good growth of forest, and for the greater part of the climb one scarcely realizes that there is an abyss 50 feet to the left...
Sometimes, on the way up, one has a splendid view of the country below, spread out like a maps, but for many hours at a time mist obscures all except near-by objects.
And the top - how can I describe it? You leave the ledge and scramble through a broad, rockey trench into a shallow basin of water-sculptured rock about a quarter of a mile long and 200 yards wide. There you find yourself rings around by castellated cliffs like miniature table-lands. They are called morros by the Brazilians...
The grandeur and majesty of the summit of the mountain, coupled with an unbroken silence and the enormous scale upon which the whole is executed, are appalling. One feels oppressed, dwarfed, almost as it one were a trespasser...
... the central part of Roraima appears a vast, barren plain. The haze drifting over the scene, the desolation and utter lack of comparative objects, cause one to lose all sense of proportion and distance. Except on the north, the almost featureless plain seems to reach away to infinity...