The Lost World

11th November 2010

Entering Venezuela was relatively easy; we were given a friendly welcome at the border and a stranger on the bus gave (yes, gave!) us local currency to get into Santa Elena de Uairén [1] town in a taxi.  Not so friendly at the bus station however, an army person took us into a small room and thoroughly searched our packs and grilled us for an hour.  Santa Elena is a small safe town.  One black market money changer walks around with thousands of dollars hanging out of his back pocket.  When Jeff stopped at a shoe repair man sitting on the street to have his sandals fixed, the repair man loaned him a pair of someone else´s shoes (which were in for repair) to use whilst his sandals were being fixed – perfect fit too.


New Frontiers Adventures organised a 6 day trek for us to Mount Roraima [2] the highest of a number of massive sandstone table top mountains (tepuis) rising steeply some 2800 metres out of the surrounding Gran Sabana (Great Savannah) in south eastern Venezuela.  At the top unique flora and fauna have evolved due to millions of years isolated from the world below, including a tiny black frog that curls itself into a ball and rolls away.  Roraima was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle´s book ¨The Lost World¨.


Our guide and great cook, Mireille, came to Venezuela from France 20 years ago and stayed.  With two porters Alistro and David, we set off taking 2 days and crossings 2 rivers to reach base camp at 1800 meters.  We climbed steeply through lush forest, still dripping water from rain the previous night, then followed the sheer rock wall, passing under a waterfall (Paso de Lagrinas) to the top, about 2600 meters.  A truly different world awaited us, not as flat as it looks from below.  Nature has sculpted the rocks into strange shapes, many unusual plants grow tightly together in water filled rock hollows and shiny white crystals lie scattered about.  We camped under a huge rock overhang (Hotel San Francisco) for 2 nights, allowing us time to explore.  To keep the place pristine, all the human waste has to be carried down – lucky guides.  Then at the bottom, park rangers check the packs for stolen crystals.


Palm trees of the Savannah

The path towards Roraima (right)

David with traditional basket uses his bike on the flat bits

Monjon de suegra (mother in law´s turd)

Lizard on a rock

Isolated church used only at New Years

One of the rivers to cross to get to Roraima

Traditional indigenous hut

One of the many waterfalls - 2nd highest in Venezuela

Base camp

The path gets steeper

Vertical rock wall

The Ramp is not as easy as it looks

Made it to the top!

One of many strange looking plants on the tepui

The jacuzzi

Rock family reflected in a pool

One of the strange rock formations

Beetle looking for food in the carnivorous plant

Crystal valley


Clouds rolling in

Different plants grow close together

Plants of the tepui

Surface of the rock looks like footprints

Fidel Castro

Hotel San Francisco

Mireille cooking with Alistro and David looking on

Prehistoric plants


Rock formation

Coloured lichens

Tiny black frog only found here

Large carnivorous plant



Mireille points out the savannah below