In Venezuela you can find these crazy table-top mountains called tepuis. I have just climbed one called Roraima. To help put these mountains into perspective, I have consulted my friend The Internet to find a good aerial picture to supplement my own (I find this one at http://www.webbusca.com.br/atlas/fotos/roraima3.jpg ):
Honestly, how badass is that? We don´t have these where I come from. It looks impossible to summit without some very serious rock-climbing skills. But, if you can believe it, Mother Nature built a way up; a backdoor, if you will. On the other side, there is a single, perfect ramp from valley floor to the top, which you can climb. A few other travellers and I hired a guide to show us the way.
What´s it like on top? Very, very strange. It is a world of weird rock formations, stream, standing water, caves, and carniverous plants (they catch and eat insects!) that don´t exist anywhere else on the planet — they are endemic to the top of that mountain!
After you have been up here, it is not surprising to find out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a book called “The Lost World” based on this place. It truly is another world. We camped out under the large rock.
Unfortunately, the weather didn´t hold for me to get some clear pictures of the edge of the mountain. But, even in the fog I got a feeling of the grandeur.
It´s the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fine.
Day 2 of the 6-day trek to the summit of table-topped Roraima. My friend Eriko (Japan) shows me the way.
Trekkers and tepuis
Good story: After summiting, our group returned to the town of Santa Elena for a little celebrating. Now, we got back from the trek on a Sunday; Mother´s Day, in fact. As it turns out, Mother´s Day is a huge party day here! The dance club was full of people, many mothers, with their kids running around everywhere! Back home, you cook for your mother on her special day. Here, you all go to the dance club and get wasted. Go figure.
Anyway, much dancing and drinking ensued. I was beat, so after a while, I decided to do something I am not proud of, and which I don´t normally do: I went home early. As it turns out, after I left, there was a Mother´s Beer Chugging Contest. The mothers all get up on stage and slam beers in a cutthroat competition. I am currently working very hard to get my hands on the video my friend took of this event. After that, apparently there was a cockfighting ring next door that staged fights into the whee hours.
Again, all of this chaos I missed. See what happens when you go home early?? Let this be a lesson to all you kids out there. Don´t leave the party until they kick you out. (Sigh, a man of my experience should know better.)
All of this happened on my first stop in Venezuela. A great start indeed! It got better. I have now seen the highest waterfall on the planet:
The water of Angel Falls tumbles almost a kilometre… holy shit…
This is it, my friends. Angel Falls. For 979m (3,212 feet for my imperial friends), gravity has its way with the water that falls off this tepui. Awesome. At the bottom, the water is just a mist that falls in super-slowmotion, then disperses to the sides. It falls so slowly it looks fake. Like somebody is playing a trick on you.
I like how it is a bit of mission to see Angel Falls. It is quite remote. You can´t just drive your car up to the base of it. No, sir. First, you need to take a 1-hour flight in a 6-seater Cessna airplane. Then a 4-hour boat journey upriver, through rapids, into the valley of a huge tepui. Lastly, a 1-hour walk through the jungle. Only then do your eyes get to enjoy the above view. I went there with a few other long-term travellers — we have seen a few things in our day, and we all thought it was spectacular. It was unanimous. Definitely worth of one more pic:
The view of Angel Falls from our campsite
Hey, I know what would really make your day. Another “How To” video on The Unique Art of World Travel. I like you, so it is a pleasure to provide:
Imagine this. You are cruising down some jungle river in a boat. Perhaps you are on your way to the highest waterfalls on the planet. Then you feel and hear the thunk of the propeller of your motor smashing against some rocks. It has been beant out of shape! Oh no! Unless you have a spare, you are screwed… or unless you know how to fix that prop… Watch on…
So, there is a little taste of Venezuela for you: table-top mountains, the world’s highest waterfall, mother’s beer-chugging contests, and cockfights.
Call your travel agent today.