With anxious excitement we set off in a 4×4 to Paraitepui, the start of the hike to the summit of Mount Roraima. In our group were Mike, Jacopo, Ricky and Nora, plus our guide Omar and our porter Gabriel. Omar pointed us in the direction of the path and said he would meet us along the way when it was time for lunch. In the meantime he had to look for extra porters to carry our food up. It was a busy weekend being Semana Santa (Easter).
We set off energetically, chatting enthusiastically and admiring the fantastic views of Roraima in the distance. It looked very far away! The hikers we met walking in the opposite direction were friendly but mostly looked dead tired and about to collapse. It didn’t deter us or put us off though!
We’d been walking for a few hours and it was way past lunch time. We were starving and asked our porter who had caught up (and was only carrying our tents and cooking equipment – no food) where the others were but he didn’t know. We carried on and eventually reached the first camp where we dropped our bags and went for a swim and a wash in the nearby river. We were surprised to find a little shack selling beers and arepas which were most welcome! A couple of hours later our guide finally arrived and cooked us a delicious dinner of fried chicken, rice and salad. Before crashing out in our little tents we got to enjoy a canopy view of the night sky with millions of stars beaming brightly from horizon to horizon, it was stunning!
The next morning we were up bright and early and after breakfast of doughy empanadas with scrambled eggs, ham and veg, we set off before our guide who again said he would catch up with us. Whoever was in the lead managed to take a path that veered off to the left and after a while it became clear that we were going the wrong way. Not wanting to turn back we made a group decision to carry on and ended up spending the next hour or two wading through rivers, jumping from rock to rock and hacking through foliage up to the height of our shoulders!
Eventually we made it to the base camp, exhausted, and again really hungry! Our guide was relieved to see his wayward group and gave us a late lunch of tuna salad sandwiches and lots of orange squash. We hung out our wet shoes and socks to dry in the sunshine and headed down to the river to fill up our water bottles and take a bath. The water was freezing but very refreshing and it would probably be our last chance to wash for a while! That evening it poured down with rain and was getting rather chilly so we really appreciated being brought spaghetti bolognaise for dinner in our tent.
The next morning it was clear again and time for the final big climb, after some filling cheesy arepas for breakfast. Roraima was looming before us intimidatingly and the uphill stretches left us immediately breathless! It was a long and arduous hike, scramble and climb up the mountain but we were rewarded with unbelievable views, and the satisfying feeling that we’d made it! The ascent from base camp was over 800m and included forest, rivers, so many rocks and passing through a waterfall!
Now we were there we could enjoy the unique environment covering this mighty tabletop mountain which stands 2700m high on the borders of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. It covers an area of about 34 square km and is encircled by sheers cliffs of over 500m. The summit is a barren landscape of rocky labyrinths, swamps, streams, strange insects and carnivorous plants.. (to be continued)
For more photos click here
The whole trip including a guide and a porter for our tents and food costs 2900 Bolívares each
(Exchange rate: 20 Bolívares to 1 US $ on the black market)