One of the great treks of South America is to the summit of Mount Roraima (2,810m). It ranks right up there with Machu Picchu in Peru and Torres del Paine in Argentina as one of the essential destinations on this continent. Roraima is the most famous of all the tepuys in Guayana, and for a good reason. Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, ‘The Lost World’ was based on the accounts of Everard Im Thurn, who was the first explorer ever to climb to the summit of Roraima, in 1884. On his return, he gave a series of lectures, which inspired Conan Doyle to write of a strange and mysterious land lost in time and inhabited by prehistoric creatures.
The nearest village to the mountain is starting point for the ascent of Roraima is the village of Paraitepui. From there to base camp is a 10-hour walk across rolling hills and numerous clear streams. The footpath now climbs steadily upwards through the cloud forest at the mountain’s base and becomes an arduous scramble over tree trunks and damp rocks until the cliff is reached. From here it is possible to ascend to the plateau along the ‘easy’ rock ledge which is the only route to the top.
Walkers in good health should take about four hours from the meadow to the top. The summit is an eerie world of stone and water, difficult to move around easily. There are not many good spots to camp; but there are various overhanging ledges which are colourfully known as ‘hoteles’ by the guides. Red painted arrows lead the way to the right after reaching the summit for the main group of these. A marked track leads to the survey pillar near the east cliff where Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela meet; allow a day as the track is very rough.