Island in Time.
The news fired the imagination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of Sherlock Holmes), and the explorers’ report inspired him to write "The Lost World", a novel in which dinosaurs are still living on an isolated plateau in the Amazon Basin.
"Nests of pterodactyls, hordes of iguanodons, swarms of plesiosaurs still roaming the earth in the twentieth century? Professor Challenger says yes and to prove it he leads an expedition into the deepest jungles of South America. Together, the men - a young journalist, an adventurer, and an aristocrat - along with their bearers and guides, search for the rumored country and encounter savagery, hardship and betrayal on the way. But things only get worst as they get closer to the hidden world they seek. Trapped on an isolated plateau, menaced by hungry carnosaurs, it begins to look as though the expedition may never return from...
The Lost World"
Since then numerous versions have been edited and filmed. Here the original movie from the novel.
Tepui means "mountain" in the local Indian language; we use that word to call these enormous mountains that soar like fortresses above the surrounding savanna and tropical forest in Southeastern Venezuela.
There are about a hundred of these tepuis, scattered across the States of Bolivar and Amazonas. Only a few are accessible, some are still unexplored. They are protected as National Monuments under the Venezuelan Law.
They are the remnants of the sandstone deposits that were deposited underwater 1.8 billion years ago, when South America and Africa were still linked as part of the supercontinent Gondwana. 200 million years ago, warping of the continental plates created fissures and fractures in the sandstone plateau, then erosion for millions of years created the present day appearance of the tepuis.
Mount Roraima is the highest of all, at 2710 meters (9,094 feet). Its Indian name is Roroima-tepuy which means "the Great Bluish". It is also called the Mother of all Waters, as it is in effect: the Kamaiwa River is an affluent of the Orinoco in Venezuela, the Cotingo an affluent of the Amazon in Brazil and the Kako an affluent of the Esequibo in Guyana.
What a better description of the top of Mount Roraima than the description of Uwe George, a National Geographic journalist (May 1989 issue): What I can distinguish of the landscape in the last daylight seems to have come out of a nightmare. Boulders and pinnacles in every size and form are piled one on top of the other. Stormy winds whip ice-cold rain in our faces. (...) There is not one square yard of flat surface. What is not naked, slippery rock is bottomless morass. (...) It is easy to imagine the pinnacles and towers of rock around us as the ruins of temples from strange, long-ago cultures. My mind conjures up colossal Egyptian statues, Greek deities, Siamese pagodas, Roman gods, dwarf elephants, and giant camels - all grown stiff for eternity.?
As a result of such inhospitable conditions, only a few living species have adapted to that environment, as this little frog (Oreophrynella), endemic of Mount Roraima, that rolls instead of jumping... Other curious species, also endemic to the top of the tepuys are the Stegolepis whose base is enveloped in a gelatinous substance that we ignore the purpose, and the heliamphora, a carnivorous plant.
See a review of the trek by NY Times' Dana Kennedy in August 1st, 2004 issue.
The first descriptions that we encounter about Auyantepuy are from the Catalan explorer Felix Cardona Puig, who in May 1927, was the first European to see what we know today as Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. He was the first to ascend that tepuy and describe its surface.
Contrary to the tepuis of the Eastern Range (Roraima, Matawi, Ilu, etc.) which have a rocky, barren surface, Auyantepuy is divided by cliffs, rivers, cracks and crevices. It is the largest tepuy of Bolivar State with an area of 700 square kilometers and a height of 2,450 meters (8,000 feet).
Akopan is part of the Chimanta massif, which covers approximately 1470 km2, and is comprised of many tepuis: Churi, Akopan, Amuri, Agparamán, Toronó, Chimanta, Abakapá, Apakará, Eruoda and Tirepón-tepuy. Heights vary between 1700 m for Abakapa-tepuy up to 2700 m for Eruoda-tepuy. The area was first explored in 1936 and Akopan was ascended the first time by Felix Cardona Puig en 1946.
On all tepuis, the botanist enthusiast will enjoy observing the Brocchinia Tatei hidden in a crack and the Orectante Sceptrum, strangely as it looks, it is from the grass family (Xyridaceae); on this picture seen on a bed of Drosera, a carnivorous plant, and a few flowers of Paepalanthus minutus; and on that other one the Orectante is with another species of Stegolepis, Stegolepis Ligulata. On a picture with more definition, you could also observe a few yellow orquids. All these pictures are a courtesy of Claes Grundsten, renowed Swedish Nature photographer, who traveled on Mount Roraima earlier this year. Atop Akopan, endemic species are the Chimantaeas
One great news: there are no mosquitoes on top of Mount Roraima...
The Government of Venezuela created the Canaima National Park to protect the fragile environment of the savanna and the top of the tepuis. However the impact of more and more hikers (about three thousands yearly discovering Mount Roraima) is serious on the environment.
Please follow the rules of Inparques, like not venturing on tepuis without a local guide and a minimum of one porter, not bringing back rock crystals, plant or animal life, bringing back all your garbage (and the one you may find on the way), not creating new trails and camping sites, and doing your basic necessities as instructed by your tour leader.
The ascent of all tepuys is a physical activity which requires a minimum of fitness. Although Roraima is accessible to anybody with the will to do it, Auyantepuy is a lot more strenuous and should be reserved to experienced hikers. Although no technical rock climbing skills are required, ropes are needed to climb over a few boulders and crevices.