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Find out more about the ascent of these two amazing mountains


The south-east face of Roraima showing ledge of ascent. From a drawing by Henry Whitely

The trip usually takes six days. This allows for two nights on the summit, though weather conditions are very variable and often don't allow you to even stay a night.

A typical trip looks like this -- (numbers) refer to the ones on the map:

Day 1: Leave Santa Elena for San Francisco de Yuruani. Arrive Paray Tepuy. Trek to either Rio Tek (1), Rio Kukenan (5), or Military Camp (6) (5-7 hours).
Day 2: Trek from Kukenan (or MC) to Base Camp (7) (3-4 hours). Base Camp to Hotel area (8 + 9) (5 hours).
Day 3: Exploring -- could be to Triple Point (10) (8 hours round trip) or the Abismo (5 hours).
Day 4: Rest or more exploring.
Day 5: From top to Kukenan or Tek Rivers.
Day 6: From Kukenan or Tek to Paray Tepuy (4-5 hours). From there to SF, and on to Santa Elena.

Most tour operators in Venezuela, and particularly in Ciudad Bolívar and Santa Elena offer trips to Roraima from upwards of $25 a day per person (excluding food, but including equipment). You can also arrange an ascent directly with a Pemon from San Francisco de Yuruani, or from the village of Paray Tepuy.

For prices and more details of treks to Roraima, contact Lost World Adventures or Natoura Adventure Tours below.

All trips have to take a Pemon guide for safety reasons. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to climb the tepuy without a Pemon. First of all, it's illegal, and second of all, highly irresponsible. Other people will have to risk their lives to save you. Climactic conditions on the surface are such that it is easy to get lost in fog in the moonscape within minutes. A 10 year-old boy died on Kukenan in 1997 after he and friends had climbed the mountain without a guide. His body was never recovered. Respect the advice of guides at all times, and if anything, bare in mind that this is the home of the mawariton, the evil spirits of the Pemon's world.

Ascending Roraima along the cliff edge -- photo: Kyle Sterry

Climbing RoraimaThe climb to the top from base camp (see map) takes about five hours, and is essentially a scramble up the cliff edge. It shouldn't be attempted by people who aren't pretty fit. Ankle-protecting walking boots are recommended. Waterproof everything you can since it often rains, and you have to cross under one waterfall! If you do not come with a tour group, you will need gas cookers, sleeping bags, tents and provisions. Stock up before you come with things like chocolate bars and peanuts. Avoid bringing tins of food if possible. Bring everything you take up, back. See Advice section.

If you're not going with a tour from Santa Elena or elsewhere, you can get dropped off the bus at San Francisco de Yuruani on the highway. From there it's a day's hot and hard schlep up the road to the hamlet of Paray Tepuy (not worth it!). There are nearly always people going up the road, for a fee (about $100 for a jeep). You can hire a guide in San Francisco or Paray Tepuy (ask for the Capitan who will allocate you one in the latter). You can pitch a tent in the village, and there's a basic posada in San Francisco. When you arrive in Paray Tepuy, you will be met by the local Inparques warden who will ask you to sign the visitors' book, and write down what you're taking. People from Roraima Tours are the only Pemon-run operators in the region and have a good reputation. Julio Lambos, in San Francisco, is an excellent guide -- despite his 61 years... He's probably done the trip more times than anyone else, and was part of the British expedition that climbed Kukenan in 1963 (see exploration).

Kukenan is a much harder climb than Roraima, requiring ropes and some nasty ledges. You can ask around for people to take you, though most of them will try to discourage you. It's worth the effort however, since Kukenan is arguably far more impressive, and far less damaged, than Roraima. You should bear in mind it's also supposed to be the more 'negative' of the two tepuis.

Unfortunately, the impact of tourists on the mountain's environment over the last decade has been dramatic. In a clean-up operation in 1999, 360 kilos of rubbish (trash) were brought down from the trek route and summit. People have also irreparably altered its micro-climate by burning wood, leaving faeces and bringing spores from the base to the top. You should be extremely aware of the impact you have when visiting this magical and unique place. Even consider NOT climbing Roraima for these reasons. The mountain could feasibly be closed to visitors in the future, though its loss as a tourist attraction might well preclude this. Please see the Contacts section for environmental organisations.


All of the material on this site is  © Dominic Hamilton1998-2007, unless otherwise stated. Unauthorised copying or downloading prohibited.
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