HOW TO GET THERE
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
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
The 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.
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.