In the northern border of Brazil there is a mysterious mountain where you only reach by foot or helicopter. It was 90 km hiking in six days with no comfort and totally integrated in nature.
Day 1 – Plateau ahoy!
It was night when we left Boa Vista, 225 km in a van to the borders of Venezuela, in Santa Elena de Uiarén. There we spent a few hours waiting in line in the customs, a moment to get to know each other. We were seven adventurers: the guide, a local couple and four independent travelers. I could feel the group would be great.
We still had 88 km till Paraitepuy, the entrance of Canaima National Park, and we started to distance ourselves from comfort. We moved to a jeep, drove on dirt roads with much erosion and stretches where only one vehicle could go through.
I could not sleep, so I started paying attention to the view; I saw streams between hills and soon Gran Savana showed ground vegetation and shades of yellowish-green. Suddenly, the huge plateau arises and the guides Francisco and Leo (who stayed with us for a few hours) whet our appetite by telling stories. They show us Maverick, the highest peak; seen from the road, the rock has the shape of the car and is 2810 m high.
In the beginning of the afternoon the trail finally starts. I gave the carrier 10 kg of the 15 kg I had, put on sunscreen, grabbed the walking stick and went on the Venezuelan savannahs. In Paraitepuy two Pemon Indians from the local community join our group with food, camping equipment and the backpacks of the people who chose to pay for the service, like me.
On the way we saw some tepuis, but only Kukenán appeared entirely; Roraima and the others, which belong to Guiana, had the summit covered with clouds. Although Kukenán looked more imposing at that angle, Mount Roraima is the largest one and showed itself little by little. Until the end of the day it was completely hidden behind the clouds. However, minutes before sunset, it regaled us with shades of red and pink.
When it got completely dark, I realized I was enjoying the view so quietly that I had not arrived at camping Tek as scheduled, so I had to hurry up thinking about the river. The later I arrived, the colder the bath would be.
I could not see the camp site well in the dark, but it was modest – there was not even a place to change clothes. We improvised something with the raincoat and gathered up the courage to get into the river seeing only figures among the flashlights; it was slippery and there was flow, luckily I was not the only one. Many were late and throwing a fit because of the cold. It was worthwhile, though; it activated our circulation, relaxed the muscles and gave us energy. Returning to the camp site, the tent was all set and dinner was served.
A while before going to sleep the night cleared up, it was the moon displaying its silhouette behind Mount Roraima. Wow! I thought: if the next days keep impressing me, this trip will live up to my expectations. To wrap things up, when I was going to bed I looked up and Kukenán was amazing, the clouds lit by the moon looked like a sea wave breaking on it.
Venezuela visa: You get your visa to Venezuela at the customs in Santa Elena de Uiarén; you can use your passport as document. On high season you waste sometime in line and they do not even bother offering a little comfort.
To start the trail you have to be in Canaima National Park until 1 pm. Take the time to buy a local map with the guards.
Tepui is a flat-topped mountain.
This tepui is a rock formation dating back 2 billion years. Older than the Himalayas, the Alps and the Andes.
Follow the day-to-day of this expedition on the next posts:
Good night! More next week… Maybe you can read in portuguese the posts above.
More pictures from the first day:
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Translated by Lúcia Maciel