The table mountains, known as tepuis, in the Gran Sabana of south-eastern Venezuela are a remarkable natural phenomenon that provide one of the great trekking challenges in South America. Mount Roraima is the highest of the tepuis at 2,835 metres, located close to the triple frontier with Brazil and Guyana. It was first climbed by British explorers Everard Thum and Harry Perkins in 1884, whose description of the mountain inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his classic novel 'The Lost World'. Most of the plant life here is endemic to the region, evolving in complete isolation for millennia, though no dinosaurs have yet been found. The standard Roraima trek takes 6 days from Santa Elena, starting with a 2 day hike to the base camp from the Pemon Indian settlement of Peraitepui where porters and guides can be hired. The hike to base camp involves fording two rivers but is rewarded with beautiful views of Roraima and Kukenan Tepui, the adjacent table mountain, from which falls the world's second highest waterfall in the rainy season. The strenuous ascent though rainforest to the cliff edge and then up along a natural ramp, takes 3-5 hours. The summit is a bizarre world of black moss-covered pillars, strange rock formations, ravines, quartz crystals and the unique flora, a truly memorable experience. Most groups spend two nights camping on top of Roraima and when the clouds clear, there are stunning views of the Gran Sabana, Kukenan and the northern section of Roraima.
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