Adventure Destination: Roraima

Here’s a tip for an out of the way adventure travel destination that isn’t on the radar for many travelers yet, and remains a remote escape for those looking to get away from the tourist crowds.

There is a region in the Amazon Basin known as Roraima that sits where Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana come together. The area is dominated by rainforest, as you might expect, but there is a small patch of savannah as well. But the most awe inspiring aspect of the landscape is the towering tepuis, or flat topped mountains, that rise up from the jungle and dominate the horizon.

Roraima is incredibly remote. So much so that it was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book The Lost World in which dinosaurs are found roaming the jungle. It is a tropical destination with a warm, wet climate, at least at the lower altitudes. When you scale the tepuis, the altitude changes the climate dramatically, bring gusting winds, cooler tempertures and thick clouds.
The highest of those table-top mountains is Mount Roriama, which reaches 9,219 feet in height, and is generally the destination of choice for trekkers and backpackers to the region. The steep walls seem daunting when viewed from a distance, but there is a natural ramp carved into the side of the rock that makes for a non-technical, but physically demanding hike to the top.

And when you reach the top, you’ll find an eerie lanscape carved by the constant winds and often wrapped in thick clouds. The experience is made all the more unique by the fact that the mountain is large and flat, and unlike most other mountains on Earth. In fact, the tepuis in the Roraima area are considered to be amongst the oldest geological structures on the planet, and seem oddly out of place in the jungle setting.

Treks through Roraima can be organized in any of the three bordering countries, but it is most easy to get access in Venezuela. The hike, which includes a trip to the summit of Mount Roriama, generally takes about four to five days, and will lead the adventurous traveler through remote and relatively untouched areas.

A giant rat in front of your tent

So I’ve been following the discoveries coming out of New Guinea’s so-called “Lost World,” a patch of mountainous jungle in the Mamberamo Basin. It was only explored for the first time in 2005, when dozens of new plants and species were discovered. This time around, the research expedition–organized by Conservation International–found an almost 3 pound Mallomys giant rat five times the size of a regular rat. They’ve also found a pygmy possum, one of the smallest marsupials to date.

How’s this for an adventure story? Here’s how they found the rat, “With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip,” said one scientist with the Smithsonian. Apparently it also didn’t make that much of a ruckus when held (see picture). This region is definitely on the very top of my to-visit places. Here’s a salivating slideshow.