Wednesday 17 June 2009

The Lost World revisited

Recently I've been researching Venezuela's Lost World again after a long break. Perhaps this prompted me to start a blog. I can't believe I climbed Mount Roraima, though it was fourteen years ago and I got up there by sheer willpower. I just had to stand on top of one of those 'islands in the sky' because I'd dreamt I had, just as I had dreamt of being at the foot of Angel Falls. The physical sensation in my dream was so strong.

The 'Lost World', immortalised by Conan Doyle (I love the film because they show footage of Mt Roraima in it), is in South East Venezuela in the Amazonas area of the Guiana Highlands. Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, is situated in the largest 'tepui' (Pemon for table mountain) Auyan Tepuy, and plunges one kilometre down a sheer rosy red cliff into Devil's Canyon. Roraima is further south, on the border of Guyana and Brazil. The way up is via the 'ramp' on the other side of the plateau, which looked do-able in the photos but wasn't really, not for me. I'm not fit and I wasn't young then, and the group I joined to do it were all younger and huge. What had I let myself in for? The trek to base camp alone took three days up and down foothills of the Gran Sabana and across fastflowing steep rivers, but I did spot a giant anteater on the way and at night there were fireflies, electric storms, frog choruses from the ditches around the tents we had to hurriedly erect in swamp.

The plateau was as otherworldly as I anticipated but I hadn't expected to be too knackered to appreciate it. I forced myself to dangle my legs over the edge as I had in my dream and tried to focus on the experience. The view was immense – a line of tepuyes on the horizon. The first thing we all noticed was the quiet...

Well, this is an experiment and I'll end this blog here for now as I still haven't got the hang of it all.