Mount Roraima

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Mount Roraima
Por do sol tepuis roraima e kukenan.jpg
Mount Roraima (right) and Kukenán-tepui (left) at Sunset
Highest point
Elevation 2,810 m (9,220 ft) [1]
Prominence 2,338 m (7,671 ft) [1]
Listing Country high point
Ultra prominent peak
Coordinates 5°08′36″N60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250 Coordinates: 5°08′36″N60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250
South America laea relief location map.jpg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Mount Roraima
Location of Mount Roraima in South America (on border between Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela)
Location Venezuela/Brazil/Guyana
CountryFlag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana
Parent range Guiana Highlands
Mountain type Plateau
First ascent 1884, led by Sir Everard im Thurn and accompanied by Harry Inniss Perkins and several Guyanese natives [2] [3] :497
Easiest route Hike

Mount Roraima (Spanish : Monte Roraima; Tepuy Roraima Portuguese : Monte Roraima [ˈmõtʃi ʁoˈɾajmɐ] , and Cerro Roraima;) is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepuis (table-top mountain) or plateaux in South America. [4] :156 The name of the Mountain Roraima came from the native Pemon people. Roroi in the Pemon language means "blue-green", and ma means "great". [5]


Mount Roraima serves as the tripoint of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil; 5% the plateau part of its mountain plateau lies in Brazil, 10% in Guyana, with rest 85% in Venezuela. [4] :156 It lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela's 30,000-square-kilometre (12,000-square-mile) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana's Highland Range. Another major tepui in the national park, Kukenán-tepui, is right next to Mount Roraima. The Brazil part of mountain froms the Monte Roraima National Park of Brazil.

First described to Europeans by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh during his 1595 expedition, Mount Roraima is famous for its table-top shape, with the flat plateau - bounded on all sides by massive cliffs rising over 400 metres (1,300 ft) - that often stays high above the fogs and clouds.

Mount Roraima also hosts a couple of waterfalls, usually referred to as Roraima Falls, which leaps off the tepui in four tiered leaps; the height of the waterfall is estimated at approximately 2,000 feet (610 m).

Native Culture

Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon and Kapon natives of the Gran Sabana see Mount Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by Makunaima, their mythical trickster, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. [6]

In Brazil the Monte Roraima National Park lies within the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Territory, and is not open to the public without permission. [7]

Flora and fauna

Utricularia campbelliana from Mount Roraima Utricularia campbelliana.JPG
Utricularia campbelliana from Mount Roraima

Many of the species found on Roraima are unique to the tepui plateaus with two local endemic plants found on Roraima summit. Plants such as pitcher plants ( Heliamphora ), Campanula (a bellflower), and the rare Rapatea heather are commonly found on the escarpment and summit. [4] :156–157 It rains almost every day of the year. Almost the entire surface of the summit is bare sandstone, with only a few bushes ( Bonnetia roraimae ) and algae present. [3] :517 [8] :464 [9] :63 Low scanty and bristling vegetation is also found in the small, sandy marshes that intersperse the rocky summit. [3] :517 Most of the nutrients that are present in the soil are washed away by torrents that cascade over the edge, forming some of the highest waterfalls in the world.[ citation needed ]

There are multiple examples of unique fauna atop Mount Roraima. Oreophrynella quelchii , commonly called the Roraima Bush Toad, is a diurnal toad usually found on open rock surfaces and shrubland. It is a species of toad in the family Bufonidae and breeds by direct development. [10] The species is currently listed as vulnerable and there is a need for increased education among tourists to make them aware of the importance of not handling these animals in the wild. Close population monitoring is also required, particularly since this species is known only from a single location. The species is protected in Monumento Natural Los Tepuyes in Venezuela, and Parque National Monte Roraima in Brazil. [11]


Annotated satellite map of Mount Roraima, showing its flat top and the ascents to the plateau. Roraima satellite 11 mars 2004 map-fr.svg
Annotated satellite map of Mount Roraima, showing its flat top and the ascents to the plateau.

Although the steep sides of the plateau make it difficult to access, it was the first recorded major tepui to be climbed: Sir Everard im Thurn walked up a forested ramp on 18 December 1884 to scale the plateau, the route also used by the Clementis in their climb of 15 January 1916. [12] :463 It is currently one of the most important mountain trekking routes in Venezuela, visited by people from many places in the world.[ citation needed ]

The only non-technical route to the top is the Paraitepui route from Venezuela; any other approach will involve climbing gear. Mount Roraima has been climbed on a few occasions from the Guyana and Brazil sides, but as the mountain is entirely bordered on both these sides by enormous sheer cliffs that include high overhanging (negative-inclination) stretches, these are extremely difficult and technical rock climbing routes. Such climbs would also require difficult authorizations for entering restricted-access national parks in the respective countries.[ citation needed ]

The ascent of the northern 'Prow' by British climbers Mo Anthoine, Joe Brown, Hamish MacInnes, and Don Whillans in 1973 was filmed for a TV documentary, [13] and recorded in a book by MacInnes [14]

The 2013 Austrian documentary Jäger des Augenblicks - Ein Abenteuer am Mount Roraima (Moment Hunters - An Adventure on Mount Roraima) shows rock climbers Kurt Albert, Holger Heuber, and Stefan Glowacz climbing to the top of Mount Roraima from the Guyana side. Similarly, in 2010 Brazilian climbers Eliseu Frechou, Fernando Leal and Márcio Bruno opened a new route on the Guyanese side, climbing to the top in 12 days of a very difficult vertical wall climb. [15] They called the new route Guerra de Luz e Trevas (Portuguese for "War of Light and Darkness") and classed it as 6° VIIa A3 J4. A 28-minute Vimeo video called Dias de Tempestade (Days of Storm) is available documenting their climb (English subtitles, audio in Portuguese).[ citation needed ]

The setting for the novel The Lost World (1912) by Arthur Conan Doyle is believed to have been inspired by reports of Doyle's good friend Percy Harrison Fawcett's expedition to the Huanchaca Plateau in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia. [16] However, a 1996 Science Fiction Studies review of an annotated edition of the novel suggested that another inspiration for the story may have been the 1890s contested political history of the Pacaraima Mountains plateaux, and Mount Roraima in particular. [17]

Both Mount Roraima and the nearby Kukenán-tepui have inspired the pleteau that hosts the Paradise Falls from the Pixar film Up . [18] [19]

Mount Roraima also featured as a natural wonder in two 4X strategy games, Sid Meier's Civilization VI and Humankind .

Related Research Articles

Guiana Shield Precambrian geological formation in northeast South America, and one of three cratons of the South American Plate

The Guiana Shield is one of the three cratons of the South American Plate. It is a 1.7 billion-year-old Precambrian geological formation in northeast South America that forms a portion of the northern coast. The higher elevations on the shield are called the Guiana Highlands, which is where the table-like mountains called tepuis are found. The Guiana Highlands are also the source of some of the world's most well-known waterfalls such as Angel Falls, Kaieteur Falls and Kuquenan Falls.

Tepui A table-top mountain or mesa in the Guiana Highlands of South America

A tepui, or tepuy, is a table-top mountain or mesa found in the Guiana Highlands of South America, especially in Venezuela and western Guyana. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the indigenous people who inhabit the Gran Sabana.

Auyán-tepui Tepui in Venezuela

Auyán Tepui, also spelled Ayan, is a tepui in Bolívar state, Venezuela. It is the most visited and one of the largest tepuis in the Guiana Highlands, with a summit area of 666.9 km2 (257.5 sq mi) and an estimated slope area of 715 km2 (276 sq mi). The unevenly heart-shaped summit plateau of Auyán-tepui is heavily inclined, rising from around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) in the northwest to a maximum of 2,450 m (8,040 ft) in the southeast. It is incised from the north by a vast valley, the Cañón del Diablo, formed by the Churún River. The larger western portion of the plateau is partially forested, whereas the eastern part comprises mostly bare rock with only patchy vegetation cover. The mountain hosts a number of extensive cave systems.

Mesa Elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs

A mesa is an isolated, flat-topped elevation, ridge or hill, which is bounded from all sides by steep escarpments and stands distinctly above a surrounding plain. Mesas characteristically consist of flat-lying soft sedimentary rocks capped by a more resistant layer or layers of harder rock, e.g. shales overlain by sandstones. The resistant layer acts as a caprock that forms the flat summit of a mesa. The caprock can consist of either sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone; dissected lava flows; or a deeply eroded duricrust. Unlike plateau, whose usage does not imply horizontal layers of bedrock, e.g. Tibetan Plateau, the term mesa applies exclusively to the landforms built of flat-lying strata. Instead, flat-topped plateaus are specifically known as tablelands.

Pemon indigenous people living in areas of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana

The Pemon or Pemón (Pemong) are indigenous people living in areas of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. They are also known as Arecuna, Aricuna Jaricuna, Kamarakoto, and Taurepang.

Sir Everard Ferdinand im Thurn was an author, explorer, botanist, photographer and British colonial administrator. He was Governor of Fiji in the years 1904–1910.

Canaima National Park

Canaima National Park is a 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi) park in south-eastern Venezuela that roughly occupies the same area as the Gran Sabana region. It is located in Bolívar State, reaching the borders with Brazil and Guyana.

La Gran Sabana is a region in southeastern Venezuela, part of the Guianan savanna ecoregion.

Pacaraima Mountains

The Pacaraima or Pakaraima Mountains are a mountain range primarily in southwestern Guyana, and into northern Brazil and eastern Venezuela.

Guayana Region, Venezuela Administrative region of eastern Venezuela

The Guayana Region is an administrative region of eastern Venezuela.

Cerro Sarisariñama is a tepui, a flat-topped mountain in Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park at the far south-west of Bolívar State, Venezuela, near the border with Brazil. Its altitude range is between 300 m (980 ft) and 2,350 m (7,710 ft). The name of the mountain originates from the tale of local Ye'kuana Indians about an evil spirit living in caves up in the mountain and devouring human flesh with a sound "Sari... sari...".

Distribution of <i>Heliamphora</i>

The natural range of the carnivorous plant genus Heliamphora is restricted to the southern Venezuelan states of Amazonas and Bolívar, and to adjacent portions of northern Brazil and western Guyana, an area corresponding to the western part of the Guayana Shield. These plants are largely confined to the summits and foothills of the sandstone table-top mountains of the region, known as tepuis.

Chimantá Massif

The Chimantá Massif is a highly fragmented complex of tepuis in Bolívar state, Venezuela. The massif comprises around 11 tepuis and has a total summit area of 615 km2 (237 sq mi) and an estimated slope area of 915 km2 (353 sq mi). It is divided in two by the Río Tírica, with the northern section being both larger and higher. The massif is notable for its high species richness and for its varied habitat types. It reaches an elevation of 2,698 metres (8,852 ft) on its highest peak, Murey-tepui. The massif is situated entirely within the bounds of Canaima National Park. It hosts extensive cave systems, including the world's largest known quartzite cave, Cueva Charles Brewer, named after discoverer Charles Brewer-Carías. The processes behind their speleogenesis are the subject of some debate.

Eastern Tepuis

The Eastern Tepuis, also known as the Roraima–Ilú range, is a mountain chain stretching for some 60 kilometres (37 mi) along the border between the disputed territory of Guayana Esequiba in Guyana, Venezuela and, to a small extent, Brazil. It runs in a northwesterly direction from the tripoint of these countries, closely following the Guyana–Venezuela border, with a single major peak (Uei-tepui) to the south, on the Brazil–Venezuela border. Moving northwest from Uei-tepui (2,150 m), the main summits of this chain are Roraima-tepui (2,810 m), Kukenán-tepui (2,650 m), Yuruaní-tepui (2,400 m), Wadakapiapué-tepui (2,000 m), Karaurín-tepui (2,500 ), Ilú-tepui (2,700 m), and Tramen-tepui. The minor peak of Wei-Assipu-tepui lies entirely outside Venezuela, on the border between Brazil and Guyana. Additionally, there are a number of minor plateaus which form a chain between Uei-tepui and Roraima-tepui. Ilú- and Tramen-tepuis are often treated together since they are joined by a common base.


Yuruaní-tepui, also known by the Pemón name Iwalkarima, Iwalecalima or Iwarkárima, is a tepui of the Eastern Tepuis chain primarily situated in Venezuela, while part of the eastern ridge stretches into the disputed Guayana Esequiba territory in Guyana. It has an elevation of around 2,400 metres (7,900 ft), the high plateau being located entirely within Venezuela, and a summit area of 4.38 km2 (1.69 sq mi). It lies just east of the much smaller Wadakapiapué-tepui. This Tepui is not located in the Canaima National Park unlike most other Tepuis in the area.


Ptari-tepui, also spelled Pu-tari and sometimes called Cerro Budare or Cerro del Budare, is a tepui in Bolívar state, Venezuela. Lying near the centre of the Sierra de Lema, it has a maximum elevation of around 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) above sea level. Its mostly bare summit plateau has an area of 1.25 km2 (0.48 sq mi). Though generally flat, distinctive erosional rock formations are found on the more dissected eastern edge of the summit.

Ilú–Tramen Massif

The Ilú–Tramen Massif is a tepui massif in Bolívar state, Venezuela. It is the northernmost member of the Eastern Tepuis chain and comprises two major plateaus: the larger Ilú-tepui to the south and Tramen-tepui to the north. With a maximum elevation of around 2,700 metres (8,900 ft), Ilú-tepui is the taller of the two peaks. Both tepuis have open, rocky summit plateaus, with a combined summit area of 5.63 km2 (2.17 sq mi). They lie just north of Karaurín-tepui.


Wei-Assipu-tepui, also known as Little Roraima or Roraimita, is a minor tepui of the Eastern Tepuis chain. It lies just off the northeastern flank of Roraima-tepui, directly on the border between Brazil and the disputed Guayana Esequiba territory, claimed by Venezuela but controlled by Guyana, and very close to the tripoint of all three countries. The mountain is known for its extensive cave systems, with one extending for over a kilometre.


Maringma-tepui, also written Mount Maringma and historically known as Mount Marima, is a small tepui of the Pacaraima Mountains in Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Guyana. It is known as Malaima-tepui in the local Akawaio language. Most published sources place it just inside Guyanese territory, very close to the border with Brazil, and around 17 kilometres (11 mi) east of Roraima-tepui. However, the mountain remains the subject of considerable toponymic confusion and its name has been applied to at least one other nearby peak.

Maverick Rock

Maverick Rock or Maverick Stone is a natural rock formation in Venezuela, on top of Mount Roraima. It is the highest point of that tabletop mountain, at 2,810 metres (9,220 ft) a.m.s.l.. The rock stands near the southwestern edge of the mountain plateau. Although Mount Roraima is shared with Guyana and Brazil, Maverick Rock is entirely within internationally recognized Venezuelan territory, in the state of Bolívar, of which it is the highest point.


  1. 1 2 "Monte Roraima, Venezuela".
  2. From The Times (May 22, 1885), "Mr. im Thurn's Achievement" (PDF), The New York Times , New York City, United States, p. 3, ISSN   0362-4331, OCLC   1645522 , retrieved November 15, 2009, Lord Aberdare said that Mr. Perkins, who accompanied Mr. im Thurn in the ascent of the mountain, had fared little better, inasmuch as he also had been severely attacked by fever since his return, and though present that evening, was still too weak to read his notes.
  3. 1 2 3 im Thurn, Everard (August 1885), "The Ascent of Mount Roraima", Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series, London, England, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers, 7 (8): 497–521, doi:10.2307/1800077, ISSN   0266-626X, JSTOR   1800077, OCLC   51205375 , retrieved November 14, 2009, For all around wore rocks and pinnacles of rocks of seemingly impossibly fantastic forms, standing in apparently impossibly fantastic ways—nay, placed one on or next to the other in positions seeming to defy every law of gravity—rocks in groups, rocks standing singly, rocks in terraces, rocks as columns, rocks as walls and rooks as pyramids, rocks ridiculous at every point with countless apparent caricatures of the faces and forms of men and animals, apparent caricatures of umbrellas, tortoises, churches, cannons, and of innumerable other most incongruous and unexpected objects.
  4. 1 2 3 Swan, Michael (1957), British Guiana, London, England, U.K.: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, OCLC   253238145, Mount Roraima is the point where the boundaries of Venezuela, Brazil and British Guiana actually meet, and a stone stands on its summit, placed there by the International Commission in 1931.
  5. "The Meaning Behind The Name "Mount Roraima"". 7 December 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  6. Abreu, Stela Azevedo de (July 1995), Aleluia: o banco de luz, Campinas, Brazil.: Thesis for a Master's in Sociocultural Anthropology, at UNICAMP , retrieved January 10, 2012
  7. Unidade de Conservação: Parque Nacional do Monte Roraima (in Portuguese), MMA: Ministério do Meio Ambiente, retrieved 2016-06-07
  8. Clementi (née Eyres), Marie Penelope Rose (December 1916), "A Journey to the Summit of Mount Roraima", The Geographical Journal , London, England, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society, with the Institute of British Geographers, 48 (6): 456–473, doi:10.2307/1779816, ISSN   0016-7398, JSTOR   1779816, OCLC   1570660, The summit is covered with enormous black boulders, weathered into the weirdest and most fantastic shapes. We were in the middle of an amphitheatre, encircled by what one might almost call waves of stone. It would be unsafe to explore this rugged plateau without white paint to mark one's way, for one would be very soon lost in the labyrinth of extraordinary rocks. There is no vegetation on Roraima save a few damp-sodden bushes (Bonnetia Roraimœ), and fire sufficient for cooking can be raised only by an Indian squatting beside it and blowing all the time.
  9. Tate, G. H. H. (January 1930), "Notes on the Mount Roraima Region", Geographical Review , New York, New York, U.S.A.: American Geographical Society, 20 (1): 53–68, doi:10.2307/209126, ISSN   0016-7428, JSTOR   209126, OCLC   1570664, In general the interior plateau looks flat and monotonous. Appearance is deceptive, for there are actually very few places where walking is not difficult, and these follow the joint system of the sandstone. For the most part, tumbled masses of rock, rifts, and gorges and whole acres of ten-foot mushrooms and loaves of bread formed in stone offer a maze in which one may wander long before finding better ground; while gullies many yards in depth and breadth, meandering undecidedly, force detours of sometimes half a mile.
  10. Hoogmoed, Marinus. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". Oreophrynella quelchii. IUCN 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  11. Geographical. "A Lost World Above the Clouds" . Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  12. Clementi, Mrs Cecil (December 1916). "A Journey to the Summit of Mt Roraima". The Geographical Journal. 48 (6): 456–473. doi:10.2307/1779816. JSTOR   1779816.
  13. Roraima the Lost World (The World About Us, 1974)
  14. MacInnes, Hamish, Climb to the Lost World, Hodder & Stoughton (1974); Penguin (1976)
  15. Frechou, Eliseu (2010-01-24). "Eliseu Frechou e equipe chegam ao cume do Monte Roraima" [Eliseu Frechou and his team reach the top of Mount Roraima]. Extremos - Portal de Aventura (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  16. "B. Fletcher Robinson & 'The Lost World'". Paul Spiring. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009.
  17. Bleiler, Everett (November 1996). "Lost Worlds and Lost Opportunities: the Pilot-Rodin Edition of The Lost World". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  18. "Mount Roraima Hike: Up On Top Venezuela's Lost World | My Turn To Travel". My Turn To Travel. 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  19. "The real world behind "Up's" Paradise Falls". Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  20. "Mount Roraima-Guyana High Point, Guyana/Venezuela".
  21. "Monte Roraima-Triple Country Point".

Further reading