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
Elevation2,810 m (9,220 ft)[1]
Prominence2,338 m (7,671 ft)[1]
ListingCountry high point
Ultra prominent peak
Coordinates5°08′36″N 60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250Coordinates: 5°08′36″N 60°45′45″W / 5.14333°N 60.76250°W / 5.14333; -60.76250
Mount Roraima is located in South America
Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima
Location of Mount Roraima in South America (on border between Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela)
Country Venezuela
Parent rangeGuiana Highlands
Mountain typePlateau
First ascent1884, led by Sir Everard im Thurn and accompanied by Harry Inniss Perkins and several Guyanese natives[2][3]: 497 
Easiest routeHike

Mount Roraima (Spanish: Monte Roraima; Tepuy Roraima; Cerro Roraima Portuguese: Monte Roraima [ˈmõtʃi ʁoˈɾajmɐ]) 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% of the area of its mountain plateau lies in Brazil, 10% in Guyana, and the rest around 85% are located in Venezuela. The 10% area de facto located in Guyana is claimed by 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 Brazilian part of the mountain forms 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 cultures[edit]

Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the Native Americans 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[edit]

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.

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]

In popular culture[edit]

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 inspired the Paradise Falls plateau 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.



  1. ^ a b "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. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Aubrecht, R., T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Šmída, P. Liščák, C. Brewer-Carías & L. Vlček (15 September 2011). Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst? Geomorphology 132(3–4): 351–365. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.05.023
  • Aubrecht, R., T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Šmída, P. Liščák, C. Brewer-Carías & L. Vlček (2013). Reply to the comment on "Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst?". Geomorphology, published online on 30 November 2012. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.11.017
  • (in Spanish) Brewer-Carías, C. (2012). "Roraima: madre de todos los ríos" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-03-07. Río Verde 8: 77–94.
  • Jaffe, K., J. Lattke & R. Perez-Hernández (January–June 1993). Ants on the tepuies of the Guiana Shield: a zoogeographic study. Ecotropicos 6(1): 21–28.
  • Kok, P.J.R., R.D. MacCulloch, D.B. Means, K. Roelants, I. Van Bocxlaer & F. Bossuyt (7 August 2012). "Low genetic diversity in tepui summit vertebrates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-05. Current Biology 22(15): R589–R590. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.034 ["supplementary information" (PDF).[permanent dead link]]
  • MacCulloch, R.D., A. Lathrop, R.P. Reynolds, J.C. Senaris and G.E. Schneider. (2007). Herpetofauna of Mount Roraima, Guiana Shield region, northeastern South America. Herpetological Review 38: 24-30.
  • Sauro, F., L. Piccini, M. Mecchia & J. De Waele (2013). Comment on "Sandstone caves on Venezuelan tepuis: return to pseudokarst?" by R. Aubrecht, T. Lánczos, M. Gregor, J. Schlögl, B. Smída, P. Liscák, Ch. Brewer-Carías, L. Vlcek, Geomorphology 132 (2011), 351–365. Geomorphology, published online on 29 November 2012. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.11.015
  • Warren, A. (1973). Roraima: report of the 1970 British expedition to Mount Roraima in Guyana, South America. Seacourt Press, Oxford UK, 152 pp.
  • Zahl, Paul, A. (1940) To the Lost World. George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 182 High Holborn, London, W.C.1

External links[edit]