shithead and Toepen were the games of choice....here's Will losing again!
The big day. Getting ourselves to the top of Roraima. A hearty breakfast of pancakes once again set up for a day´s trekking. We got off early just after 7am as we left the porters to pack up the tents and follow us later. ´El tigre´was in fine form, whistling as he led along threw the forest which marked the start of the ascent. After about 5 minutes we came to an incredibly steep mudbank which proved entertaining for those of with hiking boots as we watched Pat struggle with his white running trainers trying to keep his grip! The weather soon took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened. It was actually quite refreshing as the forest section was really humid, so it was nice to cool off.
Saleem, cook and porter!
We gradually made our way up the steep slopes, midnful of every step as the view confirmed that one wrong foot could spell complete disaster, probably more so for the person directly behind you! Due to the heavy rains, Jose informed us that the temporary waterfall would be quite big - man was he right! With a backpack, aching limbs, trying to climb a steep rocky slope and now we are confronted with having to climb through a waterfall! Nice! Needless to say, we got absolutely drenched and I for one just laughed the whole way thorugh, it was great fun in a sadistic kind of way. From the waterfall we could begin to see the top, the holy grail and about an hour later after 4 hour of strength sapping climbing, we were finally there! Will, Pat and I got up first, with Ralf and Judith following a few minutes later with Saleem.
The waterfall we had to cross on our way up
The immense euphoria and satisfaction at reaching the summit was undescribable - just an awesome feeling. We ran around like loons, shouting with some very big high-fives! Unfortunately it was so cloudy that we could not see anything over the edge immediately, but Will wasted no time in taking a satisfying pee over the side!
It took about another 45 minutes to reach our hotel for the next two night. Yes, I did say hotel. The Venezuelans actually call the little caves that you camp under ´hoteles´- they have a strange sense of humour, you understand! In fact, as is right, there are no facilities up top, just shelters to put up tents. Its completely in the wild and I really did feel in the ´Lost World´(Arthur Conan Doyle´s famous novel is believed to have been based on the tepuis of southern Venezuela) - a completely bleak landscape of black rocks in all sorts of strange shapes and sizes and virtually no living creatures.
Except for a few black and yellow frogs that is - curious fellows these, they actually can´t jump. It´s because they have no need to, and haven´t evolved in the same way frogs on the ground have, they just slowly meander around the rocks, in no hurry at all - brilliant! The tents were set up and Saleem made us a lovely hot chocolate which took the edge off the chill of the cool temperature and wet clothes. The skies were completely white and the top is cloud height, so you couldn´t seen more than 10-20 metres from the camp site. Tired, we retreated to the tents for a few games of Toepen and Sh*thead (another favourite, one Will seem to love losing at), dinner and an early night ready to explore tomorrow.
Will, Pat and I decided we wanted to see all we could, so opted for the long trek on our full day on top of Roraima.
Pure elation (and sweat!)
Ralf and Judith were happy to take it easy and only do a few hours in the vicinity of the camp. We went with Jose in search of the Triple Point. We were told it usually took 4 hours there and 4 hours back so we expected a long day. With a small group though, we were able to hop between the rocks, nooks and crannies pretty quick and made good progress. After a couple of hours, we bumped into the Russians who had had the same idea. Amid more bleak white/grey clouds, we reached the Triple Point around 10am, bloody good timing, and Jose said it was the fastest he´d ever done it! The Triple Point marks the point at which the borders of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana all meet atop Roraima. There is a triangular stone post to mark it, complete with plaques from each nation.
Exploring the top on the way to the Triple Point
...well, all except Guyana that is. El tigre told us that Guyana had removed their plaque in protest at a border disagreement with Venezuela (Venezuela have actually tried to lay claim to about half the entire country of Guyana!!) - a funny site really. Jose took onto a cavern in the rock which had a fountain running into a pool, a good spot for lunch. Although, typically, just as we started eating, it started poring with rain! Was out luck going to change?!? Alexei, the tall, lanky Russian again took advantage of Jose´s generosity and took leftovers for lunch - dry bread and some mayonnaise which he expertly managed to smother al over his face - he looked like a clown! He then proceed to try and escape the rain and smacked his head on a ledge as he did so, dropping all his food.
I had to feel sorry for him, although Will and Pat couldn´t stop wetting themselves!
We were back at camp around 3pm, pretty damp knackered. It was a long day (about 20km of hopping, walking, jumping between rocks) and I could feel it taking some toll on my joints. Saleem´s hot chocolate helped warm us up a bit and we sat around chatting about our days and catching up with Judith and Ralf, all hoping that tomorrow morning would be clear so that we actually see the views that we´d seen in so many pictures!