Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Gran Sabana

This part of Venezuela is often not heard about and sometimes overlooked. It is south of the country near the border with Brasil and has some of the most unique landscapes on the continent. It is called the Gran Sabana and is only inhabited by indigenous Venezuelan Indians, who mainly originate from neighbouring Guyana. We went on a 2 day tour of this region with a guy who owned his own expedition company and was a perfect English speaking Colombian wildman! He was incredibly knowledgable on these parts and had arranged for us to stay in an Indian village called San Francisco de Uarien. Unfortunately we were hindered by rain so alot of the adventure stuff Ricardo had planned involved waterfalls and so had to be put aside as it would have been too risky considering the amount of rainfall. We were in a group with a lovely couple from Colombia, they were young but really fun and the guy Cristiano was on strike with his university in protest against his government. Right on.

Instead we took a fairly leisurely approach to the Gran Sabana, visited some rivers and had loads of fun sliding down the rapids, though our bums were numb after. Plus we drove around and got to see some beautiful scenery and walks along some natural pools. Afterwards we went back to our rather rustic guesthouse whose bathrooms had a number of wasp nests, though these wasps were length across my four fingers and were massive! Plus they were very dangerous. Which made nature calls rather petrifying. So we drank copious amounts of rum instead and talked, ate and played guitar through the night.

The next day we went in search of the famous tepuis. These are large rock formations that are a result of the earths layers being eroded away over millions of years thanks to wind and rain, leaving odd looking flat topped mountains with massive valleys surrounding them. What makes these tepui´s so fascinating is that on the top of each one, there is an entire eco system that exists all the way up there and it is completely endemic to that particular tepui. So you will find plant life, animals, birds and insects all completely unique to that tepui thanks to the particular weather and environmental system it experiences. The great thing is you cannot access these tepuis unless you are rich and can rent a plane, even then it is hard to find a place to land. However there is one that humans have had access to and it is called Roraima. It takes a good 6 day hike to get up there and back and we were thinking of going but lacked the gear and it was raining heavily which would have made it much harder. It is also off one of these tepuis that the worlds tallest waterfall, Angel Falls, originates.

Tepuis in the distance.

Waterfalls in Gran Sabana, the red rock is unique to that area and is naturally that colour.

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