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Exodus Assistant Sales Manager Brendan Phelan recently visited the fascinating country of Venezuelaon Exodus trip ‘The Lost World & Angel Falls’ a comprehensive circuit taking in the huge contrasts of Venezuela, including the Andes, Angel Falls and the wide plains of Los Llanos.
They were called the Crystal Jacuzzis and it was probably the strangest bath I had ever had. Lined with smooth sparkling quartz and filled with sun-warmed water, I floated on my back and watched a pair of eagles circling high above, watching us.
Strange vegetation and bizarre rock formations were barely visible out of the corner of my eye. Conan Doyle’s strange images came back to me, of ape-men, pterodactyls with leathery wings and “horrible toads of an incredible bulk”.
If this is the Lost World, I mused idly as water lapped against my ears, I could do without being found for a while. Considering we were on top of a 3000m mountain in a remote national park in the corner of Venezuela, there was every chance this would happen.
The Grand Savannah
The Grand Savannah lies on the border with Guyana and Brazil, in the far south-east of the country. The size of Belgium, it is one of the most spectacular untouched wildernesses in the world.
It had taken five days to get here from Caracas, far north on the distant Caribbean coast. The long drive down through the open plains had given us our first glimpse of the giant table mountains, or tepuys, which characterise this huge empty land.
Rising like menacing shadows on the horizon, they slowly grew larger the closer we approached, their flat tops hidden behind voluminous cloudbanks. Our 4WDs bounced through rivers, over rapids and waterfalls, speeding through remote Indian villages until we finally reached the gateway to this exceptional area.
The twin tepuys of Kukenan and Roraima stared at us from twenty kilometres away, the deep blue sky clearly silhouetting them. The next two days trek took us to the base of Roraima, whose towering summit was the objective of our time here.
Rising early the next morning, we began ascending against the sheer wall of the mountain, giant dragonflies brushing past our faces and thick black lines of bullet ants scaling the giant prehistoric ferns on either side of us.
The ascent took us through ancient rainforest, filled with a huge variety of sweet-smelling orchids as delicate as glass, primitive cacti and lush dripping trees. Waterfalls soaked us, falling from 700m above, and you began to feel this was somewhere just a little bit different.
Our hearts beat faster as we approached the summit, more from anticipation than effort. Cresting the final ridge was never going to disappoint. Stretching as far as it was possible to see, gnarled black rock twisted itself into strange hills and silhouettes, the almost flat top of Roraima rolled towards the horizon until spilling over the sheer cliff edges in the distance.
Small brown birds hopped around our feet, unafraid and curious. We made camp a further hour in, tents pitched deep in a cave to protect against the elements and only metres from the cliff edge.
That night we watched the moon move across the starlit sky, illuminating the tiny red roof of the base camp 1000m below. This was Conan Doyle’s Lost World, supposedly peppered with dinosaurs and ape-men, playground of Professor Challenger and Lord Roxton.
Lunch at the Crystal Jacuzzis was part of our second day exploring this fascinating environment, and not even close to being the only highlight.
We spent days exploring the strange rocky landscape, walking through valleys made of quartz, passing under giant black rocks balanced precariously on the edge of precipices and discovering dark lakes filled with tiny jet black frogs.
It was strange when, two days later, we had to descend again. As we made our way gingerly down through the rainforest, picking our way over twisted roots, the temperature began to rise slowly, the humidity creeping up again as our shirts stuck to our backs once more.
By the time we had made our way back to our camp at Tek river, Roraima was once more a dark giant on the horizon, the secrets of its cloud- hidden world invisible once more.
To find out more about South America, browse our trips below.