The Conquest of Mount Roraima – Day 1

It all started when I was about 7 years of age, at least as far as I can remember, when my never-ending obsession with maps begun. I found an old Atlas in my house and started attempting to find out the name of places. In Brazil, we have a saying “do Oiapoque ao Chuí”, supposedly the northern and southernmost point in Brazil (which it is now widely known that Oiapoque is not, but this is for another post), so I set off looking where this Oiapoque was, just by using a simple ruler, I started to question that the northernmost was not in the state of Amapá, but it was in the state of Roraima, and to be more precise, very close to the triple border with Venezuela and Guyana.

From the point of view of a political geographer, this is a very interesting point! But where was this border located? Let’s look it up! Get the old Encyclopaedia Britannica out and research! The name “Monte Roraima” came up. A border at the to of a mountain? This is madness! If you like physical geography, this is a goldmine! As a 7 year old, I was fascinated! But Roraima might as well be on the Moon, really isolated place. Maybe one day I will get to go there….


View of Mount Roraima and Mount Kukenan along the trail

A little while down the road (23 years later), but never forgetting about that mysterious mountain, I had some time off and, that mountain that seemed to be so far away, is no more! Within a week, I had bought the tickets and booked a guide to take me to the top.

In this post, I will attempt to give a short summary of my experience on the way to that place that caught my attention many years ago.

Day 1 – From Paraitepuy to Rio Tök Camping Site

In Santa Elena de Uairén, in Venezuela, we hired a guide to help us up the mountain. After much research, we contacted Leopoldo, and the actual guide that took us up was Gerardo Gallegos. Salt of the earth guy. We then set off to our trip, on a 4×4 to Paraitepuy. On the way, we picked up one of the carriers, and reached the village. Short after the park fees (B$2000, around €0.50), we set off.


View of Mount Roraima along the trail

The first leg of the trek is mostly flat. A small steep hill took us by surprise right in the beginning, but when reaching the top of this hill, you see Mount Roraima and Mount Kukenan on the horizon. They seem quite far away, really far away.

Of we go! A 14km walk awaited us. The scenery made it all the better, while the fear slowly started to set in. That fantasy that I had to go to the top of that flat-top mountain was starting to become a reality with every step I took. And it was getting closer… and closer… until we finally reached the camping site. That classical image of the Roraima to the right and Kukenan to the left greeted us with a very clear evening, a couple of hours before the sunset.

While look at Roraima, we waited for the sun to set behind us. Sunset Schunset, right? That massive wall being radiated from outer space took my breath away! I couldn’t take enough photos! In order to save battery, I put the old camera down and just appreciated the view.

A quick stroll down, there was a bit of time to take a bath at the really cold River Tök. Time to get warm, have some food and rest and get ready for day 2!


View of Mount Kukenan at sunset

Stay tuned for Day 2! Follow us on instagram @mochilaoadois for more photos

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The Return of the Prodigal Blogger

Hi all!

It’s been… God, almost one year since I properly posted here! But I have good reasons, but I won’t bore you with the details. In summary, I beat depression, started a course at the University of Oxford, finished it, travelled to a few countries with the significant other… all in all, it’s been a good year!

I find myself in a new career, in a new country: Teaching in Brazil. It’s been quite an experience, I must say! Ah well, Again, I won’t bore you with the details!

I will try my best to bring you all up to date on my adventures, places I’ve been, places I will go and, in time, earn your visits and comments again!

Have a great week!

Follow us on instagram @mochilaoadois

Now, you will be deported!

Just a fresh top-up on my post on why tourists should NOT go to the 2016 Olympics. Fresh in the news, foreign nationals who are part of protests will be jailed and deported. For more information, read here. It’s in Portuguese, but google can translate that for you!

In short, any foreign national who are caught taking part in the political rallies pro- and against impeachment will be jailed and deported to their country. This is due to many South American buses from Bolivia, Paraguay etc flooding into the country to take part in the commotion.

Again, think loooong and hard about going to Brazil!

Why Tourists Should NOT Attend The 2016 Olympics

Some life updates. After a long time living abroad, I am going back to Brazil! It’s a good feeling, but is it the right time to go back??? Is it the time for anyone to go to Brazil at all?

As we all know, it’s an olympic year and, this year, it’s in Brazil. I, for one, don’t think the country deserves it for several reasons, but they are too long to list, with some historical motives. So, today, I will just list a few present events that should be enough for most people to avoid travelling to the country.

  1. Uncontrollable dengue fever outbreaks
  2. At this stage, even if you are not from a tropical country, you’ve heard of dengue fever, thanks to Brazil! I am 30 years of age and, coincidentally, this is year marks the 30th yearly outbreak of dengue fever in a row! The government promises that the mosquito will be eradicated before the olympics, but how can one make such a promise? It might sound like conspiracy theory, but I grew up watching Brazil’s most powerful broadcasting company. They have been known to work in favour of the government. When I was a child, Dengue was a character in a children’s TV programme. My generation only found out what dengue really was (and how dangerous it was) when we were teenagers!

    This guy was the character Dengue, in “Xou da Xuxa” (look it up if you don’t believe me!):

  3. The Zika and Chikungunya Viruses
  4. As well as the known Dengue virus, there are “new” viruses in Brazil to worry about: The Zika and Chikungunya viruses. Even though these are not new viruses, they are new to Brazil and they are believed to have been introduced to Brazil during the Confederation’s Cup. All three diseases are transmitted by the same mosquito: aedes aegypti. The latter two can be asymptomatic in both men and women, but as most of you know, it can be dangerous to pregnant women. The Brazilian government says that no link has been made between microcephaly and the Zika virus, therefore it is safe. The WHO says otherwise.

  5. The H1N1 is back!
  6. Remember swine flu? Well, it’s back, bigger and stronger and has killed more than 80 people in Brazil in the first three months of the year. Read here. No new vaccine has been developed to fight the new strain of the virus, so, better pray not to catch it!

  7. The melting economy
  8. Thinking that economic crisis means cheaper prices? Think again! Rio is as expensive as ever! The collapsing economy has forced local business to hike up the prices pre and during olympics as a last fast buck before they close down shop. I just returned from Brazil and I could feel the absurd prices in other regions of the country, so, if you think it’s the right time to go, based on economy only, you are sadly mistaken!

  9. The brink of political collapse
  10. If you’d like to understand better what’s happening in the country at the moment, I would be more than happy to write a post about it, but I will summarise it for now. Brazil is in the brink of political meltdown, with everyone in the top of the pyramid involved in some kind of corruption scheme. The president is about to be impeached, former president being given government jobs to gain some kind of immunity, the head of the house of deputies, who put forward the impeachment process, have been found with million of Brazilian public money in accounts in Switzerland, the president of the Brazilian senate involved in dozen of corruption scandals……….. just to name a few. It’s an interesting time to be in Brazil to see all of this going down, but in times like this, anything can happen and you can be caught in very violent revolts between fanatics, pro- and anti-government. Be careful! The biggest problem is that if the president is out, these people, including the vice-president, much of the same! So, it seems that the country is on the beginning of a long and arduous struggle for survival.

I am going back to Brazil to work. I am Brazilian and have family in Brazil and often question myself: “Why the hell am I going back?”. If you are a tourist, save your precious money and go somewhere else! I bet you will have a better time and be safe from the horrible moment the country is going through. Better safe than sorry!

Four Countries, Two Days

Hi all!

Sorry for my absence! I have been away for the past few days and I am now going away again. Crossing four countries in two days. It sounds way better than it actually is! I left Ireland towards the UK. After that, I took the boat and needed to cross the beautiful country of Wales until I arrived in England. Now, I am just a couple of hours away from flying to Brazil.

It’s quite tiring, but I am not complaining! Just posted this quickly to let you guys know I am still alive and will post some new stuff very soon!

The Day I Thought I Had Received my Last Rites

After a long trip to Brazil, back in 2004/2005, I returned home to Ireland and, as I still had 6 months with nothing to do, I decided to get a job.

There is nothing more rewarding than getting a job, right? So people say, anyway, so I became a bartender at a local hotel.

On the second day of the job, as I was pulling a pint, I felt the strongest, sharpest pain I had ever felt in my entire life. I spilled beer on the costumers and all, it was a massive mess, I tell you!

That pain didn’t go away! It was sooooo bad and no position I tried to be in felt comfortable, just more and more pain. Well, what else could I have done? So I was brought to hospital. I had no idea what was going on with me, I thought it was appendicitis, but I was wrong… it was kidney stones.

My mother was there with me and I could see she was in pain from seeing me in pain. They tried three different types of painkillers and none made the pain go away, so they had to bring out the big guns: Morphine. Still I am not sure what I felt, but the pain went away almost instantaneously, but also my blood pressure, which dropped down to 73 by 31 (This is really, really low blood pressure). I am not sure what had happened, but I couldn’t speak and could barely understand what the people around me were saying.

Out of nowhere, I see a priest lean over me, puts his hands over my forehead and says something, which for me sounded like Charlie Brown’s teachers. As I couldn’t speak, I started struggling, well, I wanted to know what was happening! “Why the hell is a priest talking to me?”, I thought… maybe I should have just given up, really… at that stage, I thought I was dying and the priest came to give me my last rites. As quick as he appeared, he disappeared and, slowly, I became more alert and asked why the hell was he giving me my last rites? I heard a wave of laughter from the nurses and from my mom… I felt so embarrassed! It turned out that my mom was the priest’s hairdresser and he just came in to say hello.

Yeah… and that’s how you feel like a fool.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette


What better way to capture a silhouette than during the sunset? Well, that’s my favourite time of the day. It’s a time when a silhouette is, somewhat, more meaningful, when it happens more naturally.

Samppras, my travel companion, always looks very contemplative during sunsets, this time overlooking Itapua Beach in Salvador.

People reading this might think I am mad… ah well!