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

Pre-Travel Routine of an OCTP* – Part II: Planning My Trip

Please click here for Part I.

Well! Now that the budget and the place have been decided, it’s time to pack! Ha! If only… At this stage, there is still the same five/six months left to go! Maybe it’s just time to kick back, relax and wait for the trip to come! For most, that’s what happens, but not if you are me! To me, what comes naturally from now on is the travel planning! Time needs to be optimized! I don’t particularly like to just “parachute” down into a city, grab a map and explore, I end up missing a lot of the jewels the place has to offer, off the touristic track. Does that explain my OCTP behaviour? Maybe not… ah well! Let’s see the next stage of my pre-travel routine.

  1. Familiarising myself with the city/country

It’s time to get the travel books and google out! I really enjoy looking at maps! May they be old, new, in paper, online… I just love maps! In the case of an entire country, becoming familiar with the geography, where the cities are located, public transport connecting them, what’s interesting in each place and, in the case of a city, pretty much the same! Placing the hostel in the city, seeing how to get to and from the train/bus station or airport, becoming familiar with the streets and streets names, location of the places of interests, what the places of interests are… Exhausting, but don’t forget! Five months to do it!

As thing start to become too much, is time to get the old travel book out and take down some notes.


  1. Print out maps of the city and its public transport network

Why? At this stage, I know the city very well! I know the places I want to see, why I want to see them and I know where they are… roughly! At this stage, I start to consolidate all places into my paper map (Don’t rely on technology while travelling!) and glue them to my book. I like seeing the places all laid out and a map of public transport beside it, should I need it (I hardly do! Love walking!). Now I can divide the city into daily/half daily sectors, so that once I have visited that particular sector, I don’t need to return to that region.

Geographically speaking, I theoretically know the city well now! All maps are glued to my book, the days are all planned out, entry times and prices all have been worked within the budget etc etc etc… Time for the next stage!


  1. Learning the history of the city and country

This is a great stage! Learning where the cities and the country went through! I tend to focus on the local history and end up learning the country’s history as a consequence. Local history is so rich, one can take months reading about it! This way, I can put the geography into context: Why is the city the way it is? Who made it that way? Who built this and that? Of course I can’t learn it all, but I read as much as I possibly can. Only bullet points summarizing the main points go into my book. This works as a reminder of the big picture. (There is an anecdote related to that! But for a later post)

What else is there to do?


  1. Getting the travelling companion

Now the tickets are bought, trains booked, days planned, the budget is sound, maps are only needed in case of emergency, the history is just as fluent as my own. Is there something else to do? Get my good old loyal travelling companion: Samppras Carrot! My friend and I bought him in 2009 and he has been to several countries, mostly with me.

Travelling alone can be a very lonely business. Sometimes we all need a break and something to cheer us up. Well, my way to do it is by taking photos os Samppras in different places. Everywhere I go, he goes. Some people may think it is crazy, but he became part of my trips as much as my backpack and my camera.


He is great! Ah well, now it is time to take a break! Part III (and final) will be posted soon! Thank you for the audience!