There is a strange, different world on top of Mount Roraima.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself was so inspired by its strangeness that he wrote an entire book about it entitled The Lost World, long before he started working on his famed Sherlock Holmes series. But though his book fancifully speculated on the existence of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures on top of the lofty plateau, what truly awaits the daring explorers of Mount Roraima surprisingly comes close–an eerie frontier that seems to have been literally forgotten by time.
Set on the northern coast of South America and bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana, the mysterious table-top mountain is often seen swallowed into the clouds, thus venerated by natives as a sacred place, the home of Heaven itself. Its highest peak reaches 2,810 meters above sea level and is believed to be among the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back 2 billion years ago. Its massive shelf is built upon four 400-meter high cliffs bedecked with numerous shimmering waterfalls, the stuff of dreams of the characters of Pixar’s Up (2009).
On top of the mountain, a different breed of wildlife exists. There are alien-like flowering plants that cannot extract enough nutrients from the thin soil, they adapted instead by capturing insects, melting them in a pitcher-shaped bloom, and sucking in their essence. There’s a tiny black species of frog so primitive it hasn’t learned how to hop, but displays a queer defense mechanism by rolling away from harm. There are black butterflies, tape-like snakes, and swarms of hairy tarantulas–animals that are strangely unique from being so separate from the rest of the world.
Backpacking tours are available online for hiking trips. But there’s always the option of arriving via balloon-powered flying house.
Featured image source: wzl.be