A challenging and rewarding adventure across the jungles and savannahs of Guyana and Venezuela. In the late sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh first visited the area around Roraima, searching for a civilisation that would make England as rich as the Aztecs had made Spain. Now you can discover lush and rarely visited places that simply defy the imagination!
La Gran Sabana
The Gran Sabana is a grassy savannah-like plateau with an elevation of 900-1200 metres. Millions of years of erosion have made this location one of the world’s richest areas for gold and diamond mining. Abounding in natural wonders such as waterfalls, rapids and tropical rainforest; the plentiful wildlife makes the Sabana a naturalist and birdwatcher’s paradise. Recently tourism, and especially eco-tourism, has made La Gran Sabana the first choice for travellers seeking adventure in the remote areas of its unique geography.
Above the Sabana loom the tepuys, or “Table Mountains” of which Mount Roraima is the most famous. The tepuys are estimated to be over 1,700 million years old. On the tepuys’ lunar-like surface are many plants and animals found no where else on earth. The Auyantepuy, located in Canaima National Park, features the Angel Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall.
Mount Roraima is one of the most acclaimed sights in South America. For hundreds of years the mile high flat topped mountain has been inspiring the tales and rumours concerning what actually exists on its summit above the clouds. In the late sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh first visited the area around Roraima, searching for a civilisation that would make England as rich as the Aztecs had made Spain. He never found one, but he did return home with what were deemed by his peers as wild and outlandish stories about a Crystal Mountain. In his treaties “The Discoveries of the large Rich and Beautiful Empire of Guiana”, Raleigh likened the mountains to “a high church tower. “A large river leaps down from above without touching the mountain’s wall in its descent, as it goes out toward the air and reaches the bottom with a roar and clamour that would be produced by one thousand giant bells striking one another. I believe there does not exist a bigger and more marvelous waterfall in the world.”
Raleigh’s claims were confirmed in the early nineteenth century by Sir Robert Schomburgh, who viewed the mountain while on an expedition to explore the interior of British Guyana. Although Schomburgh was able to get close enough to collect specimens from the south-eastern zone at the base of Roraima, he declared the apex to be unreachable. It was not until 1884 that Roraima was proven to be accessible when explorers Everard Im Thurm and Harry I. Perkins made it to the top.
Roraima has also made an impression on western literature and thought, influencing such men as Charles Darwin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. After the publication of Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ there was great public interest in ‘missing links’ and ‘relic species’ preserved by isolation. Roraima’s mysterious summit was an excellent possibility for an area at evolutionary standstill and the last place on earth where dinosaurs could exist. Conan Doyle, fascinated by the descriptions of explorers such as Im Thurm, wrote in 1912 what is considered to be one of the best science fiction novels ever written “The Lost World.”
Kaieteur Falls was first seen by a European on April 29, 1870 and is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo. The water of Kaieteur, one of the world’s natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge – a drop of 741 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. There are no other falls in the world with the magnitude of the sheer drop existing at Kaieteur. Amerindian legend of the Patamona tribe has it that Kai, one of the tribe’s chiefs (after whom the falls is named), committed self-sacrifice by canoeing himself over the falls. It was believed this would encourage the Great Spirit Makonaima to save the tribe from being destroyed by the savage Caribishi. Kaieteur supports a unique micro environment with Tank Bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny Golden frog spends its entire life and the rarely seen Guiana Cock- of-the-rock nesting close by. The lucky visitor may also see the famous flights of the Kaieteur Swifts or Makonaima Birds which nest under the vast shelf of rock carved by the centuries of water, hidden behind the eternal curtain of falling water.
We will pick you up at the airport, and then transfer you to your Georgetown hotel. Cara Lodge was built in the 1840’s and originally consisted of two houses. It has a long and romantic history and was the home of the first Lord Mayor of Georgetown. Over the years, the property has been visited by many dignitaries including King Edward VII who stayed at the house in 1923. Other dignitaries have included President Jimmy Carter, HRH Prince Charles, HRH Prince Andrew and Mick Jagger. This magnificent home turned hotel offers the tradition and nostalgia of a bygone era, complete with service and comfort in a congenial family atmosphere.
Georgetown the chief port, capital and largest city of Guyana is situated on the right Bank of the Demerara River Estuary. It was chosen as a site for a fort to guard the early Dutch settlements of the Demerara River. The city of Georgetown was designed largely by the Dutch and is laid out in a rectangular pattern with wide tree lined avenues and irrigation canals that criss cross the city.
Most of the buildings in the city are wooden with unique architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. For the most part the buildings have Demerara shutters and designed fretwork which trim eaves and windows. Main Street, Georgetown provides several excellent examples of old colonial homes, a prime example of which is the State House, built in 1852. The State House is set in large gardens and is painted green and white and has hosted many visiting dignitaries.
During your visit to Georgetown there are a number of interesting sights that should not be missed: the most famous being St. George’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is one of the world’s tallest free standing wooden buildings and was consecrated on 1892. The foundation stone was laid on November 23, 1890 and the building was designed by Sir Arthur Bloomfield. The story of the cathedral is told on the interior on tablets and memorials of a historical and sentimental nature: it is the tale of the history of Guyana in general and of the Diocese in particular.
At the beginning of the Avenue of the Republic stands the Public Library housed in the Carnegie Building. Other historic buildings along this promenade are the Town Hall, a splendid example of Gothic architecture, and further along are the Victoria Law Courts and St. Andrews Kirk. St. Andrew’s is the oldest surviving structure of any church in Guyana.
The famous Stabroek Market, once described as a “bizarre bazaar”, contains every conceivable item from house hold goods and gold jewellery to fresh meat and vegetables brought to town on the river daily. The clock tower can be seen for miles around and is a famous landmark.
No trip to Georgetown would be complete without a visit to the Botanical Gardens and zoo. The Botanical Gardens houses one of the most extensive collections of tropical flora in the Caribbean and are laid out with ponds, canals, kissing bridges and bandstand. Over 100 species of Guyanese wildlife can be observed at the Zoo including a wide variety of tropical fishes and birds.
The National Museum which contains a broad selection of our animal life and heritage should not be missed, nor the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which explains Amerindian history and life style.
The tour will include walking along the Avenues with an experienced guide who will give you the history, rumour and facts on Georgetown and its citizens. The group will be accompanied at all times by a vehicle, which will be used for travel between areas of interest. During the tour there is always the opportunity to purchase that unusual gift or unique Guyanese handicrafts, or for the daring the chance to delve into the gold and diamond market.
This morning depart Georgetown by bus or 4×4 vehicle at 0600hrs traveling for 8 hours, passing through the bauxite town of Linden, then through miles and miles of lush rainforest and rolling hills, stopping briefly at ‘58’ where you enjoy a lovely vegetarian lunch or fried local fish or chicken. Rejuvenated, you continue your journey to the bustling gold-mining town of Mahdia, then to Pamela Landing where you travel by boat for 2 ½ hours to Amatuk. Here, on this beautiful island of white sand with the 170 ft drop Amatuk falls just a few yards away, you camp for the night. A refreshing bath in the river and enjoy a sumptuous meal this is all you need before climbing into your hammock. The fresh, clean air will soon render you fast asleep.
The next day you leave by foot, trekking through the jungle, swimming across creeks and walking across jungle bridges (tree trunks), a short boat-ride through the rapids and you arrive at Waratuk where you camp for the night in hammock.
The next morning, after a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, you set off either on foot for 8 hours of hiking or 1hr boat ride to Tukiet with the enigmatic Ibini mountain range in a distance as your constant companion. We will have lunch at Tukiet, the bottom of Kaieteur Falls. This is a fabulous campsite with refreshing swimming in the Potaro River and a spectacular view of the gorge.
From Tukeit you will ascend the mountain to the top of Kaieteur fall – 4hrs hike. The ascent winds it way up the mountain through changing vegetation as the altitude rises. You will pass cool mountain streams where it is impossible to cross without a dip. The final stage of the climb is known as ‘Oh my God’ mountain. Did you say that you liked challenges? This climb will challenge you both physically and mentally. With your backpack strapped securely unto your back and your water bottle within easy reach you begin your ascend quite smartly. But on reaching the top all is forgotten as you catch your first glimpse of the mighty Kaieteur Falls. The feeling of achievement is indescribable as you proudly view the grandeur of the mighty Kaieteur Falls, the highest single-drop waterfalls in the world. At dusk Thousands of swifts gather the sky like dark clouds then plunge into the water of the fall, to their nesting site on the rock face behind the water fall.
The early morning mist of Kaieteur gives way to a fantastic view of the falls. From Johnson View that affords frontal vista of the fall. We will try to have a looked at the Cock-Of-The Rock and the golden frog, the frog spends it entire life from tadpole to maturity in the Bromeliad. We will also listen to tales of ‘Old Kiae’- who is said to have saved his people from the warlike Caribs by sacrificing himself sailing over Kaieteur Falls. Depart by scheduled flight to Mahdia (3hrs ground time) and onwards to Georgetown. You may get a final, spectacular aerial view of Kaieteur Falls and the gorge and the awe-inspiring expanse of rainforest and rivers that will hold the secrets of your adventure forever. Transfer to Georgetown to your hotel.
Pickup and transfer to Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Board scheduled flight for journey over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Lethem. Upon arrival in Lethem meet and greet by company’s representative transfer by vehicle cross border to Bon Fim in Brazil to catch the bus to Boa Vista. Then take a bus from Boa Vista to Santa Elena. Reception at Brazilian border town (La Linea) by your tour leader. Transfer to Santa Elena de Uairen (Venezuelan border town with Brazil). Santa Elena is a gold mining town founded in 1922 by Sr. Pena – a gold prospector who named the town after his first daughter. It’s an approx. 20 minutes ride from the Brazilian border.
( 4 hours / 8 KMS ) Drive to Canaima National Park, which is inhabited by indigenous people of the Pemon Linguistic Group. The Canaima National Park is 30,000 sq. km. and is the seventh largest National Park in the world. Visit the Jasper waterfalls, where you will be able to appreciate the different tones of colour of this semi-precious rock. Drive to Paritepuy de Roraima, a small indigenous community of the Pemon Indians, where we’ll meet our camp porters for the trek. We begin our trek across rolling grassland of the savannah. Crossing several streams we then ford the Tek River and later on the Kukunan River. We camp at the Kukunan campsite, having a fantastic view of the stark face of Roraima ahead and Kukunana Tepuy to its left. Kukunan Falls, the second tallest in the world (640 metres), should be clearly visible. From here we can also see the pinnacle of rock next to Roraima, like the one by which Conan Doyle’s heroes climbed to the top.
( 5 hours / 12 KMS ) We trek across rising savannah to the base of the mountain to camp in a meadow alive with multi-coloured birds and fireflies at night and is considered in guidebooks as being one of the best campsites in the world! The Roraima wall is extremely impressive here rising 3,000 feet directly in front of the camp, with the quartz in the rock glittering in the late afternoon sun.
( 5 hours / 3 KMS ) In the morning we set off up the route that leads diagonally across the face of the Roraima wall. The narrow trail winds through the montane rainforests and crosses the small streams where hummingbirds, orchids and brightly coloured flowers are abundant. Higher up, the vegetation changes to pre-historic tree ferns and the trail leads under a waterfall descending from the cliff edge hundreds of feet above. After 4 -5 hours we arrive at the entrance to the summit, guarded by massive grey rocks and emerge at the top – looking back for an incredible view. We visit the Valley of Crystals, the river-valley of the Arobopo River shaped like an amphitheatre around which are grouped large dark rounded stone columns. The river itself runs over a bed of crystals and crystal fragments. We visit the northern point of Mount Roraima for stunning views from various points on the edge.
( 9 hours ) We explore Roraima’s summit trekking a long circular route to the triple border point, where Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil meet. We walk through strange rock formations, surprisingly lush valleys and places where the ground is covered with sparkling quartz crystals. There are rock pools everywhere and in them you may be lucky enough to see the strange black toads, unique to Mount Roraima. The plant life is bizarre, as over half the species are unique to Tepuys or to Roraima alone, including several species of orchids and carnivorous plants. We also visit the Oil Bird cave (Guacharo bird).
( 8 hours / 14 KMS ) In the morning there is still time to explore some more before we descend to the base and continue to Tek River where we overnight.
(4 hours / 8 KMS ) We complete the return to Paratepuy to be met by our driver with fresh supplies of beer, soft drinks and a large lunch. We say good-bye to our camp porters and set off to Santa Elena de Uairen where we again stay at Camp Yakoo.
You will transfer to the Brazilian border town La Linea where you will continue your return trip to Lethem. Transfer to the Ori Hotel. Ori hotel provides the perfect place to rest and relax whilst in Lethem. Whether it is in their three self-contained cabins or ten master rooms that boast air conditioning, ensuite bathroom or wi – fi access along with great views of Lethem. Their staff will make you feel like part of the family with your security and comfort their number one priority. Ori Hotel also has a restaurant that prepares meals influenced by the blend of cultures represented in Lethem; their Tambaqui fish curry is famous.
After breakfast transfer to the Lethem airstrip board scheduled flight for journey to Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Pickup at Eugene F. Correia International Airport and transfer to Georgetown return to the hotel.
Transfer to the airport for your departing flight.
Why Travel with Wilderness Explorers?
For more than 20 years, we’ve been working at the crossroads of adventure travel and community tourism. Not from the sidelines or behind a desk, but on the ground. In the jungle. On the boats. Getting our feet dirty and seeing everything first-hand. Tourism isn’t our business – it’s our life. Our handcrafted itineraries prove it.
Our partners in the field aren’t just suppliers in the traditional sense: we are deeply involved with the development of the lodges, tours, training programs, and attractions that draw adventurous souls to this part of the world. Back in 1999 Wilderness Explorers was one of the first tour operators to embrace the now-fashionable idea of community tourism, partnering with the Amerindian Makushi village of Surama in Guyana to provide marketing and administrative support for that country’s first indigenously-operated ecolodge. These days we continue to work with lodges and regional consortiums with tourism development aspirations. Hand-in-hand we are building opportunities for economic growth that don’t rely on resource extraction or the mass-market.
We know that tour companies are increasingly looked upon as unnecessary middlemen in a world where the internet connects everyone with marvelous ease. And, no doubt, someone with ample time and patience could organize their journey independently. But we know that sometimes you want to spend less time researching and more time travelling. If that’s you, we can vastly simplify your trip planning, get you into the best (and often least-known) lodges, prioritize your activity list, and set you up for an unforgettable getaway. Having the time of your life once you get there? Well, that part is entirely up to you!