Return to Roraima

Our second trip to Roraima-tepui during March 2012 in southern Venezuela was a success. We faced similar logistical challenges as last year, but in the end we were able to fly to the tepui summit by helicopter and spend 14 days collecting and photographing plants, and conducting vegetation and soil studies. Our team of four (myself, Shingo Nozawa, Yuribia Vivas, Elisabet Safont) worked together the first week in the southern part of the mountain, which was a new area for us. We found lots of new things and documented an alarming number of new exotic-invasive species for the summit, likely carried up on boots or in gear by unknowing visitors. The second week, Elisabet Safont from Spain, and I, set up another camp in the northern part of the mountain, a day’s-hike away. There we managed to enter three areas we were not able to the year before, in part because of the dense fog and lack of time. The weather was friendlier to us this year and we only had two days of serious rain.

One of the more exciting areas we went into is known as the “Great Labyrinth,” which is a huge rock maze with towering, oddly shaped pinnacles that cover about 10% of the mountain summit. Since so few people have ever ventured into the Labyrinth, we felt it was important to take a look. It is not easy to enter, but we found a hole (literally, a round hole in one of the rocks), and entered into a hidden, lush valley that was fascinating to explore. It would take weeks to explore completely, but unfortunately that was our last day. The helicopter, though arriving a few hours late, picked us up on the planned departure date. We flew down to meet our team members who had continued working in the south, shared the excitements of our discoveries over the roar of the helicopter blades, and then packed everything back into the truck for the two-day drive back to Caracas.

Photo: Elisabet Safont, from the Botanic Institute of Barcelona, explores the summit of Roraima-tepui. Photo and video by Bruce Holst

Helicopter Landing - From Roraima pics 2012