Mount Roraima (also known as Roraima Tepui or Cerro Roraima in Spanish, and Monte Roraima in Portuguese) is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is defended by 400-metre-tall cliffs on all sides. The mountain includes the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.
Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela’s 30000 km2 Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana’s Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian. The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock, 2810 m, at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon Indians of the Gran Sabana see Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by one of their ancestors, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. Roroi in the Pemon language means blue-green and ma means great.
In 2006, Mount Roraima was the destination for the award-winning Gryphon Productions two hour television documentary The Real Lost World. The program was shown on Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater and OLN (Canada). Directed by Peter von Puttkamer, this travel/adventure documentary featured a modern team of explorers: Rick West, Dr. Hazel Barton, Seth Heald, Dean Harrison and Peter Sprouse who followed in the footsteps of British explorers Im Thurn and Harry Perkins who sought the flora and fauna of Roraima in the mid-19th century. The adventures of those explorers may have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s seminal book about people and dinosaurs, The Lost World, published in 1912. In 2006, The Real Lost World team were the first scientific team to explore the caves of Roraima, only recently discovered. Inside they found intriguing “carrot” formations growing in the 2 billion year old caves. Dr. Hazel Barton returned in 2007 on a NASA funded expedition to investigate the features growing on the cave walls and ceiling: evidence of extremophile cave microbes eating the silica-based walls of the cave and leaving dusty deposits on ancient spiderwebs, forming these unique stalactite type shapes. They could provide clues to how life forms and survives on other planets.