For as long as I remember, I have always wanted to hike up Mount Roraima. There is something about this mountain that inspired the movie “Up” that draws me to it. Despite being located in the dangerous country of Venezuela, this table mountain attracts many tourist every year.
After years of research, I finally found a way to safely enter Venezuela and summit this famous mountain. I decided to book the tour through a company called Kamadac. A friend of mine back in Vancouver has done this hike with Kamadac and liked the service that was provided.
I ended up paying $962 USD to tour Venezuela which included the following:
- Private pickup from Brazil to Santa Elena
- One night stay at a Posada in Santa Elena before the trek
- 6 day trek up Mount Roraima with porters including tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and food
- One night stay at a Posada in Santa Elena after the trek
- Private transfer from Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar
- One night stay at Posada Don Carlo in Ciudad Bolivar
- Private transfer from Posada Don Carlo to Ciudad Bolivar Airport
- Small plane ride (seats 6 people!) from Ciudad Bolivar to Canaima
- 2 day tour of Angel Falls and Canaima
- Overnight stay at a hammock camp near Angel Falls
- One night stay at Kavac guest house in Canaima
- Small plane ride (seats 12 people) from Canaima to Ciudad Bolivar
- One night stay at Waipa Hotel in Porta Ordaz
- Private transfer from Porta Ordaz to Santa Elena
- Drop off back to Brazil side of the border
Anyways, I was glad I booked this tour despite being pricy because the company kept me safe at all times (except for one incident at Angel Falls which I will cover when I write that article).
The night before the hike
Before starting the hike, we made sure to pack light for the trek. Thankfully, the tour company’s porters are carrying our tent which lightens our load.
I ended up packing the following items:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- 3 t-shirts
- 1 pants
- 3 underwears
- 1 shorts
- Mosquito repellent
- 1 giant plastic bag to keep all my stuff dry
- 1 hat
- 1 flashlight
- Canon G7X camera
- 1 headlamp
- GoPro Hero4 with selfie stick
- 1 empty 1.5 litre coke bottle used as my water bottle
- 3 pairs of socks
- 1 hiking shoes
- cell phone
- 1 flipflops
- 2 camera and 1 GoPro extra batteries
- 1 external battery charger
- Contact lense solution
- 1 pair of contact lenses
- Microfibre quick dry towel
- 1 pair of glasses
- Hand sanitizer
- 1 toilet paper
- 4 sleeping pills (I used them on 3 out of 5 nights to help me sleep)
- Cream for mosquito bites
Since I am backpacking, I ended up packing the rest of my stuff away and left them in the Kamadac office where they stayed safe.
If you’re wondering why I don’t have any water filters, it’s because we drank water from the river. Apparently, it’s completely safe and clean and nothing happened to any of us.
We got our drinking water from rivers like this
Day 1: Hiking to the camp before the river
The basic goal of our hike is like this:
- We hike through an open plain where our goal is to cross two rivers before arriving at the base of Mount Roraima
- We then climb up Mount Roraima arriving at the top
- At the top, we will spend one day exploring
- We will then hike back down to base camp of Mount Roraima and pass both rivers arriving at camp one
- On the last day, we will hike from camp one all the way back to the village where we started our journey
We all gathered in the office the next morning. I didn’t realize there was a time zone difference and arrived a bit late to the office. Turns out everyone already bought their breakfast and they’re ready to go. Because I didn’t have anything for breakfast, the company was nice enough to cook me a quick omelette as I stored away my valuables in their closet before our multi-day trek.
As soon as we were all packed and ready to go, we boarded a truck which took us about 50km away from Santa Elena to a village where we would start the hike.
We ate lunch in the village as the porters started packing their pack full of food, tents, toilet seat (yes we actually had a portable toilet for this trek), and other important necessities. As soon as everyone was ready a little passed noon time, we began walking to camp number one just before the first river.
Camp number one
The hike itself was fairly easy with a few high incline spots. As soon as we reached camp number one, I was surprised!
There are tons of people camping here! Turns out there are still a lot of people hiking Mount Roraima because it’s located in a safe pocket of Venezuela. In total, there was 12 tents including ours in the place and roughly 20-24 tourist hiking to the top (this doesn’t include the porters and guide).
The camp site looked pretty good at first glance until the puri puri’s start biting you. These little nasty buggers are blood sucking insects that are not repelled by your mosquito repellent! It’s even worst when we head for the river to take a bath and they start swarming your body leaving you with hundreds of welts. (don’t ask what happens when they get in your toilet when you’re doing your business)
Our tour guide prepared our dinner and we ate heartily before heading to bed under the bright and shining stars.
Day 2: Hiking to base camp
We woke up bright and early in the morning. Our tour leader Marisol prepared our breakfast before packing up and beginning our trek.
In order to cross the rivers, we needed to take off our shoes and walk on our socks. Apparently, your socks gives you better traction as we crossed the river.
The first river was crossed easily enough and we continued walking. Along the way, we noticed there’s a random church here in the middle of nowhere. Turns out many Venezuelans hike Mount Roraima during Christmas and New Year and stopping at the church to pray before spending Christmas or New Years day atop Mount Roraima.
After we passed the church, we were presented with the second river. Crossing the second river more challenging but we were in luck because the water levels was quite low allowing us to cross with minimal difficulty (crossing on the way back is a different story).
From here, it’s a long hike with gradual incline as we made our way towards the Mount Roraima base camp.
As soon as we reached base camp, we got settled in, took a bath in a nearby freezing pond, and ate dinner as we got eaten by mosquitoes that swarm the area. After dinner, we gazed at the stars as one by one, we all went to sleep getting ready for a tough day ahead of us.
Day 3: Climbing up Mount Roraima
After breakfast, we began climbing Mount Roraima. I initially thought this would be one of the harder days because of the sheer steepness of this hike. It was definitely tough but not as tough as many of the hikes I’ve done before in the past.
The one thing that made me worried was one of the porters named Miguel hurt his leg during the hike. The group doesn’t actually hike together and instead we travel at our own pace usually with a few other tour members or porters.
It ended up being myself, Miguel, another porter (I forgot his name), my two Russian friends that I met in the tour: Irina and Aleks that made it to the top together. This is not without problems as I tripped a few times almost breaking my precious camera.
The top of Mount Roraima is simply amazing! I felt like Super Mario as we started hopping between rocks avoiding puddles of water and mud. There are many strange rock formations and plant life that live at Mount Roraima’s summit making it an interesting place to explore.
After hiking for a bit, we reached our camp which is located right underneath a rock wall. One kind of creepy thing is that there are tarantulas that crawl right along the rock wall. If you’re scared of spiders, I’m not sure if you’ll be able to sleep knowing that your next door neighbour is a big black tarantula.
We ended up eating massive amounts of pasta for dinner to replenish our energy after the long hike up top Mount Roraima!
Day 4: Troubles up top Mount Roraima
Things were going really smoothly in our trek to Mount Roraima that I think our luck finally ran out. We began the day exploring the top a bit later than planned because of strong rain. As soon as we began walking around, we got to see incredible rock formations before heading camp for lunch.
After lunch, we headed back to go towards the famous jacuzzi formation. Our awesome tour guide Marisol also took the time to tell us a history of quartz up top Mount Roraima. Apparently, many Japanese people went up this mountain in the past and mined out the quartz allowing them to make a lot of profit. Nowadays, when the Japanese people return, they always do a helicopter tour to the top and we joked that they used the quartz profit to pay for the helicopter ride.
We finally made it to the “jacuzzi” before walking back towards camp. This is when things went from great to bad.
First, we got stuck walking in the dark where we couldn’t see where we are going. This is especially bad because we are hopping around avoiding puddles which we can easily slip on and get hurt. But, worst of all, my Russian friend Aleks passed out up top causing an emergency situation.
Marisol then gunned it back to camp to get the strongest porters to come and help carry him back.
Thankfully, Aleks was okay and it was because his body didn’t adapt well to the altitude that caused him to pass out.
We ate our dinner as Aleks recuperated and by the following day he was okay.
Day 5: The longest and hardest day of them all
The hike on day 5 was by far the toughest one of them all. We had to hike two days worth of trekking in one day going from the summit of Mount Roraima to camp number one. Included in the hike was two river crossing. If things couldn’t have been worst, it also started raining very hard.
Our hike down the mountain became a hike down river streams. It was quite sketchy but also interesting to see floods of water along the trail we were walking at.
This is where our group was also greatly separated. I was hiking by myself for 90% of the trek back to camp number one. After reaching base camp, I met up with a few of our fast hiker and porters before continuing on down towards river number two.
After seemingly forever, I make it to river number two only to find out it was flooded to the max. There was no way we can cross by foot.
Thankfully, some porters were present nearby from another tour company that helped us cross the river by canoe. One by one, we crossed the river allowing us to continue the hike back towards our camp.
After a very long 10-11 hour hike, I finally make it to camp where fellow tour members from Brazil (Jessica), Belgium (Neils), Diane (Germany) and Evan (the strongest porter) made it there fast and safely.
They put my tent far from everyone because the Belgian guy was complaining I snore at night
I took a quick bath in the river and realized that the rest of our tour members aren’t arriving…Eventually, my Russian friends also made it and we slept wondering what happened to the rest of our tour group members.
Day 6: The final stretch
The next morning, the rest of the tour group members finally made it to camp (Lise from Venezuela as well as the other porters and tour leader). They got stranded before river number two because of heavy flooding and couldn’t cross until this morning.
We ate breakfast and started hiking back towards the village where we started. This hike shouldn’t be as hard as it is but after hiking for 10+ hours the day before, our energies were sapped and our muscles were sore.
After the final 5 hour hike, little by little, fellow tour members started arriving. We got on a van like a couple of dead zombies and made our way to this hut where we ate lunch.
After another 50km drive to Santa Elena, we finally made it back. We said our goodbyes to fellow tour members Jessica, Aleks, and Irina as they were heading to Brazil. I got a chance to rest a little bit as I got ready to go on the next segment of my tour.
The hike up Mount Roraima was definitely an adventurous one and I made one of my long time dreams come true! Despite looking like a diseased person thanks to all the insect bites that cover my skin, I am glad to have completed one of the biggest things I’ve wanted to do for the past few years.
With Mount Roraima complete, I now set my eyes to the next challenging destination in Venezuela: Angel Falls.