Well, if you found this article, you're probably thinking about going on a crazy hike. The Roraima is certainly what you are looking for. I really enjoyed the trip and would like to share my personal experiences with you here.
- Preparation, travel and costs for the Roraima Expedition
- Diary of the Roraima hike
- Equipment for the hike to Roraima
- Best time to travel to Roraima and rainy season
Preparation, travel and costs for the Roraima Expedition
We started our trip to the Roraima from Caracas. There are two options for this:
- By plane from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz and from there by off-road vehicle to the starting point of the hike
- By car/bus from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolivar and from there by SUV to Gran Sabana. However, bus connections in Venezuela are uncertain.
We used the Venezuelan travel agency Café Naiguatá. Overall, everything went great. Small things were changed in advance - keeping up the typical Latin American spontaneity. In general, it is normal for a lot of information to flow via WhatsApp and Instagram.
There are also many Brazilian agencies that offer the trip from Brazil. On the hike we basically only met tourists from Brazil.
Do I need an agency for the hike?
In order to enter the Gran Sabana National Park, where the table mountain Roraima is located, you need to be accompanied by a local Pemón. The Pemón usually also carry luggage and help find the way.
An additional agency is still recommended. They provide the equipment (tents, cooking utensils, food, garbage transport), know the routes and organize arrival and departure. The Pemóns also run much faster, so you only meet them in the camp in the morning and evening.
How much does the trip to Roraima cost?
We paid about $800 per person (as of 2023). The price included travel to and from Caracas. The costs of accommodation along the way were also covered. We only had to pay for the food on the road.
In addition, costs for the equipment (check my recommendations) must be taken into account. Especially if you don't yet have good hiking and camping equipment, you will incur considerable costs.
Arrival and return journey
The last connected place before the national park is called Kumarakapay (or San Francisco de Yuruaní). From Caracas to Kumarakapay it is about 745 miles (1,200 km) by car. The second half of the route requires an off-road vehicle as some sections of the route are difficult to pass.
The agency drove us to Ciudad Bolívar in a mini-van (similar to a VW Sprinter). We had a rustic but nice accommodation there. On the second day we drove on to Kumarakapay in an off-road vehicle. Accommodation there was even more rustic and accompanied by some insects (cockroaches 🪳) in the room. It sounds worse than it really is - but I want to be completely honest here ;)
On the return journey the program is the other way round. So you have to be aware that you will spend a total of four days in the car. Even if that's part of the experience - and you get to know exciting places and views along the way - that's definitely a minus point.
Ah and fyi: the toilets on the way do not meet the highest hygienic standards. The flush is a pot of water that you pour into the toilet.
The alternative, the flight from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz, roughly halves the distance by car.
Diary of the Roraima hike
Day 1: Through the savannah to Camp Río Tek
- Incline: 0.12 miles (200 meters) in altitude
- Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
- Duration: around 6 hours depending on the group
- Characteristics: dry, sunny, grassland, mostly flat with a steep gradient at the beginning
- Clothing recommendation: light, light-colored functional clothing (long sleeves for sun protection)
From the last town, Kumarakapay, it takes about an hour in an off-road vehicle to Paratepuy, a Pemón village, from where the hike starts. From there, no cars or motorcycles are allowed, although the latter occasionally roar through the savannah (supposedly for emergencies).
From Paratepuy we go through the savannah to the first camp. In our case it was the Campamento Río Tek. Some tours go a little further (and through two rivers) to stop at the Campamento Río Kukenán.
Even though Campamento sounds like a campsite, it doesn't have much to do with that. There is an area for camping and two cabins. The Pemón sleep and cook in these and store food there. The shower is the river and the toilet is a bag.
You should definitely think about sun and insect protection, especially on the first and second days! By the way, insect repellent from abroad doesn't work. Venezuelan mosquitoes have different preferences 😅
Day 2: Through rivers and to the foot of Roraima
- Slope: 0.5 miles (800 meters)
- Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
- Duration: around 6 hours depending on the group
- Characteristics: dry, sunny, grassy landscape, constant slight gradient towards the end, two river crossings
- Clothing recommendation: light, light-colored functional clothing (long sleeves for insect and sun protection)
Since we stayed overnight at Campamento Río Tek, we started the hike by crossing the river called - Drumroll - Tek. This is safest on socks, which means you should have dry socks on hand so you can swap them out afterwards.
After about half a mile (one kilometer) comes the second river - Río Kukenán - which is crossed in the same way. Both have large stones on which you walk through the river about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) in the water.
🦟 There are a lot of very nasty mosquitoes, especially near the rivers
Then we continue through the familiar grassland towards Table Mountain. Towards the end of the hike, a slightly constant increase becomes a final, longer climb. There wasn't much climbing yet, but it was tiring, especially after the first two days.
The Campamento Base is located directly at Tepui Roraima. From here you can view the impressive steep wall. About 10 minutes from the camp there is a small and very cold swimming area to refresh yourself after a strenuous day.
Day 3: Climb to Roraima
- Slope: 0.6 miles (1,000 m) in altitude
- Distance: 3.7 miles (6 km)
- Duration: around 7 hours depending on the group
- Characteristics: tropical, woody, constant steep gradient
- Clothing recommendation: light, light-colored functional clothing (insect and sun protection is only necessary to a limited extent)
Finally it goes up. First you climb in the jungle and over steep slopes, later you will climb over rough rocks and stones. Especially if it has rained, the first part of the day can be slippery and difficult.
The climb, also affectionately known as la rampa (the ramp), is the only way to climb Roraima without climbing equipment. It is a natural access over scree. At its narrowest point the ramp is about 5 meters wide.
In between you pass smaller waterfalls on the rock face and already have breathtaking views: into the distance and up the 0.3 miles (500 meter) high rocky slope.
Once at the top we head towards the hotel. Hotel? Yes, you read that right. However, the various caves on the Roraima are called Hoteles. The tents are then set up in these caves.
Day 4: Enjoy the views from Roraima
From here on, many tours are different. The tours from Brazil hike on Table Mountain itself to the Brazilian border. The Roraima Tepui has a surface area of 12 square miles (31 km²) - so you can hike here for a few days.
We, on the other hand, stayed in the same hotel and went on a day trip without luggage. On the program the most photographed places on the mountain.
Sights on the Roraima
- La Ventana: From here there is undeniably the most spectacular view. On a rocky outcrop it is possible to look into the abyss as well as to see the Kukenán mesa right next to the Roraima. Most of the time there are cloud formations between the mountains, so you are above the clouds.
- Los Jacuzzis: Natural rock pools filled with clear and cool water. A nice opportunity to bathe and do laundry. The pools themselves look yellow to green, with the water being pure and clear.
- El Meverick: The highest point of Roraima. According to the Pemón people, the rock formation was named after the Ford Maverick car model because of its shape. Approaching the Roraima, the rock formation looks like a car in profile.
- Punto Triple: The point where the borders of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana converge. Incidentally, Venezuela does not recognize the border with Guyana, so from a Venezuelan perspective it is not, strictly speaking, a Punto Triple at all. We didn't see this point on the hike because it is far away from the climb to Roraima.
Day 5 to 7: Descent and return
Here too, some tours differ. Some people do the descent (a whole day for us) and the way to Camp Río Tek in one day.
We, on the other hand, completed the descent in one day. This takes about three to four hours. So there would still be enough time to continue hiking straight away, but you can especially feel the way down with luggage in your joints. In order to avoid severe knee pain, I found the break very good.
Equipment for the hike to Roraima
Water filters & water bottles
There are always streams where you can fill up your water during the hike. That's why a container of 25 to 50 ounces (1 to 1.5 liters) is actually enough. Since there is not always access to running water, it makes sense to buy water filters.
Camping: sleeping mat and sleeping bag
Even though the Venezuelans talk about icy temperatures on the Roraima, they barely fall below 50 °F (10 °C) at night. Of course, a good sleeping bag is still a must. Check the temperatures in Roraima
Kineseo tape and first aid kit.
You are in the middle of the large savannah, far away from larger towns. Be sure to take a first aid kit and Kineseo tape with you. If you twist or cut yourself, you should be able to take care of yourself.
Hiking boots and Vaseline/tallow
Unsurprisingly, invest in sensible hiking boots. Not only buy them before the trip, but also break them in beforehand.
Pro Tip: Apply Vaseline or sebum to your feet every morning before putting on socks and shoes. In our group, the tip meant that out of 7 people, no one even developed a blister.
Backpack min. 60L and carabiner
Look for a few practical features in your backpack
- Water should be easily accessible. So you need a way to insert the bottle on the outside.
- Smaller compartments for everyday items, e.g. snacks, sunscreen and glasses
- Possibility of strapping on voluminous objects, such as the sleeping mat outside
- You definitely need a lap belt. This takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.
- Also pack carabiners, duck tape and bags so you can improvise when packing.
Very important against mosquitoes and so-called Puri Puri (black flies). The Puri Puri are really hard to avoid and cause worse bites than any mosquito.
Since tropical insects have different preferences, you also need tropical mosquito repellent.
Best time to travel to Roraima and rainy season
The tours are possible all year round. However, it is particularly beautiful in October to January (summer in Venezuela). There are a particularly large number of mosquitoes in September (we noticed that).
Temperatures in the Gran Sabana on the way to Roraima
During the hike there are maximum daily temperatures between 79 °F and 86 °F (26°C and 30°C), depending on the season. At night it cools down to 61 °F to 65 °F (16°C to 18°C) depending on the time of year.
It is hottest between October and March. The coolest months are June, July and August. Most of the time there is no wind or only very light wind.
Temperatures on the Roraima
It is significantly cooler on the Roraima than in the Gran Sabana, after all there is an altitude difference of around 1,800 meters between the two regions.
On average it is around 50°F (10°C) cooler on the Roraima than in the Gran Sabana. You should expect maximum daily temperatures between 61 °F and 68 °F (16°C and 20°C), depending on the month you travel. At night it cools down to 43°F to 45°F (6°C to 8°C) depending on the time of year.
It is very windy on the mountain, so the perceived temperature is a little lower. However, the tents are in caves, which means there is no wind (or rain) there.
Rainy season Roraima
The most rainfall occurs in the Venezuelan summer. April to August is the rainy season. There is significantly less rain in December to March.
The tropical rain is usually very heavy. We were lucky that it only rained at night and the tents stayed tight. You should definitely pack your backpack waterproof.