The web's most comprehensive site for the Lost World of the Gran Sabana, Roraima, Canaima National Park and Angel Falls

Canaima Park

Angel Falls
Map 1
Map 2

El Pauji

Further information
Travel book
Información en Español

Find out more about the ascent of these two amazing mountains


Photo © Jerome Bernard-Abou

Travelling in the Lost World can be as difficult as it is rewarding. Attempting to see the region independently requires time, effort and decent walking boots. Oh yes, and patience and good waterproofs.

Check out the point and click MAP for the best introduction to the Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park...
or see this
list of places

Ptari Tepuy, on the road to Liwo Riwo

The Gran Sabana is still a remote and sparsely populated part of the planet. It is arguably one of the last great frontiers. Only about 50,000 people live in an area the size of Belgium, while much of this area is only familiar to the Pemon who have historically inhabited Wekta, Land of Mountains and Tei Pun, the Great Plain.

Until the 1980s, the main highway connecting southern Venezuela and northern Brazil wasn't paved. It could take days to reach Santa Elena de Uairen from El Dorado and Kilometro 88 to the north. The early settlers in El Pauji, 70kms west of Santa Elena often used to be cut off due to the impassable dirt road (they were again in 1999!), or else had to travel in convoys to reach town. It seems incredible that missions were established in the region in such remote locations as Kamarata and Wonken as early as the 1950s. The fevered goldminers who flocked to the region as far back as the 1940s took huge risks in their search for gold and diamonds in such an isolated region.

The Gran Sabana is still, in many ways, a Lost World.

"The Lost World" -- Cover courtesy of Stephen NelsonDiscovering the Gran Sabana today isn't like it used to be, the early settlers will tell you. Regular bus services run along the slick highway, planes come and go, jeeps buzz about. There are shops, lodges, park wardens, tour operators, telephones and three-star accomodation. You can get to most places without too much trouble.

But it's also true to say that if you want to explore, to walk all day long and not see a soul or sit by a waterfall undisturbed for hours, the Gran Sabana has many, many secrets to uncover. As soon as you leave the immediate vicinity of the highway, you are back in time a hundred years or more.

This site, however, is not here to promote tourism, although there are details of where to go and how. This site aims to enrich our experience of this land, and as a result come to respect it all the more. Until the present tourist infrastructure for the region is improved, it would be irresponsible to encourage thousands of people to go there. If the volume of tourists to the Gran Sabana does increase, as it has done over the last two decades, it is essential they be sensitized to the environment -- both human and natural -- they're entering. This is what the Lost World site is about, please take your time to explore it.

If you need more of the nitty-gritty of where to go, how and how much it costs, please buy a guidebook such as the Traveler's Venezuela Companion, Lonely Planet, Footprint, Bradt, or The South American Handbook. If you would like to contribute to this site with information, photos or stories, please see the contacts section.

Aponwao (Chinak) waterfallsThe only tourist guide currently available to the region is Roberto Marrero's Guia de la Gran Sabana which recently appeared in English. You can find it in some bookshops in Caracas, Ciudad Bolivar, and at shops and stops in the Gran Sabana itself. He has also published various maps, which are great to get a better idea of the region, despite being somewhat confusing... His latest map records the sightings of extra-terrestrial activity, a subject very dear to Marrero's heart. Rightly or wrongly, he has been criticised from many quarters for this latest publication. You can make your own mind up...

The latest book to be published is The Ecological Guide to the Gran Sabana, published by The Nature Conservancy, in English and Spanish (Huber, O., G. Febres & H. Arnal, eds. 2001. Ecological Guide to the Gran Sabana, Canaima National Park , Venezuela. The Nature Conservancy, Caracas, Venezuela. 192 pp. ISBN: 980-07-7987-6).

It makes an invaluable companion for those interested in the region's fauna and flora. It also contains practical details of how to enjoy the park's wonders. For more information, contact: The Nature Conservancy, Marie Christine Martin

Another addition to the literature of the region is the Traveller's Reference Guide-Map of Mount Roraima. It's published by Emilio Perez and Adrian Warren. It's a great work, with excellent detailed maps of Roraima and Kukenan, as well as lots of background information on the mountains' history, and their flora, fauna and climate. You can find out more and order a copy through:

Please note that the epistomology of the Gran Sabana is highly confusing. Due to the three different sub-groups of the Pemon (Kamakoto, Arekuna and Taurepan), early British and German explorers and later Venezuelan colonisation, many places in the region have several types of spelling, and even different names altogether. Matawi Tepuy is the original Pemon name for Kukenan (also spelt as Cuquenan, Kukenam...). However, since its waterfall is the source of the river Kukenan, the name has been corrupted. Roraima should be [roroima] since this means blue-green in Pemon. Also, according to the Pemon, the letter [c] doesn't exist in the written form of language they've devised. Thus Canaima, Cavac and Camarata should all be spelt with a [k]. This is all part of the evolution of the region, but confusing nonetheless...

Kama Meru -- just off the HighwayOn a preaching note, it goes without saying that the cliché "Take only photos and leave only footprints" applies to the Gran Sabana. Unfortunately, even footprints cause damage. Anyone trekking to Roraima will know what I'm talking about. Erosion due to four-wheel drive vehicles in the region is also considerable. My advice if travelling by hire-car is to stick to the existing roads, and not be tempted by short-cuts around holes which only cause more destruction. When walking or trekking, stay on the paths and don't trample adjacent vegetation. Damage inflicted to Roraima Tepuy over the last decade or so has been criminal. People have pick-axed crystal rocks to take home, torn down vegetation for firewood and defecated all over the place. Tepuis should be revered as sacred, spiritual places, and are not playgrounds for our infantile stimulation. Please encourage eco-awareness and contact groups listed in the links and contacts section of this site to make a postive contribution this unique and fragile part of our planet. Enough preaching...

What to take when travelling to the region


Find out about Dominic Hamilton's planned Travels in the Lost World book...



All of the material on this site is  © Dominic Hamilton1998-2007, unless otherwise stated. Unauthorised copying or downloading prohibited.
Visit our Sponsors and Begin Your Venezuelan Adventure Right Here!
Visit our Sponsors and Begin Your Venezuelan Adventure Right Here!
Visit our Sponsors and Begin Your Venezuelan Adventure Right Here!