Why a Wonder: The inspiration behind Arthur Conan Doyle's famous novel "The Lost World," the tepuis of Canaima National Park are dramatic tabletop mountains surrounded by cliffs on all sides. Each tepui is like an island floating above the plains of the Gran Sabana, an area of extensive grasslands in southeastern Venezuela.
Where: Canaima National Park is located in Venezuela's Bolivar state. Mount Roraima is the tallest tepui, reaching a height of 9,220 feet above sea level, and the two-day trek to the top is one of the most amazing hikes in the world. Plan to spend several days up top to explore the massive flat summit and its unique features. Nearby Kukenán is almost equal in height, and arguably even more photogenic. You'll need a good guide to ensure you get to Canaima and who can get you safely to the top (try Explora Treks https://exploratreks.com). The closest airport is in Santa Elena de Uairén, which is near the border with Brazil; from there a tour company can drive you to the trailhead for the hike into the wilderness.
When: Hiking here is easiest during the dry season from roughly December to April, although even during the dry season it rains often. The rainy season (May through November) is more challenging, but you are also more likely to get stunning views of massive waterfalls cascading off the sheer cliffs of the tepuis.
Photography: From below, the tepuis rise dramatically from the grasslands, making excellent subjects for scenic landscape photography. Time permitting, plan one or more nights of camping below, and hopefully you'll get lucky with beautiful sunrise and sunset light.
A visit to the Canaima highlands, however, won't be complete unless you visit the top of Mount Roraima. There's a popular two-day trek to the top for the physically fit, but you can also look into chartering a helicopter to skip all of the hiking.
On the top, erosion has sculpted the landscape to create fantastical rock formations, chasms, caves, and abundant reflecting pools. There is plenty of unique flora and fauna, as each tepui has its own ecosystem. You can easily spend days exploring the tabletop and still find new discoveries.
Hikes to the cliff edges reveal some of the most uniquely dramatic scenery found on Earth. After a heavy rain, waterfalls plunge over the sheer cliffs of Roraima and other nearby tepuis, and if you are lucky, you'll find yourself floating above the clouds.
You'll find plenty of use for wide-angle to short telephoto zooms. Just pack light, as the trek to the top is extremely challenging, and even if you take a helicopter, the surface area of the tabletop is massive, so you'll have to do some hiking to see the sights.
Learn More: Explora Treks can help you plan an expedition to the Canaima highlands, visit https://exploratreks.com for more information.
© Henry Gonzales and Ian Plant
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This post sponsored by Tamron.