Return to the Gran Sabana

Trek to Tepuy Chirikayen – Day 1

The trek to Mt. Roraima is the single largest attraction in the Venezuelan Gran Sabana, especially for foreigners.  Canaima National Park and the surrounding area, however, are a mecca of other-worldly landscapes that can be explored for months on end.  It’s over 4,000 sq. miles with an amazing diversity that includes waterfalls, rivers, savannahs, jungles, valley, and gorges.

This time around, it was a trek to another tepuy called Chirikayen.

IMG_1901Our small group departed directly from the frontier town of Santa Elena in the early afternoon.  It was an easy trek, taking us past the outlying houses, climbing past a gorge, and upwards into the grasslands.

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IMG_1919I’d almost forgotten how dramatic the landscapes were in the last six months.  Saturated yellows and greens play against a forbiddingly cloudy sky and the grass whistle with the passings winds.

There’s a duck into jungle territory where we cross rickety ‘bridges’ made out of fallen trees.

IMG_1934Though the areas seems almost untouched, you pass the occasional clay hut.  The inhabitants aren’t there, though our guide assures us someone stops by now and again.  To me, however, the whole place seems like some kind of forgotten memory, frozen in time.  A beautiful isolation I can’t ever imagine living in.

IMG_1940IMG_1944While the scenery certainly recalled the trek to Mt. Roraima, this time around we passed through areas of scorched earth.  The natives here burn the grasslands now and again.  Strong oranges, yellows, and reds were the biggest differences.

gran sabana, trek chirikayenIMG_1957IMG_1958It’s easy to enjoy the haunting landscapes and the intricate details of fallen flowers.   Of course, there’s also a number of creatures who roam these plains.  A constant hum of insects, giant ants crawling along, and the far rarer sightings of giant anteaters.  Unfortunately, there’s no stepping too close because these fellows apparently attack.

IMG_2021gran sabana, chrikayen trek, venezuelaShort showers alleviate us from the heat and bring a new clarity as the tepuy begins to rise before us.  A golden light settles in across the lands as the late afternoon approaches sunset.

IMG_2037IMG_2048We descend towards the first camp site, stopping by a radiant waterfall to take an evening shower.  The water is cold, but refreshing.

IMG_2056IMG_2073IMG_2083The trek continues on the next day, with the ascent of Chirikayen.

You can watch the VIDEO here.

 

 

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