Wednesday 10th February 2010, Room 126, 1.00–2.00pm
South America’s lost world rises like an immense fortress above the clouds.
|Set deep inside remote jungles, the mountain – known as Roraima – is encircled on all sides by vertical cliffs up to 1,000 feet tall. The summit of this colossal plateau has remained isolated since it was uplifted 70 million years ago, and today it harbours ancient life unchanged for millions of years. This great plateau still casts a shadow over one of the least explored regions on Earth. The only route up to the summit of this land is a journey of several days through wilderness to the base of a narrow ledge that winds up the mountain’s towering vertical cliffsides. This slippery rock-pathway up the cliffs hangs over a spectacular drop of hundreds of feet to the lowlands. Halfway up, a waterfall flowing from above has gouged deep into the ledge, but passing this abyss leads on to the mountain top and reveals a haunting, blackened landscape dominated by labyrinths of towering, stone pinnacles taller than houses, as well as valleys carpeted with banks of sparking white and pink quartz crystals that sprout from the ground. Amidst gnarled natural bonsais and pools of golden water, the surface of the plateau is crisscrossed with deep ravines and chasms, and home the most unique and extraordinary assemblage of life on the planet....|