South America’s Lost Alien World: Mysterious Plateau on Top of a Mountain Is Home to Unique Flora and Fauna
One could be forgiven for thinking one has ascended to the heavens upon making it to the summit of the famous Mount Roraima. It's another world entirely with a breathtaking sea of clouds obscuring the view and a mysterious rocky summit that almost seems like an alien world.
Mount Roraima, flanked by Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana, is the highest of South America's Pakaraima mountain range, whose collection of tabletop mountains are among the oldest geological formations in the planet going back to 2 billion years ago.
The region sees rain almost daily, creating a unique ecosystem that forms a number of the highest waterfalls in existence as well as the perfect habitat for endemic species like a carnivorous pitcher plant, according to a report from Atlas Obscura.
The mountain's most famous feature is the 31-square-kilometer summit area, a floating island propped on top of jagged cliffs that rise 400 meters high. Organisms at the top of the mountain include the pebbly Roraima bush toad that's only about an inch long and features a yellow-spotted belly, according to MNN.
The peak gained popularity when it inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Lost World." Many adventurers have scaled the mountain to see the otherworldly summit and capture the magic depicted in fiction. While professional rock climbers can take a more direct route, most people can take a sloping trail that's usually a two-day hike.
Tourism has played a big role in pushing Roraima's spectacular summit under threat. The National Parks Institute of Venezuela limited tourists allowed on the mountain after the constant stream of people began damaging the landscape. Some even steal the quartz that is found in the Crystal Valley of Roraima. The Roraima bush toad has even been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Vulnerable.