I have absolutely no fucking idea what I thought I was doing when I booked onto this six day organised hike up to the top of Roraima Tepui and back. I’d literally sat there in Manaus, recovering from shingles, as travellers heading north to south, fresh from Venezuela, sat in the common area tending to their poor, blistered feet and applying bucket loads of anti-itch cream to their puri-puri bites. The whole thing sounded utterly miserable.
I think the FOMO got the better of me and I ended up handing money over to Backpacker Tours based in Santa Elena which is the jump-off town for Roraima then spending the ensuing hours scurrying around town in search of a heavy duty plastic liner for my backpack, a ridiculous yellow poncho, and gloves for the scrambly parts. Bloody scrambly parts. I don’t even like scrambly parts. What was I thinking?
I ended up being a pretty awful six days. In the final blog post I wrote:
“I can’t say that enjoyed every minute and I’m confused as to why I parted with money for this level of discomfort, there are certainly cheaper ways to cause yourself pain. Right now I’m not sure if it’s really worth it. Ask me in a few days time when I’m warm and dry and walking resembles real walking again and not the pained movements of a crippled penguin.”
Usually you filter out the bad shit and view the past with rose tinted lenses, right? No. Ten years on I still use this trek as the benchmark for all misery. Cold and wet? Is it as bad as Roraima? You’ll be fine. Utterly fucking sad and miserable? Is it as bad as Roraima? You’ll get through it. Trapped your hand in the car door and have to try not to cry in public? Yeah but it’s not Roraima though is it?
But would I do it again? Yeah, probably, because apparently I am a complete fucking masochist. I’m also a lot fitter now and hike regularly. I know what clothes to wear to make being near-permanently soaked more bearable, I’m more used to multi-day hikes and carrying my own gear up massive bastard hills, and hopefully I won’t just have had shingles.
I’m not too sure how I found out about the Roraima Trek in Venezuela’s Gran Sabana, part of the breath-taking Parque Nacional Canaima. It’s in the Lonely Planet so it could have been that or maybe it was because I met a few people whilst I was holed up in Manaus feeling very sorry for […]
Fucking puri-puri. It doesn’t matter how much you cover yourself with clothing or coat yourself with a layer of DEET or that hippy baby oil plus Vitamin B12 crap, as soon as you drop your trousers to pee they hone in on your pasty white arse reflecting in the moon light as the welts on […]
Roraima 101. It’s one of a range of tepuis that stretch through Parque Nacional Canaima in Venezuela, a tepui being a flat topped mountain that holds particular spiritual significance for the indigenous people known collectively as the Pemon people which, as Marco told us, isn’t entirely accurate. There are three tribes that inhabit the Gran […]
My dad and my sister, both military reserve types, like to say that pain is weakness leaving the body. I say that pain is an excuse to sit down and drink beer which is exactly what we did at the end of day five after the epic walk down the tepui. Fuck me backwards it […]