Gran Sabana, Venezuela
The Gran Sabana, a land of rolling hills and vertical-walled tabletop mountains called tepui's by the local
indians, started with a flight from Canaima down to Santa Elena de Uiren, a small town on the border
with Brazil.  Once there we met our 'Kuravainatours' guide Basil, a wonderful, jolly guy with familial roots
in the Caribbean, giving his English the familiar lilt of the islands.  We spent almost all of the 4 days in the
jeep, riding along the unpaved roads which crisscross the area.  The road has subsidiary trails leading off
every which way, and if you know the secrets of the area you can find those snug little oasis's tucked
away in a fold of the land.  Basil knew them all.

The first night we spent near Santa Elena in a lovely posada (hotel) that offered very nice services &
meals.  Here's a couple of shots from there.
Tired of looking at the waterfall?
Look the other way instead.
Daub and wattle Peymon Indian building, plus Jasper Creek waterfalls
Pacheco's Creek - the first of many waterfalls
Basil, our guide
Butterflies everywhere, Blue Morphos, Yellow Swallowtails and more.  Red and yellow jasper lined the riverbed.
First stop, Pacheco's Creek, better known as oasis central; a great little waterfall-fed pool.  Quick, put
on your suits and dive in.  The shot above right was taken looking away from the pool and into the
distance.  Always the lush, rolling hills of the savannah with the tepuis in the background.  We have
friends that hiked Roraima, the biggest tepui at over 9000', and they tell of their experience on their
blog which can be read
HERE.    These tepui's are huge and quite steep and provide a hard workout to
get up them. Up until the mid-1800's Roraima had not been climbed and it was thought that there were
dinosaurs living up on top.

Everyday we stopped at waterfalls - some were out in the open and some were tucked up into the
woods, but all seemed a miracle out in this vast expanse of land.  The indigenous Indians, the Peymons,
hold all this land as theirs.

Our next few shots are from Jasper Creek, a river laced with waterfalls and flowing over a foundation
of red and yellow jasper, a semi-percious stone.  Beautiful all wet and glossy, and the butterflies
couldn't get enough of whatever mineral they were after.  I saw more Blue Morpho butterflies than I
ever had...
The long and winding road, with
tepuis evident in the background
After a drive over the washboard-like dirt road,  we board an Indian dugout and start a 30 minute
motor upstream to Chinak Meru, a spectacular waterfall on the Aponwao River, at 345 feet high, it's the
second tallest in Venezuela.  From there we hike for about an hour up and over a pretty steep hill and
find this hidden pool.  Sid and our Indian guide hike further up the stream and find other small
cascades above the one we're enjoying.
On the next excursion we drove 50 km along the dirt road to the biggest of the Peymon villages,
Kavanayen, an old missionary town.  A large mission was built and is still used by the locals for
various purposes, and all the houses are built of stone.   Additionally, there is a presedential
compound here, seen on the right.
After a bogus visit to the goldmining area and town, a waste of time in our view, the trip concluded
with a very long ride all the way back up to Ciudad Bolivar followed by a bus trip back to Puerto La
Cruz.  A great excursion and really worth while. We had a great time and know the sight of these
grassy, broad expanses will stay in our memory for some time to come.
Large mission complex and the presidential complex, quite the location!