The tepuys (or tepuis) are flat-topped mountains that overlook the tropical jungle
Tepuys are high plateaus or flat mountains found in the Guiana Shield of South America, particularly in Venezuela . In the language of the Pemón people who live in the Gran Sabana (great savannah), “Tepui” means “House of the Gods” because of their height.
Tepuys generally lie isolated from each other unlike conventional mountain ranges, resulting in a concentration of hundreds of endemic plant and animal species , some of which are only found on a single tepuy. The isolation of these reliefs and their strong climatic contrasts explain this. Rising above the surrounding forest, the tepuys have almost sheer vertical sides, and many rise up to 1,000 meters above the surrounding jungle. The largest of them are over 3000 meters high. The nearly vertical escarpments and dense rainforest bed on which these tepuys sit make them inaccessible on foot . Only three of the Gran Sabana mountainscan be reached on foot, among which Mount Roraima , 2180 m high, which is the most accessible.
The tepuys are the remains of a large sandstone plateau that once covered the entire granite floor between the northern border of the Amazon basin and the Orinoco, and between the Atlantic coast and the Rio Negro, during the period precambrian . Over millions of years, the plateaus were eroded and all that remained were the isolated tepuys, those “flat-headed” mountains (or table mountain , mesa , and tafelberg as they are also called). Although the tepuys seem quite barren, their tops are teeming with life .
The high altitude of the tepuys gives them a different climate from the forest below. The summit is often cooler with frequent rains, while the base enjoys a tropical, hot and humid climate. Many extraordinary (endemic) plants have adapted to the environment to form unique and tepui-specific species.
Some 9400 species of higher plants have been recorded in Venezuelan Guiana, of which 2322 are recorded from the tepuys. Thus, about a third of the species exist nowhere else in the world except on tepuys .
There are 115 such mountains in the Gran Sabana region of southeastern Venezuela, which has the highest concentration of tepuys. The most famous of these is Mount Roraima . The latter was unexplored until 1884. Today the tepuy is a popular destination for backpackers and is home to a good number of small waterfalls, quartz-lined natural pools and the Punto Triple , the point where the borders Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana meet. It was explored by Robert Schomburgk whose expedition inspired Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle for his novel The Lost World .
The other famous tepui is Auyantepui , from which falls Salto Angel , the highest waterfall in the world. Auyantepui is also the largest of the tepuys with an area of 700 km².
Here are pictures of tepuys , must-see attractions on a trip to Venezuela:
Sources photos : Amusing Planet