8. Mount Roraima
Sitting in the heart of Venezuela’s Pakaraima mountain range is Mount Roraima. This formation has more in common with a giant table than it does with the shape of a conventional mountain.
Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield, a Precambrian formation that contains some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Many exceed two billion years in age. Though it was not discovered by the Europeans until 1595 in an expedition led by Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh, one of many intrepid explorers in search of the mythical El Dorado, the giant plateau has held spiritual significance for the Pemon and Kapon natives for time immemorial.
They see Mount Roraima as the stump of a once-mighty tree that bore all the fruits and vegetables that the world had to offer. According to legend, the tree was felled by Makunaima, an evil trickster, who set a flood upon the surrounding lands in its wake.
Today, Mount Roraima bears no fruits, but its unique geology and sheer cliff faces are a tremendous draw for scientists and thrill-seeking climbers alike. The mountain also lies beneath what seems to be a nearly perpetual torrent of rainfall, so Makunaima’s legacy may yet live.