Roraima in Brazil

This extreme northern state is one of the country's newest and is only just beginning to exploit its strategic position on the border with Gran Sabana in Venezuela and the stunning Parakaima mountains in Guyana. The state capital is Boa Vista, a safe, tidy modern city with a very lively out-of-season carnival. Beyond the city, the rainforest gives way to extensive grasslands overlooked by precipitous table-top mountains. The most famous of these is Conan Doyle's lost world, Roraima, which can be visited from Boa Vista. Others, such as Tepequen and those on the upper Rio Branco, are more remote and less visited, their wildernesses replete with wildlife. Guyana and Venezuela are a couple of hours from Boa Vista and all visa formalities can be sorted out in that city. Contrary to popular belief, crossing into both countries is easy and painless and there are excellent onward transport services to Caracas or Georgetown.

Background

Roraima covers an area nearly twice the size of England but supports a population of just 325,000. Land grants in the 1970s to encourage agricultural development resulted in a rapid increase in population (from only 25,000 in 1960). Then, in the late 1980s a gold rush in the northwest of Roraima drew prospectors from all over the country. The mining took place on the indigenous Yanomami reserve, devastating their traditional way of life. Further tragedy came in January 1998 when forest fires spread across the state, causing massive destruction. The forest cover gives way to grasslands in the northeast and there is a pronounced dry season. The
várzea
(flood plain) along the main rivers irrigates the southeast of the state. Cattle ranching is important as is rice cultivation on the flood plain of the Rio Branco. Other crops are maize, beans, manioc and banana. Some mining continues but at a reduced level.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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