The tepuis of the Guiana Highlands in South America - tabletop mountains whose flat summits are surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs. The summits, whose areas range from a few square kilometres to hundreds, used to be a contiguous landform, but they have been separated for so long that each now has its own unique flora and fauna which have evolved and adapted to their specific summit.
Mount Roraima is the tallest in the chain. According to the legends of the indigenous Pemon and Kapon people, it is the stump of what was once a great tree that held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables of the world. When it crashed to the ground, felled by the trickster Makunaima, it unleashed a tremendous flood.
Auyantepui has the largest summit, with an area of seven hundred square kilometres. It also has the distinction of being the site of Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world.
Autana tepui has caves whose tunnels pass through from one side to the other, formed around three billion years ago by an underground river system.
The lush, species-rich forests of Sarisariñama tepui’s summit are broken by four giant sinkholes, each one a near-perfect circle, with their own forest ecosystems at the bottoms — ecological islands within an ecological island. The largest of the sinkholes, Simo Humboldt, is 314 metres deep.
Sarisariñama itself also features in local legend: Its name originates from a tale told among the indigenous Ye’kuna people, who believed the mountain was home to an evil monster who devoured human flesh with the sound, “Sari… sari…”