Deep inside Venezuela’s jungle lie isolated islands of table top mountains, called tepuis.
The table top mountains are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago.
As they are completely isolated from the ground, these ”islands above the rainforest” have a large number of unique plants and animals not found anywhere else in the world.
Table top mountains also exist in other parts of the world where they are called mesa, tuya, butte, amba or simply table mountain.
1. Table Mountain
Table Mountain is the most famous of the table top mountains in the world. It’s main feature is a level plateau approximately 3 kilometers (2 mi) from side to side, surrounded by steep cliffs.
The highest point on Table Mountain is 1,086 meters (3,563 ft) above sea level.
There is a cable car that takes passengers to the top of the mountain with views overlooking Cape Town and Table Bay to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south.
António de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it ‘Table Mountain’.
Auyantepui, which means “Devil’s Mountain” in the language of the native Pemon people, is the most visited tepui in Venezuela. The world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, drops from a cleft near the summit of Auyantepui.
The falls were named after pilot Jimmie Angel who accidentally discovered the falls in 1933.
During a return trip in 1937, Angel crashed his small plane on top of Auyantepui. It took him and his crew 11 days to descend the mountain.
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3. Debre Damo
Debre Damo in northern Ethiopia is the name of a flat-topped mountain and a 6th century monastery located on the top.
The monastery, accessible only by rope up a sheer cliff, is known for its collection of manuscripts, and having the earliest existing church building in Ethiopia still in its original style.
Tradition claims the monastery was founded in the sixth century by a Syrian monk.
4. Mount Roraima
Mount Roraima is the highest (2,772m/9094ft) and most famous tepui in Venezuela.
Because the mountain is completely isolated from the ground forest almost one third of the species of plant life on Roraima evolved there and are unique to the plateau.
Mount Roraima was made famous in 1912 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his fictional novel entitled The Lost World.
It describes the ascent of a Roraima-like mountain by an expedition in search of prehistoric plants and dinosaurs that were believed to live isolated and unchanged for millions of years on the mountains summit.
Canyonlands in eastern Utah is a national park with a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado and Green River.
The rivers divide the park in several district. One district, The Island in the Sky, features a broad and level mesa with amazing views out over the surrounding country.
Kukenan is a 2,680 meter (8,793 ft) high and about 3 km (1.9 mi) long tepui. It is located near the more famous tepui Mount Roraima.
Kukenan is more difficult to climb, so it is ascended much less frequently than Mount Roraima. Cuquenan Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the world, is located at the south end of the tepui.
Situated in the Highlands of Iceland, Herðubreið is a flat-topped, steep-sided volcano which was formed after lava erupted through a thick glacier. This kind of flat topped mountain is called a tuya.
Due to the mountain’s steep and unstable sides, the first ascent was in 1908 despite centuries of knowledge of its existence.
8. Mount Asgard
Mount Asgard is a twin peaked mountain with two flat-topped cylindrical rock towers, separated by a saddle. It is located in Auyuittuq National Park in Baffin Island and is perhaps the most famous of the Baffin Mountains.
The peak is named after Asgard, the realm of the gods in Norse mythology.
In 1976, stuntman Rick Sylvester performed a BASE jump off the mountain for the opening sequence of the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, although the fictional setting was the Austrian Alps.
9. Mount Conner
Mount Conner is a flat-topped and horseshoe-shaped mountain. It is often confused with Uluru, since it can be seen from the road to Uluru and Kata Tjuta , when approaching from Alice Springs.
The region’s Aborigines, who call the mountain Artilla, believe it to be the home of icemen who create cold weather.
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10. Brown Bluff
Located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Brown Bluff is a ice-capped, flat topped 745 meter (2,444 ft) high volcano with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown color.
The shores in front of Brown Bluff are home to thousands of Adelie and Gentoo penguins.