Ever since my first visit when I arrived at night, after having been lost in Venezuela for a week with minimal Spanish, it has always been a pleasure to return to Posada Don Carlos. It's a place of grand patios where time seems to have stopped in true Marquesian style. It's a place to enjoy before, after or in between trips, with help-yourself beer and probably the best wifi around the Gran Sabana.
Having been to Roraima and the Akopan tepuis before, this year we decided to take the challange of climbing Auyan tepui. Since our time in Venezuela was limited, I did all possible research in advance, contacting guides and fellow travellers. When Alvaro from Don Carlos heard what we were up to and offered to organise the 12-day trekking and circumnavigating tour for us, I was initially sceptical. I knew they'd been running shorter excursions for years but what we wanted wasn't quite the usual stuff. On the contrary, what we wanted was a tailor-made trek on the hard-core side, where every detail matters, and - to make it more difficult - in a small group of four, where price matters a lot too. In a country which runs at its own very special 'tiempo venezolano' where nothing is predictable, Martin, Alvaro and their friend Gert who came with us all the way, worked wonders. Yes, the climb was tough, much harder than Roraima and it doesn't get much easier once you are up on the plateau where a 5 km caminata might easily take up the best part of a day, but it was worth all the pain. Being looked after all the time, and knowing that the trek had been made as safe as possible, made all the difference (I have to admit that Gert's fresh pancakes under the El Penon rock for breakfast was a significant extra too). All in all, a lifetime experience.