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Autana Tepuy - S. America's Yggdrasil

Autana Tepuy - S.  America's Yggdrasil
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1994-01
Categories: Rain Forest, Mountain
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Earth from Above, Haraprasan's Favs [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-07-10 7:00
Viewed: 19617
Points: 60
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Today I have moved to South America for my posting - Venezuela to be precise. My title may seem a little obscure - mad even, though Ivan and Ulla may get the reference. Yggdrasil was the mythical Ash Tree in Norse mythology that supported the world. The Indians in this part of Venezuela have a similar myth about this tepuy (see below) - they hold it sacred and believe it to be the centre of the world and the connection to the heavens - they call it the 'Tree of Life'. Autana towers 1,220 m (4,000 f) above sea level. A unique cave runs from one side of the mountain through the other. To the left of this picture is the Orinoco.

This is rather an old scanned slide taken with a Pentax Z10 through a heavily tinted light aircraft window. I thought the subject might be interesting to TN members.


In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the World Tree, a great ash tree located at the center of the universe and joining the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. The trunk of the tree may be thought of as forming a vertical axis around which these worlds are situated, with Ásgard, realm of the gods, at the top and the Hel, located in Niflheim, at the bottom. Midgard, our world that is inhabited by humans, is located in the middle and surrounded by Jötunheim, land of Jötunn, both of which are separated by the ocean. Yggdrasil is also sometimes referred to as Mimameid or Laerad.


A Tepui (or Tepuy) is a table-top mountain (mesa) found only in the Guayana highlands of South America, especially in Venezuela. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the indigenous people who inhabit the Gran Sabana. Tepuis tend to be found as isolated entities rather than in connected ranges, which makes them the host of a unique array of endemic plant and animal species. Some of the most outstanding tepuis are Autana, Auyantepui and Mount Roraima (the highest and most famous one, on the border tripoint of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana). They are typically composed of sheer blocks of Precambrian sandstone or quartzite rocks rising abruptly from the jungle, giving rise to spectacular natural scenery. Auyantepui is the source of Angel Falls, the world's tallest waterfall.

These table-top mountains are the oldest exposed rock formations on the planet, the remains of a large, sandstone plateau that once covered the granite basement complex between the north border of the Amazon Basin and the Orinoco, between the Atlantic coast and the Rio Negro. Throughout the course of the history of Earth, the plateau was eroded, and the tepuis were formed from the remaining monadnocks.

There are 115 such mesas in the Gran Sabana in the south-east of Venezuela on the border with Guyana and Brazil, where the highest concentration of tepuis is found. The precipitous mountains tower over the surrounding area by up to 1,000 meters. On the top of the mountains grow various types of forests with a wide variety of orchids and Bromeliads species.

Because of their great age, some tepuis exhibit surface features and subsurface caves that are typical of more water-soluble rock such as limestone. Caves here include the 671m deep Abismo Guy Collet, the deepest quartzite cave in the world. Some of the mesas are pocked with giant sinkholes up to 300 metres in diameter and with sheer walls up to 300 metres deep. These sinkholes are formed when the roofs of tunnels carved by underground rivers collapse.

PaulH, sranjan, mayuresh, haraprasan, bahadir, jaycee, xTauruSx, Royaldevon, eqshannon, boreocypriensis, CeltickRanger, gracious, ramthakur, albert, vanderschelden, anel, ppmiranda, rousettus, horia, mohaiminawang, CatStevens, cicindela, Evelynn has marked this note useful
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To Evelynn: Angel FallsJamesp 1 09-22 02:09
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-07-10 7:08]

Hi James,
incredible landscape, it really is. Lost Valley of The Dinosuars springs to mind! So this was taken 14 years ago? I wonder if any of that lush pristine jungle has been chopped down...i hope not. Thanks for sharing your plane journey with us :o)

Wow James,
What a beautiful place you have shown us. This table-top mountain is surrounded by dense rain forest. TFS.

Hello James,
what a beautiful landscape!wonderful.superb composition and pov, note is very intresting,
very well done,

Hi James,
A lovely landscape. Very well capture even from the aircraft. Yes it looks pretty similar to a huge tree trunk. This is a stunning capture with excellent notes. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello James
You thought correctly..This is certainly of interest to me..I love your geographical posts that are always so informative combined with a superbly planned and executed image.
Thank you again James for sharing your wonderful photography and immense knowledge.

Hello James, great shot of this interesting place. TFS. Regards,

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-07-10 10:42]

Hi James,

At first I thought this might be the remains of a medieval fortress. Amazingly wonderful landscape and fascinating notes. Marvelous pov and composition.


Hello James, Superb landscape shot of this wonderful hilside in all aspects. TFS. Deniz

Hello James,

This is just amazing.
I found myself thinking of 'The Lost World' when I saw this!
I would imagine that unless you went up in an hot air balloon, you would be unable to get this shot and perspective in any other way than from an aeroplane.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

I have saved this page and d'loaded the image. It is a rare one for sure. I am entranced by all of the activity down there...each and every day. I hear stories of SA which are out of someones fantasy books...a wonderful image and such an important addition James!

Hi James, what a splendid landscape shot from the Amazon that includes a table-top mountain! Great composition and perfectly prepared useful notes-as usual. TFS my friend!


On the road, just marking excellent pictures.

hello James

WOW ! what a superb landscape shot from the airs,
with very fine POV & DOF, i love the gradient effect
of the green colour tones from the foreground to the background,



Hello James,
This is really a true beauty on earth!
captured real well with the best pov from above and the lighting is awesome over the land in good sharpness, natural colour and superb details
many thanks once again, James!
also the useful notes

  • Great 
  • clnaef Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 778 W: 67 N: 645] (6814)
  • [2008-07-10 23:38]

Que voilà un pic original et bien présenté.
Bonne journée.

The words in your caption did sound strange before I read your well-written note on those terms, James.
Despite the fact that it is a scan of a 14 years old slide, it is sheer magic. Such earth formations have always fascinated me and I have also gained an insight into how they were formed in the earth's history, thanks to your very informative note.
The aerial view is truly exciting and gives a grand view of the tower.
Thanks and regards.

Hi James
Superb light on this landscape and beautiful geological formation
Best regards

This is definitely content, James.
You expect this to view in some game but this is actually the real thing. Definitely "the house of the gods"!

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-07-12 22:08]

Hello James

Just marking the post for now


  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-07-13 5:58]

Hello James,
Very fascinating view on this holy Tepui. I understand Indios to imagine it as house of gods. It also seems that somehow we can reach the top. Must be overwhelming to stand there! Makes me dream...
Thanks a lot for this picture

Hi James...Very interesting and amazing place and photo you share with us...Impressive....Fantastic look.....Regards, Leyla

Hello James
wovv, wonderful landscape, amazing beautiful. great composition and POV. thanks for sharing this beauty with great notes always. Ahmet

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-07-14 1:43]

Hi James

This is a natural castle! Places like make the world's biggest and most impressive fortresses look like ants :)
An absolutely breathtaking view and a picture both educational and aesthetic.
Great work in all aspects and a lovely presentation, my friend.

Bravo and TFS

Hi james,

great dramatic shot, look like million years ago, such a beutiful place..hope can go there... one day TFS


  • Great 
  • reina Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 257 W: 1 N: 330] (2032)
  • [2008-07-15 5:13]

My favourite spot in the world the Gran Sabana, such a magical place. Wonderful to see it from the roof, must be a stunning trip and view. Thanks a lot for sharing. Reina

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-07-15 6:37]

Hi James,
Another outstanding shot from the sky and you portray this beautiful natural structure so beautifully here. It juts out from the dense junglr so regally and it looks huge - the myth among the Indians is so justified. You really have made me see places and views I would never have seen in my lifetime - I bow to you. Excellent POV and composition. Kudos.

Hi James,

Stunning 3D effect. I feel like flying...

Hello again!
This is wonderful capture with fantastic panoramic view from the bird view :) I like the way you presented this unusual in shape mountain.
Bravo and I am waiting for the next picture from you :)

La Gran Sbana es uno de los lugares mas espectaculares del mundo.... tu descripcion es excelente. TFS.

Hi James,

I am watching right now a documentary on Angel Falls in Venezuela. Since the computer is right here I wondered if you had posted any shots from there. I suspect that this photo is in the same area???? It sounds like it might be a good trick to see the falls without cloud cover. It is a spectacular area and I love this dramatic photo with super sharpness and light. I can just see some daredevil landing a helicopter right on this table rock. I suspect it wouldn't take much to talk you into it!

Evelynn : )

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