The Real Lost World comes to life

Dinosaur-like species continued to exist in Roraima, in rural Venezuela. Photo by Andy Dittrich
  • Dinosaur-like species continued to exist in Roraima, in rural Venezuela.
    Photo by Andy Dittrich

By Charlotte Mountford

Three billion years ago the continents of Africa and South America ripped apart and Mount Roraima was formed. At 9,200 feet, the table mountain is one of the oldest places on earth. For years it was impenetrable, shrouded by cloud on the borders of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.

For 300 years man attempted to scale Roraima. Scientists believed it to be a place where time stood still and strange, dinosaur-like species continued to exist, bypassed by the evolution that took place below them. The locals call it the lair of prehistoric spirits and terrifying beasts, where sightings of flying Pterodactyl, violent ape-men and giant snakes are common.

Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write his 1912 novel The Lost World by the strange findings of explorers Im Thurn and Harry Perkins, who in 1884 became the first men to successfully scale Roraima. Conan Doyle’s novel, in turn, inspired works ranging from the original 1925 dinosaur movie of the same name to King Kong in 1933, and eventually Spielburg’s Jurrasic Park.

Awed by this legacy, more than 100 years after Thurn and Perkins a team of explorers set out to hunt and document the true secrets of the ancient mountain. Theirs is a story about what really lies above, and lurks beneath, the real lost world of Roraima.

In The Real Lost World award winning Producer and Director Peter Von Puttkamer and his team of experts make the arduous journey with 41 native porters carrying food and 600 kg of film equipment. They crossed jungle, swamp and river, followed by a three-day hike across La Gran Sabana to the mountain base, finally climbing the steep cliff band to the top .

Produced for The Discovery Channel and filmed in HDTV, many of the cast and crew are from British Columbia: Director and Producers Peter and Sheera Von Puttkamer are from West Vancouver; Director of Photography and A-cam operator Glenn Taylor hails from North Vancouver; 2nd camera operator Nash Stevanovic is from Vancouver; and Rick West, North America’s leading spider expert, comes from Victoria.

As well, two of the cast are from Whistler: Seath Heald, snake expert and owner of Whistler Outback Adventures, and Andy Dittrich, key grip and photographer. Andy is pictured here with an 18-foot anaconda, his personal favourite of the many dangerous species the team interacted with along the way.

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