Autana hill (right) and The Indio hill (left)
Photografy: Jeremy Ledbetter
The Autana hill, (euwabey or tree of the life in dialect piaroa) or also called Sacred Mountain, is a tepuy that is located to the south of Venezuela in the state Amazons. It is a geologic formation located in the western part of the shield of Guayana near the border with Colombia.
The legend of the Piaroa (the original inhabitants of the area) says that “…the top of the tree was as high as the infinite, and its branches were full of fruits that fell and gave food to the men and animals of the Amazon”.
One day Wahari (a deity) and his nephew Ruayei, who had transformed himself into a limpet, cut down the tree to obtain all the fruits at once. Ruayei gnawed at the base until the tree fell. The branches that fell in the north formed the forests of the Cuao River, those in the west made the mountains of Sipapo, Waichij and Uripikai.
To the east the lake was formed (Autana / Leopoldo) and in its waters was caught a clown that, trying to escape, the fish jumped higher and higher hitting the trunk of Wahari – Kuawai and forming the cave of the Autana. Finally, the payara crossed through the mountain forming the Great Cave of the Autana whose opening is known as the entrance of Payara, and finally it fell to the river Umaj-aje.
The tepuy Autana Hill was declared natural monument in 1978. With approximately 1220 meters (4003 feet) of height. Within the mountain, the cave of enigmatic beauty is formed entirely of quartz and measures 400 meters in length and 45 meters in height.