The Gran Sabana continues for several hundred kilometres south of Santa Elena. The Brazilian border though is much closer. It's so close, and so porous, that regular taxis shuttle back and forth from Santa Elena and don't even bother stopping at immigration. I only realised I was in Brazil when the driver told everyone to get out and I had to walk back to the border post to get my entry stamp (I didn't bother with the Venezuelan exit stamp though, so as to save as much precious space in my passport as possible). The Brazilian savannah is much like the Venezuelan one: dry, dusty and sparsely populated by Pemon, the same indigenous tribe that lives across the border. The main industry consists of smuggling heavily subsidised Venezuelan petrol across the border and selling it in Boa Vista, the nearest town of any note. The Brazilian authorities probably turn a blind eye to it as it saves the government substantial sums of money and provides employment in an otherwise neglected corner of the country. It's a further 1000km due south before you get to Manaus, the first major city. 1000km and you're still very much in the north of the country. Brazil's a big place.
|The grandiose Teatro Amazonas, an extravagant masterpiece of European high culture in the middle of the rainforest.|