Paraguay 1: Mud roads and Cattle ranches

Paraguay-9 Grenzübergang von Iguaçu nach Ciudad del Este in Paraguay ist etwas hektisch und sehr betriebsam, denn in Paraguay einzukaufen ist billiger -besonders Elektronik, ansonsten problemlos. Wir fahren nach Coronel Oviedo zu "El Quincho Porá" von Walter Schäffer und seiner Frau Domi, wo wir übernachten wollen. Nicht ganz leicht zu finden und mit der Überraschung, dass die Einfahrt zu niedrig für unsere Wagen ist. So endet der Tag mit Campen auf der Strasse -etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig und laut in der Nacht, denn es ist Samstagabend und das bedeutet überall in Südamerika Partyabend. Walter's Lebens-und Reisegeschichten sind überaus interessant, denn er hat den Kontinent schon mit seinen Enten durchquert, welche er selbst in 4x4 ausgebaut hat.Danach ging die Reise weiter nach Norden zur Estancia Laguna Blanca,am Ende mit Militärbegleitung, denn der viele Regen machte Strassen unpassierbar. Weiter über Yby Yau nach Belén zu Peter Gärtner und Familie auf die Estancia El Roble, wo Peter und Famile auch ein gutes Restaurant betreiben, Fisch und Viehzucht haben und viele Vögel zu beobachten sind. In Concepcion findet ein Volksfest statt, welches wir kurz anschauen, bevor wir dann weiter nach Norden reisen und an einem Geschäft wild campen in Fortin Zalazaar. Je weiter wir nach Norden kommen, desto trockener wird es, Steppe ideal für Viehzucht wo wir in das Mennoniten Gebiet kommen bei Loma Plata und Filadelfia. Hier lassen wir die Wagen bei einer hervorragenden Garage diensten und dürfen auf Laguna Capitan übernachten, ein Ferienlager der Gemeinschaft, toll gepflegt und wieder fasziniert uns die Vogelwelt und wir sehen unseren ersten Cayman in der Wildnis. Nach Museums Besichtigung fahren wir weiter und campen bei Estancia Iparoma (www.estanciaiparoma.com, mail Marylin Wohlgemuth on estanciaiparoma@gmail.com or tel +595981940050) und dann entlang den Chaco Highway (Ruta 9), eine Strasse in sehr schlechtem Zustand, Feinstaub und Schlaglöchern -nicht ganz ungefährlich durch die vielen Viehlaster. Letzte Station in Paraguay ist der Nationalpark "Teniente Agripino Enciso". Empfang durch den Parkwart, welcher angetrunken ist und uns zu Gebäuden führt, welche durch die EU finanziert sind aber wohl langsam verkommen und weitgehend unbenutzt erscheinen - hier können wir zumindest in Ruhe campen mit kalter Dusche und Baño. Den Park sehen wir uns nicht an-er scheint durch Besucher nicht befahrbar zu sein. Auf dem Wege zur Grenze sehen wir unseren ersten wilden Armadillo sowie ein sehr interessantes Wespennest. Der Grenzübergand ist etwas komplizierter -erst in Paraguay bei Mayor Infante Rivarola die Pässe stempeln, aber erst viel später bei Ibibobo in Bolivien die Zollabfertigung und Immigration nach Bolivien. Hier werden wird zu ersten Male zur Kasse gebeten -jeder USD5 welche sehr schnell in einer Tageszeitung verschwinden. Ist dies ein Anzeichen, wie es in Bolivien weitergehen wird? Ciudad del Este is the city bordering Brasil. Brasilieros we met warned us about criminality in Paraguay - a fact we could not substantiate during our trip. However this border city is busy and caution is recommended when passing through it or when doing any shopping. Close to the city is the second largest dam in the world (Itaipu) and worth a visit according to fellow travellers. We did not have sufficient time and it was raining so we skipped this point. For guided tours you have to register the day before. First stop is in Coronel Oviedo El Quincho Porá with Walter Schäffer, an adventurer who runs a hospedaje with his wife Domi (S25deg26'13.95" W056deg26'34.63"). Unfortunately the entrance to his yard is too low ( maybe around 2.40m) for our vehicles and we end up camping in the street on a noisy Saturday evening. However, Walter related some details of his trips through Brazil with his "Ugly Duck" Citroen vehicles, one of which he even converted into a 4x4. We continued toward Estancia Laguna Blanca, roads were atrocious due to the downpours and we followed a military vehicle that was operating in the area and offered to assist. The Laguna is very tranquil and would have been superb in sunny weather. Our next stop was Granja El Roble where Peter Gärtner and family do fish farming, ranching and run a small tourist hospedaje with possibility for camping. As we proceed north the area becomes drier, ideal for cattle ranching and when we reach Loma Plata and Filadelfia, we are surprised by the standard of farming that the German speaking Mennonites have developed in the area after they settled here in the 1930's and were given land in a very harsh and dry area of Paraguay. Today they operate autonomously, build their own infrastructure including hospitals and schools as well as education systems. Their museum have been worth visiting and gave insight into the tough beginnings of this prosperous community. We had an opportunity to get our vehicles serviced in one of the best service centres we encountered during our journey ( Taller Autocentre managed by Tidor Balzer,tel 0492-252110, mail autocenter@portalchaco.com)and were kindly offered to camp at the community centre outside of Loma Plata. The area was good for birdwatching and we saw our first Cayman in the wild. After a further night's camping at Estancia Iparoma ( mail Marylin Wohlgemuth on estanciaiparoma@gmail.com or tel +595981940050) we reached Parque Nacional de Teniente Agripino Enciso, where we stayed at a partially disused and somewhat neglected education centre, originally funded by the EU. The park itself cannot be visited by vehicle and we continued our journey to the border with Bolivia. The Chaco highway was mostly in an atrocious condition with potholes and bad gravel/dust conditions due to the constant use by large cattle trucks. As we neared the Bolivian border we were lucky to spot a small armadillo which we could inspect close-by. Passing from Paraguay to Bolivia in this area requires travellers to inquire were exactly immigration and customs is, as not all of it is at the border crossing. On the Bolivian side we were confronted with our first bribe that had to be paid before we could proceed. Although it was only USD5 per party, it left us wondering what else we would encounter within Bolivia. Was Paraguay worth visiting? We shall only be able to answer this question once we have seen more countries.
This post covers 28th May-3rd June 2016 Rate of exchange approx R1.00=364 Guaranis Diesel approx R12 per ltr

Brasil 2: Foz de Iguaçu seen from the Brasil side

Foz de Iguçu Brasil-9 Die brasilianische Seite der Iguaçu Fälle ist spektakulär und hat auch uns begeistert. Touristisch gut organisiert, bei unserem Besuch nicht überfüllt gewesen, sollte bei einem Besuch Südamerikas sicher nicht ausgelassen werden. Seeing the Iguaçu falls from the Brazilian side is indeed special. Entering the parc, the bus service into the area is very well organised and convenient. Following our helicopter ride as part of Uwe's birthday, gave us an overview from above and we were lucky to be the last trip of the day before the rains set in. In town do not miss the Confiteria Jauense - best Capucchino and icecream you will find in a long time - you find the café in the Ave Juscolino Kubitscheck. Staying at the camping site "Camping Internaçional" was pleasant and we met a number of other overlanders. Serita looked after us -the daughter of Mathilde who started the site and it used to be known under the name Camping International German. http://www.campinginternacional.com.br , tel +55-4535298183, email: campingfoz@gmail.com
This part covers 26-28th May 2016.

Brasil 1: Parques das Aves, Foz de Iguaçu,Brasil

Parque das Aves-14 Parques das Aves ist sicher einer der schönsten Vogelparks der Welt. Hier ist es uns vergönnt einen Eindruck der Vögel zu bekommen, die wir gerne in Südamerika sehen würden. Wie zB die seltene Harpie, der stärkste Greifvogel überhaupt. Bonus: auch aus anderen Teilen der Welt sind Vögel zu sehen. Although we generally dislike zoos and animals in captivity, we got persuaded to visit this bird park. It is generous in the space it provides to flying birds inside large averies. We are wondering how many we shall be able to see in the wild on our trip since spotting birds in the jungle will be difficult. We can recommend a visit to this park as it is rare to see birds like the Harpy eagle anywhere.

Argentina 2: Butterfly and Birds en route to Iguazu

Butterflies around Foz de Iguaçu-2 Entlang des Weges in Uruguay und im Misiones Gebiet sowie in der Nähe der Iguazu Fälle treffen wir auf unsere ersten lokalen Schönheiten. Part of the purpose of our trip is to experience the fauna and flora of this fascinating continent. See a few of the beauties we have encountered so far.

Argentina 1: Getting to Parque Nacional Iguazú in Argentina

  Argentina to Foz de Iguaću-5 Wir verlassen Uruguay und machen uns auf den Weg zu den Iguazú Fällen via Misiones, wo wir die Ruinen San Ignaćio Mini der Jesuiten besuchten. Es war uns auch wichtig, diese Wasserfälle von der Argentinischen und Brasilianischen Seite zu sehen. We made our way to the Jesuit ruins San Ignaćio Mini in the Misiones region, probably the most impressive of a number of ruins in the area. There is a short portion through Brasil to get there (beautiful lush surroundings and we sampled the tasty chicken Brasilian style), the border and its immigration stations can be somewhat confusing. However, shopping at the large and modern duty-free Sineriz centre, made up for it as it turned out to be the last shopping opportunity to stock up on imported delikatessen and chocolates. The Uruguay immigration offices are housed within this centre. Once in Argentina we camped at the smart Club del Rio on the Rio Paraná, a beautiful site with large pool and good birdwatching. We proceeded via Eldorado to Puerto Iguazú to camp at Costa Ramon, where Adriana and Carlos Medina were excellent hosts, Felipe the blue & yellow Macaw kept us entertained and the lush garden setting gave us a first opportunity to see some hummingbirds close-by at the feeding stations. http://www.campingcostaramon.com.ar  ( tel 03757-424129, iguazucostaramon@hotmail.com) Next day we had our first spectacular views of the impressive Iguazú Falls including the 80m high Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) from the new walkways, following the train ride into the park, where some South American Coatis tried to snatch food from the visitors.
 

Uruguay 5: San Gregorio de Polanco – an artists canvas

San Gregorio de Polanco is known for its mural paintings - a drab town found a good way of looking bright. San Gregorio de Polanco in Uruguay-19 Unser nächster Abstecher führt uns in ein Städtchen mit besonderem Charakter - viel Wandmalerei an alten Hauswänden. Es gibt diesem Dorf eine besondere Note und lädt ein, dort zu verweilen - zumal es eine gute Campingstelle direkt am Rio Negro gibt.  Once a year artists come to town to decorate more of it - it remains to see what effect this will have over the years. Different art styles keep it interesting and you never know what awaits you next. We enjoyed the ocean/river pollution mural which we have chosen as the lead picture.
Covers 20-21May 2016

Uruguay 4: The Hinterland and the forgotten railway town

Travelling through Uruguay and crossing the Rio Negro. Along the coast of Uruguay-119 Wir fahren durch Uruguay und treffen Burkhardt und Anke Schleicher aus Namibia, welche in diesem Land eine neue Existenz auf der Farm Fortaleza aufgebaut haben. Es ist ein gute Gelegenheit, viel über das Land zu erfahren und warum ihre Farm als "suizo"(dreckig) bezeichnet wird, nur weil sie naturbelassen ist, während in Uruguay alle Flora für die Rinderzüchtung gerodet wird, damit möglichst viel Weideland entsteht. Resultat: optisch ein recht langweilig wirkendendes Flachland. From the coast we travelled to visit the farm Fortaleza, owned by emigrant farmers from Namibia. Here we learned more about cattle ranching in Uruguay, producing of the world's best beef and the stark contrast to Namibia where a farm 20 times the size would be required to produce the same amount of beef due to the high rainfall in Uruguay. Temperatures were a low 4 deg C in the morning. Anke and Burkhardt provided us tipps which route to travel onwards to the somewhat forgotten railroad town of Jose Battle y Ordonez with the Station Nico Perez (a living museum as there are still rail activities happening there), on via Sarandi de Yi and then crossing the Rio Negro by ferry to reach San Gregorio de Polanco. On the way we see some Gauchos, however these days more on bikes than on horses.
This entry covers the period 18-20May 2016

Uruguay 3: Exploring the Coast of Uruguay

Along the coast of Uruguay-116 Wir fahren entlang der Küstenorte in Richtung des bekannten Ferienzieles Punta del Este. We drive through towns like La Paloma, Punta del Diablo,Aguas Dulces,past Fortaleza de Santa Teresa until we turn inland at La Coronilla. Under way we camp at Paraiso Suizo, a popular stopover for overlanders with Heinz and Sylvia being the hosts. Here many overlanders leave their vehicles while returning home (US$50 per month). Unfortunately we have a lot of rain and storms on this route and the Atlantic is brown and turbulent and kitesurfers have a field day.