We pushed on, keen to get to the southern Pantanal, our route took us via Apucarana to Paranavai, where we called it a day and we parked at a huge and busy truckstop for the night - together with approx. 50 rigs or more. From here we drove to Novo Londrina, crossed the large Rio Paranapanema, passed over the 10km long damwall of the Usina Hidreléctrica Sergio Motta, which is a 150km long dam in the Rio Parana called Repr.Porto Primavera. All along the typical Mato Grosso do Sul cattle ranches farms accompanied us.
It really helps to have good friends in foreign places. Within 3 days after arriving in Montevideo, Uruguay, we were ready to hit the road again - thanks to Burkhard and Anke Schleicher, who have now moved closer to Montevideo onto a small holding at Atlantida,approximately 45 minutes from the international airport. During our absence Burkhard had the vehicle serviced and well looked after. I did a small modification on the electrical system so that the C-tek charger is no longer mounted permanently. We recharged all the batteries, reconnected the new auxiliary battery and Burkhard assisted with purchasing from BSE the SOA insurance for Uruguay – Seguro Obligatorio third party insurance. Most companies can only insure vehicles with local number plates (placa) –this would be a problem for us for quite a while until we found better ways. Burkhard had also completed two containers to house motorcycles for overland travellers by bike, including sleeping quarters.
no images were foundWe continued on the BR280 via Rio Negrinho, Mafra, Unio da Victória and took the gravel road to Porto Victório,
Once we reached Cape Town, the first priority was meeting family and friends locally and then, in the available 5 months, catching up with our blog. Inbetween we did a trip to Namibia for 3 weeks to see the family there and to complete some unfinished tasks in Swakopmund before returning to Cape Town to attend to the house - a few things that had been neglected during our 11 months absence. Once the flights were booked we knew that by end August we shall be back in Uruguay to continue until March 2018. Renew insurances for a year, getting finances sorted out, ensuring that our travel documents were in order and another 100 little tasks that had to be done. Dieter agreed to hold a talk at the Cape Town Photoclub for photographers interested in planning a similar journey in the future. It was impossible to give even a glimpse in the allotted 45 minutes and so we decided not to cover Argentina and Chile as we had not completed our journey there yet. This meant really sorting out some images and places of interest and the talk had very positive feedback – most visitors enjoyed getting a glimpse from our trip. The most frequent question we had after we returned was: Which country is our favourite? We could not give a straight answer, as the countries were so diverse in landscape, fauna, flora and its people. Each of the countries we had traversed had been special in some way. Maybe the least exciting country from a travellers point of view is probably Paraguay. Although our first impressions of Uruguay were similar, it changed on our return leg – we enjoyed it much more, also for the reason that it is orderly, well functioning and with little stress to travel. Uruguay is a good country to ship a vehicle to, get started with the journey and to leave the vehicle if anybody plans to do a second visit. Uruguay allows a vehicle to be in the country for 12 months without any problems or strings attached. Bolivia is worth exploring as it offers unique places like the Salar de Uyuni, the Dali Desert, La Paz and Madidi Jungle. However, the population it is not as friendly, more bribes are being solicited by police and the military, but nothing we could not cope with or that made it really unattractive. For South African passport holders it also was the only country requiring Visa. Peru is a must. The country is diverse and beautiful, the people friendly. Macchu Picchu is worth a visit despite the fact that it must be one of the world’s busiest tourist hot spots. However, visitor traffic is well managed and did not spoil our visit. The only drawback is that Peru is probably the dirtiest country on our journey with trash and plastic dumped everywhere. Being nature conscious this somewhat worked on our nerves and the country needs to do something about it if they do not want to drown in rubbish. Ecuador is beautiful and its nature offers some special experiences – the country welcomes visitors with open arms and even has low entry requirements if foreigners wish to settle or start businesses. Clean and neat everywhere it offered a welcome change after Peru. Being able to visit Galapagos islands, which are part of Ecuador, made our time there indeed very special – Galapagos was a dream destination for us for a long time and we were not disappointed. Colombia still conjures up images of drug wars and Pablo Escobar. We never planned to visit there – everybody we met, said, we have to. And how right they were! Probably the friendliest people we have met, most welcoming to strange visitors travelling their beautiful country. Fantastic landscapes, colourful villages, birds galore and Cartagenas vibe will stay with us forever. We have seen only a part of Chile and Argentina and we shall wait until we have seen most of it before we comment – our expectations of Patagonia are high as it is supposed to be one of the worlds harshest but also most beautiful areas. We are back for the second trip and our preparations have gone well. This blog entry is written from sitting in the comfort of the home of Jürgen and Gisa Hecker in Punta Ballena in Uruguay,just south of Punta del Este. In a day or two from now camping will be the order of the day. Our special thanks go to our friends Burkhard and Anke Schleicher in Atlantida near Montevideo, who made it possible that we could hit the road again within 3 days of arriving. Our vehicle has been serviced and all requested repairs arranged so that we can start this leg of our journey well prepared. We shall now first of all travel into Brasil, where we hope to see extraordinary animals like jaguars and many birds in the Pantanal swamp area, famous for it fauna and flora. Please excuse that there are no paragraphs in our text - WordPress still has a problem in that the text doe not appear the way we are writing it -so we decided to alternate the colours of the text.