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  #31  
Old 12 Sep 2012
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Ok, time to write something. Sorry for the delay, but I have been lazy a bit sick and very busy all in the past year.

So we got to Cuidad Bolivar, it turned out to be a very quiet city, took a day off and organised an Angel Falls tour. I’m not a fan of tours but it’s very hard to get there not on a tour, and I didn’t have the money or energy to try. But, after a bit of bargaining I got the 3 day 2 night tour for $225 each including flights. This turned out to be a good deal, some other people on the same tour paid twice that.



Jimmy Angels plane he crash landed above the falls.


It was a standard trip with a 50 min flight out to Canaima in a little Cessna, a trip up the river to the base of the falls in a canoe and a look around the Canaima lagoon. At one point I managed to sneak off the tour and go for a shower under the actual falls, instead of just going to the lookout like everyone else which was interesting, although it did end up with me running down the track in the dark and having to swim across the river to camp at night. But it was definitely worth it.



Coming in to land at Canaima.



Heading up the river to the falls in low flow.



Angel Falls.



A much needed shower beside the Canaima Lagoon.


Returning to Ciudad Bolivar it was decided that one last trip to the beach was needed before heading down to Brazil. So it was off North, a night in El Tigre and onwards to Mochima National Park on the Caribbean coast. We were lucky to run into Audrey who runs the Posada Le Petit Jardin in Santa Fe. She welcomed us in for a few incredibly relaxing days. I would highly recommend staying here, the hospitality and breakfasts are unbeatable. We managed a lot of sleeping and some awesome snorkelling trips to nearby islands.



'La Playa', Santa Fe.



The oasis that is Posada Le Petit Jardin.


All too soon it was time to leave paradise and head south. We diceded to visit Humbolts Caverns on the way. Camping out side them and watching the thousands of oilbirds fly out to feed at dusk was an interesting sight.
Next day it was time to hit the road again, off towards Ciudad Guyana. After a day on the road we get in to town after dark and stop to eat at a roadside hot dog stand. Exhausted and eating average hot dog s we become the centre of attention quite rapidly. One friendly local bought me a pepsi and recommended carrying on 45mins to Upata where the hotels a much safer as he thinks we will get robbed and maybe kidnapped in the local hotels. Thanking him for his advice we head on to Upata. After 10 minuntes of riding my lights go. Not just the headlight but all of them. After a quick look I decide it’s too difficult to fix when I’m tired in the dark and I don’t know what I’m doing so I attach a very weak LED torch to the bike so traffic can see us and take off into the moonlight. I quickly refine a strategy of waiting for a car to come past and trying to follow it as close as possible. This is quite scary and difficult as the bike is a bit underpowered if such things as hills appear. Luckily the road is in good condition so potholes aren’t so much of a concern. Mentally exhausted after an hour of this I go the first Hotel I find and it’s straight to sleep.



Another classy hotel.



Even the milk is made with socialism here.


Back on the road towards Brasil, the scenery is getting a bit greener and hills a becoming more frequent. Towards the end of the day we are almost at La Gran Sabana arriving at the town of Kilometro 88. This is a gold rush town that has just sprung up and has a ‘wild west’ feel. We stock up on food for a few days and I look for somewhere to change $US to Bolivars. After asking a few people I am escorted to the back of a shanty and manage to swap a few hundred $ at a decent exchange rate. I am very glad to have my bike to get out of town quickly with as it did not feel like a safe place to stay for long. The sun was going doing down so we figured get 30 min or so out of town and camp. We found a nice spot out of sight of the road near where the road finishes climbing up to La Gran Sabana.



We'd be well hidden in the tent without that motorbike in they way.


The next day is a tourist day, checking out lots of the pretty waterfalls including the one made of jasper and the incredible scenery. It is very busy with a lot of wealthy Venezuelans going camping with their 4WD’s because it’s a holiday. We run into Pablo , an Argentine also travelling on a crappy Chinese bike before carrying on towards Roraima.



Checking out the map.



Ran into a German couple going the other way. Puts the bike in perspective.


We stock up with food with the intention of going for a walk up Roraima and cruise down the 4WD track to village where you walk to the tepui from. On arrival it is packed with Venezuelan tourists on tours and we are informed there are no permits left and we are not allowed to walk there. I almost score us a job as porters but Kyla isn’t too impressed with the idea of carrying more than our own equipment. The police are hanging around with assault rifles and shotguns so we decide against sneaking off up the trail at night. So after a night camped in the village it’s back to the main road and of to Santa Elena de Urien for a couple of days to regroup and fix a few niggling problems with the bike before Brasil.



Trekkers posing for photos.



Jasper Waterfall



Transition from La Gran Sabana to the Rainforest.


More to come.
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  #32  
Old 19 Sep 2012
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Chinese bikes

What a great trip...

That little bike has done you proud, long may it continue...

Keep it up and best of luck to you
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  #33  
Old 23 Sep 2012
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I must say i started out thinking chinese bikes are utter crap but !

Boy it makes for an interesting and colourful tale ,will read your further travels with gusto.travel safe .Noel
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  #34  
Old 4 Oct 2012
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It was goodbye Venezuela, hello Brasil. We ran into Pablo again at the border and ended up travelling with him for a few days down to Manaus. The first thing to hit in Brasil was the prices. Fuel jumped from a couple of cents a litre to about $2 a litre and the price of other necessities like food, and accommodation also shot up.



The Border.


It was late in the day by the time we had sorted everything at the border, got rid of our last Venezuelan Bolivars while we could and hit the road south, riding with someone else for the first time since Colombia. After an hour or two we pulled in beside a river and camped the night, cooking rice and tuna on a small fire. Unpacking the bike, I noticed the head of the bolt holding the swing arm to the frame has snapped off and is just being held on by a small lip of metal. A bit surprised that the bike still is attempting to convert itself to a unicycle, I figure if it’s still holding it should make it a couple of hours to Boa Vista in the morning.


Luckily they didn’t end up becoming famous last words and after a stressful couple of hours looking down every few minutes to check the remainder of the bolt wasn’t working loose, we made it to town. We followed the standard procedure of asking locals and ending up following directions or locals to various shops before finding a bike shop that had one of a Honda something that would fit. $30 or so later I’m lot more relaxed with confidence that the old girl may stay in one piece a bit longer yet.


We stocked up on food water and fuel before heading south; as there wasn't much except jungle between here and Manaus we are told. While filling up with fuel a local riding past on a moto clips a car and ends up losing a whole lot of skin on the road. A huge crowd gathers around and he seems to get up but pretty soon after an ambualance takes him away. Shorts, singlet, flip flops and no helmet don’t offer much protection from the pavement.
.


We head off in the afternoon again and after a solid 5+ hours of riding we find a place out of sight of the road near some fairly recent virgin rainforest logging and set up camp on dark. I manage to get another small cooking fire going during the intermitting heavy showers so it’s a hot dinner. It rained alot during the night and Pablo came out of his tent /swimming pool looking a bit wet and we weren’t much better off.



Second night in Brasil


Back into soggy clothes and on the road again we head off. Right where the road crosses the equator there is a few km of bad mud road with lots of traffic backed up. I drop the bike once, losing the back end on a muddy off camber section. It’s at a slow speed and we are both fine with nothing more than a few bumps and bruises. We head on down through the section of road it’s illegal to stop while you drive through and the road is closed night due to the indigenous tribe living in the area. We stop at the police checkpoint after this section and they let us sleep on the concrete pad in front of their building with a covered roof. The roof is a luxury with the constant heavy rain showers every afternoon/evening.



Battle.



Pablo and Kyla.


The next day it’s off to Manaus! We are quite excited to get to the city and see the big river. We stop for lunch in Presidente Figueiredo, a local resort town an hour or so before Manaus and a local guy, Genghis, runs up and tells us he was expecting us in broken Spanish as all our Portuguese is a bit pitiful. We are all a bit confused and eventually figure out we are the wrong people , he gives us a number to call in Manaus anyway and takes off to finish his lunch. We are a bit confused, and head on to Manaus. We get there as it’s getting late, ride around in the rain a bit and eventually stop at a gas station. Pablo calls the number and finds that it is for the Legion Phoenix M.C. and they would like to look after us while we are here. A couple of the guys from the club, Dieles and Ramayana, ride out to the gas station and tell us to follow them to the clubhouse. So off we go, ending up at Alcides house, who is the president of the club. Although none of us really had languages in common we got along very well and Alcides insisted there was room down in the lower house for us with some of his family. The hospitality shown to us by the club for the week we stayed was incredible. They showed us around the city on bikes and took us out for meals and drinks. They didn’t want me to have to go out in my one pair of torn up old riding jeans, so I was given a couple of spare pairs they had around.



Time for some rack reinforcement in Manaus.



The Manaus Opera House.



Legion Pheonix M.C.



The big river.



The guys showing us around. Bridge being built over the Rio Negro.



Family.



Going to the Opera.



At the Opera.



Friends.


We decided here to head on down the BR 319 to Porto Velho and Pablo headed back to Venezuela. They warned us they didn’t think the road was passable but we thought we’d give it a go anyway. Before we left the club gave us a rear tyre as ours was running out of life and Pablo got a front one. This was a hard gift to accept as they had already given us so much but it would be insulting to refuse. We also got a couple of 5L detergent bottles they had for fuel containers and after a few tears of farewell were shed we headed to the ferry.



Crossing the Amazon amongst the tankers.


It was an interesting ferry, crossing just below where the Rio Negro joins the Amazon and passing over the mixing of the waters, where the brown and black rivers merge. We headed off down the surprisingly decent paved road to Cariero, where we stayed the night. After an early start it was time for the fun to begin. There was a big concrete bridge built across the river beside Cariero but like the other one or two big bridges on the road, there were no on or off ramps built. Funding for this project had been cancelled at some point in the project, so people could cross climbing up the 3 or 4 metre drop on each side but vehicles and bikes had to take small ferries.



Ferry at Cariero.



Ready to go. The pointless bridge is behind me.

We had filled up with petrol and were ready for 500km of jungle. Or so we thought. After 100km and a couple of these ferries, we passed an army base, the last of civilization for awhile. No private contractors were willing to rebuild the BR 319, so the army was sent in to do it. The road was originally built to maintain the communication towers every 50 or so km that connect Manaus to the rest of the country. It had not been maintained since the 80’s. At the time the 10-15km after the army base was the worst part of the road. We had to repeatedly unload as we sunk stuck into mud to the bottom up to the bottom of the bags, push the bike through and reload. After valiantly battling through 8km of mud in 2+ hours, the bike decided to completely consume her clutch.


Into the jungle.



Proper stuck.



and again.



once more.



Right before the end of the clutch.


Crap. It’s getting on to mid afternoon. No people. No traffic. Decisions.


The bike is given a sad farewell and pushed into the bushes for a night alone. We start the walk back to the army base. Arriving just after dark the army boys are shocked to see two random gringos walking in. Although we can’t talk because of our limited Portuguese we end up with an empty dorm room/container to ourselves and leftovers from the mess. I never figured I’d join the Brazilian army for a week but they were great.



The army base. As viewed from one of the communication towers looking towards the closest civilisation.


After a few hand signals and trying to communicate in broken Spanish, I realised they would love to pick the bike up but they don’t have enough diesel which is why they aren’t working and why the generator only runs an hour or two a day. So off we trot back up the track with no bags this time and spend the entire day pushing the bike back through 8km of crappy mud with no functioning engine to help.


Getting in on dark we enjoy another meal of salty meat rations and retire to our quarters. The next day one of the army mechanics wants to take a look and it is confirmed. No clutch and the nearest possibility of a replacement is the small town about 100km and two ferry crossings away. The army can’t give us a ride because they have no diesel. Joining the army seems the only option. Kyla told the guys somehow it was my birthday and they find a few s and make pizza for dinner. A unique enough place for a 22nd birthday I guess.



Hmmm, it is broken!!



Birthday Party.


The next day, Renan, the commander returns to camp. He speaks English which is fortunate for us. So the story is they have been waiting longer then they usually wait for fuel because the ferry is broken. In a few days they will drive in a truck our side of the crossing 30km away where a small boat can ferry drums across (and us!).

During the next few days we encounter an anaconda cruising through camp, I catch a small fish with big teeth and eat it, we read alot and live on army rations. Life’s not bad when you have a dry place to sleep and food in your stomach.



Anaconda.



Lunch.



Off to the truck. The guys in the background are carrying diesel from the genny tank over to the truck.



Up she goes.


The day has finally come, the boys helped me load the bike the night before and we are off. The first 18 km it is such a relief to be on the move again.... until the drive shaft decides to remove itself from the centre diff. That trucks not going anywhere. A couple of hours of waiting on the side of the road and the other working truck comes to pick us up. And take us back to the base for the night. Frustrating.



That driveshaft doesn't look right...


Round two and we head off the next morning in the other truck and make it to the river. Freedom! There is no traffic on this road but Renan says we will have a chance of getting a ride. (We saw a total of zero vehicles go past in either direction in our week at the army base). After pushing the bike for 8 or 10km a van that passed us earlier going the other way is coming back. I frantically wave it down and he stops. I get Kyla in the van with bags before tying a rope on to the van, wrapping one end around my bars and holding on. The road is paved mostly, interspersed with sections of potholes. The driver is a crazy Brazilian. The next two hours are the most mentally straining two hours I have had in a long time. Motorbikes are not meant to be towed. Arriving shaking at the ferry to the small town of Cariero I thank the driver profusely, give him 10 or 20 dollars and push the bike on to the ferry and off up to a bike mechanic. He pulls the clutch off and luckily it uses the same size clutch as Honda 150 I think and he gives me two options; $15 for the Chinese made clutch or $25 for the Brazilian made one. I splash out on the pricier one and then it’s time for another go at the 319. Taking the boat to Porto Velho would just be too easy.
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  #35  
Old 6 Oct 2012
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I'm amazed at your perservience

What adventurous spirit's you have ,loving you tale ,re the chinese bike,its almost worth buying one for the experience's it brings,how else would you have had the tale you are experiencing
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  #36  
Old 6 Oct 2012
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WOW....

Thanks much for your reports. I had heard that camping was not ok in the jungle because of big cats. But maybe nobody told you and so you proved them wrong. You do know that it is the rainy season now? To late now to be concerned about that, isn't it? Thanks again for your reports. In time, we will see if I get down that way. All the best to you. mike
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  #37  
Old 10 Oct 2012
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Thanks for the report. Please keep it going if you can! Very interesting.
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  #38  
Old 12 Oct 2012
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Wow, what a practical idea - two large rucksacks on a wooden carrier. Who needs £1000 luggage!
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  #39  
Old 17 Oct 2012
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*This is going back to May 2011 riding through here, I have been incredibly slack.


It was getting on into the afternoon by the time the bike was back in one piece and good to go. So we loaded up, bought a couple of dozen s and a couple of bottles of Cachaça for the army boys and headed back over the ferry. It was now getting dark but I was frustrated enough to keep going. Then the headlight decided enough was enough and stopped completely. Not Again. I quickly diagnosed that it was the battery. I had been having to kickstart the bike for a few thousand km but hadn't got around to getting a new battery. So under-powered LED headtorch strapped to the front it was into the night. Half an hour of this was enough with the frequent potholes and my already frayed nerves from the mornings towing, so we decided to camp soon. There weren't many places that looked nice for camping in the jungle, so we headed on until finding a church seemingly on its own in the middle of the jungle. After figuring that we wanted to camp on his lawn the pastor seemed happy enough. Setting the tent up I dropped straight to sleep before being woken half an hour later by excessively loud late night preaching screaming from the rough sawn church. A bunch of people turned up from the jungle to get yelled at for an hour or two. It was a bit strange, but these things happen.



Camped at church.


Up early, it’s nice to be on the road again. After 15 minutes ride I see a strange shape on a power line. Stopping to investigate we realise it’s a sloth who had a shocking experience and its’ hooked claws were holding it up on the line. Not much fun for the sloth.





Then it was on to the next ferry and back to the army base. We stopped for lunch and a few s and to say our thanks before heading off down the red mud road.



Thanks Renan!


The muddy parts were a bit easier as the road had dried out a little and I knew the best lines after having been this way and walked back already. We got through with a bit less drama than a maintenance crew heading out to service the communication towers, giving them some water and keeping on going. There wasn’t much we could do and they were working their way through with a turper winch.



Stuck.


We kept on riding and stopped at for the night at the tower about 100km from the army base. No one is staying at this one, but the gate is unlocked and we camp inside. The hurricane mesh fences wouldn’t be much of an obstacle for a hungry jaguar but I figure I must smell too bad to be eaten anyway.



Camping under the tower.


It’s south again the next morning and off down the road, which is a mixture of dirt mud and seal until we get to a river. There is a small village here and a big old riverboat tied to a barge as a ferry they take us across for a small fee seeming surprised. I think the ferrying business has all but dried up for them now their only access to the world is down the river. I think the locals are saying we can’t go further but I can’t really understand so we go for a look anyway.



Curious Monkey.


The bridges get bad until we get to a river where the bridge is burnt out completely. There’s a body of a car which tried to cross at some point and it’s a long way to the other side. Frustrated, we decide to eat lunch.
I noticed a side track back a bit so we investigate. Nope, no way that way either. Back to the road. This must be why the army and locals and everyone was saying don’t go. Silly gringos.



Getting Bad.



Worse.



No way around.


I think I can make a canoe out amongst the pillars against the other bank. I don’t want to turn back. Swim time!! I take the spare tubes out and inflate them to float across on. They don’t give much flotation but it’s something. I splash around in the shallows for a bit to convince myself that I won’t get eaten by piranha or any other strange Amazonian fish or reptile and take the plunge. The current is surprisingly strong so I paddle upstream and float over to the other side. The canoe turns out to be a decent size. We have a chance!






Almost There!


I Bail it out with the cut off soft drink bottle that was in it as it is almost full with water and paddle back across with the paddle that was cut to shape from a plank. Next step, manhandle the bike into the canoe. This is difficult but manageable, with the bike ending up hanging over each side a bit. I paddle back over with the bike and Kyla. We are both in our underwear in case we end up swimming. We make over and eventually get the bike up the muddy bank on the other side. Another trip to get the bags and we are off again.



Going for a paddle.



Perfect fit.



Looking back.


It starts to rain and we ride off again. I drop the bike at least 20 times on off-camber greasy muddy sections. At least falling on mud doesn’t hurt as much. We pass another maintenance vehicle going the opposite direction and they are shocked to see us. The second and last vehicle we see before the village 100km out of Huamita. Frustrated, we make it to a tower and stop for the night. There is a ‘light house keeper’ staying in this one and he gives us clean water and the use of his toilet. I climb the tower in the morning. There is an incredible 360 degree view of endless trees, with the only contrasting feature being the single dirt line cutting straight through.



There can't be much traffic when there are leafcutter ant highways crossing the road.



The way we came.



The way we're going.


I have noticed the fuel tank has a slow leak. It appears there is no crack, just fuel seeping out through the fatigued metal. I think this from the force of crashing repeatedly with the overfilled ‘tankbag’ attached. I hope it doesn’t get worse or we may be walking again soon. Leaving the compound we see big paw prints in the mud. For better or worse the cat doesn’t seem to be around anymore.


Prints.



Tightening the chain.


After another exhausting day we make it to the village 100km before Huamita, and find it has a place to stay. A and an early night for a long sleep in something that resembles a bed. A guy in this town sells fuel from his shed which is a relief, as it would be a bit touch and go to get to Huamita. This next section of road is very bad because it gets used. It takes a few hours to get out to Huamita and the rest of the day before getting into Porto Velho. Looking for a hotel a very kind bus driver sees us confused, finishes his route, and returns to show us the way.


Accommodation in the village. Clothes could stand by themselves now.



Made It!!!
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  #40  
Old 19 Oct 2012
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Made it!

As I finished reading your report and I stood up and cheered, laughing. Thank you. ratbikemike
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  #41  
Old 20 Oct 2012
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Love your never give up out look!!

You show great improvisation skills ,looking forward to your next blog.Noel
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  #42  
Old 22 Oct 2012
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holy frijoles! Colebatch and his crewe have nothing on the two of you! Need a bike? Figure out how to buy one, first, get a questionable Chinese bike, and then nurse that sucker to success!! Your can-do spirit is wonderful. Bridge out? Swim across, borrow canoe, shuttle bike, gear, and sig other across, suit up and get back on the road. Bike dead? Push it. How far? Upwards of 8 miles! Wow! You guys put the ADVENTURE in adventure biking!!
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  #43  
Old 29 Dec 2012
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You haven't posted for a while, I hope all is well?
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  #44  
Old 29 Dec 2012
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Your still on SA as of last report. How about some boring ride report stuff with roads, restaurants and showers etc. Maybe include an intrestering sight to see. Hope all is well. ratbikemike
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  #45  
Old 31 Dec 2012
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I must admit i've been a little concerned too

Would be great if you can give us all a heads up.hope your well.Noel
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Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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