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I'm heading back down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to rejoin my bike in mid Sept 2006 (I rode from Alaska to TDF, then up to Rio June 05 - Apr 06). I'll then ride west to Foz do Iguaçu and cross into Paraguay. Plan to head NW through the Gran Chaco region of western Paraguay on my way to Bolivia. Looking for recent info on the Gran Chaco part of the route, and anyone who might want to join me. Thanks!
I took this route about 2 years ago. From asuncion up is a easy 1000 km. You have to do your custom formality,s (exit stamp) in philedelphia if memory serves me right.
There is also the last gas-station. After this it is about 200 km to the junction where the "new-chaco-road) goes to the left to Argentina.
If you want hard work... you go straight ahead to Bolivia.
You can camp at the NP head-quarters. Try to get fuel from there from some farmers (I could not).
Now the fun begins.
First about 50 km good road (no tarmac anymore)... then aprox. 90 km of pure hell.
Soft sandy track,s (30 cm deep) that go slightly uphill with thorny bushes on both sides.
The good news is that I made it on a Africa twin, fully loaded and a extra can of fuel strapped to bike. Now if I can do it, so can you. (full throttle in second gear, just pretend to be on a light MC-bike) (I did have 3 little meetings with the ground, but since it,s all soft sand, it does not hurt)
At the NP headquarters they can radio to the army-posts that you are on your way... if you don,t turn up, they will look for you (so they told me). At least they gave me food and water.
When you come to Bolivia, there is no customs... and no fuel. (total distance without fuel is about 500 km) so you need to go straigth to Santa Cruzz for immigration and customs. Immigration gave me a hard time at first (three day,s inbetween my paraguay exit stamp and ariving in SC), but after talking to the chief it was fine.
Customs was no problem, very cooparative.
One word of advice though... when you are in Bolivia there is a reasonable good road (dirt), but at one of the corners there is a catle-grid on the ground.... and the steel is missing. Not good for the nerves if you aproach it with 70 km/h, come around a slight bend and suddenly see there is a deep hole in stead of the grid.... so bee carefull.
Al in all it is a great ride! Lots of wildlive (even puma,s)
Thanks Maarten! I checked your web site for photos of this stretch, and noticed that you didn't post a single shot. Is that because you were too busy negotiating the deep sand? How many days did it take you to go the 1000+km? Were you able to find water and were you able to camp wherever you pleased? Was the famed wildlife of this region near enough to warrant carrying a longer telephoto camera lens?
On another note, I noticed on your web site that you were here in my home town of Durango, Colorado at Mesa Verde National Park last winter while I was in Bolivia. Small world.
In 2004 I traveled from Argentina to Brazil to Paraguay crossing in at Iguazu Falls. If I understand your route you will cross there too. Well you need a visa for Paraguay. Maybe you can get it at the border, maybe not. It causes a problem on the weekend/holidays especially. And money.
The border crossing is just wild as it is a free crossing between Paraguay and Brazil for the locals, no customs, so smuggling is just rampant and traffic was heavy. Most of the smugglers are on motorcycles. Traffic is fast and furious even by SA standards.
The police tried to stop me in Paraguay for not having my headlight on but I played dumb, they only wanted money. A big Mercedes pushed me into a ditch going very fast and thinking I was a small bike.
Paraguay is a little strange, the food for one thing. You will see.
I headed north and then east back into Brazil and to Rio Vehlo so I can't help with Bolivia. I ended up in Manaus. If you are going to visit the falls at Iguazu go to the Argentine side. the park is world class, beautiful and indescribable. Good camping in the town on the Argentine, very cheap. This sounds confusing but it is a 3 way border. Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
Thanks, Bill, I appreciate your helpful input. I actually came up to see the Foz do Iguaçu on my way north to Rio from Buenos Aires, so I'm well aquainted with the chaos at Ciudad del Este. I plan on getting my Paraguayan visa while I'm here in the US, via their embassy's web site. I'm trying to get current information on the roads in the western half of the country, and cast about for anyone who might want to join me on the this leg of the journey. From what Maarten says, and a few things I've read elsewhere, it sounds like a wild ride.
I did take a few shots )one even made it into a dutch newspaper), though only where the sand was hard enaugh to be able to "get moving" again, so not in the "soft sections". They would have been super-shots, me standing on the bike, hanging to the side to duck for thorny bush, full throttle, shifting down without clutch (or you,d stop dead)...
Yeah, you will love it!!!! after you did it.
Tell you the truth: after the first "bad stretch" I did not want to go on..... but I could not get myself to turn around to face that "bad stretch" again.... Strange how you refuse to see what,s ahead if you know what,s behind.
OK, sleeping: everywhere. Plenty of places for water (farm,s, ranger-stations, militairy-camps).
I did the 1000 km in three day,s. The first 800 is no problem at all. Many farm,s and even a few little towns.
More to the north, in the NP it,s empty. A lot of wild-life, but most of them you,ll see jumpimng across the road as you aproach. But I am sure if you stay a few day,s you can get some great wildlife shots. Puma, ocelot, linkx, all sorts of small rodents etc. Also many many birds.
The last 100 km (actually 100 in paragua and 50 in Bolivia) there are three militairy-stations which provide you with food and water. No fuel though!
Thanks again, Maarten! Just to be clear, there are several routes to Bolivia across the Gran Chaco. The main route, and the one you probably took, appears to be Asuncion > Filadelfia > Mariscal Estigarriba > Forti Infante Rivarola (border station) > Iboibobo (Bolivia) > Villamontes > N to Santa Cruz. Is this correct?
You also said that the distance without fuel is about 500Km, so I'd only need to carry maybe a couple gallons of gas. Is this correct? And was there much traffic, i.e. trucks, buses, military, farmers, or were you pretty much alone with the wildlife? You said there was water; was it bottled or did you filter the local source? And what time of year did you do the route and did you encounter much rain at that time? I really appreciate your first-hand info.
I expect to head west from Asuncion around the week of Sept 25, 2006, in case anyone is in the neighborhood and would like to join in the fun.
I'll be leaving Rio de Janiero heading towards Foz do Iguaçu and Asunción around the week of September 25, 2006. I'm still looking for a partner to team up for the ride across the Gran Chaco in western Paraguay. Should be a great ride with lots of wildlife. Any takers?
I had just read the Chaco posting on your web site last night. Great story!
Piecing together the information I have gathered from various sources (the Paraguay Consulate was no help at all, she said, "Road? What road?")... 2 years ago you appear to have taken a route different than what is now considered "normal." Your route: Asuncion > Filadelfia > Mariscal Estigarriba > Parque Nacional Enciso > Gral (border station) > Boyuibe (Bolivia) > N to Santa Cruz.
The now "normal" route is: Asuncion > Filadelfia > Mariscal Estigarriba > Forti Infante Rivarola (border station) > Iboibobo (Bolivia) > Villamontes > N to Santa Cruz. The new route doesn't appear to be much better: deep sand, thorn bushes, extreme heat, many water crossings, no traffic. The route you took has apparently been wiped off the map; perhaps a rainstorm washed out some critical passage. I will be there in the dry season, so the sand may be even MORE loose. I plan to carry 10 litres of extra gas.
Since the "new" route does not pass through Parque Nacional Enciso, do you recommend riding up to the park, then back south to the "new" route, just to see the park and the animals (provided I have adequate gas)?
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