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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #1  
Old 19 May 2023
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How many possible routes through Brazil north to south ?

Hey everyone,

The title of my post sums it all up :-)
How many possible routes are there ( cycling, if that matters ) from any coastal point north in the South American continent ( Guyana/Suriname/French Guiana and northern Brazil ) down to Bolivia or Paraguay ?
Not counting Venezuela, although I know it is an option, too.
And weather-wise what would be the best season to cross the Amazonian forest ?


L.
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  #2  
Old 24 May 2023
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Taking into account permutations and combinations, there are hundreds, if not thousands. If you can narrow down the question you may get some answers.

Best time for the Amazon basin - June to November.
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  #3  
Old 26 May 2023
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Alright then !

Where can I cross into Brazil ( heading south, by road ) from either French Guiana, Suriname or Guyana ?

And from there what are my options for riding south to Bolivia, taking in the Amazon basin ?

L.
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  #4  
Old 26 May 2023
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The answer to your first question is pretty obvious on any map: there is one route south from French Guiana, and another south from Guyana. That's it. Both were partially paved, partially dirt, and occasionally quite tiresome and muddy last I was there more than 10 years ago. I hung with some bicyclists for a bit, and they told me they were having a rough time of it--and I later heard that one of them had contracted dengue in the Guianas. But truckdrivers told me both roads used to be much, much worse, so maybe by now they're much, much better.

"Taking in the Amazon Basin" is really best done by boat, not road. If you head for Belem, you'll spend at least a day on a boat no matter what route you choose. I'll leave it to others more knowledgeable than I to give you some specifics.

You might still find it useful to narrow the field some more. It's unlikely anyone will write you a Brazil to Bolivia guidebook, and there are quite a few options.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #5  
Old 28 May 2023
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Hey Mark,

That is helpful.

A friend of mine rode Ushuaia to Caracas some years ( 15 ? ) ago. He crossed into Brazil from Bolivia and then headed north to Porto Velho where he took the boat to Manaus. He resumed riding from there.
At the time that PV-Manaus stretch was considered very difficult, even for hardcore cyclists. Or maybe he was there at the wrong time of year, I don't recall. But anyways he decided to hop on the boat.


The road through Guyana also looks quite challenging.

L.
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  #6  
Old 13 Jun 2023
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Hi levelo,

It sounds like you want to ride from the Guyanas to Bolivia, through Brazil.

The road from Georgetown to Lethem, Guyana, isn't bad if traveled during the dry season. I rode north from Lethem in early November 2012 and encountered only a few puddles that spanned the width of the road. Visit my lame blog post here: https://www.petersride.com/2012/11/goin-to-guyana.html

For planning purposes, I recommend checking annual rainfall for Guyana on various websites. Here is an example for Lethem, Guyana

Once reaching Lethem cross the frontier into Brazil and head for Boa Vista, then continue south to Manaus. From there take BR-319 to Humaitá. The 300-400 mile stretch of road has minimal services. I don't believe there are any hotels or gas stations. That doesn't mean you can't find a bed but will need to ask around. Some riders shared stories of sleeping on the loading docks of cell phone towers. Gas may be purchased in roadside restaurants, typically out of a barrel or from farmers. Keep in mind, BR-319 is largely packed clay until you reach Humaitá. By reviewing Google Maps, it looks like the road south of Humaitá to Porto Velho is paved. I understand the best (driest) time of year to ride BR-319 is July/August. If you try to take on BR-319 during periods of significant rain, you'll be telling a mud story that is hundreds of miles long.

As documented in his series, Tough Rides, Ryan Pyle seeks the hard way. He rode BR-319 during the rainy season. I think the timing makes his adventure dramatic and worthy of the series title, so he intentionally picked the worst time of year. It is doubtful you want to do the same, I don't! =)



I heard there is a ferry on the Madeira River, which runs parallel to BR-319, but where the services start on the north end is not known to me. I won't take a boat when a road is available.

There are several options for entering northern or northeastern Bolivia from Brazil, but I have no experience or advice. Someone else here on the HUBB might be able to give a recommendation.

I am planning to ride BR-319 in early August 2023. If I see you headed south, I'll be sure to stop and chat with you. What are your overall plans?
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Peter B
2008/09 - NJ to Costa Rica and back to NJ
2012/13 - NJ to Northern Argentina, Jamaica, Cuba and back to NJ
2023 - Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia...back to Peru.

Blogs: Peter's Ride

Last edited by Peter Bodtke; 13 Jan 2024 at 19:57. Reason: Fixing the YouTube link (again)
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  #7  
Old 13 Jun 2023
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And are you bicycling, or motorcycling? I assumed the former based on your first post, but failing to be clear about that will affect the applicability of any answers you get.
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  #8  
Old 17 Jun 2023
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Hey Peter & Markharf,

Yes, cycling.
Thanks for your detailed answer, Peter.
I am on the road right now ( Iceland ) with limited time to answer you.
I will when I get back to the continent.
First hand information on that road from Guyana south into Brazil is exactly what I was asking for :-)
Cheers,

L.
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  #9  
Old 17 Jun 2023
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Hi Levelo,

I did cross from Bolivia to Brazil at the Gayaramerin border to go spend time in the Amazons. Easy border crossing. You just need to take a small boat to cross to into Brasil.

I was there more than 15 years ago. May be things have changed but I would cross the Bolivian north section in the dry season. New friends were waiting by the side of the dirt road when I was riding: this area is a swamp and crocodiles were hanging by the side of the road. I can only imagine that their playground would be bigger in the rainy season.

It does not mean that they will eat you. I had to spend a night alone by a river in the Amazons and the crocodiles left me alone. I guess they don't like the taste of canadian food.


Patrick

Last edited by PatOnTrip; 17 Jun 2023 at 22:58.
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  #10  
Old 18 Jun 2023
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Hi Levelo,

I was curious about how the route from Gayaramerin to Rurrenabaque might have changed.

The route is now paved from Gayaranerin to south of Riberalta.
The rest of the route looks very dry to Rurrenabaque.
If you travel between May and August you will be definitly fine.

I rode there in 2005 in the fall season and there were many water pools. As mentioned, i ran into crocodiles. One did not get lucky and got run over by a truck. This was all 18 years ago. My comments are not worth much today. I would not hesitate to take that route now in the dry season on a bicycle.


Patrick
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  #11  
Old 23 Jun 2023
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tough roads

Colombia to the Orinoco then Venezuela to many river cities you follow the river turn south to Brazil probably takes the cake
via Villavelencio to puerto Careńos 800km only done 1 December - January end
this is the dry season but shit happens El-Ñino has suprises
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  #12  
Old 6 Sep 2023
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Hello everyone,

I am almost done with the European leg of my ride.

Time to get a bit more serious with the planning of the second leg through South America

@ Peter : Did you ride BR 319 as planned ?
@PatOn Trip : Thanks for the good advice and for taking the time to research the Bolivian/Brazil part of it.

Most likely I will fly from France to Cayenne, French Guiana, at the very beginning of November.
I have contacted a bunch of friends who over the years have ridden ( cycled ) through that part of the world.

Starting in Cayenne the going shouldn't be too difficult as far as Georgetown, Guyana ( mostly if not all paved roads ).
The road south to Lethem into Brazil down to Boa Vista will be done in the dry ( late November/early December ).

If I decide to go south from there ( Manaus, then down to Porto Velho ) then I will hit the beginning/heart of the rainy season in the Amazon basin, all the way down to Bolivia ( December & January ).
The paved sections should be alright, but probably not the dirt ones ( Manaus to Humaita, plus across the border in Bolivia ).
I could probably hop on the Manaus-Porto Velho boat on the Madeira River though, if such boat still exists, but I know from experience ( Central Africa ) that you don't want to be riding when the rains are full on

The second option I am considering is entering Venezuela from Boa Vista, and travel west from there into Colombia via La Gran Sabana, Ciudad Guayana, Puerto Carreno, San Fernando de Apure and San Cristobal.
A friend of mine followed that route more than 15 years ago.
I wonder if that would be safe enough though considering the distance and the hardships the country is going through.

Feel free to comment, contradict or advise me

Levelo.
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  #13  
Old 8 Sep 2023
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I rode a bit of what your describing last year 2022 -2023 on motorcycle;

Cusco>Inapari>Porto Vehlo>Manaus (BR319)>Lethem>Georgetown>Paramaribo>Cayenne>Macap a ferry to Belem.
Timeframe November-January

BR319 caught it at end of dry season. Only small rains at the time. No tough mud, lots of potholes/ruts, do-able on bicycle.

All commercial vehicles take the ferries Manaus>Porto Vehlo and other way around. Lots of scheduled ferries.

DM for more info if you like. Good luck.
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  #14  
Old 11 Sep 2023
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Hello Budgetrider,

Thank you for the input.
BR 319 looks like hell in the wet.
Do you remember precisely when you tackled it ? Early/late December ?
I plan to start in Cayenne in the first week of November, going the other way around, on a pushbike so much, much slower than you.
I will probably be in Manaus in mid-December at the earliest.

L.
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  #15  
Old 23 Dec 2023
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Hello everyone,

I am in Manaus, time for me to give you a little update on my travels.

Everything has been going well so far.

From Cayenne, French Guiana, where I landed, I rode northwest, crossed into Suriname and then into Guyana.
I stayed on the main coastal road which was nice ( and easy ) throughout.

Then I headed south to Lethem as planned ( first week of December ).
The dirt track can be rough on a bicycle with patches of soft sand and a lot, just an awful lot of corrugation.
It was still very dry when I passed ( the rainy season was late ) which made it impossibly dusty.
A Brazilian company is currently working on it in bits ( building sturdier concrete bridges, widening and compacting it ) which will eventually lead to its paving. But it is going to take time !
There are tiny settlements ( and very expensive isolated lodges ) in the Big Forest but one should carry a few days worth of food.
I found the experience to be pretty amazing and I saw a lot of wildlife, including a bunch of boas crossing the track when it was at its quietest
Lethem is a nice little town.

Guyana is very much under pressure these days, with the nutcase next door threatening to invade.

Crossing into Brazil is a breeze.
The road down to Boa Vista is a proper ( but quiet ) highway.
Further south I'd recommend to use BR 432 as far as Novo Paraiso. It is a 220 km scenic stretch, paved almost all the way. You'll skirt from up close the last of the low mountains/inselbergs of the Guiana Shield.
Further south you'll cross the beautiful and wild Waimiri-Atroari Indian Reserve. I wasn't sure they'd let me go on the bicycle ( it is 130 km long, and you can't stay overnight ) but they did. I got to the other side in the afternoon and stayed at the Petrobras gas station.
Then the terrain gets very hilly as far as Manaus, with still large forested patches, which make the route very pleasant. I spent a few days around Presidente Figueiredo, at a small benab/campsite run by a nice family. The area has lots of ( small ) waterfalls deep in the jungle.

Manaus is interesting in its own right and it feels good to relax here.
It started raining here a couple of weeks ago.
I am wondering what to do next.
BR 319 or slow boat down to Porto Velho ?
In the dry season I wouldn't have thought twice and would have gone for the road.
But now I have doubts.
I should be talking shortly with Brazilians who have just driven it. Everyone seems to be willing to talk about it without knowing it and I need first hand recent information to make a decision.

Merry Christmas to all.

Levelo.
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