Incredible Encournters - Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Incredible Encournters - Puerto Madryn, Argentina

January 18, 2015

Even travellers need inspiration and motivation from time to time. It can come in a range of forms from a chat with a stranger, to marvelling at nature, to grand designs. Travelling as two (or two and half with our little friend) we often draw on each other for strength during frustrating situations and when we feel weary from simply long days of riding. The Pack Track has been on the road now for nearly 11 months and our most recent inspiration came in the form of a young couple living in Puerto Madryn.Puerto Madryn is situated on the east coast of Argentina in the state of Chubut. We were taking Ruta 3 from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn and the two words that come to mind for this route are flat and windy. The landscape is bland, characterised by a sandy-dirt with little prickly-looking shrubs. Riding at 100km/h, no faster because of the strong winds, we would look to the horizon for a sign of something different but even 5km from Puerto Madryn the landscape is unchanged with no s...

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Tango Town - Buenas Aires, Argentina

Tango Town - Buenas Aires, Argentina

January 11, 2015

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is home to the tango and its no wonder when you walk the streets of this romantic city. The Pack Track arrived in Burenos Aires on 30 December 2014. What an amazing year 2014 had been and what a fantastic place to say goodbye to the old and bring in the new one. We booked in to Hostal Tercero Del Sur. It was perfect for us at $40 a night. We had a room with ensuite and air conditioning, it was very pet friendly (the staff really liked Negrita) and located on a street lined with restaurants and host to markets on weekends. There was always lots happening!New Years Eve has always been an important event for us in Australia, getting together with as many of our friends as possible. We had one friend in Buenos Aires, Pablo, so we messaged him to see if we could tag along with his plans. Turns out, New Years in Argentina is a bit different to Australia but just as special. Pablo's extended family gathered in the family home of his brother-in-law. ...

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Fall at Speed - Paraguay

Fall at Speed - Paraguay

December 27, 2014

Paraguay is one of the smaller countries in South America.  The capital of Paraguay is Asuncion which is located near the western border of the country. It is a small region but is home to the vast majority of Paraguays population. To the Northwest of Asuncion is a different story however, this region is known as Chaco and is a hot, arid land. In contrast, the eastern portion of Paraguay is full of agricultural lands.The Pack Track entered Paraguay on boxing day with the intention to stop in Asuncion for a couple of days before continuing on to Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires for New Years Eve. From the Brazilian border to Asuncion is around 300km, so comfortably a day’s travel. We made a booking at a hostel in Asuncion and left our hotel in Foz do Iguaçu at a reasonable 10am.The border crossing at Ciudad del Este was straight forward, a couple of stamps for us, nothing for the bikes or Negrita. We were through in about 15 minutes and back on the road. Our first stop was an ATM...

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Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

December 17, 2014

The beach, the flare, the statue of Christ and the mountains, Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We had booked our accommodation in advance using AirBnB and were to be staying with a young lady called Pracilla in her 2 bedroom apartment. She messaged us some rough directions to follow, so we input them into the GPS. It was an expensive but pretty ride through the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. We had previously spent two months in Brazil during the World Cup. During this time we got to see a lot of Brazil but also took a hit to the back pocket with the costs of accomodation, food and fuel often going over our daily budget. Taking this into consideration we decided to take motorways as much as possible to move quickly south. The motorways on which we had been travelling up until the state of Sao Paolo didn't require payment for motorbikes at toll stations. Motorbikes were provided a separate lane on the outside of the road with a litt...

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Manaus to Porto Velho by Riverboat - Brazil

Manaus to Porto Velho by Riverboat - Brazil

November 30, 2014

What can you expect from a boat trip in this part of the world? This wasn't our first and is likely not our last. Our experience on the MV Kimbia in Guyana was still fresh in our mind, and if the 5 nights spent in the Brazilian Amazon river system on riverboat Dois Irmaos-I between Manaus and Port Velho was going to be anything like the Kimbia then we were in for 5 days of hell. The river system is the highway of the Amazon. With roads only opened seasonally, and only then to capable offroad vehicles, the river picks up the slack and does a very good job. The Amazon river itself is vast, capable of being navigated by the largest ocean-going ships. It allows trade into and out of Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas in the north of Brazil and nearly 1,000 miles inland, most practical. We sighted many large barges carrying semi-trailers as well as what seemed to be floating warehouses. There are many communities along the riverbanks ranging in size from an isolated house...

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Postal Nightmare - Venezuela

Postal Nightmare - Venezuela

October 15, 2014

Stuart sat in the back of a taxi travelling four hours across the country, having now spent a total of three months in Venezuela. His hope was that this little adventure would allow The Pack Track to continue their journey exploring more of South America.So where was he going? The city of Bolivar Ciudad, capital of the state of Bolívar. Over 2 months ago we had a brilliant idea, we'd had a lot of faulty electronics (which admittedly were old at the start of our trip and included laptop, camera, GPS and bluetooth comms) and needed a few motorcycle parts which were not easy to obtain in South America. So we decided to place an order online and have it shipped to Venezuela. The plan was sound, international shipping "guaranteed" 3-5 days delivery, we had an address we trusted with our amigo Carlos in El Callao and a plan of how to spend the time constructively while waiting for the delivery to arrive.So why were we still waiting 2 months later? Well, it all started when we first placed...

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Introducing Negrita - Venezuela

Introducing Negrita - Venezuela

October 09, 2014

This is Negrita... We've known Negrita for a little while now. Our paths first crossed during Skyla's treatment in El Callao when Negrita donated blood to Skyla for an emergency blood transfusion. We were very grateful to Negrita who has herself not had an easy start to life. She is a two year old rescue dog that has been living with the local vet in El Callao (Alicia) for nearly the last two years. Negrita was born a street dog. Its a tough life, a constant battle to find food and learn to be 'streetwise' as so many of the drivers in Latin America don't care if they hit dogs. Its heartbreaking to watch and Negrita was a victim of this.Alicia's veterinary shop in El Callao, VenezuelaAs a young pup, Negrita was run over by a truck near the Plaza Bolivar of El Callao, pushed off the road and left to die. A passing driver,  Luis Lazar (and friend of Alicia's) grabbed her off the road and took her to Alicia's veterinary shop to see what could be done to save her. Alicia could see tha...

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Mount Roraima Hike - Venezuela

Mount Roraima Hike - Venezuela

September 25, 2014

Nothing clears the mind like physical activity and spending time with nature. What better for The Pack Track to recover from the recent loss of Skyla than a 6 day 5 night trek in the Gran Sabana, destination Mount Roraima.Mount Roraima is one of the table top mountains, most famous of all due to its relatively easy climb (no equipment required) and proximity to other frequented sites. The table top mountains have been the inspiration for books and movies due to the early belief that the isolation atop of these ancient mountains had species long gone extinct in the rest of the world. The book 'The Lost World' is the most notable of these but more recently the childrens movie 'Up', which we made sure we watched to get excited about what to expect on top!Stu investigated packages for the trek when we were in Santa Elena de Uairen. Most guides take groups of four people plus so if you are travelling alone or as a couple you will likely be grouped with other people to bump the numbers up...

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Farewell Skyla - Venezuela

Farewell Skyla - Venezuela

September 10, 2014

The last month has been heartbreaking for The Pack Track as we said goodbye to our most popular member. On the 10th of September, in the small town of El Callao, Venezuela, Skyla lost her fight with cancer and this months article is simply a dedication to our beloved pet and travelling companion.Skyla fought hard to the end. 10 days earlier she was wiggling in the grass and chasing her ball as she had always done. Then over night she fell ill and required daily visits to the vet for intravenous fluids and vitamins, surgery to remove a couple of lumps and a late night blood transfusion.The vet in El Callao, Alicia, went above and beyond to help Skyla. She treated Skyla morning and night for three weeks, made late night visits to our hotel to check on her and always had time to receive our phone calls and meet us at our hotel or clinic when required.Being the only white people in the small community of El Callao, our presence was quickly noticed and people learnt that we were staying ...

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Guyana to Venezuela by boat

Guyana to Venezuela by boat

August 16, 2014

The MV Kimbia, a 70 year old dilapidated ocean going passenger and cargo transport ferry, is said to be one of the oldest ships in the maritime public transport industry. It services the communities in the Northwest region of Guyana, a region only accessible by boat due to the whole area being a marshy swampland interspersed with river systems. The ferry ride is usually around 25 hours but inclement weather can extend this voyage to 30-36 hours. The trip is very much a third world transportation experience; grossly overcrowded, terrible sanitation, all kinds of animals and next to no consideration for safety.Guyana is a developing country on the north coast of South America. It has a population of around 750,000 and is the second smallest country by land mass in South America. By the time we reached Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, and had spent a few days exploring the city, we had seen everything we wanted. This took us about a week in total and from this point onwards, we were ...

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Land of Water - Guyana

Land of Water - Guyana

August 11, 2014

After the intensity of the World Cup we were looking forward to a slower pace. From Brazil we were free to travel wherever the road would take us. A few days in Boa Vista, Brazil, gave us some time to discuss our overall plan for South America and we decided that it would be best to travel anti-clockwise around South America, reaching the bottom (Ushuaia) around the end of November. It gets very cold down there so for riders its recommended to head there in the warmer months, December to February. We picked Guyana for our next stop, an English speaking country and that was the limit of our knowledge of the little South American country with population around 800,000. It was a pleasant ride to Letham, the border town of Guyana, and we stopped along the way to grab a few snaps, easing into our new routine (taking our time). The border crossing wasn't too complicated, there was some paperwork for both Skyla and the motorbikes. What did surprise us was the temporary permit the immigrati...

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Lethem to Linden Route Report - Guyana

Lethem to Linden Route Report - Guyana

August 11, 2014

This is the route report for the road from Lethem on the Guyanese side of the Guyana/Brazil border to Linden near Georgetown in Guyana (the road from Linden to Georgetown is sealed). Our travel occured at the end of July, towards the end of the wet season so includes some of the worse conditions you could face along this route. We were advised at the border that this route could be done in a day. I'm sure this is possible for someone experienced and knowledgeable of the road, but we were neither and had plenty of time. The total distance is around 450km of unsealed road, a combination of dirt, mud and sand, through some very beautiful jungle. The terrain was mostly flat, with a few low gradient hills as you approached Linden but accompanied with better road surface due to the logging companies in that region.In no rush, we rode a little over 100km a day. This worked out really well with camping locations (see below for further information). Adjacent to the road is thick jungle wh...

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