Our first night in Brazil
When still in Uruguay we talked a lot about what we should do from here. I was homesick or maybe it is not the right word, because I still love what we are doing. I don’t miss my home country, Denmark but what I really miss is my family and friends. After being on the road for more than a year, the feeling of wanting to spend time with family and friends just gets bigger and bigger. When we sold the motorcycles and bought our van “Lance”, we were sure, that we were just gonna travel for another 6 months and return to Denmark in the Spring. We reached Ushuaia in the beginning of Marts, and knew that we would not be back in Denmark before August. After doing several multi-day hikes in Patagonia, we wanted more. We did some research online and found several amazing hikes (single and multi-day) in Bolivia and Peru, which are countries we haven’t had time to explore… YET! What we also found out was that dry season in Bolivia and Peru is from May to November. So it would be great if we could be in Bolivia in July and August and Peru in September and October. Then we would have November to return back to Santiago de Chile to sell the van, and get home to Denmark for Christmas. We have to be home for Christmas. So we had two options when entering Brazil on the 26th of April 2018 (1) drive to Sao Paulo and fly home to Demark for 4-6 weeks and skip traveling in Brazil or (2) spend 6 weeks traveling in the southern part of Brazil. Before taking the decision we read about the southern part of Brazil, checked the cost of the airplane tickets and we talked a lot about it. We decided to travel in Brazil and not visit family and friends in Denmark. What made us take this decision? There was some amazing things to see in Brazil, my parents would be on a 2 week holiday in Italy in May, also we would have preferred to visit in April instead of May (timing means everything) and we will be home for Christmas, so it is just another 6 months before being reunited with family and friends. If we had known from the beginning of our adventure, that we would travel for almost two years, we would have planned to go back home for 4-6 weeks to visit family and friends. We have found out that after traveling 10-14 months, it would have been good for us to take a break from our travel and go back home to visit family and friends. Also things get worn down, and getting a few new supplies from home is just easier than having to find it in South America.
So together with Taisa and Ernesto, we left Uruguay behind
The days are really getting shorter and shorter. We had found a free place to camp on www.ioverlander.com at Laguna Mirim. Then we got there it was pitch black! No photos in the darkness but the next day we barely made it out the sand. So never park where there is sand when it is dark!
Taisa and Ernesto took off the next day, but we really need a relaxing day. So we after getting Lance out of the sand, we found a spot where the sand was hard packed. It was hot! So we set up our tarp to get some shade, it really didn’t help that much. Instead it was easy to dry some wet dollars that Esben had found in his wet wallet.
Then the cowboys or the Brazilian “Gauchos” came by with big herd of cattle
These cowboys were originally from the European settlers that arrived in Brazil in the mid 15th century. They are often in traditional clothing (check it out on the lower picture) and make their living by running ranches and working with the horses, sheep and cattle. The gauchos of Brazil have formed a culture of their own, complete with its own cuisine and a characteristic love of the land of South America. Due to the nature of their lives and work, the diet of the gauchos comprises plenty of meat, which is barbecued. The barbecue style of meat is called churrasco. They did not follow the general air of development and, later, industrialization. Rather, they focused on farming and caring for the livestock, valuing their roots and the abundance of Brazil. Because they did not move in the same circles or at the same pace as the other colonialists over the centuries, the gauchos soon formed a culture of their own, remaining distinct to this day (Source: https://www.brazil.org.za/gauchos.html).
It cooled down a little bit as the sun was setting, so I was able to do a little bit of strength training in the TRX. Soon we had the most amazing sunset
Next morning I got up with the sun and drove towards the town, Gramado while leaving Esben in the bed to sleep in. Because of the heat it is just amazing to drive from 7-9 am before it gets too hot. At the same time we had to drive 450 km and wanted to get there before it got dark. If you think that 450 km can be done in just 5 hours you are wrong. First we hit a gravel road, when trying a short cut.
Second, when we hit the mountains our breaks suddenly overheated. We pulled in at a gas station, that was just 200 meter further down the road. The break pads and discs were brand new (we bought them in Punta Arenas), what could be wrong? Esben took the front wheels off, to see if everything was right, and it was not. From what we could see, it looked liked the disc was a little bit too big in diameter, when getting hot it expands and starts to touch the break caliber. There was nothing we would do right here, so we let the break cool off and use the engine break as much as possible during the last few kilometers to Gramado. We would also have to go to a mechanic at some point, to have the breaks checked out and fixed.
Gramado is a tourist town, but we didn’t go here to see Gramado, but to visit the nearby waterfall “Cascata do Caracol”
Unfortunately the staircase that takes you to the bottom of the waterfall was closed! We were disappointed, but that’s life. The waterfall is still beautiful, and we walked further up the river, where we found some smaller waterfalls.
Instead we walked around in the surrounding park, focusing on getting some photos of the colorful fall
Close up photos
So why only travel the southern part or Brazil? Let us give you an overview of Brazil. Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country by both population (approximately 210 million) and geographical area (8,456,510 square kilometers). This means that Brazil makes up 47 % of the South American continent (Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/brazil/articles/brazil-fascinating-facts/). The country is divided in 5 regions and 26 regions (lower picture). To get from the south to the north in Brazil you would have to drive 4,395 kilometers, in comparison the USA are 3,367 km from east to west!
According to the map we will follow the coast to Rio de Janeiro and from there drive inland crossing through the state of Minas Gerais and Goiás Brasilia to reach the northern Pantanal in the state of Mato Grosso. So get on the road! Next stop the deepest canyon in Brazil “Itaimbazinho”.