Arriving back to Brasilia we were an hour late, but our friend Erick was there to meet us. His wife Danielle had also prepared a special meal for us. We are really hoping to connect with them when they are in Europe this summer. Erick saw us off this morning by taking us on the back roads to avoid the bad traffic. We were sad to say goodbye!
Today we start are just over a 2800 km journey south to the border of Uruguay. We have until February 16 or 8 days before our Brazilian visa runs out. If we over stay it is just 8 Reals or about 4$ a day, but we have to have the bikes in Buenos Aires at Dakar Motos on February 23 to get the shipping organized before our flight to Madrid February 28.
The first leg was the 1330 km to Bonito and we planned for 3 days. Today we went 453 km south and west to Rio Verde.
The road before Goiana is quite good, but it is a 4 lane divided highway and so we did a bit of detouring to get off it and onto the secondary roads. Much of this day was dodging potholes, but that can be fun. The added benefit is there is almost no car or truck traffic. The scenery is lush and green with huge tracks of farmland. The sky was covered in black clouds and you could see the rain pouring down almost everywhere. Dan’s route managed to steer us clear of all but one 5 min douching.
The town itself is not much to speak of, but we found an ok hotel on the highway. The only thing nearby was a huge mall and so we took in the food fare and the air con.
When we went to bed it was pouring, but we woke up to clear skies. We had a big day planned today 639 km south and west to Campo Grande. This was again initially on a 4 lane divided road, but after 90 km you turn south to the secondary roads.
At about the half way mark we stopped for gas and a break in Chapadão do sul. While we were getting ready to leave RICARDO drives up on a small bike and says HI! He has a BMW 800 and wanted to show us their really nice moto clubhouse.
The scenery here is hilly with many huge corporate farms with soybeans, sugar cane, and corn. One farm had so many combines parked outside we though they were selling them.
Continuing south the road gets like Swiss cheese and this combined with a long day and the heat was annoying. We did have one 5 minute drenching to cool us off. It is so cool when you see flocks of macaws and toucans flying across the road as you pass. We arrived to the hostal in Campo Grande about 5 minutes before a very heavy rainstorm began. Of course this is Brazil and so 45 minutes later it was sunny. There is this totally awesome gourmet burger place called “Contiener” up the street that is in a shipping container of course. Try the traditional sausage or Maracuja it is delicious.
Today we rode south and west 304 km to the eco-adventure capital of Bonito. The route surface is pretty good for the most part. Today again we saw tons of toucans and macaws flying overhead.
The town is very touristy, but with only Brazilians. We did not see any other foreign tourists here. This is likely because accommodation here is very expensive and the “tours” are outrageous. You must do any activity here on a tour and with a guide. That said there are about 30 options. We decided on rafting and rappelling. The big attraction here is river snorkeling with the usually crystal clear water it is like swimming in a fish tank, but at this time of year in the rainy season the water is not clear. Most of the attractions involve travelling long distances from the town and transports are wow expensive (70$ to the rafting location). The drive there is only 12 km down a pretty good dirt road. The river is slow flowing and there are 4 small waterfall crossings. This is pretty much what we in Canada would call a “float”. It was fun, but not worth the price of 45$.
We had also organized to go rappelling at the Boca da Onca (mouth of the jaguar). This is also very expensive at 200$, but this is a day trip with a 3 hours jungle walk past 12 waterfalls, 4 of which you can swim in and then the repel 90 m down the largest waterfall. As you have to book for everything here the only time we could get was 8 am. We were told to leave the hotel at 630 to go the 59 km. We did leave a bit late because we wanted to have some light for driving on what we were told was a dirt road. It was raining and so we were happily surprised to find that the first 48 km was paved. The dirt road the last 10 km had some pretty slippery sections and 11 also very slippery cattle gates.
We arrived to the farm, which is in a beautiful setting only to be told the rappel was cancelled due to the bad weather. We decided that the price was too steep for a walk in the jungle and they gave us a full refund. On the way back the rain had let up, but one driver was obviously going too fast and crashed the car at a cattle gate and blocking the exit from the park. We could squeeze by, but no one in a car can get in or out until it is towed. While we were riding back to town I saw 3 huge shadows on the road beside us. These were 3 blue and red macaws just above our heads. Now we have a whole day to do nothing.
Heading out of Bonito we back tracked 70 km west to Jardim and then south to Itaquirai after 463 km. The terrain is rolling hills and huge farms. We had some brief showers, but no real rain. This is a one-horse town, but surprisingly it had a pretty good hotel. For dinner we found a guy grilling skewers of meat on the side of the road.
For 6 of the 7 hours we were riding today it POURED rain. We were so glad to arrive in Sao Miguel d’Oeste after 483 km. At times it was raining so hard you could barely see where you were going. Without our pin locks it would have been impossible. In one particularly low spot on the highway the water was very deep and a car was actually flooded and stuck. This very bad weather did not change the Brazilian driving style of excessive speed, driving on your back tire, and dangerous passing. This made for a very challenging and stressful day. The most painful was when you got stuck behind trucks doing 30 km /hr because you can not see to pass because it is raining so hard and often drivers here for some mad reason don’t put their lights on. Luckily this was the same town we stayed in on our first night in Brazil and so we knew where to find a hotel, which is no easy task here as 2 of the 3 are in residential areas. The rain finally stopped when we were about 10 km from the city.
Today’s 387 km to Sao Miguel dos Missiones turned into 590 km to Julio de Castilhos, but at least it was sunny. This was because in Sao Miguel all the hotels were completely booked. This was the first time in 3 months that we were asked if we had a reservation. It is a Sunday night, but this is Carnival weekend and so a “holiday”. This meant we had to press on. There were tons of local bikes coming and going on this “route of the missions” in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
We only planned to visit the best-preserved and largest Jesuit mission in Brazil in Sao Miguel. This 1745 red stone church ruins is a UNESCO site.
We backtracked almost 125 km and there were no places to stay as far as Cruz Alta. Well there was one sketchy place there called Hotel California, but if you know the song we could not stay there for obvious reasons. Plan B was to keep going south another 133 km to the bigger city of Santa Maria, but luckily we came across a decent hotel on the BR 158 after 70 km in the small town of Julio de Castilhos. We drove into town to find some dinner and got lucky on the square where there were some food carts making really good “burgers”.
The closest we will get to Paraguay.