URGENT

Hi everyone,

Pls ignore an email sent from my account asking you to sign into a Google drive account – its a fraudulent/virus mail that has been used to access my contact list!

My account is now back in my hands.

Thanks
Andrew

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South America 2-up goes down under

Dear friends and family,

As the expat saying goes; “We are fresh off the boat on the shores of Australia”.

If you would like to follow our blog while in Melbourne, Aussie, please visit http://www.2godownunder.wordpress.com and click on the “follow” icon.

Fond regards
Andrew and Cathy

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Our journey comes to an end…..the last post

One of the peculiarities of travelling by bike is that one is bound to your travel companion. There is very little opportunity to indulge in complete isolation immersed in thought or contemplation. Daily travels while on the road always require a degree of concentration both from the pillion and clearly more from the driver. The downtime is spent visiting sites or indulging in the magic that is the foreign location. As we head back to the real world and plunge head first into mainstream life, we reflect on our journey.
The bike is packed and wrapped, our tickets are confirmed and we while away the last afternoon in Buenos Aires in our apartment in the classy suburb of Palermo.

I feel that a trip comes to the end when you think back on a famous spot you visited and struggle to contextualise it and recall instantaneously the immediate detail. For example, perito Moreno glacier…….Uhm, down south in Argentina, but what was the name of that place we camped?? No disrespect for our colleagues travelling for over a year! I look forward to re-running drives, visits, campsites and stories in time to come when the good times seem to take on an enhanced shimmer and the bad-times wash away leaving a gentle rememberance in their wake. Selecting the best of the best pictures to print and collate into a printed album for the occasional perusal when the mainstream feels a bit turbulent.

We have spent 9months of our life on the back of a motorbike, cape to Cairo included, fallen off at least 10 times (not once on this trip though!), seen two completely different continents and experienced wildly different adventures.
We have been blessed by meeting wonderful fellow travellers both touring on and off the bike and look forward to maintaining relationships over the years to come.
This whole trip would not even have been possible if Andy Cluver, my father-in-law, was not kind enough to ‘loan’ us his bike. I doubt there are many fathers or father-in-laws out there who are, one, willing to loan their BMWs and two, for the purpose of dragging their daughters across a continent where the advice we received before leaving home was to take out hostage recovery insurance! Whatever your beverage, please raise your glass to the amazing man who is my father in law!!! Thank you so much for this incredible and generous opportunity. The steed has had a private professional wash already and she is due for her post trip service when are back prior to her return to her rightful owner 🙂

This is a continent that has demanded a second visit not only due to its size, but it’s people, sights and diverse climates creating environments that are unrecognisable in different seasons.

Some of our firsts that come to mind;
– pillion riding a mighty GS 1200
– catching a mammoth trout
– touching a manatee
– seeing a real live toucan
– ice-climbing
– driving on salt plains
– driving in a snow-storm
– cracking a rib from a bad cough
– hot-wiring a BMW
– tasting a Pisco sours……….

We have made a short trailer of some of the things that we have experienced and soon we hope to put together a short video of our entire journey.

We have so enjoyed writing this blog and sharing it with our family and friends. Thank you so much for all the comments and visits to the site. We hope you enjoyed it!

Greetings from the southamerica2up team!

The sea brown trout…

Our beautiful planet sky

The Amazon team, Peru

Sunset, Valparaiso, Chile

Nasca lines, Peru

Upsala Glacier, Agentina

The Amazon. Peru

Tiwanaku, Bolivia

Snow riding, Rio Turbio, Argentina

Torres del Paine, Chile

Navimag, Chile

Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island, Chile

El Chalten, Argentina

Baileys on ice on the glacier

The 2-up team, Salt Plains, Bolivia

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The Final Map

South America 2-up…… 20 000km, 5 months…… What an adventure it has been…..


Hi friends and family

So 5 months of travelling with the silver steed is drawing to a close….
At times it feels as if we have been travelling forever and at other times it feels as if the journey has just raced by.

The bike is packed and waiting at the airport. It catches the same flight as us on Friday.

I have updated our map to give you an idea of how we got through 20 000km.

Thank you for sharing in our adventure

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Ibera wetlands: And we thought it was all tar on the last stretch…..

The Ibera wetlands

I met this really cool guy at the Sheraton who having learnt that we were heading to Buenos Aires via Corrientes promptly suggested a detour via Esquina to do some world class dorado fishing!!!! Looking into this prospect revealed that this region of Argentina has the best dorado fishing in the world – but the season is over!! Yet another reason to come back!

Not to be beat, we headed off on the dusty track to the Ibera wetlands to see some more wildlife. It was only 130km of sand which took us 2 hours of slithering to negotiate! Not what you would expect on the last leg…..but was it worth it!

On the front of the boat as the official photographer

The official videographer relaxing

We spent today on a morning and afternoon private boat trip through the wetlands. We had close viewing encounters with over 200 camon ranging in size from 15cm to 2 metres, saw 100 or more capybaras, lots of strange birds and indulged on what must surely be our last major Argentinian site-seeing activity!

The eye of the caiman

Cathy: Here is a more info on these wetlands….

The Ibera wetlands are the second largest wetlands in the world, second to the Pantanal in Brazil. They have almost been kept a secret due to the fact that the Pantanal attracts most of the tourists. You access it from the tiny town of Carlos Pellegrini and the best way to explore it (or to see the most animals) is by boat.
It is pretty much an ecological system of swamps, lakes, marshes, lagoons and floating islands. And the animal life is something else!!!!!

Happy capybara with a yellow bird

I have never seen a wild capybara before and here they were on every island. I learnt that they are the biggest rodent in the world. Despite being rodents I thought they were awfully cute.

Baby caiman

I think you look tasty…..

Caimans were everywhere and we got really close to them. I’m guessing that they are not nearly as vicious as crocodiles or maybe there is more than enough food around so they don’t have to look at tourists as a quick meal. It felt as if there were even more caimans here than there are crocodiles in Lake Kariba. Our guide took us really close. We could have pretty much touched them if we wanted to. We even managed to see 2 mommy caiman with their babies.

One of the many birds. Not sure of the name… probably a yellow breasted black eyed something 😉

The redhead

The bird life was spectaular. Every bush seemed to be covered in them. It was so great to see an abundance of life. In Bolivia we kept noticing the lack of wildlife so it was really great to see so much activity.

Marsh deer

We were luckily to see a wild pig and 2 marsh deers. The wild pig was frolicking in the mud and it looked like it was having a lovely time. The two marsh deers were filling their bellies while grazing. So beautiful to watch.
These wetlands are known to have the richest fauna in the whole of Argentina. What a way to be getting to an end of this adventure…

The Ibera Wetlands

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The mission of San Ignacio mini

Walls of the mission with holographic displays.

On the way up we managed to drive straight past these ruins. I think the call of the raging Iguazu falls was too much for us. But on the way down we made a point of not missing it.

Missionary stations are always something that make me stop and think and I often have very mixed feelings about them. On the one side they bring education and health. On the other side to get these benefits you need to believe in their form of religion and culture. I remember in Africa when we were driving in Uganda we met up with a volunteer who was working for a church. We asked him how he felt and these were his words. The local people were taught that if they believed God would provide. And provide he did when a large truck of supplies arrived every month. So much so that it was not worthwhile for the locals to grow their own food anymore……

A similar story which was even more poignant was in Sudan. Here there were a few local farmers who had start to grow grain and had quite a business going. When an aid agency decided that they needed to help they flew in bags of grain. The local farmers went out of business and the grain that flooded the market was sterile. Not great for future farming….

We had watched the film the mission before coming to South America and were aware of how the missionaries were pushed southwards by the Portuguese. When we arrived in San Ignacio we found the ruins and a very kind security guard recommended that we attended the night tour as it was already late in the afternoon. It sounded exciting to visit ruins at night but we really had no idea of what we were in for.

Holographs depicting work being done while building the mission station

What a show. While walking around there were holographic displays depicting how the missionary started, what life was like and how it ended. All in all it was a spectacular evening.

In the missions young children stayed with their families in houses around the main square until the age of six. At six years the children were separated from their families and were divided according to sex. The girls then got to choose who they wanted to marry (this happend very young) and if the marriage was approved by the church they got their own house and so the cycle continued.

The different colours of light reflected from the walls….. quite something

The mission stations were very successful. So much so that they were eventually a threat to the Spanish. Eventually in xxxx the Spanish King banished the missionaries as they were considered a threat to Spanish rule. The mission stations were then abandoned and this one was lost in the jungle until it was rediscovered in the 1900”s.

It was really interresting walking around this long deserted mission at night and the holographic displays almost made you feel as if you were walking in the past.

Housing around the main square

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Mosi-oa-Tunya versus Iguazu

The ‘cloud that thunders’ is the local name for Vic Falls and although such a colloquial name does not exist for Iguazu, the spectacle is no less awe-inspiring. Vic falls is considered the largest volume of falling water in the world. Iguazu tops Vic in length, but not height. What I found incredible is my perception of the Vic falls in comparison to Iguazu. My memory said that Vic was wider and more gigantic, but the stats say Iguazu is wider, though shallower……maybe it’s cos of the bias we carry towards Africa?

I think this is my favourite picture of Iquazu

Its inevitable that we are going to compare the falls…each so exceptionally different in its character. Iguazu’s beauty comes from two main aspects; seeing completely different sides to this body of water between the 2 countries and the ability to view sections of the falls in remarkable proximity.
The Argentinians take the cake here for having created a network of elegantly disguised boardwalks along the sides of the falls giving the visitor access to numerous smaller waterfalls and glamorous views of the main falls. The Brazilians have made a single 1km long walk along the face of the gorge, no less impressive, just shorter (vs 6km in Arg).

A view from one lower Argentinian circuit

Again, the Argentinians score on the Sheraton, most of the rooms face directly onto the front of the falls and from the bed, you can see the Devil’s Throat and the sheer front of the falls!
If asked the single biggest difference between Iguazu and Vic: I would say that what makes Iguazu so amazing is the cascading phenomenon as the falls pour over several islands before plunging into the roaring river below. As I remember Vic falls, the sheet of water just crashed to the bottom 100m below!

Cascading waterfalls seen from the inferior circuit on the Argentinian side

The falls are in a jungle, a fact you forget cruising in on the beatiful tar road. So it’s only opportune to visit the wildlife sanctuaries. Brazil vs Argentina again. The latter was an inspiring visit and so paradoxically different from the former.
The Rescue & Rehabilitation centre, for this is what it’s called in Argentina is a 20 hectare piece of land donated by the government to this private guy (forgot his name) who has established the sole wildlife rehab centre in Argentina! Animals (mostly birds) are brought in by the Eco-police or picked up on the road or via trafficking and brought here where his team patches them up for release! He runs a fabulous, privately funded enterprise generating most of his revenue from tourists.

Curious toucan

Only guided tours are allowed, it’s peaceful, the centre is clean and quite……the Brazilians…….well, it’s a zoo! The buzzing of the helis taking people on flips and the boom of jets from the local airport is deafening. The birds are all squawking, the people are clicking photos away like mad. They enter the large aviaries with coke cans and chip packets, feed the birds (not allowed), try and touch some and generally behave like fools! Maybe it was my imagination, but I could feel the stress the birds were under!

Now you are a very pretty bird even though I might call you by the wrong name… 😉

I love my wife dearly, but her bird spotting and naming ability has yet a long way to come…..those toucans? Well, we saw lots in the Amazon, she thought they were buzzards then! :):):) I will leave the glamour of a night in the Sheraton overlooking the falls to our readers’ imagination…….

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Iguazu animals….. some of my favourite shots

Pensive toucan

Good looking toucan

We visited the animal sanctuary on the Argentinian side and the animal park on the Brazillian side. There were so many photo opportunities I thought I would just put up a few of my favourite shots.

If I can’t see you… you can’t see me

Reflections and the caman head

Toucan giving us the beady eye

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Iguaçu…… unimaginable beauty

Iguazu falls

The amazing Iguaçu falls are found between Argentina and Brazil which means there are two sides to see them from (and yet another border crossing which is a problem when space in your passport is very limited).

Water everywhere

We were told that the Brazilian side gives you more of a panoramic view and that the Argentinean side is more of a close up WOW experience so we hit the Brazilian side first and decided to take local transport from Argentina as we didn’t want to cross with the bike just for a day. It was fun and saved us quite a bit of cash (which we spent and more the next night when as a celebration of coming to the end of an epic adventure we splashed out and stayed at the Sheraton in the park on the Argentinean side).

Double cascade from the Brazillian side

The falls are truly spectacular. Neither of us wanted to admit it as our heart lies with Africa but these are the most spectacular waterfalls we have ever seen.
The falls are made up of 150 to 300 waterfalls depending on the time of year and the level of the water. We saw the falls at high water and it really is phenomenal. The falls extend for 2.7 km and in places they cascade down twice over an island. The height of the falls vary from 60 to 82 meters and around every corner there is a different view.

Spectacular Iquazu…. yet another view from the Brazillian side

The biggest is what they call the Devil’s throat and it really looks like a throat. I like the Spanish name “Garganta del Diablo”….. it just sounds right. The Devil’s throat is best seen from the Argentian side which we visited the following day. It is a U-shape and is 82 meters high (you can’t see the bottom due to the spray) and 150 meters wide. We both just stood on the view point looking down in absolute awe of this gigantic natural spectacle. I found this quote and I think it just sums it up… “awesome spectacle of an ocean pouring into an abyss.”

The Devil’s Throat from the Argentinian side

What makes the falls even more spectacular are the rain forests. I have fallen in love with macaws. I think they are just the most beautiful birds with their extra big brightly coloured beaks and I just love their blue feet. Every time we got a glimpse of one I was over the moon.

The Toucan… my latest love…

After visiting the Argentinean side, when we were relaxing on our balcony at the Sheraton (very spoilt) overlooking the falls a pair flew straight past us. This sighting has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I hope to never forget that image.

 

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Goodbye Bolivian altiplano…. bring on Iguazu

So we have just managed to get through a few days of pretty hard riding. We had a few choices…. one of which was whether we wanted to drive to the famous Iguazu falls or fly from BA. After having a look at the ticket prices we decided it would probably be better to drive.

Dirt roads in Bolivia bring out the wild side……

Neither of us was too sad to leave Bolivia. We found that the people were not that friendly and the altitude was affecting us. (There was also a shortage of hairdryers which is really not good in cold weather if you have long hair!!!!!). The scenery was spectacular but the temperature was something else…. we function better in warm temperatures with ample oxygen ;). The food was bland and lacking in quantity so my husband was not the happiest.

We headed across the border to Argentina and were so pleased to be eating empanadas again (even if they were chicken and I had to suffer the after effects for the next day or so) . We spent that night in a lovely little hotel in Tilcara and both engorged ourselves on red meat. One can’t believe that you can cross an imaginary line and suddenly the red meat is thicker and tastier!!! It was so nice to be around friendly people and not to worry about whether you would get served petrol at a petrol station.

The next morning was an early start and we headed to Salta. We had planned to ride the road to the clouds but when the temperature gauge read below zero and we could only see 2 meters ahead of ourselves due to the mist we realised that it may not be the best of ideas.

Salta I can imagine is a lovely town when it is not raining. We saw some of the architecture, had a VERY delicious lunch at the center of town and then got horribly lost as we hadn’t been able to load the latest maps on to our GPS due to slow internet. Eventually after about an hour I was directing Andrew through the city by looking at the maps on the iPad. We must have been quite a site.

About 200km from Salta in a tiny town we found a little hostel with a really great shower. We made supper for the first time in months (almost thought I had forgotten how to cook). Tomato and sausage pasta has never taste this good. The next morning again was another early start with the temp reading minus 1.5 (we were a little cold).

Bike dashboard showing subzero temperatures


Luckily by the middle of the day we had hit double figures. We drove nearly 700km and the change in scenery was astounding. At first it looked like South African savannah and then it changed to jungle.

Along the route we got stuck behind a number of trucks. We decided to do as locals do and followed their driving rules. Not a good idea….. after a seven hundred peso fine we were both feeling a little tender. We were just really happy that we didn’t have to collect our license the next day as they were threatening to keep it for the evening.

At 7pm just after sunset we arrived in Iguazu. I was so tired I fell asleep before dinner.

The next day brought the most spectacular sights. We will be filling you in on these soon….

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