2018-05-24... Days 358-365

 The big SPRING clean.

We took EC for a wash and although we were there a while she is not perfectly clean. Very difficult to get in all the spots. 

John unloaded all the external lockers and cleaned the locker and the items.
 The toilet also had a spring clean. And I think was put back together correctly....

Front seats were removed. We had noticed the passenger seat kept becoming loose. We discovered that the seat is bolted straight to the "floor" with no washes and the floor has multiple cracks around the bolts. Another job on the list for Europe.

As with boats, if one is the smallest one gets to go into small places!!!
All drawers removed, cleaned and  sprayed with silicon.

Also with the help of compressed air from outside we have found one area around the stove anulus where dust is getting in. On the Europe list.

May 31st Day 365 We delivered her to the Montevideo port to await the arrival of Alex and Julie's vehicle. EC22 will have company on her trip to Europe.

2018-05-23 Day 357 Wed

A slow morning. No real hurry to get to our destination. We have a bed waiting so the camp is not hard to find tonight.

As we drove out this Zoro was sitting by the road licking his lips. 

Collecting firewood for the coming cold months.


One way of negotiating the town.

A day of big machinery and large feeding lots and areas of storage for silage.

 Another big feed lot.

The big machinery is common on the roads. They must be contractors going to other jobs. Some of the machinery looks too big for the average paddock here.

 Silage stored in it's sausage plastic.

Back to Carrasco in Montevideo to visit Mike and Alison.


2018-05-22 Day 356 Tue

The farmer was rounding up his cattle on this cool morning.

We were in no real hurry to leave. Our trip is coming to an end and we face a week of cleaning!!!

The sealed road was so rough that the grader was filling potholes and tiding up the edges....

We had a quick late lunch in Colon then headed to the border crossing. We spent most of our Argentinian cash filling up with fuel just 2 km shy of the border. 

Again the border crossing was  different. All was done on the Uruguay side after we paid a road toll. Got the car price as did not have enough Argentinian pesos left for truck price. A  customs lady entered the truck and I opened the plate drawer for her. She was happy and left.

Managed to get some Uruguayan money at Paysandu and some credit on the Uruguayan SIM, then headed for a camp. Turned off the red road onto a very busy yellow but found an old bridge crossing loop and camped near that. Our last camp for South America so we opened a bottle of wine.

2018-05-21 Day 355 Mon

Sad that we drove into the sun on the way in last night and into the sun on the way out this morning even though the road heads North/South. Our ability to take photos was compromised.

Came across 3 horses, one a bit mad that jumped the fence. The others cantered away and the one on the other side of the fence got into deep water and clambered under the fence, we thought for moment that she had got tangled but no, and off she went after the others

Filled with fuel in Tuzaingo close to the Parana river and the Brazil border. Drove down a very rough dirt road on the East side of the park to the “tourist” spot at a lake but no it was closed on Mondays so glad we had ventured into the park area last night.

The graders obviously do not get the required traction here. The tractor was towing the grader as it graded the edge of the road.

Further south to lago Ibera and an info center with some walks, had lunch then had a walk along the board walk. 

Saw some more alligators and lots of capybarra’s

Continued south through Mercedes . There were very few roads that turn off this main road and it was dusk when we finally found a suitable one. We found a camp in the shrub beside the yellow road out of hearing of the trucks on the main road. But in view of a farm house. A quiet night although the yellow road carried more night traffic than we expected.


2018-05-20 Day 354 Sun

As we were driving out we were stopping and taking photos of flowers and bird. A farmer passed us and just stayed 100m in front I think we were being escorted out!

There were a number of signs to say  Private property so maybe they do have a problem with poachers?

The ground is very wet. we are not sure if it is always this wet or just that it has rained recently.

More straight road. The edges are very well maintained, lovely green grass, with water on either side in places. Some fisherman fishing off the road verge. The occasional termite hill on the verge as well.

Lunch on steps down to the river in Corrientes which is a large town. We drove over an interesting bridge over the river Parana. We had visited and camped on this river further north in  Brazil, In December last year. It has the worlds largest electricity producing hydro plant. It is also the main river which feeds the estuary between Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

We continued east and turned south down a yellow road into the northern part of the Ibera wetlands. Interesting once again, it being a Reserva Natural Esteros del Iberia and yet it is all farmed with cattle and lots of horses. We saw lots of birds, and an alligator. The area is still heavily farmed.

Our camp, on the side of the road, was beside water with lots of birds and one lone deer.

Altitude attitude

The highest mountain in Australia is Mt Kosciuszko at 2228m altitude. Now in South America, they scarcely bother giving such little hills a name. 

We marveled at the passes over the Andes between Chile and Argentina, and were turned back from a few due to weather and rockfalls - which only added to the mystique. We ticked off the major milestones as we passed them at 1923m (Mt Feathertop our Australian favorite), 2228m Mt Kosciuszko, 2500m, 3000m etc.  

We received our first taste of altitude sickness one night when we camped at 3650m with a breathless broken sleep, headache and nausea. But after spending some time traveling the Alta Plano in Bolivia at around 3800m for weeks, any thing under about 4000m seemed rather pedestrian.

The Mitsubishi Fuso begins to get noticeably breathless at about 4200m where the accelerator stops responding properly, and the engine tops out at about 2400rpm. Usually when you run out of power ascending a hill, changing down a gear delivers plenty more power. Not so at altitude, where changing to a higher gear (and lower rpm) delivers more power.

Our highest camp was at 5100m on the side of Volcan Ollague, perched on a tight switch-back on a ridge-line to avoid rocks coming down overnight. The following morning we drove to our highest point at 5350m, where the road became impassable. We managed another breathless 200m altitude on foot over the next hour or so. It was a fascinating experience.

We spent another memorable night at the stunning turquoise glacial Punta Olimpica at  4670m. The following day we descended over 4550m - fully twice the height of Australia!

Yet another fantastic experience was paddling for a couple of hours at 4350m on  Lago Surasaca in the fantastic Zona Reservada Cordillera Huayhuas in Peru.

We could not resist, at the end of our time in South America, making a mad dash up the length of Argentina, to spend just a few more days and nights at altitude.

2018-05-19 Day 353 Sat

John offered to drive this morning and I accepted. He had forgotten the condition of the road. Wended our way along the major road trying to miss the deep potholes, sometimes it was safer putting a foot off the bitumen but some of those holes could swallow a car and full of water so no telling how deep

Stopped at the town of Los Frentones and parked in the middle by a large green area with soccer field. I did the washing and john hung it out on the line that goes from Bull bar to crow bar back to other side of bull bar. Then we rotated the tires. I put a chocolate cake in bread maker and made lunch. Did a few Internet jobs while cake cooked. Continued along the very straight road.

Finally found a white road to drive up, Passed a ute coming out, and camped in front of a farmers gate. Everything is wet. I know we are in the wet lands but they must have had rain recently and all the dirt roads are mud!

Again we are in an area of trucks. Some of the parking areas could have 50or 60 trucks parked in them.  Luckily most of them were parked and not that many  on the road.

Just as we finished dinner and thinking about bed - flashy blue lights again I went out to
talk to the police. All very friendly. Told them we were Australian and would be gone in the morning. They asked me to write my name and Passport number then they said good night. Came back inside and heard them getting out of their vehicle again so went out. Oh they wanted a photo of EC so me and 3 cops had our photo taken beside EC!! They turned around and left. We suppose that the farmer we passed on the way in probably phoned them.

2018-05-18 Day 352 Fri

Finally managed to sign onto the Personal App and buy some data for the SIM.

The orange road was more like a white road with parts quite windy and slow but neat hills around. Lots of horses and cows on the road again. Turned from this dirt track onto a dual lane highway and made a few miles south before heading east into clouds. The plan was for 400km daily until Montevideo. However, we stopped at Joaquin V Gonzalez to fill with fuel, water grab a few veges then we parked by the town square and john downloaded all his documents to sign. Across the road was a Internet shop so he printed signed and had them re scanned. All took a few hours.

I chatted to Alex who was going to share our container to Antwerp. He misunderstood the price thinking the price of €2950 was to share not each. He may not be shipping with EC - will hear more from him tomorrow I guess.
Finally left town around 17:00 and continued East. Was grey and drizzling.

We saw the biggest feed lot we have ever seem. We estimate a couple of thousand head of cattle! lots of silage being made. Maybe we are finally seeing all the beef that we have heard so much about.

After a political boundary the road went south, full of potholes! just before dusk found a track off and camped between the road and railway line but at least out of sight of the road. Quite a noisy camp.

Had a great chat to Muff on messenger.


2018-05-17 Day 351 Thu

John drove up the mountain to the pass. Supposedly the highest pass on a national highway in the world 4960m altitude.

We stopped and took some photos. A walk would have been nice but there was a sharp wind blowing and it was too cold for a walk…

 It was a fast road up but as I drove down it reminded us a bit of the Bolivian roads.
Narrow, windy and steep.
Very glad that we did not meet anyone on the downhill but we have seen no vehicle since turning onto routa 40.

Here we sadly say goodbye to the mountains and start our downhill trek.

 Never know whats around the next corner?
 At a lookout we spoke a to a family from Nuequen in the middle of Argentina whose claim to fame is running the most southern chook farm!
Leaving the Parque Nacional Los Cardones John had a long and winding dirt road down. From 3350m to 1400m altitude.

The orange road was more like a white road with parts quite windy and slow but neat hills around. Lots of horses
and cows on the road.

We retraced our northerly route to the south for 18km to Doronel Moldes before turning east to the dam on rio de Los Conchas and finding a camp close to the gates to the dam wall.