30.12.2018 - 15.01.2019 95 °F
We have finished the first, and probably the most ambitious, (we'll just not count Antarctica for now) part of this trip. We traveled roughly 4000 kilometers, or 2500 miles by SUV. There were many difficult dirt roads, and numerous potholes in some of the paved roads.
Fortunately, we did not encounter much rain during our trip or it might have been much more difficult. We had two great guides in Pedro and James Wright and their stories were the best part of our tour. James is the owner and driver of the SUV which was essential for travel through the Chaco. Moreover, James spent a good part of his youth as a true-to-life cowboy in the Chaco so he has an incredible knowledge of its history and geography.
James has a farm in the central North East a bit south of the Mbaracayu Nature Preserve where Pedro had left his 4W drive minivan in anticipation of completing the second half of our tour on the somewhat more civilized roads of Southern Paraguay. We stopped there for lunch on January 8, on our way to Ciudad del Este and transferred all our luggage to the van. James' wife, Martha prepared a delicious lunch and we departed in Pedro's van but broke down after going only about 20 km.
The bottom hose had come loose from the radiator and we lost all the coolant. Peter was able to call back to the farm and after a half hour James' son, Guy came with a large container of water. Unfortunately, upon refilling, it became apparent that the engine had more serious issues and would not be able to take us on to our next destination. So Guy returned to the farm and James returned his travel bag to the SUV and came back to our location to tow Pedro's van out to the highway at Minga Pora. Meanwhile, Pedro arranged for a car transporter to driveup from Ciudad del Este to haul his van to that city, which is where Pedro has his home. The repairs proved to be more difficult and protracted than was first hoped. So after our tour of the Itaipu dam and lunch in Ciudad del Este, James took us on down the road to our next stop at the Hotel Tirol just south of Trinidad.
We still encountered some difficult dirt roads, especially on the way to Cerro Acati and travelling through Ybycui National Park
We had a fantastic tour of a great deal of the country and met many remarkable people, including an Australian couple, Jean and Rob who were also guests at the estancia. We arrived this morning in Santiago after a bumpy, but scenic flight over the Andes.