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Old 03-23-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
erik350 OP
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BR 319, The ghost road across Amazonia

This is a brief report from a ride that took place last year, starting in my hometown, Villa Carlos Paz, Cordoba , Argentina and the final destination the city of Manaos, in tha Amazonian Jungle, some 4400 km away from home.
Iīve been in Manaos in 2006 when I circumnavigated South America in an old Jawa 350. This time the idea was to ride north crossing Argentina, the hole extention of Bolivia and then meet the infous BR 319, the road that connects the states of Amazonia and Rondonia in the south part of the Amazon basin.
But first of all, some history lessons:
The road was first built in 1973 to connect tha main cities in Amazonia and Rondonia states, Humaita,Portho Belho and Manaos. The story tells that the road was built in a hurry and the foundation was not properly made. Instead of using gravel to suport the road, the builders just layed the tarmac over the ground. This action and the fact that the road is in one of the most humid regions known, led to the result that in a few years, rain after rain, the road was washed away and simply thereīs no more road. the jungle has just claimed itīs territory back.
in 2005 the governmet made tha attemp to re build it and by the end of 2008 the roadcrews started working, but scientist and ambientalist claimed that further studies needed to be made in order secure the enviromental impact and all came to an alt. To this day , the road still is awaiting for reconstruction.
Enough of history, this ride was planned in 2013 when a group of friends decided it was a doable challenge. In the dry season is no real difficulties, all the rivers are down and can be crossed either by bridges or ferry boats when thereīs no bridge. But we where going in the end of the wet season, the worst time to ride across it. in the beginning we underestimated it and soon we realized that this is no joke.
the group was formed by : Claudio riding a Beta 450 RR with a Dakar kit; Diego on a XR 650 RR, another Diego on a Honda NX 400 Falcon and Erik (me) with an XL 600 1987



from left to right:Claudio; Diego (NX 400); Erik; Diego(XR650RR)

Lunch at the Bolivian border, usually Bolivia is a cheap place to eat, but his time the restaurant owner charged a lot for a great meal, from now on; weīll ask the prices before eating.


as always, the border crossing between Argentina and Bolivia took more than a few minutes, patience is the only answer.

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Old 03-23-2015, 06:40 PM   #2
spaceman_spiff
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Sounds exciting! Trying to find as many reports about back roads and offroad as I can for when I'm heading down south.
Keep it up 👍
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Old 03-24-2015, 05:11 AM   #3
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Can't wait for more, take care
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:26 AM   #4
erik350 OP
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in Bolivia, fuel is subsidezed for local, but if you are a foreigner, prices are 3x higher. the locals buy fuel for cheap and then proceed to sell it for half price in their houses or little shops roadside. Of course we tried to buy for them and surprisingly, the quality is always good. I have fitted a massive fuel filter just in case.

Coke bottles are always handy, the fuel is either 84 or 90 octanes if youīre lucky. Our bikes are old school and can digest almost everything. the most modern one is the Beta 450, beeing a 2013 model, but none had fueling problems.

There are many police checkpoints in Bolivian roads, but we never had any trouble with authorities. Instead of a barrier, they just hang a rope across the road, so you better keep your eyes wide open while riding. Any king of things can be found in the roads, from cows to snakes, so speed has to be kept low.


ddd

remember we are in the wet season and this year has been very rainy, so half the country is flooded. Roads are interrupted and we had to jump on boats meny times. because of this problem. the cattle has nothing to eat and thay try to survive on the road, the only place that remain off the water. in some places even the road is under water and we say many cow corpses while sailing.


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Old 03-24-2015, 10:00 AM   #5
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BR 319 during the wet season. This should be epic!!!

Look forward to pics of dirt bikes submerged in mud. Should be fun. Keep up the good work!

Saludos,
John Downs
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Old 03-24-2015, 04:56 PM   #6
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Trinidad is the main city in Beni region: itīs easy to get there because roads from the South are sealed, from now on, itīs dirt roads all the way up to the Brazilian border, some 1700 kms up north.
the city lies in the shores of the Mamore river, a massive river that meets the Amazon river. Crossing the river takes a short ride in the small boats or ferry boats. But now the river has flooded the lowlands and there is no way no continue north, towards the city of Rurrenabaque.
The police strongly recommend us to go back home, thereīs no way to cross the Mamore. the option is to jump on a plane and flight over the flooded lands. No way, too expensive for us, in the end we hired a small barge that accepted to take us to nearest point in the road where we could unload the bikes and carry on. It took 4.5 hours of sailing between the trees and over fences. sometimes the water was too shallow and in order to help, we had to push with long sticks: no way nobody was going to jump in the water. There where snakes and all kind of insects hanging from the vegetation.



the bikes where loaded and secured the best we could.


The navigation was a bit tricky avoiding trees.

We where not the only ones to be struggling. Coke has to make itīs way to the shops , no matter how.


From now on, sunshine and rain will be a common thing. maybe start riding dry and in no time, short tropical showers that luckily are a big relief from the enormous heat. Of course we where sweating like pigs , but decided to keep the riding gear on, this is no place to risk an injury only for not wearing the gear. See our feet after a normal day of riding in the rain and paddling through the mud, no matter how goos you boots are, you will end like this.


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Old 03-24-2015, 11:18 PM   #7
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One of the biggest inspirations for me building a bike to ride South America was this one road, BR 319, I wanted to ride it more than any other on my own and rigged my bike for what I thought it would require to do so. This road calls to me, only made it down to Manaus and got on 319 on the North side of the big river from Venezuela a few years ago, might just have to come back with a 4x4 and family to finally get to finish what I started.

Looking forward to the rest of your attack on this famous road in the wet season
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:24 PM   #8
BillUA
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I'm in! Thanks for the report. Can't wait to see more.

Cheers
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:53 AM   #9
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espectacular!!!

congratulations for takling such a challenge!
espero ansioso ver como se comporta la falcon cuando arranque el off road puro y duro, al lado de las otras bestias pura sangre.
saludos desde la patagonia!

me encanto esa XR con los 2 faros adelante!
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Old 03-25-2015, 06:26 PM   #10
erik350 OP
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As soon as we unloaded the bikes from the boat, we started riding, the road was OK, only some mud in parts and that got me thinking "if this is how it`s gonna be, easy way" . I was right for 2 days more, then nature will prove how wrong I was. but letīs no jump ahead.
we where now heading to Rurrenabaque and the road is in good shape, even sealed in some stretches.





Fuel was not available fron the litlle houses/shops and we had to buy in the fuel station that happened to be dry, but luckily the tanker was only " hours away. the line was pretty long, mostly mopeds and families with jerry cans. they charged us like locals, good for us!

while we waited for fuel, saw this bus, these guys drive like crazy in dirt roads, note the long travel suspension, you better stay away from them.


On the way to Rurrenabaque.

We made it.
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:07 AM   #11
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Old 03-27-2015, 04:40 PM   #12
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from Rurrenabaque, the dirt roads continue towards Riberalta, the main city in northern Bolivia and only 100km away fron the Brazilian border (this last part is tarmac). this region is well known for the huge ammounts of "yacarés" or lagartos.
of course this one was killed by a SUV.



other pic.



we stayed to overnight at the "Sheraton" hotel and restaurant.





mud everywhere

the fes fes when wet looks like this, it can be pretty slipery.



the last part before the border is paved, and some stretches where under the water. it was forbidden to trafic, but after talking to the police, they let us go. it was not a problem.






Finally made it to the border. To reach Brazil itīs necessary to cross the Mamore River once again, thereīs no bridge because the river is huge, but thereīs a big ferry that was not opperating because the port facilities where under water. the only way was to jump over a boat and cross towards Brazil.





Finally in Brazil! it was quite heavy to unload the bikes only using a wooden plank and the the tremendous heat.



After the first kms, we came to a stop.




Time for other boat ride.





Later, another lagoon; this time, no boats around. So we just took our chances and decided to ride it.


And finally, what we came here for, the BR 319, from now on the real funny part begins. Stay tuned.

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Old 03-27-2015, 06:45 PM   #13
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Great stuff!!!

Really enjoying your report.

Buena suerte,
John Downs

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Old 03-29-2015, 04:37 PM   #14
erik350 OP
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The last town towards Manaos is a little village called Realidade, itīs possible to get fuel there and also to spend the night in a very basic "pousada". From now on, you basically alone for the next 600km.



Every 40 km, thereīs a huge microwave antenna that provided communications to Manaos. this antennas has a fence around then and itīs safe to pitch a tent there in order to avoid wild animals. Iīm not sure how dangerous the wil animals can be, but there are many documented cases of people beeing eaten by yaguaretes ( the american leopard). so just in case, we decided to stop in these antennas when necessary. the other plus is that they have a fresh water well, something handy.

this is one of the antenna places.



there are many wooden bridges. some of then has been mantained and are like new, but some almost destroyed.






there are lithe 3 kinds of road surface: the remaining tarmac from 1973, deep mud and the most dangerous, ultra slippery clay that seems to be riding over ice, all of us had an off in that wet clay.

this is the worst surface, slippery clay. it looks easy, but believe itīs not.

this was a fuel station once.




the beginning of the mud pool.





I`m to cheap to put a knobby rear tire, only the front one. it strugled mora than the others, but did it anyway, on the return trip will mount knobs front AND rear.




this the track that goes underwater, we found this little boat, sure enough it belongs to some natives, so we just decided to ride the flooded area and not touch the boat, just in case.



off we go



After that pic was taken ; Claudio went down after he missed a missing planc in an underwater bridge. all his belongings were wet.



I was very carefull not to do the same.

After a hard riding day, some relaxing.


we found this hunterīs cabin and called it a day.




this is one of the huge antennas where we pitched our tents next day.


a massive pothole and required some help to ride around it.




we helped each other to went around.



Before you exit this part of the road , thereīs a river to cross and no bridge, but thereá a family living there that will cross you with a barge. in the returm trip, we spent the night there and got to see the pink dolphins.


Finally, the Amazon river. it takes 2 hours to sail across in order to reach Manaos. we went to wash the bikes before taking the ferry. we have a friend in the city who was going to host us and we didnīt want to show up completely covered in mud.


We did it! visiting the famous Manaus Theatre.





on the next instalment, we start to ride toward home again. more adventures to come. stay tuned.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:03 AM   #15
facundonu
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congratulation!!
awesome to see a honda falcon, not so pure off-road as XRs, getting there with no problem. i love that bke and will hopefully be buying one by next year.
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