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#282721 - 11/04/16 07:15 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Montanero Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1123
Loc: North Carolina
Most of the lumber goes to either Japan or China. At least they used to be the largest purchasers of lumber from there.

#282722 - 11/04/16 08:35 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2786
Loc: USA
I'm glad you're okay Pete.

#282726 - 11/05/16 03:22 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
Thanks for comments.
Have to say ... the heat stress in the Amazon Basin is at a higher level than I have ever seen before. I have been to Kenya in February ... hottest month there. But the Amazon is a whole new level of heat stress. The sun is vicious ... when combined with high humidity ... its a dangerous combination.

We are adjusting our activities ... cooler times of the day. Some more thoughts on heat exhaustion soon. But the bottom line - we are slowing down and adapting at a slow pace.

Edited by Pete (11/05/16 03:22 PM)

#282733 - 11/07/16 01:16 AM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
A few quick tips, in case future visitors use this thread for preparation for Amazon trips.

1. Give yourself plenty of time to adapt to the climate. Bring a lot of electrolytes. Schedule activities for the cooler times of the day, avoid direct sun between 10am and 3pm.

2. The State of Acre does NOT give antimalarial pills to visitors. You cant buy any pills for malaria from the pharmacies or the hospital. The same thing also applies to Peru - but we expected this in Peru (its a poor country). We did not expect this in Brazil. This was a shock to us. None ... nada ... no malaria meds for travelers ... you cant get them. Make sure you bring a good supply from your home country. Mosquitos were not a problem inside the towns, Rio Branco or Brasileia. But the forest is a whole different story.

3. Advice from a local doctor who lives here ... a. Avoid forest explorations after 17 hour i.e. after 5pm. Malaria mosquitos are active in the jungle after that time ... b. Be very careful about the snakes. Many people have been bitten and died ... c. Be careful with the local water - there are a lot of amoebas and health contamination issues.

4. The roads do contain potholes. Expect to drive slowly.

5. Prepare ice-water for emergencies. Acre and Rondonia are notoriously hot climates.

Edited by Pete (11/07/16 01:27 AM)

#282734 - 11/07/16 02:13 AM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Jax Offline

Registered: 01/25/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Missouri
Pete, will you be going north to Ecuado? Quito is a beautiful city with a pleasant year round temperature due to the elevation of approximately 9000 feet. However, once you drop into the Amazon basin it's a whole different story! I haven't been there in over ten years, but it was a friendly city then with a lot of tourists from Europe etc. Safe travels, the roads in Ecuador sound similar to what you are seeing, I.e, curvy dirt roads, no guardrails, long drops!

#282736 - 11/07/16 08:15 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3565
Loc: Ontario, Canada
WOW! What an adventure! Stay safe, Pete!
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#283111 - 12/27/16 01:32 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
Sorry for the long delay on this thread. We travelled through the Amazon Region of Brazil for a long time. We finally made it back to central Brazil in December.

The trip was amazing!!, and we saw a lot of incredible things. But the hardships were also much bigger than i expected.

By far the biggest danger ... were local drivers. Especially drivers on the mountain roads of Peru. They are impatient and reckless. Although the Internet has reports about robbers and terrorists in Peru ... we never had these problems. But we did have 2 incidents with oncoming trucks, dtiving on mountain curves. Both vehicles were way over the centerline, and the collisions would have been head-on and devastating. I only avoided them by very quick reactions ... and a miracle from above.

The effects of high altitudes (the Andes), and extreme climates in the lowland Amazon, were also very difficult problems. I fought a 'running battle' with heat stress in the Amazon forests for many weeks. The problem was worst in Acre, but the Amazon is hot everywhere. If you ever drive in S. America, be very careful with the high altitude passes in Peru, and the hot-humid conditions in the Amazon Basin.

As a 'last laugh' ... we drove 9200 miles on this trip in our Jeep ... and we never had any car insurance!! I am not an irresponsible person ... the problem was that the insurance was impossible to obtain. In Chile, they refused to give us insurance ... no coverage for foreign-registered vehicles. And US companies will not cover you in S. America. In Peru, one company offered insurance, but only if we paid for a whole year. That was clearly a rip-off and we didnt accept. These types of ridiculous scenarios are common in S. America. The S. American countries do not create laws or business to facilitate safety and good travel for visitors ... they just want to extract money. Always keep this in mind if you travel there. And NEVER lose your paperwork!!

If anyone wants specific advice ... you can send questions by personal mail here. But it may be a long time before I log into this page. Above all ... beware of miscellaneous advice and travel tips on other Internet forums that supposedly offer info about travel, Jeeps, expeditions etc. We found that most of the Internet tips were completely wrong, and none of these forums described the real difficulties in S. America.

I would say this ... NEVER drive your American car in S. America. It is not worth the hassles, costs, and risks. If you want to go there ... rent a local vehicle in S. America.

There are amazing places in S. America, but the problems on the road can be very real. Illogical situations are commonplace.

Edited by Pete (12/27/16 02:02 PM)

#283113 - 12/27/16 02:57 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
Finally, a couple of thoughts that may be of general interest ...

The signl biggest surprise to me on this journey - was the declining quality of fresh water in S. America. The problem does not affect the country of Chile too much, because access to he forests and mountains of Chile is very restricted. But the problem is acute and growing - in Peru and the Amazon Basin.

I expected to discover that the eastern Andes mountains would be a pristine habitat. Dream on. No doubt that is still true for parts of the mountains where no human settlements exist. But for many streams and rivers in Peru where villages exist - the water pollution is horrible. When water melts from snow, above the 14,000 feet level, it is pure and drinkable. But very quickly these streams descend and pass through mountain villages. I have never seen any people on Earth who pollute their rivers - as much as Peruvians. The streams are used as dumping grounds for human effluent, trash and all kinds of junk. It is truly a horrible sight to see. By the time the water descends to the 10,000 foot altitude level, after passing through a dozen villages and settlements, it is a polluted river. I wouldn't dream of drinking that water. And frankly, these streams still have a long way to go ... before they enter the Amazon. I cannot imagine what the people at the 'bottom end' of the water cycle are actually drinking.

In cities like Puerto McDondaldo (Peru) and Rio Branco (Acre, Brazil) the rivers have been turned into a horrible dirty-brown mess. In Peru, there are actually tourist lodges thriving off the "untouched Amazon paradise" myth. You must be joking. That myth may have been true 40 years ago. But the rivers in Peru are now tainted by human sewage, garbage, and high mercury levels of the gold mines in the E. Andes. There is no 'Amazon paradise'. Likewise, the water at Rio Branco in Brazil was disgusting, and we took to calling the town "Rio Horrivel' (Horrible River). All of the wildlife that depends on this water is being threatened with serious pollution problems.

In the state of Rondonia in Brazil, we drove into the capital city of Purto Velho. The smell in the city was so ba - we could not believe it. The whole city smelled like human sewage. How could people actually be living in a place like this? And how could this city ... be the capital of anything? Don't the politicians who run this place have the slightest amount of shame? Eventually I figured out ... we arrived in Purto Velho at the start of November. This is just before the big rainy season in the Amazon. So all of the dirt, the junk, the human sewage - builds up to very high levels. And people just ignore it, because they get used to the smell. People in the Amazon just use the rains as a giant septic tank ... everything will get washed down the river - when the real rains come. So they do nothing, they never improve the city's disposal systems, and the problem gets progressively worse. For us, the smell was so bad ... we could hardly go out to eat at a restaurant. Who wants to think about food?

Recent studies by the World Wildlife Fund have shown dramatic declines in animal and bird populations in S. America, especially creatures affected by fresh water. Our own personal observations support this. The declining standards of water quality, and the complete disregard for any type of modern water treatment, are taking a terrible toll on the Amazon region.

Please know that the Amazon region is a huge place. No doubt the central and northern regions are in better shape. But anywhere that there are villages and cities - this problem is growing at an alarming rate. It is truly sad.

#283116 - 12/27/16 03:19 PM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
Finally ...

in our quest to find new plant medicines - we have effectively become "21'st Century Indians". We discovered during our trip that the real Indians of S. America have deep political problems. For this reason, they rarely communicate, or only at a superficial level. Therefore, ethnobotany (the relationship between plants and indigenous people) is rapidly becoming Mission Impossible.

this is sad, but really a true statement at this time.

Our solution ... is to become a new generation of Indians. If the societies of S. America will not respect the Earth, then our approach is to preserve the priceless treasures that we still see. We do not collect 'dead plants'. Rather, we preserve rare and precious plants, and they live in our garden. I admit that this was no small task to achieve ... I honestly thought that some of our plants would die, after crossing deserts, mountains, and jungles. But the plants were more hardy than we expected, and we devoted much attention to their care. So we learned - and are still learning - about how to make these plants thrive. Our growing garden is therefore an unusual collection of rare and medicinal plant from many places. And we are now the 21'st Century Indians. A change that we didn't really expect - but it was the only way to try to save the life forms that are truly precious. So we hope that some day in the future - one of these plants will provide new answers for cancer or other serious illnesses.

All the best from us, Peter and Sueli in Brazil

Edited by Pete (12/27/16 03:26 PM)

#283233 - 01/05/17 02:17 AM Re: Journey Through The Andes [Re: Pete]
Jax Offline

Registered: 01/25/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Missouri
Pete, that brings back a lot of memories. I especially loved the blind passes on the curvy mountain roads that was common in the area!

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