Crossing the Oiapoque

Like every time before when we had to cross a body of water (except for that time when we crossed the Magellan Strait in Chile), crossing the Oiapoque was not without hassle: the prices (for a 15 minute trip by canoe or ferry) varied from 20EUR to 200EUR but you never know who can be trusted and who can’t. Even the ferry had no schedule at all! After two days of bargaining we managed to find some guys willing to take us across for 30EUR.

In the end we paid 35EUR because they claimed the bike was heavier. For us, it felt so strange: we were in South America but also in European Union at the same time.1159 oiapoque1160 oiapoque1161 oiapoque


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The Amapa jungle

After completing the 1000km of jungle South of Amazon we said to ourselves “How easy. That was it?”. But here, in Brazilian State of Amapa, we found the real problems: from Macapa there are ~500km until the border with France, out of which only 300 are paved. Immediately after entering the unpaved road, a rain began that made riding even more difficult.

At some point the road was blocked because two trucks were caught in mud and other trucks were trying to help. After one hour of efforts some drivers gave up and began cooking the lunch (where we were invited to join). After another hour one truck was back on road but two more vehicles were in trouble: a car and a bus. The fun may have continued for many hours, but we left the scene and we arrived at the Oiapoque river after two days.

For reference, I have included two pictures from 20 years ago (the last ones) made by our friend Eladio. As you can see, not much has changed since then!

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Sailing on the Amazon

Our ship was an older, wooden vessel with a carrying capacity of 100 passengers. But only about 30 passengers were aboard, so the lower deck was filled with cargo and our motorcycle. Tickets were R$60 per person (food included) and R$150 for Palomina. The trip lasted for about 35 hours. During this time, we stopped in two ports. In addition to this, sometimes smaller vessels were approaching our ship to load and unload passengers and such freight as onions, fish, lemons, ice cream cones etc without having to stop. Two passengers were traveling in cabins while the rest (including us) were accommodated on the upper deck. Everyone had a hammock to sleep but not us, so we rented a pair for R$10.

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The Amazonian rainforest

Day 1

In order to get to Santarem we had to go 900km through the jungle on unpaved road. The surface was sometimes well compacted and even but other times very rough so I decided to lower the tire pressure to absorb that. Bad idea: the tire got punctured. Twice. Each time we had to stop to fix it so we lost a lot of time with that and, by the end of the first day, we had only completed 170km.

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The next day we began riding with higher tire pressure and the rear shock adjusted to the softest setting. Even so, the shaking was hard enough to break the rear rack and we almost lost our Pelican topcase. So we stopped in a village to get it welded and reinforced with two extra bars. With this stop, by the end of day two we had completed another 270km.

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Day 3 was even better, as we were able to complete almost 300km. Dust was everywhere, so by the end of the day we were dirtier than ever!

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The last day was the shortest, as only 200km were left and we reached Santarem just in time to catch the ship.

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Change of plan

Finally, after riding for four days through the Amazonian forest, we made it to Santarem. But in the meantime an old friend, who read about our plans on this blog, advised me to fly from French Guiana to Paris. I did some research and indeed, even though it’s a bit more expensive than flying from Martinique, it’s more facile: coordinating travel from Venezuela to Martinique and from there to Paris and then further to Romania would have been a logistical nightmare.

So in less than two hours we will be embarking for a two days journey towards Macapa instead of Manaus. Will get back with some photos from the jungle then.

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