BR319 Day 8: Beyond Ridiculous – Amazonas, Brazil

The information we received from the research team and the Malaria control team at Igapo Acu has confirmed to us that the final dirt-road stretch ahead of us is to be the worst of what we have experienced of this road so far. It adds up as well, as we consider that the road has got worse and worse, the closer we got to Manaus.



The owner of the pousada suggested, and kindly asked the remaining members of the Malaria control team whether they’d be willing to carry the bulk of our luggage in the back of their 4×4 to Careiro for us. This would obviously make our ride so much easier by eliminating the heavy load on the bike. They kindly agreed.



Most of the malaria control team leave in the morning, but one 4×4 with the remaining folks and our gear remain until around midday, which is when we leave as well. In the mean time we enjoy our last moments in this out-of-the-way village, playing with the kids and taking in the scenery.



It’s a fond thank you and goodbye to the lovely people of Igapo Acu and we embark on the final 45 kilometre unpaved journey of the BR319, we realize that getting rid of our luggage has probably been the most important decision of this journey. What we encounter just a few kilometres after the ferry crossing is a constant trail of deep mud ruts and terribly difficult terrain.



Even without the heavy luggage, and even when Ebru gets off the bike to allow me to cross some of the deep slush pits blocking the way, it is very difficult to manoeuvre the motorcycle across without dropping it in the mud. We would never make it though with all our stuff on the back!




We leave the ferry ahead of the 4×4 and soon lose them in the distance. Even for the 4×4 it’s a gruelling drive and it’s slow going. Somewhere along the way we pass a truck stuck in the mud, the crew unloading its cargo to try and get it moving again. I don’t want to be in their shoes!




Then the mud gets worse and we really struggle. The 4×4 re-appears behind us and overtakes. At this point they have an advantage over us – being able to remain upright.




The problem with this last part of the road is not the severe deterioration of the surface alone, but also that here there is no way to side-step the obstacles. Further back, I was often able to move along some more solid bits in-between the mud-pools and in other cases, go completely off-road and ride through the shrub on the road-side. However here the road is mostly elevated on a mound, so a side-step would leave me stranded in a rut downhill somewhere amongst vegetation and whatever else is running around beneath.



It’s a hard ride! Half of the time Ebru is off the bike, walking; wading through puddles, checking how deep they are and how soft the mud is beneath. Sometimes we use old chunks of asphalt and rock, or logs of wood lying in the area to make a workable track across the mud-holes, or at least some solid foot-holds for me to help keep the bike upright. It’s blood, sweat and tears all the way. But not so may tears though – we know we’ve almost made it!



After 3 hours to finally reach the tarmac. Caked in mud, soaked in sweat and exhausted, we drop to our knees and kiss the solid ground whose image has been the stuff of our dreams for several days. We’ve made it through!



Riding on asphalt again feels unreal. There are some strips of dirt where the road is being repaired but nothing comparable to what we’ve been on. I take it pretty slow though – my chain’s been spluttered in mud and I am out of lube, so I don’t want to cause it to break by pushing it hard in my excitement.


We pass a jungle-hut not far from the road and I hear a chainsaw running, so I stop and call for the owner. He comes out and I ask him whether he’s got any oil he could spare to lubricate my chain – he obliges. I thank him and ask if I can pay him something in exchange. “No man,” he says, “we’re in Amazonas, we help each other out!”

That certainly has been our experience. Out here in this harsh, inhospitable abundance of life, people stick together. Everyone knows what they’re up against. Being left out on your own may mean game over. (My thoughts reflect on the loopy lady we met on day 1.)


We cruise along the last 100km to Careiro. The few bridges we have to cross are large structures of reinforced concrete. Hardly as exciting as what lies behind us.


We meet the Malaria team at the petrol station in Careiro as agreed. They lead us to a hotel across the road (Hotel Prive, 40BRL/dbl) and offload our things there. They don’t have time to stay for food or drink as they have to push on to another village in the sticks, so we say a big thank you to Dioneia, Maria and Ana Claudia, and the driver (whose name we cannot remember) for their help and wish them on a merry way.


The hotel room is a bit rough but there’s a swimming pool, so we spend the evening drinking beer and rinsing off the mud in the pool.