Entering the Brazilian Amazon – Puerto Maldonado, Peru to Capixaba, Brazil


Route Puerto Maldonado, Peru – Capixaba, Brazil (26/30C, BR317)
Distance 493Km
Travel Time 11.5 hours (3.5 to border, crossing 1-2 hours)
Road Conditions Good asphalt but nasty potholes in Brazil
Weather Hot, humid, rainy in late afternoon
Terrain Jungle, deforested pastures in BR
Food and Petrol P.Mal., Planchon, Iberia (PE), Brazileia, Capixaba (BR)
Accommodation Hotel Capixaba, Capixaba


At Puerto Maldonado, about 9AM, we drive across the large Interoceania bridge and onward to the border town of Inapari, 223Km from here. We plan to make it to the town of Rio Branco in Brazil, 555Km away.

This is also the starting point for Ebru’s “First Turkish Woman to Cross the Amazon by Motorbike” challenge, which she is dedicating to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. This journey will take us through the South Amazon Basin, then crossing it northward, all the way to the city of Manaus in the heart of the Amazon Basin, on the mighty Amazonas river.

The road to Inapari is mostly good asphalt, and the petrol stations are interesting.



The ride from Puerto Maldonado takes us deeper and deeper into the Amazon basin. Some areas show evidence of recent deforestation, rather ugly. For long stretches there’s nothing at all, then a nice rest area with a house built of wood, selling food and drink. The walls are papered with stickers of various overland tourers that stopped there for refreshments in the past.


Along the road, especially at check points or rest areas, where there are lights, there are carcasses of insects lying around, some larger than soap bars. Most of them had unfortunate encounters with oncoming vehicles. We stop to inspect a number of them, some dead, some alive, excited at being here to see them. Noting like this survives or stays around where humans anchor, but out here in the great wild they still abound. I feel like we’re doing a trip into Jurassic Park.


Amazing river re-routing project in action…

We reach Inapari about midday and we check out of Peru with friendly border police officers and en even friendlier Aduana officer. He tells me to leave my bike across the road, he doesn’t want to check anything, only he thanks us for visiting his country and welcomes us to return, then stamps our papers and we’re free to move on. How nice. We change some dollars to Brazilian Reais at a little tienda and taste our first can of Guarana, a flavoursome gaseous soft drink, very popular in Brazil.


We hope for the same at the Brazilian side, however things are slightly more tense – or maybe it’s just me because it’s getting later in the day. The border police stamps us out. Then have to wait half an hour for the Aduana to re-open. The Aduana officer takes his time punching details into his computer, then it materializes that I need to get photocopies of some documents, which I need to ride into the closest town Assis for. I’m a bit pissed off but what does that help. As we complete the process with the Aduana I wait patiently. They offer me a coffee, which though I decline I receive – black, syrupy sweet – and when Mr Aduana finally completes my TIP (import permit) – the second one, after the correction of Australia to Austria – I sigh relief and we get riding again. We still have a lot of distance to cover to Rio Branco – 330Km! I still don’t know whether he just wanted to chit-chat or slow me down to annoy me.

Note: More details on the border crossing in INFO: Border Crossing – Inapari, Peru to Assis, Brazil.



The road on the Brazilian side, the BR317, is of good asphalt, grey and even, giving you the confidence to open up the throttle; however it is frequently perforated with nasty potholes, the kind you really don’t want to hit, so I have to pay attention to the road ahead like a hawk scanning for prey.


The surrounding landscape is beautiful, yet somehow quite sad. Miles and miles of cattle pasture – hills with lush green grass, with the occasional majestic-looking tree reaching up to the heavens – a remnant of a past much greener and untouched. These trees are obviously the remains of the dense rain forest which once existed here. Many others like this – most of them – trees that may have stood here shoulder to shoulder for maybe hundreds of years, are dead and gone. Razed to the ground.


We ride for hours, encountering hardly anyone, except for an impromptu military checkpoint whom check our documents, but as for the verbal communication with these Portuguese-speakers, there’s no progress and we move on unhindered. We stop for a lunch break and by chance, there’s a few workers on the other side of the road maintaining telephone masts, so we confirm with them we’re still going int the right direction. We make a fuel stop in the town of Brasileia, 100Km from the border.


As the sun begins to set behind us we witness enchanting views of towering thunder clouds burning over the vast, green country side, in fiery shades of yellow, orange and pink. We stop on several occasions to appreciate the moment.

It starts to rain but it’s warm and there’s still plenty of sunshine floating around. I throw the poncho on. Between the hills we see thick, luscious rainbows radiating across.

We’ve still got a long distance to cover to Rio Branco and we’re getting worried. By the time it’s nearly dark we stop near the entrance of a large farm (“Fazenda”) and consider setting up camp in one of the fields but decide against it – it’s wet and we’re not sure how safe we’ll be out here. So we drive on.

It gets dark and I’m tensely piloting the bike down the highway, looking out for potholes. Rio Branco is still nowhere in sight, but by about 19:00 we enter into a smallish town named Capixaba, about 75 kilometres before Rio Branco, and we look out for hotels. It’s very out-of-the-way out here, but the town looks pretty well constructed, all houses of brick and concrete and some large shopping or commercial buildings.

We reach a roundabout and are overwhelmed by the scent of smoke and burning meat. I hit the brakes. The smell is emanating from a BBQ one respectable-looking man has set up on the road-side, next to a couple of plastic garden tables and -chairs where he is feeding his customers. We pull up and speak to him. The beef skewers look tasty and his price is cheap, so after he points us in the direction of where we can find a hotel for the night, we promise to return.

Two or three blocks down on the right, we find Hotel Capixaba (40BRL/dbl, private bathroom, AC). It’s a multistory building with tiled lobby, which is totally gated up. There are a number of men sitting around the entrance, looking at us quizzically, but I’m not sure whether they look rough or not. The owner steps up and welcomes us in. He’s very pleased to accommodate us and shows us a choice of rooms and a safe place to park the bike in the lobby.

As we park inside and unload the bike, all the men from around the entrance become an audience and stand around us, watching curiously, talking about the bike and the load we’re carrying and asking questions about our bike and our journey. Many of them seem to be on the road for business, staying the night here as well.


Settled into our comfi room, the hotel owner confirms to us that the area is safe and we walk up to the roundabout for our dinner. The BBQ guy serves us us a delicious meal of char-grilled beef skewers, rice, salad, beans and some gooey yellow stuff, which we later find out is an essential component of the Brazilian Completo (at least in the Amazonian part). Its flavour is rather neutral, it’s got the consistency of pudding, and you mix it with your rice or whatever else. I have no idea what it’s made of. We chat to the chef a little and have a few laughs, but I realize that the Brazillian spoken out here is far more difficult to understand than I had expected.


On the way back to the hotel we pass a small bar / shop, which is really a small wooden shack with with retractable windows through which you order your drinks. Inside sits a dozy-looking man watching football on his television and the place contains a large fridge-freezer and shelving filled with alcoholic spirits and a few staple foods and sweets. We love it! We stand there, drinking ice cold Brazilian canned beers and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of the street, where children and youths cycle by and young adults occasionally stop by to drink a few shots of Cachaca (Brazilian cane spirit) and follow the progress of the football match.