Our Logistics Manager, Mark Middleton, leaves his desk and tool box behind and takes his annual leave travelling on the first Overland trip to venture through South America’s Guyana’s and Suriname.
The north eastern part of South America has intrigued me for some time now – mainly because I’d heard the 3 small countries of Suriname, French and British Guyana were such melting pots of different cultures, largely due to their colonial history. Quite possibly the lure of some of the most pristine rainforest in the world, the chance to glimpse a jaguar in the wild and the fact I would then have been to all 13 South American countries, finally tipped the balance.
Either way, this April I found myself floating across the Amazon River from Belem (south bank) to Macapa (north bank) on a very basic barge, taking part in an overland trip. A friend from my ‘days on the road’ was running the first Overland trip through this area and had asked me to come along as a passenger. Of course I still managed to get behind the wheel and have a tinker with the truck! Nothing like getting away from it all, and forgetting about the day job!
The journey across the Amazon was almost 48 hours, which gives you some idea of quite how large the Amazon delta is. From here on in roads turned to mush, we were bitten to bits with mosquitos, got drenched in torrential rain storms and camped in the middle of nowhere – I loved every minute!
What struck me most of all was each country had completely a different look and feel, both in landscape and the people that lived there. No sooner had we crossed a border or yet another ferry, did we see a totally new attitude and language but also a change from jungle to savannah to mountains. Throughout we met friendly locals interested in seeing why ‘the big truck’ was passing through this part of the world. I felt very privileged to be travelling through these countries with not even another traveller in sight.
There are no shortage of attractions, and apart from the obvious wandering of colonial towns and trying out of the different foods that these diverse ethnic backgrounds have produced, you certainly won’t get bored. We experienced everything from giant Leatherback Turtles slowly making their way up a deserted beach to lay their eggs, to the European Space Station’s launch of Ariane 5. (We actually just missed it by a few days!)
The once ‘British’ Guyana struck me as the real star of the show, with its Afro Caribbean feel and colourful wooden architecture. From the semi dangerous and slightly daunting streets of Georgetown, it’s an absolutely monstrous drive through the rainforest, on dirt roads, to get back in to Brazil, with corruption at every turn. The only vehicles that venture in to the interior are the original overland vehicles of choice – 1960’s 4 wheel drive Bedford trucks!
Boa Vista was to be my final destination and from here a multitude of flight changes took me across most of the rest of Brazil and once again reminded me quite how large this country is – it’s a 4 hour flight from top to bottom!
If you’re looking for adventure, don’t mind a bit of discomfort and can put up with things not always going to plan, then why not take a look at this part of the world!? I’d certainly love to go back one day, before the primary rainforest is quite possibly torn out to remove the riches of the land. What a catastrophe this would be.
Fancy a group Overland Adventure like Mark’s? Then check out the following link: