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Where We’ve Been: 2016 Recap & December 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Brazil, Bolivia & Argentina

2016 was a big year on our little road trip through the Americas with a total of 15,200 miles (24,462 km) on the road. While that pales in comparison to the miles we were putting on annually when we were in North America nearly a decade ago, it’s double the mileage of most recent years.

All those miles really got us around and in 2016 we visited or revisited seven countries: Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina. Our previous record was five countries in one year back in 2011 when we were in Central America. We also had a record eight border crossings in 2016, bringing our total border crossings for the Journey so far to 56. For more amazing road trip stats, visit our freshly updated Facts & Figures page.

Brazil-Bolivia and Bolivia-Argentina border crossing

We’ve now reached the most southerly point on the Journey so far after crossing the Tropic of Capricorn just north of Salta, Argentina. This took us out of the tropics where we’ve been since 2009 when we crossed the Tropic of Cancer south of Durango, Mexico. However, in typical Trans-Americas Journey fashion, we’re not quite done with tropical latitudes yet. We’ll be crossing back over the Tropic of Capricorn and heading north to return to Peru in a few months.

Check out our South American road trip driving route for all of 2016 in our map, below.

December 2016 Road Trip Driving Route – Brazil, Bolivia & Argentina

December 2016 was a big month too with 1,877 miles (3,021 km) of driving in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina.

We started December 2016 in Bonito, Brazil and from there we headed up to the Southern Pantanal where we saw more jaguars before driving to the border town of Corumbá where we crossed into Bolivia for the first (but not the last) time.

San Ignacio de Velasco Mission Bolivia

The mission church in San Igancio de Velasco on the missions circuit in Bolivia.

We only spent eight days in Boliva, focusing on the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos. These architecturally unique churches, one of them a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were built in the early 1700s. They eventually fell into disrepair but were passionately rescued and brought back to their original glory.

After a few days on the missions circuit we headed to Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia’s two principal cities. Then it was time to make a beeline to the Argentinean border to settle into a housesitting opportunity in Salta. 

Come along on our road trip in Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina in December 2016 and see what we saw through the windshield of our truck in our drive-lapse video, made with our dash-mounted Brinno time-lapse camera, below.

And check out our road trip driving route for December 2016, below.

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Where We’ve Been: November 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Brazil

In November 2016 we drove more than 2,200 miles (3,540 km) in Brazil. We started the month in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, north of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and ended in the western state of Mato Grosso Sur. Our plans were interrupted by emergency surgery, but here’s how our road trip driving route in Brazil panned out for November 2016. Come along on our Brazil road trip and see what we saw through the windshield of our truck in the drive-lapse video at the end of this post.

November 2016 Road Trip Driving Route – Brazil


 

Our road trip driving route for the month of November began north of Brasilia in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park. From there we made a beeline to the bustling metropolis of Sao Paulo. After spending a few weeks in Sao Paulo we headed west toward the Bolivian border and prepared to cross before our Brazil visas expired.

On the way to the border we stopped in the small tourist destination of Bonito looking forward to snorkeling and diving in the area’s famous crystal-clear, spring-fed rivers. However, Karen developed appendicitis which required us to rush to nearby Campo Grande, the capital of Mato Grosso state, for emergency surgery. The remainder of November was spent recuperating in Campo Grande.

Waterfall Chapada dos Veadeiros Brazil

Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in Brazil.

See what we saw out there on the road in the drive-lapse video, below, made by our Brinno camera which is attached to our dashboard.

 

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Where We’ve Been: October 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Brazil

We spent October 2016 driving over 1,500 miles (2,414 km) in Central Brazil. We started off deep in the Northern Pantanal and ended in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park north of Brasilia, Brazil’s capital. Here’s our road trip driving route for October 2016 in Brazil. Come along on our Brazil road trip and see what we saw through the windshield of our truck in the drive-lapse video at the end of this post.

October 2016 Road Trip Driving Route – Brazil


 

Our road trip driving route for the month of October began in Porto Jofre at the end of the wildlife-filled Transpantaneira Highway in Brazil’s vast Pantanal region in Mato Grosso state. In the Pantanal we visited Hotel Pantanal Norte, Araras Ecolodge and Pousada do Rio Mutum searching for (and finding) some of the Pantanal’s famed wildlife including jaguars. Following our time in the Pantanal, we drove north to Cuiabá, the state capital. From there we visited Bom Jardim in Nobres to snorkel in its crystal clear, spring-fed rivers followed by a visit to Chapada dos Guimarães National Park with landscapes that some compare to the US Southwest.

From there we headed west toward Brazil’s modernist capital, Brasilia, stopping in the beautiful colonial towns of Goiás and Pirenópolis along the way. In Brasilia, we drove along the city’s Monumental Axis road which is lined with examples of the distinct modernist architecture of famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (pictured below and see 12:38 in our drive-lapse video at the end of this post).

Oscar Niemeyer's modernist archtecture -Brazilia, Brazil

From Brasilia we headed north to Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park where we ended the month.

See what we saw out there on the road in the drive-lapse video, below, made by our Brinno camera which is attached to our dashboard.

 

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Where We’ve Been: September 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Peru & Brazil

We spent July and August traveling in a relatively small area around Cusco and the Sacred Valley in Peru so we logged very few miles. Boy, did we make up for it in September with more than 1,900 miles (3,000 km) driven from Cusco, Peru to Porto Jofre deep in Brazil’s Pantanal area. An additional 550 miles (885 km) were covered by plane from Porto Velho, Brazil up to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon and (a first for us on our Trans-Americas Journey) a 22 hour bus ride from Manaus back to Porto Velho via Brazil’s infamous BR-319 road which is a remote, rough, dirt “highway”. Brazil is big, people. Here’s our road trip driving route for September 2016 in Peru and Brazil.

September 2016 Road Trip Driving Route – Peru & Brazil

Our road trip driving route for the month of September actually began on August 30th when, after nearly two months, we broke away from the Cusco region. From Cusco we drove over the Andes and down to Porto Maldonado in the Amazon where we took a side-journey by boat into the Tambopata Nature Reserve.

We left Porto Maldonado and crossed into Brazil which turned out to be the easiest, fastest and most remote border crossing yet. We knew we were really in the middle of nowhere when the mileage sign near at the border indicated we were 2,217 miles (4,373 km) from Rio de Janeiro. Did we mention that Brazil is big?

Peru Brazil Border miles to Rio road trip driving route

We knew we were going to clock some serious miles in September when we saw this mileage sign at the Peru-Brazil border.

For the rest of the month we crossed the Amazon in one way or another. After crossing the border we visited the surprisingly tidy and pleasant city of Rio Branco where we should have stayed longer. Then we continued on to Porto Velho where we took our plane/bus side-trip to Manaus and back.

Once back in Porto Velho we made a 1,000 mile (1,600 km) bee-line to the Pantanal region where we traversed another notorious road, the Trans-Pantaneira Highway, to reach Porto Jofre where we finally saw jaguars in the wild.

You can see all the action in our drive-lapse video, above, which was shot by our Brinno TLC200 Pro HDR Time Lapse Video Camera which is mounted on the dashboard of our truck. Watch as we cross the Amazon region (minute 4 through 12) where, you will note, much of the landscape, except for a few pockets of protected jungle, has been deforested to make way for large cattle ranches. Minute 13 through the end of the video lets you follow along on the Trans-Pantaneira highway which was so filled with wildlife it was like our a South American Safari.

 

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Where We’ve Been: June 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Peru & Chile

With nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) driven, June was our biggest driving month in years. It was also one of the most dramatic with two tire blowouts, a missed border crossing, an Incan rope bridge re-building festival, a traditional vicuña round-up and miles and miles of gorgeous coastal, Andean, and Altiplano scenery. It’s all captured in our drive-lapse road trip travel footage shot with our Brinno time-lapse dash cam at the end of this post.

Making a run for the border

The primarily reason we drove so much in June was because we had to make a border run to renew our Peruvian vehicle importation permit which requires that we exit the country and re-enter. This called for an 800 miles (1,300 km) drive south into Chile. We expected it would take us two long days of driving to reach the border from Lima. What we didn’t account for was a pair of blowouts that left us stuck on the side of the highway for more than seven hours struggling to get over-tightened lug nuts off due to some careless work that was done on our truck in Lima.

This caused us to arrive at the border a day late. Did we mention that in Peru if you overstay your permit they have the right to confiscate your vehicle? Many tense hours, a day of waiting and lots of paperwork and explanations later we finally got special permission to cross the border with our truck and re-enter Peru with a fresh permit.

Incan festivals galore

Then we made a 450 mile (725 km) bee-line from the coastal border to a village high in the Andes to catch the Q’eswachaki Bridge festival which is the annual rebuilding of the last traditional Incan rope bridge in Peru. The drive from Tacna to Monquegua to Puno to Juliaca and then to the bridge took us up and over the high Andean Altiplano where we spent four hours driving between 13,500 to 15,500 feet (4,115 to 4,725 meters), not an easy task when you aren’t acclimatized to the high altitude. Luckily the road was spectacular, the pavement was good, the views were epic and there was almost no traffic. Just the way we like it.

Following the bridge festival we carried on to Cusco, then drove to Abancay and then to Puquio which we used as a base to attend an annual vicuña roundup and shearing festival called a chaccu that takes place near the Pampa Galeras National Reserve. This all happened at around 13,000 feet (2,200 meters) so once the chaccu was over we decided to warm up in Nazca (at a mere 1,700 feet (520 meters) where we finished up the month of June by visiting area archaeological sites and the famous Nazca Lines.

Check out all of the gorgeous scenery in one month of driving in Peru and Chile in our drive-lapse road trip travel video shot with our Brinno time-lapse dash cam.

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Where We’ve Been: April 2016 Road Trip Driving Route in Peru

In March we brought back our monthly “Where We’ve Been” feature after adding a Brinno TLC200Pro to our arsenal which makes creating time-lapse video fast and easy. Then, just one month later, we left everyone hanging. Sorry about that. Near the end of April we flew back to the Galapagos Islands to work on a few more stories there, however, it was impossible to upload our Brinno drive-lapse video for the month because internet in the Galapagos, when it exists, is painfully slow. The Enchanted Islands may have the most northerly penguins in the world, the only known aquatic iguanas and sea lions that act like pets but they do not have bandwidth.

Anyway…

We started the month of April in Trujillo, Peru then we headed south to Lima down the Pan American Highway which hugs the coast here through dramatic dunes-to-surf landscapes. After some time getting our feet wet in Lima we drove slightly further south to the beach town of Paracas to check out the desert-y Paracas National Reserve. Then we returned to Lima where we left our truck with the kind folks at Automayor, the GM dealer in Lima, before flying back to the Galapagos Islands via Guayaquil, Ecuador.

It’s not a lot of miles, but the Pacific coast scenery is some of the most breathtaking coastal driving we’ve done in a long time. Check it all out in our Brinno drive-lapse video for April 2016, below.

And here’s a map version of our road trip driving route in northern Peru during the month of April 2016.

 

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