July 2002

ihana.com - big trip - diary - venezuela - july 2002

 

B removes his tick

Depressing and dirty camp in the track

Even the caterpillars got muddy

Monday 29 - Tuesday 30 July

The feeling wasn't the best, it was hard enough to get here with four wheel drive but with just rear wheel drive available with the centre diff locked, we had a daunting task ahead of us. For the next two days we drove extra carefully where there were no ruts (not many places) and made painfully (literally) slow progress. By the second day of the return journey and a lot more exhausting recoveries, we had worked out the fastest way to move along was to put sand ladders and/or logs in the right hand rut to enable the diff to clear the centre of the track. At best our average speed was 0.5kmh but one of us could rest and drive while the other did the work. This entailed picking up the sand ladder and laying it in front of the back tyre, say 'go!', the landy would move forward a metre, 'stop!' then pick up the other sand ladder and place that one in front of the tyre...and so on.

The ladders were mud-caked and heavy, whilst the steep sided ruts made it awkward to place the ladder between the wheels. We swapped every half hour, most of the time the vegetation was right up to the track meaning that we were at the mercy of their spikes, never mind the spiders, poisonous hairy black caterpillars with red heads, scorpions (found under most logs) and ticks as our exhausted, mud covered bodies and squelching, soaked boots slowly made progress. We tried not to think about the long, deep stretches of water and how we'd get through those. We later discovered that touching the caterpillars will have you dead in two hours, we actually had them in our hands, fortunately gloved, when removing one from the tent and one from a tree strop.

One of very few 2 wheeldriveable bits

The log bridge

Stuck again

B puts logs down to fill the ruts

Moving, one sand ladder at a time

Our recuers, thanks guys!

Only one more days food remained, we hadn't seen any other vehicle for two days despite camping in the middle of the track. A hopeless 36kms of the same remained ahead and it looked like it was time for us, or at least one of us, to walk out and try and get help. Then three Toyotas turned up. We were blocking the narrow track so they had to hack a way around us and one started towing us out. The 4.7kms on our trip meter that we'd done in the last 48 hours went whizzing around to 7.3kms before we got to a reasonably driveable bit and the Toyota driver disconnected us saying that we could do this bit ourselves. We drove on, knowing that he wouldn't be waiting at the next deep mud hole to help us through. When we reached it, a few hundred metres later, we stuck fast. With energy levels at an all time low we were massively depressed. Before we'd had chance to lay the sand ladders along came the same Toyota driver we'd chatted with on the second night and yes, he'd tow us all the way. What a relief, he was the only guy left who we knew was still back in the jungle and our last hope and somehow our luck pulled through.

Getting towed...

...was blissful

The guys who didn't help admire the landy

An hour of strenuous towing saw us out of the jungle, the landy battered with a missing mud guard and rear light, not to mention the bashed sills, broken number plate, bent bumperette, headlights full of water, dented bodywork, missing mud flap and the broken axle. The doors hardly opened, the locks full of mud, the back door didn't like closing and both the inverter and the transfer box had got water inside. What the hell, we were out of the jungle and the feeling of utter relief was fantastic, even the fact that we arrived too late for the ferry and had to camp on the river bank until the morning didn't matter. We never would have made it out without Daniel and Chino, the Toyota drivers. They asked us for no reward but we gave them $40 which brought a big grin to their faces - our grins were bigger though.

 

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