Driving 'The Beast' through South-America

The overwhelming nature of Bolivia

by Isabelle Demaeght, November 12, 2018

We stayed our first Paraguayan days all alone at the Biological Refuge Tati Yupi near Itaipu. Itaipu, a 7.7km dam on the border between Paraguay and Brazil is the most expensive project ever built by man. Immense and impressive.

Itapú dam

Isabelle Deep at the bottom of the Itapú Dam The first day we followed a tourist tour, 2 days later a technical one. We were given a guided tour by a nineteen-year-old student who was unable to answer Adriaan's inquisitive questions, but this less technically trained nurse was left with an incredible impression by the whole project. As a human being you are suddenly very small. Itaipu provides 85% of the Paraguayan electricity supply.

After a small stop in a Paraguayan cheese factory, which gave us a piece of imitation Gruyère and Appenzeller, we began our journey through Paraguay. The cheese doesn't have the real sharp Swiss taste but after 2 'cheese-less' months it was like an angel peed on our tongue : )

Christmas in summer In the capital Asuncion, we made a stop at a Toyota garage on Friday and Saturday because the air conditioning was no longer working optimally. On Saturday, a technician determined that the radiator is very dirty and (actually) in need of replacement. Since it is a time-consuming job and the air conditioning is still working, we decided to let this project rest for a while. The Paraguayan capital leaves an European impression: the Christmas decorations were already for sale in abundance. I find Christmas trees rather strange in these tropical temperatures.

The road trip was lonely. The landscape is monotonous, flat marshland. At times the road was very poorly maintained and we could not reach 30 km per hour. The further north we drove, the hotter it became. Eventually we reached temperatures of 38 degrees. Partly because of the large number of insects we decided to take a hotel room.


After another night in a park, we reached the border with Bolivia. For the first time we encountered a grumpy customs officer, who had probably been relegated to this lonely border and didn't feel like letting us through just like that...

A few hours later we reached the first village and it also became clear to us that this country is very different from the previous countries we have visited so far. A large part of the people are indigenous, dark-skinned and hairy and very beautiful. Everything makes a much poorer impression.

Filling up with fuel suddenly becomes difficult because the price is doubled for foreigners. To do this one has to bring in the license plate but Belgium is not in their computer. Finally we found a bank and paid our fuel in cash.


It took us 2 (full) days to drive the Camiri - Sucre road. The rain overwhelmed us at one point and some stretches are in such a bad condition that I anxiously looked at the abyss next to me. The abundant water causes stones to slide off the rocks. At one point, piles of rocks came down so the road was blocked after our passage.

Torrential rain in Bolivia

In Sucre, the legal capital of Bolivia, we found a newly built apartment where we will stay a few days and enjoy this city. Sucre, La Ciudad Blanca, the city where the different white houses and buildings remind us of the Spanish colonial times. The white color together with the fierce tropical sun gives a very nice view.

My last excursion in the Sucre area was a hike on my own. I followed the path, that was built by the Incas, 900 meters down the mountains through overwhelming nature. Only the steps of my hiking boots could be heard. Adriaan did the route by car and waited below.

Inca trail