Heroes de Orinoco Colombia 4x4 rally across the llanos to Puerto careno July 18th 13

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
http://www.ruedalibrexcolombia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=94&Itemid=28


The count down is on

The wifes permission granted

truck checked out

preparing equipment NOW !


This rally is an annual event- diferent years follow diferent routes, last year most competitors gave up due to the conditions, very few made it to the end.

I'll be copilot - digger- photographer to a good friend on this trip, as it seems we are on count down to leave Colombia so I don't want to screw my truck with just weeks to sell it.
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The llanos is basicly the area from the mountains of colombia down to the river orinoco

"Winter" is the time of year with the most rains, mud and flooded rivers and track's as far as the eye can see.

This years route brings us to puerto carino on the border with venezuela- the trucks if they make it can either drive the return.....another 4 days or put them on a ferry which brings them back to the base of the mountains

We expect hard conditions- lots of water and mud

Plus the wildlife- Caypybara and Anacondas......makes the waters crossings a little more interesting !

For some video of last year !
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMFMzO1kquM
 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
Well it was a most excellent trip- 5 full days of driving through some of the best parts of Colombia

Los llanos is part of the drainage for the orinoco river a largely flat palin with long grass, morichals, lakes and rivers wide enough to transport tons of Beef up river to the mountains and the main cities.

There are more cows than people, with wide expanses of farm land covered mostly with a foot or so of water as right now it full winter.

Our group consisted of the following trucks for you technical chaps

Landrcruisers 80 series...4 units
Nissan patrol 2 units
and the Tortuga......a little Vitara !

Two of the vehicles in our group were from Ecuador- they had driven for three solid days just to get to Bogota for the start.


Main mechanical issues that occured during the trip were the following;

2 radiators with leaks
1 clutch hydraulic line sprung a leak
1 rotor cap / rotor body sprung a leak
1 drowned engine
1 AC pully bearing failure
1 blown engine



I taxied from my house to the leaders at 4.30am
The ecuadorians had just arrived from their motorway slog, and were busy showering and freshening up
last minute gear issue and loading up was being completed, some had not slept much in days

The Bogotanians split the driving of the first stretchs between the people who'd slept well to give some people some rest.

The ecuadorians were snoring by the time we hit the highway south to the meet point

The start was an army barracks in Bogota where there is a cenotaph to the fallen heroes of the military units fighting against the Farc and the cartels.

registration was carried out and the grid points downloaded onto the GPS units.

Although we were part of the "rally" the leader had chosen a different route for the first few days , rather than hitting KMs of boring dirt roads he'd chosen to repeat a route from a previous year, bring us through more interesting terrain duing the first days.

This plan was our undoing..

While the main group swung east out of Bogota we swung north along the mountains and dropped down into the Llanos at Yopal
arriving at 2am at a campsite near the end of the pavement.

4am and dinner was finished and the hammocks slung from the roofs.

06.30hrs a storm blew through with horizontal rain and winds, destroying what had been a peacefull night.

Wet cold and trying to hide from the wind - we waited almost two hours for calm

Most people had been flooded out drying gear was hung everywhere.

Note to self- use the hammock cover even if under a roof !

Fridays start was late- of to the garage for filling up with gas and the last supplies
todays drive was just about only 150km

We were due in La hermosa that night

By the time the whole group had got ready it was almost 12pm - a sad time to start with only trails ahead of us and unknown conditions

the rally route had been checked.......this was unknown territory.

Amongst the group I identified at least 3 people carrying pistols..........after investigation they were ex military working for a UK security company- their two trucks were also bullet proofed level 2

Farc are known to operate in Los llanos !

1 hr into the trail the ironman patrol blows its radiator after its fans failed

beers came out -music while the crew worked to fix both the issues

a cable was dury rigged for the engine fans and resin for the radiator.

AC was deemed to risky to use so why the truck was being repaired floor mats were turned into mud flaps so they ride with the windows open !

First river crossing we drowned the electrical system of the Vitara, a spare alternator was fitted

Night fell along with torrential rain

navigating the trail full of water at night was a challenge- no way of knowing what lay beneath the water, mutiple stucks and tows were carried out.

at the rivers two guys wet ahead and walked the route, we decided to tow the vitara across engine off to limit the splashing

arround 12pm the lead car blew its radiator too we corraled the trucks and slept in the seats while half the atlantic emptied its self onto the plains.

A lights up the repair crew started on radiator two

1 car set off to reconoiter the route ahead.........with an early mornings enthusiasm he complete drowned his patrol

with the radios soaked he set off on foot back to the rest of the trucks for an urgent tow out.

By the time he made it too the group we back up and running using river water for the cooling system.

The patrol looked to be in a sorry state, if he'd hydrolocked the truck, I was worried about how we were going to tow him back out- as it was the blindado one too weighing an extra ton.

Plugs were pulled, rotor and distributer stripped and dried in the sun

luckily the engine still turned over.....drying and cleaning carried on while a local farmer arrived by canoe

he had not seen a car on this track for over 3 months...........

Bartering was discussed and he came back with his family and two pig hind legs which were rapidly striped cooked and eaten by the group.

a little more bartering later and we had secured another crossing in a shallower area, with the locals dropping fences for us to get there.
 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
Photos being uploaded.....some teasers

what shoes worked best.....too deep for wellies too deep for trainers and wet feet all day.....so go native !

what we should have been using....

plains as far as the eye could see
 

Tucan viajero

Adventurer
Hi! Greetings from Caracas!

Last year there were a few cars from Venezuela in this tough rally. One friend even had to be towed out because the automatic trans on his Fortuner took some water during a river crossing. This year I really can't tell if there were any paisanos there, but with our ever worsening economic situation I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there weren't any.

By the way, our Easter vacation trip this year was to the eastern Colombian llanos in Departamento del Vichada, which is where you are headed in this story. We entered Colombia from Puerto Páez to Puerto Carreño and then headed south to Parque Nacional Natural El Tuparro. However, it was the dry season, summer as it's known here, so we didn't face all the muddy, flooded terrain you must have endured.

You can bet I'll be looking forward to your updates on this thread. Hope you have many pictures to share.
 
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UK4X4

Expedition Leader
OK time to post some photos !

hopefully roughly in order

last minute prep




registration and lineup


En route photo stop of the group


The Ecuadorian Iron man team


Last tank up

 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
Lowering pressures ready for the open trails



last village a few beers chugged and some bottles of agudiente obtained



local meat store....


Los LLanos traffic jam


First trail damage


Some modifications on the trail

 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
Further off the road the conditions got more interesting

and the tow ropes got exercised


local transportation was deemed more suitable for the conditions

Night decended on the first day- we were miles from that days destination



Concentration was high as you dropped into the dark murky water


the night went on and on - we put out two "divers" to test the rivers we came across- but but by about 1am we were beat- another radiator had blown and the rain was falling like a tropical storm front- we all just curled up in the trucks to sleep muddy- wet and cold - the buzzing of insects let us know that the next day was gona be itchy

 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
As the sun came up the spanners came out
- repair of radiator 2 set in place



Meanwhile with early morning exuberance one of the trucks set off alone to scout ahead.............we found a lone driver walking back towards the group worried and harried

he had dumped his truck into the next river without testing the depths.....the first oops of the day delayed us another 5 hours





winching was easy even with this nissan being bullet proof
 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
The drying out commenced- luckily the snorkle had prevented hydrolock but everything needed changing and drying the oil was like mayo


Meanwhile some locals turned up - some bartering completed and two pig hind quarters appeared


and a piknik commenced



After the unplanned stop was finshed and the patrol back running again we got directions from the locals to cross further upstream . but we had to pay for the "destruction " of the grass.... oh well we had checked the river at that this point taking a nice swim..and it had been deemed unpassable without water wings

so the locals dropped some fences for us and we made our way upstream to a shallower crossing- stuck again !
 

landcruising

Adventurer
We are about to cross these plains tomorrow... and as good preparation I only find this thread now :)

I know you crossed during the winter when crossing would be hardest. We are opting for summer and well see what we encounter...

Adventurous greetings,
Coen
 

Scott Brady

Founder
Coen, you will love it.

Need me to send our tracks? You will have no problem with the Land Cruiser, and the mud will be minimal. We encountered some, but it is even dryer now.


Your only real issue might be the river crossing. The ferry has been dead for over a year. Only the long pangas available now, which worked fine for the bikes, but might be a challenge with the TLC. You might be restricted to the main highway unless you can resolve the ferry
 
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