The Rumble in the Jungle

Our newest video is out!

Check out our stint through the Amazon with friends – 2 weeks of madness on dirt roads through the jungle – let us know what you think

NB! Please remember— this is just a little video we compiled on the road, and not one made by our producers. The videos by our very talented producers at rundontwalk productions will come later after we manage to get a hard drive back to sunny South Africa

Enjoy!

A Near-Death Experience on a Volcano

So the honeymoon of the Carretera Austral was over, and the time had come to press on to northern Chile. We headed out through the griminess of Puerto Montt, where we had a brief encounter with Dan again, our English cyclist friend who was sharing our rough route up to Alaska, nearly turning him into road kill after missing him at his hostel.

This is where it gets difficult, because this part of Chile is dominated by a massive, new, 4-5 lane highway from top to bottom. And we hate highways. So the riding was not all that interesting. As a matter of fact it was mind-numbingly boring, and nothing to look at. During this stretch it doesn’t even matter if you want to ride dirt, you cant. Chile is very narrow, so all the roads off the highway are nothing but tributaries and don’t join up again with the highway at any later stage, so the option doesn’t even exist, you just have to put on a podcast, get comfortable and bang it out at 140km/hr.

We did a short stint in Valdivia, a beautiful little university and rowing town, where I was nearly murdered by an idiot in a red van on the wrong side of the road and we stayed in a bed-bug ridden cabana before we decided to promptly move on to another stretch of deadly-boring highway. A the time we turned off the highway to Pucon, a popular tourist town at the base of Volcano Villarica which boasts holiday homes to many of the worlds rich and famous, we weren’t really in the mood for another overpriced tourist hub, but it came highly recommended, so we decided to check it out and we were very glad we did.

Volcano, Kayak, chile, Pucon, Canon 7D, SOuth America

Volcano Villarrica looms over Pucon

The road to Pucon is surprisingly beautiful, quaint little country roads lead you through lush greenery and peaceful farmland on fantastic, winding tar. We had the waypoints of a few camp sites we had researched that morning, and finally settled on one called ‘Playa Linda’, a hidden gem we had managed to stumble upon with the help of ‘iOverlander’ and essential app for anyone looking to travel the world, or even their own country overland. We were the only campers there, with our own private, quiet beach on the lake right on the doorstep of the tent, this was without doubt, the hardest campsite to leave to date, and Pucon became one of our favourite stops thus far.

Camp, lake, motorcycles, motorbike, silohuette, pucon, campsite, chile,

Our bikes at our new campsite

Camp, camping, motorcycle, adventure, travel, BMW, F800GS, motorrad, touratech, woods, forest, Pucon, campsite, Matthew Snyman

Packing out the camp

Lake, sunset, beautiful, pucon, colors, camp, camping, campsite, Canon, 7D

See why we struggled to leave? That is what we saw whilst sitting outside our tent, right on the beach

Lake, sand, sunset, Pukon, beautiful, iphone, Lifeproof, waterproof, case, GoPro

Our Lifeproof cases fighting the good fight whilst we play in the lake

lake, sunset, beautiful, painted sky, swimming, alone, pucon, chile, south america, GoPro, Matthew Snyman

Meg couldn’t get me out of the water

We were lucky enough to meet up with Bernd, Viola and Jack again, a great German couple traveling in a Toyota Landcruiser with their happy little hound ‘Jack’ a tiny Doberman Pinscher. And what batter place to meet up with Germans than in a German restaurant and beer garden over some fantastic beer and German sausage, a real treat after having to put up with South American beer for months on end. The night was spent sharing stories and eventually watching a fantastic Banff film about climbing Yosemite. It was shown outdoors in Pucon’s main road, which had come to feel like a mini holiday within the trip, we had permanent, stupid grins on our faces for days.

Lake, Pucon, South America, Chile, swimming, bikini, GoPro

Late afternoon swim in the lake

Matthew Snyman, Pucon, lake, Chile, South America, GoPro, swim, swimming

This is my ‘taking the plunge’ face

adventure, motorcycle, travel, BMW, F800GS, motorrad, Touratech, GoPro, slefie, selfie stick, ride, matthew snyman, megan snyman

Even when you live on a bike, you can still go for a Sunday ride

The grins were promptly removed when we made the rather nutty decision to climb to the summit of the volcano overlooking Pucon Volcan Villarrica, the most active volcano on the continent, and the same one that erupted not 2 months afterwards, causing due panic and damage. The climb started with a good deal of nervous excitement, especially when we were given our kit, complete with crampons and an ice pick, the excitement quickly built up to a crescendo, which quickly faded once we started climbing. If you have read any of our previous posts you will know that Meg and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with hiking, about 2% love and 98% hate… at least. As you can imagine this also didn’t go well with Meg’s fear of heights, which has actually worsened throughout the trip.

Pucon, volcano, Villarrica, Ski lift, snow, mountain, climbing, GoPro

Ski lift to the start of the climb

Adventure, travel, ski lift, Pucon, Volcano, mountain, snow, climbing, hiking, Villarrica, GoPro

Meg doesn’t want to look any more – check out the view in the background

Pucon, Chile, South America, adventure, motorcycle, travel, ski lift, hiking, climbing, GoPro, snow, volcano, mountain

Where we started hiking

Pucon, Chile, South America, Volcano Villarrica, Chile, hike, climb, snow, ince, mountain, volcano, adventure, travel

This is where our hike started

We climbed insanely steep, and rapidly steepening snow, zigzagging up through the deep, thick slush with nothing but pure white in front of us, a volcano peak looking up, and imminent death on looking down. The climbing became increasingly slower and more difficult as the snow turned to slippery ice, making it ever more necessary to drive our toes into the ground and step hard into footsteps of the person in front of you. And here, on a steep-as-all-hell snowy, icy face, with nothing below us but Pucon and all the surrounding volcanoes in all their entirety, we stopped for lunch. Meg was understandably not impressed, and had even suggested stopping and throwing a tantrum until a helicopter came to get her. We ate and looked at the magnificent view whilst Megan sat arse out clinging to the side of the mighty snowy giant, refusing to let go. Our frustration and fear was again upped another level when another guide with a group came past and proceeded to berate our guides for not giving us helmets (apparently it is illegal to climb without one) or letting us put on our crampons (also illegal). Our guides didn’t give a damn and just continued pushing us up the mountain, I was furious with this shitty tour company we had gotten stuck with, but this was not the time or the place to get distracted. Not that a little plastic helmet is going to help when you slide at Mach 3 down the side of a mountain to your inevitable death anyway I suppose.

Pucon, Chile, South America, volcano, villarrica, snow, ice, steep, climb

Pucon, chile, volcano, villarrica, snow, ice, climb, hike, massive

The mountain rapidly becomes very ominous, and very very big

Chile, Pucon, Volcano, height, heights, steep, snow, ice, view, matthew snyman, megan snyman

Lunch, and Megan holding on for dear life while being told she is not wearing the correct kit

The next stop was the summit, and it couldn’t have come soon enough, Meg was a wreck and I was close on her tail, the relief was palpable, and smelt a lot like burning sulphur. The crater was amazing, and the view out was even better, and we achieved a much-needed feeling of peace and accomplishment at having literally climbed a fiery mountain. This lasted until we realised that we had to get down again.

South Africa, Volcano Villarrica, crater, summit, Pucon, Chile, Megan Snyman, Matthew Snyman, Great American Trek

The summit, its not Everest, but dammit, it sure felt like it was for us

Summit, volcano, adventure, trvEL, TOURISM, CLIMB, HIKE, MOUNTAIN, SNOW, ICE, VIEW

The view from the top

Summit, volcano,fuming, fumes, smoke, view, Pucon, Chile

The massive, fuming, sulphurous crater of Volcano Villarrica

ice pick, battle, snowball, snow, ice, volcano, Megan Snyman

Megan attacks me with a snowball, naturally I defend myself with an ice pick

Getting down again was definitely the highlight, we slid down powdery trenches all the way to the base on plastic arse-boards, using the ice pick to steer and brake, LOTS of fun, and I was buzzing by the time we reached the bottom and grinning from ear to ear, something I would not have predicted an hour before. I have never seen Megan so happy to be on flat ground.

Megan snyman, snow, ice, cold, slide, sliding, volcano, ice pick

Megan begins the descend on her behind

Sliding, volcano villarrica, snow, speed

Picking up some speed, the ‘rear-view mirror’ view

Snow, trench, sliding, taboggan, sled, speed, descend, volcano

Sliding through the trenches

sliding, volcano, descent, snow, ice, taboggan, volcabo

Shorty after icy trauma of the mountain we had to tear ourselves away from Pucon and get moving again. I had found us a beach-house to look after for three weeks on Chiles semi-desert coast, complete with two dogs, a job for a fellow motorcycle traveller, animal lover and author Lorraine Chittock. Meg was ecstatic that we had a place to call home for a while, especially over Christmas and New Year when the prices in Chile would be sure to rocket above their already ridiculous amounts. But first, we planned to visit Mendoza, a cosmopolitan little Argentinian wine town South East of our destination, so we had to get moving.

How to prepare for Malaria

Malaria is one of the major fears facing most travellers deciding to travel the world and a source of massive confusion regarding treatment and prevention.

Do I take prevention or not? Most of us have all heard the stories of: “I took anti-malarial medication and still got malaria” or “I have never taken the medication and never got malaria”.

These are all common tales from friends and family, but the decision to take Malaria prophylaxis ultimately rests with you and your doctor. Here I will try to simplify some Malaria information so you can better plan your travels….

What is Malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes that carry the protozoan called Plasmodium. Plasmodium passes into the blood stream through a mosquito bite, from where it first infects the liver and then the red blood cells. It is only transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito, which is most active in the early morning and evening, but bites the whole night.

malaria, killer, travel, prevention

There are four different kinds of malaria that regularly infect people:

• Plasmodium falciparum

• Plasmodium Vivax

• Plasmodium malariae

• Plasmodium ovale

Each of these strains varies in their severity and in their distribution across the globe. Out of these four, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the most common and Plasmodium falciparum is usually the most serious.

What are the first signs of being infected?

The symptoms of malaria usually only appear after about 1 week to a month after being bitten, but can even appear later in those who have taken anti-malarial medication. It usually presents as flu-like symptoms such as headache, swinging fevers, joint pain and shivering, and less often with vomiting, jaundice (yellow colour of the skin) or seizures. The swinging fever is typical of malaria with periods of coldness followed by a sweating fever.

Danger signs:

• Any neurological change such as seizures, abnormal posturing, decreased consciousness

• Problems with breathing

• Severe anaemia –not easy to diagnose unless at a doctor, but patient may look severely pale.

When to see a doctor:

Anyone who suspects they may have malaria should see a doctor as soon as they can, even the doctors! It is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis of malaria, which is done on a blood sample at a laboratory. This ensures you are treating the correct illness, helps to bring down the problem of resistance, and gets you the right help early on.

Malaria is often curable but unless treated early it can rapidly complicate to infect your brain (cerebral Malaria), cause kidney failure, low blood sugar, an inability to clot your blood (coagulopathy) and shock.

Do not be afraid of foreign doctors here- the doctors in the malaria areas are often well equipped to treat this disease and have plenty of experience! If you are no longer in a malaria area make sure you tell the doctor treating you that you have been travelling to one.

Prevention:

Primary prevention of malaria is by preventing infection by the plasmodium by wearing long sleeves and long pants at high-risk times, by sleeping in a mosquito free room or under a mosquito net and by using insect repellent.

Malaria can also be prevented by taking prophylaxis tablets, before, during and after your stay in a high-risk area. The CDC recommends that if travelling to low risk areas to only use preventative measures and that no medication should be prescribed.

The tablets are as follows and all need to be prescribed by a doctor or travel clinic:

o Chloroquine: This medication can still be used where the parasite is not resistant, but resistance is widespread and increasing. Start taking 1-2 weeks before travel to malaria area, by taking one tablet each week and for 4 weeks after leaving. Price ±$ 30 per 100 tablets

o Atovaquone –proguanil: Begin taking 1-2 days before travel to malaria areas, by taking one tablet at the same time each day. Take with food. Price: ± $60 for 12 tablets. Not many side effects.

o Doxycycline: begin by taking 1-2 days before reaching the malaria area and take daily until 4 weeks after leaving the area. Can cause abnormal tanning in response to the sun. Cost: Cheap, and can be taken long term. Price: ± $40 for 100 tablets. This is the tablet I would recommend for people travelling overland who will be in the areas for extended periods of time.

o Hydroxyl-chloroquine sulphate: Can be used in place of Chloroquine, but only in Quinine sensitive areas. Start taking 1-2 weeks before travel to the area, take weekly on the same day and for 4 weeks after leaving the area. Price: ±$ 50 for 100 tablets.

o Mefloquine: Use in mefloquine sensitive areas and begin 2 weeks before reaching the area. Has got psychiatric side effects, and not for use with cardiac abnormalities. Price: ± $150 for 100 tablets.

o Primaquine: Can be used for prophylaxis, but only on short trips to areas with mostly P. Vivax malaria. Start 1-2 days before travel to area and take daily at the same time until 7 days after leaving the area. Price: ± $60 for 100 tablets (two tablets needed for one dose).

Where will I be traveling?

(see more detailed information at: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/country_table/a.html)

Africa:

Africa, malaria, distribution

Image: Map of the malaria distribution in Africa (www.who.int)

• Types: P. falciparum (majority), P. malariae, P. Ovale, P. Vivax

• Prevention medication:

o Doxycycline

o Mefloquine

o Atovaquone – proquanil

• There is widespread resistance to Quinine (yes, unfortunately Gin&Tonic no longer works)

Latin America

latin america, malaria, distribution

Image: distribution of malaria in Latin America (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/images/2010-map-2-7.jpg)

 

• Types: Mostly P. vivax, also P. falciparum

• Prevention:

o Atovaquone-proquanil

o Doxycycline

o Mefloquine

o Primaquine in Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay.

o Chloroquine in Belize

• Resistance to Chloroquine in most areas.

South-Eastern Asia and Middle East:

• Types: P. vivax, P. falciparum, P. Malariae, P. ovale(rare)

• Prevention:

o Atovaquone-proquanil

o Doxycycline

o Mefloquine

• Resistance to Chloroquine

Treatment

The treatment of malaria is different from the prophylaxis, as mostly tablets need to be combined for effective treatment. This should be started as soon as possible after the diagnosis is made, or if you are travelling remotely you should carry a few days’ treatment on you and start as soon as you suspect malaria. This should just be emergency treatment to cover the time it will take you to get to a doctor.

The best treatment against P. falciparum is an artemisinin based therapy known as ACT. Treatment should be managed by a medical professional and all drugs prescribed should be by a doctor (even the few days emergency medication you carry with you)

What to pack:

• Pack long-sleeved tops to wear in the evenings and a pair of trousers to cover your legs.

• Insect repellent for your skin

• Insect repellent for fabrics and paints (see http://www.vitalprotection.co.za/) – these last up to 3 months on fabric and can be used for your clothes, tent and mosquito net.

• Malaria prophylaxis tablets if you decide to take them.

• Rapid malaria test kits – these small packets contain a rapid malaria test that can be used by testing blood from a finger prick. If you will be travelling to remote areas – ask your travel clinic about these and learn how to use it.

• 3-4 days emergency malaria treatment as prescribed by your doctor if you will be travelling to remote areas.

Should I immunise?

There is currently no immunisation against malaria, but a few are in the pipe-line.

Whatever you decide regarding malaria prevention, remember that although prophylaxis is not 100% effective it may help to prevent any serious complications from severe malaria. I hope this helps clear things up and good luck travelling!

*Please note that this advice may change and that the opinion of your doctor should take precedence. You should please consult your doctor if you are pregnant as the management changes or if you have any medical allergies.

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