The 2003 Grand Raid set off in Argentina on May 25th, travelling across South America. It reached Tierra del Fuego and then went back all the way to the Amazon.
Leaving Buenos Aires, the caravan zipped South across the Valdes Peninsula, true wild sealife sanctuary. Our travel reporters were able to take amazing shots of whales, dolphins, killerwhales, Magellan Penguins, sea lions and many types of mesmerising birds.
One back on track, Tierra del Fuego grew closer and closer on mostly deserted tracks across untainted Patagonian plains. Carefully stepping through such eerie, lunar landscapes, the members of the Donnavventura expedition made sure to capture as much as possible with their trustworthy cameras, right before crossing the Strait of Magellan and reach southernmost Ushuaia.
6500 ft high frozen peaks welcomed their arrival and in-depth exploration of this secluded, but extremely fascinating part of the globe. Later on the team headed back North, challenging deep-snow tracks on the way to Chile and Argentina. First the expedition paid a visit to magnificent Perito Moreno glacier, then they briefly stopped in the Torres del Paines natural park, witnessing all its beauty and fascinating palette of luxuriant vegetation, azure lakes and mountain peaks.
Following the Carrettera Austral, the Donnavventura reporters reached Meliquina Lake, but were forced to exchange their 4x4 vehicle with an icebreaker ship, due to the harsh winter conditions still hampering part of Routa 40 to Argentina. Smoothly sailing past humongous icebergs, the team landed on Chiloč Island: a most colorful settlement, famous for its centuries-old churches built by the Jesuits and dozens of house built on palafittes.
The expedition eventually arrived in the fabled Atacama desert and tackled the high mountain road stretching along the Andes, fighting back the lack of oxygen as best as they could. Going past some 16.000 ft high peaks, the caravan finally climbed down to San Antonio de los Cobres and the Moon Valley, heading to the famous Tatio geyser basin.
At night the outside temperature dropped as low as -30 C°, especially in the awesome Laguna Rosa and Laguna Colorada, thus further challenging our brave explorers. Sleek and beautiful fandangoes and herds of fluffy Llamas often welcomed the passage of the Donnavventura caravan busy with careful rationing in order to successfully survive this incredibly harsh environment.
The team eventually arrived at Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt water lake in the world some 300 chilometres wide, and then the city of La Paz. The very President of the Bolivian Republic open the doors of his magnificent residence, thus offering plush accommodation to the Donnavventura team!
Unfortunately, our reporters had to leave in a rush quite soon, due to life threatening coups – extremely frequent in this part of the globe – eventually reaching safety in Peru.
Wonderful pictures and fascinating travel reports thus covered many wondrous locations like the Titicaca Lake and its 41 islands, mostly made of floating hay – home of the ancient Uros tribe – the legendary city of Cuzco and the fascinating archeological site of Machu Picchu.
Later on, the Donnavventura caravan drove to Puerto Maldonado, following an extremely challenging and almost forbidden route along the Andes, at some 16.000 ft!
The Brazilian State of Mato Grosso was then the next destination, along with the flooded plains of Pantanal – where more than 1700 species of plants, birds and alligators thrive in an untainted wild environment.
The breath-taking Iguazu Waterfalls, between Brazil and Argentina, welcomed the passage of the caravan arriving in Paraguay: up there it’s exactly where Hollywood blockbuster Mission was filmed in 1986.
The end of such fascinating and extremely demanding grand raid was thus celebrated in Buenos Aires, when the Donnavventura team safely drove back to Argentina, where it all had started.