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Chile to Brazil (4/4)

This is also part of this series: Tropic of Capricorn (4)

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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 60 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2008
Available in French: No

On the final leg of his epic journey around the Tropic of Capricorn, Simon Reeve follows the line across South America from Chile to Brazil.

He starts in the rugged Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the most spectacular places on Earth. Crossing the Andes, more than 4.5km above sea level, and into Argentina, Simon encounters the shy vicuña, a creature kept and sheared for its soft fibre. Simon then meets the remote Wichí forest people and John Palmer, an English anthropologist who has married into a community. Bulldozers are ripping up the forest around the Wichi at an alarming rate, and the Wichi chief tells Simon their entire way of life is under threat.

Neighbouring Paraguay is perhaps the most mysterious and isolated country on the continent. Paraguay is currently experiencing a 'soy boom', driven by European demand for pig feed and bio-fuel. It is a hugely controversial issue, as vast areas of forest are being cleared for the crop.

On the border with Brazil, Simon drives through the town of Ciudad del Este, one of the world's great duty-free zones - and also a hotbed of smuggling. The nearby Iguaçu waterfalls, where the extraordinary opening scenes of the movie The Mission were filmed, are one of the great natural wonders of the world.

Next stop is São Paulo. A vast metropolis of 20 million people, it is the biggest city in the developing world and home to extremes of wealth and poverty. In the neighbourhood that used to be the most violent place on the planet, Simon meets and makes pizzas with young locals who have escaped gangs and drugs.

After months of travel, the journey around the Tropic of Capricorn ends on a beach in the small town of Ubatuba, Brazil, on 22 December 2007 - the day of the Solstice.