Bolivia

Bolivia is an incredible country. The landscapes are varied, changing from a cowboy westerns to salt flats to mountains to jungle. It´s so easy to escape into the wilderness. Only half the roads paved, but thats perfect for a moto adventure!

Combined with a friendly people soaked in culture and a conversion rate to make you feel rich. This country feels truely unique and is up there as one of my favourites.

First stop is Tupiza, a dust town but good for excursions. Such as the Cannon de Inca, a tranquil horse ride away… Or a much better off roading session! Following horse tracks and dung I cut through the serene countryside, bouncing across rocks while doing my best to avoid cacti.

Tupiza –> Uyuni

Beautiful 7 hour dirt road/off roading trek across the countyside. After 5 hours my welded rack gave in and cracked in three places. This ended up dragging my spare petrol tank and leaking its almost needed contents. Luckily my bike made the 210km, had it been another 40km I would have been screwed.. in the middle of no where, dark and cold!

Uyuni

Had an awesome time riding across the largest salt flats in the world. Rode 100km west, surrounded by sheer white emptiness. Turn round and headed east, back to civilizations and on to the el cementerio de trenes.

Potosi

First hotel tries to charge my 300 Bolivianos, get next one for 35 Bolivianos.. a mear £3.5. So the reason I´m here is the same as everyone else, the mines!

First stop is the shop to buy gifts for the miners. Get to choose between drinks, coca leafs, 98% alcohol or Dynamite! For only 3 pounds, god knows why I didn´t buy any.. redneck in me would love to play with explosives.

Tour is excellent, really fascinating but a sobering experience. The conditions are terrible, akin to medieval times. Back breaking work, carrying rumble by hand through semi flooded shafts without electricity. Guide tells us the average life expectancy is 50, with children as young as 14 working the mines. Didn´t see any children but a lot of the miners had nasty coughs.

Ride North

Ride to Surce with a friend, my favorite city in Bolivia. On the way we stop to chat with farmers, who teach us how to separate the corn from the sheath by fling it up into the air with a pitch fork.

From Surce I head north to CoChaBamBa (gotta love the names here), 2 day ride across dirt roads without a road sign in sight. I end up taking a wrong turn and riding along this tiny farmer’s road across the hills. Beautiful. Talk with lots of the locals who are surprised to see me. Fantastic experience.

The food in Bolivia is a little disappointing; their national dish seems to be cold fried chicken and chips. Everything has to be served with chips.. even rice. Best eating is on the markets, hearty soups and stews. Damn tasty!

South of CochaBamba is national park famous for dinosaur fossils and footprints. Chat to a local who offers me some freshly stolen honey. Go caving, surprised at how small the gaps are we have to squeeze though.

Head West

La Paz isn’t my favorite place, super touristy and the locals like to overcharge tourists. Death road was fun on the moto but not nearly as death defying as I expected. Would be a lot more scared if I did it in a car, the passing points are way too narrow! But on a bike, loads of room.


Ride to Copacabana, beautiful trip but the destination is a little overrated. Often the way, that it is the ride it´s self, not the destination that was the best part of the trip.


Getting out of Bolivia into Peru was an absolute nightmare with corrupt officials. A story best told in person.

Chile

Santiago

I spent a lot of time here in the Capital. After 8 months on the road it was nice to settle down. Before long I had bought a motorbike, learnt my way round the city and made some good friends.

Moto mates

The bike I bought had a few issues and needed some work to to get it ready for my trip. The first garage tried to charge me £300 for some of the work.

But in typical good travelling vibes; it didn’t take long for this problem to solve it’s self. Less than an hour later I see a modified version of my bike riding down the street, the owner clocks me checking out his ride and stops for a chat. My new friend Luis Lynch loves motorbikes and is more than happy to help out. So the next morning I pop round with my bike and meet his mechanic friend who works on my bike for the next few weeks. Costing around £100.

First Trip

I head out with a friend to the mountains village of Farellones a few hours east of the City. But it doesn’t go oh so well. On the outskirts of Santiago’s surrounding suburbs we break down. I change the fuse and it blows again. Have to take a bus back. The next day my new friend Luis tows me using his motorbike. 2 bikes and 1.5 meters of rope. Certainly not the cleverest of ideas, as one wrong turn and we´re pull each other off our bikes. It’s a 20km ride back to the city, and a hair raising experience. Luis is far too confident and even filters through traffic with me in tow! My bikes handle bars are a lot wider and I knock a wing-mirror clean off some tourists rental car. Opps!

Bike’s electrical problems are fixed and I head out back out a few days later.

Valpo

With the bike behaving it self I set off to explore the centre of Chile. First stops the coast. Valparaiso has cultural city status.. however on first impressions it’s hard to tell. Looks like a dump, full of crazy drunk hobos with crime statistics to match. Next day I take a tour and discover the charms hidden beneath the grimey chaos.

On the plane over from New Zealand to Chile I meet a local student, end up staying with Andres and his family for 3 nights. His family treat me like an old friend, and Andres introduces me to the local drink, Piscola. Great experience.

Pichileumu

Cute little surf town with crazy 15 meter waves.. though I was there to ride dirt tracks across the countryside. That and eat lots of tasty seafood! Had an epic 5 hours session riding east of Pichilemu, sliding around on gravel and dirt. Riding through forests. I stumbled upon an old 1930’s water mill still being used to by an elderly couple to grind flour.

Santa Cruz Wine

A famous wine region, infamously started by a former arms dealer. Wanted on international arrest warrant for selling weapons to Saddam Hussain, he decided to stay and invest in the wine industry. Met an interesting artist named Juan, who has incredibly cycled through 120 countries.

Fire on board

Driving back to Santiago, notice a strange smell. Pull over, to see the luggage bag closest the exhaust has melted and is smouldering. Thankfully realised this might of happened so deliberately packed unimportant stuff… sorry flip flops! Time to get a proper rack made. Shop quotes me £150. See my Chilean friend Luis who knows a welder and get it made for £20. Happy days.

Adios

Chile.. is definitely a place where the people make it special. They are extremely friendly towards tourists, and seemingly go out of their way to help. Always taking time to communicate with my Span-glish. I’m regularly invited for dinner at peoples homes. Travelling through Chile has been a lot of fun, tempted to come back and find a job.

South America

March 2013
From my trip so far. I’ve realised that I get that sense of “travelling” most when I’m riding a motorbike. The freedom of having your own ride, allows you to go wherever, whenever.

In contrast to the tourist bus that’s only ever going somewhere touristy. So with that in mind, it’s time to find a bike!

Motorbike

Euromot 200 GXT, never heard of it before?.. no me neither! Motorbikes are super expensive here. However the engines a carbon copy of the solid Suzuki DR200, lots of good reviews and they sell them in most countries so should be able to find parts. It’s also ideal for the roads or lack of in Bolivia!

Euromot 200 GXT

So I took the plunge and bought Chinese.

with luggage

With improvised luggage rack.

Route

Rough plan of my route for the next 3 months, will cover over 5,000km. My biggest motorbike trip yet!

map

Plan to ride over the Andes and head into Mendoza, Argentina. Famous for its wines. Then explore the north and cross over into Bolivia. Ride through the Salt flats and across Bolivia for La Paz and “Death road”. Continuing on to Peru for Machu Picchu and some more exploring then head back to the north of Chile to sell the bike and head home.

Plans deliberate vague so I’m flexibly to change my plans on a whim.

Documentation

Buying a bike here is fairly complication and the bureaucracy’s a bitch. So before I’m allowed to leave Chile with one of their bike’s I have to wait 3 weeks for all the paperwork to arrive in my name. But it’s a good excuse to explore Chile!

Stay tuned…