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Old 07-20-2012, 02:25 PM   #211
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Glad you found those posts useful! I know you are already aware, SS, but for anyone who stumbles across this thread - the conditions can vary dramatically on BR319, even in dry season. We met some Germans who rode into Manaus just 3 days behind us and had deep mud for long stretches. I will do my best to get a link to some of their pics, too (they are posting on the HUBB).

And yes, we do plan to keep going south... but first, west...ish. I want to get back to a small community in northern Peru and now is going to be my best chance for a long while. In fact, we ended up bailing on the boat idea and now sit in Santa Elena de Uairen excited to see a bit more of Venezuela! I don´t expect we will make it all the way up to Caracas, but if we venture that far north, I will definitely give you a shout, SS. Our thought is to enjoy some hikes in la Gran Sabana, and then head west to the area around Mèrida. It`s all still taking shape, though...
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:12 PM   #212
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Originally Posted by csustewy View Post
Glad you found those posts useful! I know you are already aware, SS, but for anyone who stumbles across this thread - the conditions can vary dramatically on BR319, even in dry season. We met some Germans who rode into Manaus just 3 days behind us and had deep mud for long stretches. I will do my best to get a link to some of their pics, too (they are posting on the HUBB).

And yes, we do plan to keep going south... but first, west...ish. I want to get back to a small community in northern Peru and now is going to be my best chance for a long while. In fact, we ended up bailing on the boat idea and now sit in Santa Elena de Uairen excited to see a bit more of Venezuela! I don´t expect we will make it all the way up to Caracas, but if we venture that far north, I will definitely give you a shout, SS. Our thought is to enjoy some hikes in la Gran Sabana, and then head west to the area around Mèrida. It`s all still taking shape, though...
Great!
Let me know if you need any route advice or help with anything.

PS... Crashing or warping your head's bike is forbidden, as I'll be out of the country until August 11th
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:03 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Great!
Let me know if you need any route advice or help with anything.

PS... Crashing or warping your head's bike is forbidden, as I'll be out of the country until August 11th
Ha! You helped out John so much lately, very commendable. We'll do our best to get ourselves and our bike out of Venezuela in one piece (and without additional metal installed). Enjoy your travel.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:10 PM   #214
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False Starts

False Start #1 (the real one)

When the TA stopped running just 20 km outside of Humaitá, the first assumption was an open circuit in the ignition wiring, like we had seen before. It wasn't. Turns out the ignition fuse was blown, so in went a spare. Figuring the fault was either in the connector from the Run/Stop switch (as in Costa Rica) or the Run/Stop switch itself, Mike checked those for continuity and all seemed good. Turning the ignition to On immediately blew the fuse again. Do'h. A complete (yet not thorough) search did not turn up the little baggie of spare fuses. With 1 more spare at hand, and after more revision of the wiring, we tried once more. Do'h! It's a frustrating sight to see your last spare fuse (that you can get your hands on...there were more...just hiding...) burn up before your eyes. Time to find more fuses. And more importantly, find the ground in the ignition wiring.

Thankfully the next 2 vehicles that passed us coming from Manaus towards Humaitá were a couple of caravaning pick ups, who gave us and the TA a lift. They were great. They dropped us at the Honda moto dealership and wouldn't even let us buy them lunch for their efforts.


(2 pick ups drove straight through the night from Manaus, taking around 27 hours to cover the 600 kms. We slowed them down a bit)

The Honda shop techs were happy to lend space, tools, advice, and info - like where to find fuses. The place they mentioned didn't have any fuses, but the owner had Mike jump on the back of his little 150 and took him across town to get a few. Brazilians are fantastic.


(at Canopus Honda. The first nights we stayed in Humaitá we didn't even venture across town to the "other" main street where the shop was located. It opened up a whole new world for our additional few days.)

The electrical ground turned out to be within an aftermarket CDI controlling spark for the front cylinder. Whenever it was plugged in, the ignition fuse would fry immediately. After a complete check of the ignition wiring, cleaning of the Run/Stop switch contacts (couldn't hurt), and CDI swap, Mike took the bike for a test ride and all seemed good. As it was late afternoon by this point, Jill had already checked back into our trusty old pousada. Mike loaded the TA back up with all of our gear and started over to the pousada. On the way, she dropped to one cylinder, characteristic of a CDI failure. Turns out the extra juice brought on by the shorted aftermaket CDI toasted the good OEM one, too. Now we put in our last spare CDI (which are now only Honda OEM parts, given how the aftermarket units tend to fail with a little too much gusto) and waited until the morning for a longer test drive close to town.

False start #2 (test drive FAIL)

On our longer test drive, the TA still had an obvious miss just off idle. There were few items left in the ignition system to be inspected - the 4 ignition coils, spark plug leads and caps, and the pulse generator coils. All 4 caps showed spark with the good CDI units in, but they were easy enough to check. One ignition coil and lead showed intermittant failure between the primary and secondary coils. The pulse generator coils are assumed to be fine as they would be unlikely to fail (and are a hassle to check). So a replacement ignition coil was found. But as it was Saturday, that turned out to be a bit of a hassle.

A bigger hassle yet was that we didn't find a magnetic pick up tool. Why would we want one of those, you ask? Because in the process of pulling the ignition coil, Mike managed to drop the nut into the front spark plug hole. Dumb. We found a piece of magnet from a cheap flashlight, but it was too big. And the nut was out of reach of anybody's grip. But with just a little less height, we thought we could get it. So we pulled the valve cover. Turns out it was a good time for a coolant change, too, as the cover didn't want to make it past a solid coolant tube connected to the front cylinder.

Sunday's chores turned out to be finding fresh coolant and fishing a nut out of the front spark plug hole. This may be my favorite use of Gorilla tape yet. Jill was able to move the nut to a relatively accessible location then stick it to her Gorilla finger. Success!


(Jill's Gorilla (tape) finger showing off its catch)

Buttoned her back up and test drive again. But still a miss just off idle. Now to the fuel system...

False start #3 (why did we load the bike for this one?)

At this point, Mike was set on getting the bike running right before heading out on our drive through such a desolate stretch. So he pulled the carbs to check the pilot jets. One was completely clogged. Replacing them was not possible in Humaitá, so we did the best we could to soak them in carb cleaner. After plenty of soaking and spraying, the jet was improved, but still not perfect. As good as we can do, though. Talking to the shop where we bought the cleaner, they mentioned that the gas in that area is notoriously bad, causing similar symptoms (low RPM miss, especially noticeable when engine cold). Combine that with a clogged pilot jet and that would definitely explain the miss.



The good news is that the miss was lessed substantially by the carb cleaning. But sadly still present. At this point, we had done what we could. It was far past time to get on past Humaitá (a week was more than enough time to rest, as was our original plan).

For real this time...
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:59 PM   #215
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Rodavia Fantasma - BR-319

Variable.  That word alone describes the conditions we found on BR-319 connecting Humaitá (and Porto Velho) to Manaus.  It's a road that was once paved, back in the early seventies when the military government was promoting occupation of the Amazon rainforest, but now exists in various stages of deterioration.  And it truly covers the full span of detoriaration, from still pristine asphalt to barely passable bridges, mud, and potholes.


(leaving Humaitá, this sign still barely shows 640 km to Manaus)


(jungle has taken over some of the pavement)


(evidence of what kind of mud can be expected during rainy season, some tracks we passsed were 1 meter deep)


(dirt to pavement)


(there were some fazendas and homes for the first 100 km, with a small town at exactly 100 km outside of Humaitá)


(we met a group of 4 riders from Manaus, members of Almas Livres MC, who showed classic Brazilian hospitality by offering us a place to stay outside of Manaus)


(lots of views like this)


(and lots of bridges...120 of 'em, in fact.  Well, there were 2 more that we chose to skirt around so they don't count.  This one has some good arrows to point you over it in case there was any question)


(beautiful weather.  But hot.  Really hot.)






(we camped in the Embratel repeater tower enclosures, which occur every 35-40 kms.  Some were locked, most had the fence torn open beside the gate, but this first gate was unlocked so we even had covered parking.  Every one we talked to told us to camp on the towers to avoid "once" attacks.  It is some kind of jungle cat, but we have no idea what exactly that translates to.  'Jungle cat' is close enough.  Aside from that reason, the road itself is about the only clear spot to pitch a tent other than these enclosures)

Day 2

The second day was a greater challenge than the first.  The road conditions got worse, but we were still lucky enough to be on this stretch after something like 20 days without rain.  Even so, there were some muddy sections.


(there was always some path through.  Whether Mike chose correctly or not was less certain)


(another bridge, still in decent shape, as long as you don't want to put a foot down where there's a hole...)


(nice pavement...here?!?!?)


(...it didn't last long)


(Jill was nice to get off and scout many of these sections, which helped Mike pick the best line, and also helped keep the bike a little bit lighter.  But we still had a 400+ pound machine plus luggage, 23 extra liters of fuel, 8 liters of water, and a few days worth of food.  It was a good test of Mike's novice dual sporting abilities.  Especially since we really didn't want to dump any of that extra fuel.)








(this stretch was an eroded upslope with a big step at the top, so the TA got fully unloaded to give Mike all the advantages he could get.  It helped.)


(mud holes)


(a nice bridge over a flowing river.  A good stop for some more water.  Surprisingly, a lot of the other creeks we crossed did not look very tasty, if they even looked deep enough to dip a jug into)


(the butterflies liked this spot, too.  And the bees.  There were a ton of bees)


(there's a tree in the road)












(this bridge was one of the scarier ones.  A big truck had just passed us going south before we got to it, so it had to have made it across ok.  Especially since it didn't look like the wood had slid on the roadbed recently, i.e., I don't think that truck was what caused this bridge to dip like this.  So... we went for it...)


(...but Jill was wise enough to walk it)


(our second night in an Embratel tower enclosure.  We arrived about 4, which gave us plenty of time to set up and cook before it got dark.  Once it got dark, we were already in the tent when a couple of motos and a truck pulled up to the gate.  Turns out they had the key.  They worked there.  While it was a little awkward meeting them from inside their locked fence, they seemed fine with us camping there.  The 5 workers went inside for about 30 min, then took off again, to return at about 4 in the morning for another half hour.  Working through the night in the middle of the jungle is one thing, it's a whole other thing driving this road as fast as they do in the pitch black.  That puts it all in perspective for me - while this was a challenge for my riding, this is a normal, everyday occurence for some)

Day 3

While the second day was much more challenging than the first, Day 3 still provided some obstacles to contend with.  However, it didn't feel quite as remote as the middle stretch (basically our Day 2), as you start seeing more houses, fazendas and other signs of life as you get closer to Careiro.


(small segments still had amazingly good asphalt.  Completely unexpected, but appreciated breaks)


(variability continues...)


(...and continues...)


(this bridge is customizable - you get to construct it to your liking to cross it.  Here one of the few vehicles we encountered is a bus from Humaitá)


(this option seemed easier)


(Fresh transalp tracks.  Even some of the dry looking spots hid that slippery mud underneath)


(another unexpected stretch of asphalt.  This time as wide as a runway)


(it was nice to have a lunch of rice and salchicha (=hot dog) prepared once we hit a villa and ferry at 428 km from Humaitá)


(the ferry used a fixed rope guide to stay on track)


(the road was in decent shape for awhile)


(Romina and Emerson are riding south from Guyana to Patagonia, Romina's home.  They were super nice and so very casual about the trip.  We hope they have enough food and water.  EDIT:  we heard later that they got a lift from the Embratel workers for some 100 km, which should have helped out)


(ever changing)


(and now to fast packed gravel)


(still lots of water even without much rain)




(mostly completed bridge at km 509)


(ferry crossing instead)


(On the way into Careiro, there are lots of houses with barely any space above the water level.  And this is without much rain in the past few weeks.)


(about 100 km after Careiro is the last ferry into Manaus)


(pulling into Manaus)

We were both glad that we took this road, and very glad that we didn't have any trouble to contend with (which would have changed the ride into an entirely different adventure), we were glad to have arrived in Manaus.



Summary

Km 0 - Humaitá
Km 100 - small town with food, pousada, gas for sale (privately)
km 428 - pousada and restaurant at ferry crossing (6 Rs)
Km 495 - gas for sale (privately)
Km 509 - ferry (6 Rs) right next to big bridge
Km 573 - gas, lodging, food all available in Careiro
Km ~650 - gas
Km 674 - 45 min ferry (10 Rs) to Manaus
Km 684 - set personal Transalp record for distance on one fill

More history - and future - of BR-319

http://www.oecoamazonia.com/en/news/...mo-a-realidade
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8314407.stm
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:07 PM   #216
SS in Vzla.
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Very nice update guys.
Brings back great memories of the BR319. Although it was a lot wetter when I went through it in December 2005.
How evident is the repair work ? Those articles you linked on your post where from 2009 and 2010. I know of a friend who has traveled the BR319 a couple of times and was there in 2010 and he said that indeed there was some work being done, but at the pace they are going it looks like the whole road won't be ready for at least 10 more years.... From the look of your photos it still looks like a long way for a finished road (the bridges do look better, though)
Have fun in Venezuela.
Buen viaje
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:07 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Very nice update guys.
Brings back great memories of the BR319. Although it was a lot wetter when I went through it in December 2005.
How evident is the repair work ? Those articles you linked on your post where from 2009 and 2010. I know of a friend who has traveled the BR319 a couple of times and was there in 2010 and he said that indeed there was some work being done, but at the pace they are going it looks like the whole road won't be ready for at least 10 more years.... From the look of your photos it still looks like a long way for a finished road (the bridges do look better, though)
Have fun in Venezuela.
Buen viaje
Glad you appreciated the update. We were quite lucky to find the road in such dry conditions. I can only imagine how challenging it could be in the rainy season.

As you noticed, the bridges are all in good shape, which is probably the most noticeable repair work done throughout this stretch. However, there was a lot of work being done closest to Humaita and Careiro, at either end of the road. They have obviously been grading and were making progress when we passed by. Now when those 2 projects might meet in the middle...that's a good question. We heard rumors that they are going to work hard on improving the road in preparation for the World Cup in 2014. Since Manaus will host some matches, this could improve access. But whether that rumor is true, or even possible, is unknown.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:27 AM   #218
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Manaus

Once we got into Manaus, we found a hostel a couple blocks away from the Opera House, Natureba, that was as cheap as we were going to find in the city at 57 R a night.  It wasn't necessarily our favorite place, but it was a good location.  In Manaus we were trying to book a boat to Peru and replace the chain/sprockets on the bike.  We arrived on a Friday afternoon and the town kind of shuts down on the weekend, preventing any errand running, so we explored the city for a couple of days.

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(the plaza in front of the Opera House was very nice)














(every Sunday there is a street fair with food, clothes, and lots of other random stuff)




(we went to the port to get information about boats leaving for Peru.  But, it was Sunday, so we didn't find out much.)

The next day we met with a tourist agent to get prices.  We were quoted 400 R each for a hammock and 1200 R for the motorcycle.  We thought those prices were ridiculous (especially given that we knew hammock space was available at 180 Rs).  Then we started thinking about what a hassle (and how expensive) it will be to transport the bike on not only this leg of the boat, but on the additional 2 boats we would have to take to get to a road in Peru (well...actually...3 additional boats, counting the required canoe from Tabatinga to Santa Rosa).  We figured we could find a better price somewhere in Manaus, but decided against looking all over town and talking to all the boat captains we could find for something better.  Instead we decided to change our plans and drive north, go back through Venezuela, then over to Colombia to head south.  That way we will get to see Colombia, which we really wanted to do anyway, and we will not be dependent on a boat for our transportation.

Since we would be driving more now, we really wanted to get the final drive replaced in Manaus.  We figured it was a big enough city to have the parts we needed.  First we got the bike washed, which it badly needed.  The owner of the carwash had a friend who owned a motorcycle shop, who met us on his Shadow and took us to a mechanic who dealt with big bikes.  He didn't think we needed a new chain at all, even though we had stretched the chain past its adjustment limit and there were some kinks that didn't like to pivot no matter how much grease they got (Brazilians seem to have the attitude of don't fix it if it is still running, something we don't have the liberty to do as we travel through a lot of areas that do not have any access to parts, we try to take advantage where we can).  He did call a few shops for us and sent us across town to get them.  Our new friend, Beto, who had picked us up at the car wash, came with us to show us where to go.  After several stops, we finally found a shop that claimed to have the sprockets and chain we needed.

While the shop and parts store seemed to have a good selection, even confirming the appropriate parts were in stock over the phone, it was surprisingly difficult for the young parts guys to find a chain and sprockets that would work.  The shop let me use their tools and even helped get the 2 sprockets pulled to take into the parts store for comparison.  After rejecting countless attempts that the kids brought to the counter, we finally found a set that could work.  However, instead of 15 teeth up front and 47 at the wheel, the closest options were 16T and 48T sprockets.  Not only that, but some custom machining was requied to get them to fit (the threads of the thru bolts on the rear sprocket caught, so the holes were opened up a touch.  The front was a real treat as it took 2 custom shims to space the sprocket the correct distance out from the transmission cover, matching the position of OEM part).  After a couple of hours of this finnagling, the biggest hassle was then finding a 525 chain of appropriate length.  Those wonderful parts guys had set us up with a 530 chain with only 100 links, not quite a 525 with 118 links.  After them doing more of whatever they were doing in the parts aisles, they could not turn up a chain.  So they had one delivered, Domino's style.  But sadly, not within the half hour.  Eventually we got out of there with a new chain and sprockets, all for the price of parts alone (270 Rs).  We owe Beto big time for all his help in tracking down those parts, leading us around Manaus, and convincing those parts guys to keep looking.



The next day Mike went back out to get an oil filter for an oil change (not wanting to deal with the parts guys at the previous day's shop any more than necessay).  This one should be easy, right?  For the most part it was.  For the price of the oil filter and 4 new plugs (40 Rs) the oil change was done for free in the shop (imagine that in the states) which is much easier than coming up with a catch container and a way to dispose of the oil.  The obstacle today was a random checkpoint set up in downtown Manaus.  Soldiers were pointing cars and motos over to the side.  As I rolled past, there was another bike next to me, so when the soldiers pointed me over, I just assumed they meant the other guy and kept rolling.  That plan (comically?) backfired since we were in downtown traffic and the next light left me idling about 2.5 car lengths in front of the soldiers.  One came walking up and told me to go to the side.  He asked for documents.  I had none.  I told him I just left the hostel to get an oil filter and that was all.  After a couple of back and forths, he told me that I'd be able to find a filter up ahead no problem and sent me on my way.  It may have worked out in my favor that I wasn't stopped in the big group of soldiers.  Whatever did it, it worked out the best way possible.

On Sunday when we went back to our hostel after walking around town, we found another motorcycle traveler trying to get into our hostel.  The hostel owner was nowhere to be found, so Mike took Werner looking for another place to stay in the area while Jill met up with his wife, Claudia.  They were on two BMW GS bikes (from the same year as our trusty TA) and had also just rode the BR-319, although they got rained on a lot more than we did.  They are originally from Germany, and rode Africa and Australia about 5 years ago and are on the road again after living in Australia since then.  Their ride report is on the HUBB.  While looking for another hostel, the guys ran into two other riders, Helmut from Germany on a KTM 990 and Guillome from Canada on a KLR.  Their blogs are here for Helmut and here for Guillome.  The hostel hunt was unsuccessful, so Werner and Claudia ended up camping at our hostel for the night.  That evening we all met up for some beers and meat.


(Jill, Helmut, Werner, Claudia, Guillome, and Mike)

After spending 5 days in Manaus, we were ready to hit the road.  We were in very rural areas for most of our time in Brazil and we felt a little out of place in such a large and modern city.

The 1000 kms to the Venezuelan border were rather uneventful and boring, except for the fact that it was rainy and cold the entire second day that we traveled.  We did drive through an indigenous area where stops and photography are not permitted (photo not included).


(outside our pousada/restaurant/moto repair shop/taxi in Novo Paraiso)


(we shared breakfast with their cat, who enjoys bread and butter best)


(we also crossed back over into the Northern Hemisphere)


(this was our view for the majority of our second day)
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:59 AM   #219
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Very nice write up on 319 guys

That stretch of road from Manaus to Boa Vista was some of the wettest riding I'd done since Colombia, the rains are amazing

I was riding in the evening and just past the Equator and got dumped on so bad in the evening hours that I had to find cover and ended up sleeping in an old shithouse to get out of the heavy rains and I was more than thankful for my cover




Have fun in Venezuela and I would suggest crossing at Arauca, much nicer simple crossing than Cucuta and really laid back plus it dumps you into Colombia nearer the excellent high country area of El Cocuy National Park which shouldn't be missed imho.

Keep up the good work
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:24 PM   #220
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Very nice write up on 319 guys

I was riding in the evening and just past the Equator and got dumped on so bad in the evening hours that I had to find cover and ended up sleeping in an old shithouse to get out of the heavy rains and I was more than thankful for my cover


Have fun in Venezuela and I would suggest crossing at Arauca, much nicer simple crossing than Cucuta and really laid back plus it dumps you into Colombia nearer the excellent high country area of El Cocuy National Park which shouldn't be missed imho.
Thanks for the accolades! Also, thanks for the tip on the border crossing, but given your style of lodging selection, I find the need to question your travel advice, my friend. (Hey, at least it didn't dump on you in that shithouse!)

We considered Arauca, but decided to avoid that area right now. In the past few days there has been a lot of paramilitary activity in the area (6 FARC members arrested, ELN kidnapped 2 and killed 1 oil worker, attack on the police post in El Caracol) combined with clashes in the towns of Fortul and Tame, along with burning vehicles closing the road between those 2 towns. That's a little too much heat for me.

Not looking forward to waiting in line at Cucuta, but we still hope to see some of Colombia's high country...
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:36 AM   #221
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I support your decision on Arauca. Saddly, that area has been getting hotter and hotter again lately. Last December I crossed at that border with my family, on Easter Week, I was advised not to take that route by some friends in Colombia who have good connections with the Police Anti-Terrorist Group (although if you call and ask the actual police, they'll tell you the road is under control).... Most surely, nothing will happen, but IMO it is not worth the risk (specially in my case with the wife and kids with me). John is fear-less and has an actual genetic adversion against traveling the same road twice , so he decided to take the road and as predicted, had no troubles... But we don't want to have a sequel of Two Wheels Through Terror, so it is best to stay out of the areas that have high narco-terrorist group precence at the moment (for those reading from abroad, something like 85% of Colombian roads are totally safe to travel BTW)

One good thing is that they moved the the DIAN Aduana in Cucuta right where immigration (DAS) is, on the white building at the bridge, so you don't have to go in the city anymore and I hope that they arranged a faster process on the new location.

Let me know if you need waypoints for the SAIME office inside San Antonio del Tachira (which is not right at the border and WILL save you a lot time).

If you want to check out a VERY scenic area in Colombia, from Cucuta take the road to Pamplona and then instead of going down the normal Bucaramanga - San Gil Road, take the following road towards the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy: Pamplonita - Malaga - Capitanejo - Guican - Cocuy - Soata - Susacon.
Once in Guican, take the (easy) dirt road between towards El Cocuy (it will take you about 1 hour) becasue there is a paved road that will take you about 15 mins, but the dirt road goes inside the Sierra Nevada N.P and gets you very close to the glaciers (if you want to get closer, once you get to a posada called Cabañas Kanwara, take a rdead-end road that goes behind the lodge... the views are worth the detour) You can camp safely next to the posadas on the Guican - El Cocuy road, but be advised the area is above 4.000 meters above sea level.
The whole area has great scenery (even from Pamplonita to Malaga and from Capitanejo to Guican which are not within the N.P)...
As long as it's not raining that is...

Suerte y buen viaje.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:35 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
I support your decision on Arauca. Saddly, that area has been getting hotter and hotter again lately. Last December I crossed at that border with my family, on Easter Week, I was advised not to take that route by some friends in Colombia who have good connections with the Police Anti-Terrorist Group (although if you call and ask the actual police, they'll tell you the road is under control).... (for those reading from abroad, something like 85% of Colombian roads are totally safe to travel BTW)

Let me know if you need waypoints for the SAIME office inside San Antonio del Tachira (which is not right at the border and WILL save you a lot time).
...
The whole area has great scenery (even from Pamplonita to Malaga and from Capitanejo to Guican which are not within the N.P)...
As long as it's not raining that is...

Suerte y buen viaje.
Hey SS - your comments seem to match up with my thoughts exactly. Chances are slim that anything would ever happen, but I just don't feel like pushing it. And John is most definitely a madman with an aversion to taking the same road twice, even willing to sidetrack onto horsepaths to avoid it (I am still blown away by that ride he took in VZ, on a fully loaded bike nonetheless...). But like you said, the vast majority of Colombia should be as safe as anywhere else. I am very much looking forward to it! Thanks for that route idea. We are excited to check that area out.

If you can, will you forward me those waypoints for the SAIME office in San Antonio del Tachira? That will help a lot. Also, is there a location to purchase just 1 month of SOAT insurance at this crossing, or is there mostly 1 year minimums?

Muchas gracias por todo!
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:07 AM   #223
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Sometimes I'm full of bad ideas what can I say, I still believe the probability of getting jacked traveling on a motorbike as a tourist is very slim, you have to have very bad luck. Ignorance is bliss

+1 on El Cocuy, if the weather cooperates it is amazing, if it doesn't it is damn cold You might have to spend a few days waiting for the cloud cover to lift, I waited two and got nothing but you can hike ~20Km from Hacineda Esperanza which is a great place to base out of if you want to hike.
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:39 AM   #224
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Sometimes I'm full of bad ideas what can I say, I still believe the probability of getting jacked traveling on a motorbike as a tourist is very slim, you have to have very bad luck. Ignorance is bliss

+1 on El Cocuy, if the weather cooperates it is amazing, if it doesn't it is damn cold You might have to spend a few days waiting for the cloud cover to lift, I waited two and got nothing but you can hike ~20Km from Hacineda Esperanza which is a great place to base out of if you want to hike.
Ha! But you've gotta admit - sometimes the bad ideas are the most fun. And yeah, the chances of anything like that happening are most definitely extremely slim.

Thanks for the idea on the Hacienda. That sounds like a good place to check out. We are not going to be in the high country at the best time of the year for the weather to cooperate, but we will give it a shot and hope for the best. Besides, it's a lot easier to pack our saddlebags when we are wearing every item of clothing.
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Old 08-01-2012, 07:27 AM   #225
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Originally Posted by csustewy View Post

If you can, will you forward me those waypoints for the SAIME office in San Antonio del Tachira? That will help a lot. Also, is there a location to purchase just 1 month of SOAT insurance at this crossing, or is there mostly 1 year minimums?

Muchas gracias por todo!
- SAIME (Venezuelan Immigration at San Antonio del Tachira) N 07 48'50.8" W 072 26'39.1"

- DIAN (Colombian Customs in Cucuta) N 07 55'05.7" W 072 30'6.5"
This is the main DIAN building where the bike's papers are (used to be?) processed. This waypoint, just in case the Colombian DIAN did not open a new office right at the bridge next to where the DAS is (passport control) for TVIP the way I was told by a couple of friends who crossed about 1 month ago.

Regarding SOAT Insurance, you can buy it right there where you get the TVIP (there is an office right next to the old place with the gps coordinates above, and if they moved the DIAN office to the bridge there will surely be one there also)... The minimum they'll sell you is for three months, still better than a full year.


I have purchased insurance for less than three months (actually for the duration of my intended visit) only at the Arauca border, but I've asked around Cucuta a couple of times and no company has offered less than 3 months... Let me know if you find someone.


The guy that will sell you the SOAT right next to DIAN is called Vladimir Suarez "Yiyo" Cel. 315-623-9707.

Just FYI, he can also help you if you have trouble with your paperwork or something like that (obviously, for a no-so-low fee)

Hope this helps.

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