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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by daveburton, Feb 2, 2013.
Shipping from Houston to Cartagena.
Are you about to start the trip?
Yes, well I'm now into day 14 and in Chile heading for Santiago and then across to Argentina with destination Montevideo for this leg.
Is there a ride report coming?
I have something to post and but need to work out how to post photos.
Am I breaking some of the rules starting the thread ??, if so unintentional.
Hey Dave, maybe now you are writing in the wrong area, Ride reports is for a story to be told (of a ride) even if you have not started yet.
Somewhere here is the explanation on the "how to post a pic?" much better is to find an external source (flicker, photobucker, facebook or the like) put all your pics there and then copy and paste the IMAGE LOCATION.
maybe you will get move to trip planning if you still have questions or need advise.
Your trip I would like to read!
South America Trip Log
Cartagena to Medellin
Gaston arranged shipping from Houston, worked well. Picked up the bike and got it released over 2 days. Headed south to Medellin. Great weather and flat for about half of the ride then climbed through the mountains. This would have been a stupid thing to do in the mid 90s but now very safe and is an example of how effective the Colombian government have been in terms of security. Many people travel in ignorant bliss and then security is judged on that single experience. This is not a good idea, so always do your own homework. Colombia is great but still has a serious security risk in some places.
Medellin to Cali
Left early and rode over the central cordillera through the coffee region and dropped in the valle de cauca. Mountains best part of the ride but valle has exceptional road to Cali. Cali late Friday is solid with traffic and can be HOT.
Day 3 ( Returned to Colombia having stored the bike for 2 weeks)
Cali to Ipiales
Arrived in Cali by air and picked up the bike after having a break to deal with business and personal commitments. Left early with an escort out of the town by some of our security friends. Pulled in for fuel and put a bit of air in the tyres. Headed initially for Pasto in the rain and rode through the rain all day. After Popayan the mountains started and we climbed out of Valle de Cauca into Cauca. The mist was down but the ride was great through incredible terrain but with views limited due to the weather. Made it to Pasto but decided to continue on to Ipiales. Arrived around 1915hrs and found a hotel with excellent private parking.
Ipiales to Quito
Went to look at the church but couldnt find a way to ride down. We walked carrying our gear in a hot climate at 2800m. Very tiring going down and worse returning. The church is impressive in the way it is built and from the outside but a little unimpressive from the inside. We then continues to the border and spent 3hrs getting copies and stamps of everything. Bottom line, get yourself out with the stamps then get yourself in on the otherside. Then the bike, make sure you have the temp import paperwork for the previous country and get the new one before you leave or youll have trouble at the next crossing. Problem is you could leave without this essential documentation so beware.
We continued into Ecuador and rode on fantastic roads to Quito.
Quito to Ona
Great Hotel in Quito. Left just before 0700hrs into heavy traffic. The pollution is horrible, made my eyes water. Took us about 1.1/2hrs to get clear of Quito but then the roads were fantastic. Great condition and wide. Rode an uneventful ride to Ona. We were riding through the rain for much of the day and were aiming for a village further along than Ona however we found an excellent place to stay and stopped before dark.
Ona to piura
Fantastic day. Left a great little hotel, we were the first guests in the new building. The ride started at 2500m in mist and some rain. We continued along exceptional roads made of concrete with numerous twists and turns but nothing compared to what was coming in Peru. Arrived at the border after 175 miles and spent 2hrs getting through the border. All went well and the process worked but slowly. Had to buy a SOAT, 35USD for a month. Worth mentioning the officials on both sides, pedantic over the rules but very helpful and polite. Continued on now aware of the risks with police. We saw many animals wandering across the roads, pigs, goats, sheep, cows. We had also arrived in the land of the dead Police, concrete bumps across the roads. Not controlled in any away and sometimes very aggressive. We were pulled by Police as a check but this was routine and a good idea as the docs were checked to ensure we had everything. They were professional, helpful and polite.
Piura to Paramanga
After a stay in an excellent Hotel we pulled the bike from the private parking and set off. The town was very busy and hid the fact that it is actually on the edge of a desert. As we are on a GSA and had only covered 100 miles since a refuel I continued out of town, almost a mistake. We crossed the dessert and eventually had about 50 miles of fuel left when we were able to refuel. I was always OK with the distance and was sure we could cover it but the risk management on that occasion was poor. Lesson learned.
Paramanga to Nazca
Got an early start to a day we knew would be hot and tiring getting through Lima. We had been warned about the Police and the corruption and sure enough we got pulled over for crossing double yellow lines, fair cop. Yes and no as there are strategic places they wait knowing you will be crossing the lines as they are simply not sensible and ALL of the locals cross them. They told us we could settle the issue by paying for their fuel which started out at 200USD and ended up at 80USD that we paid to be able to get on with the distance we needed to cover. Bottom line is that I did break the law so cant say too much.
Continued to Lima and fought our way through endless traffic with very few signs but stopped at a shopping supermarket and gas station on the outskirts that was very nice and clean. Bought a bit to eat and cooled down then moved on. When we refuelled at a Repsol station (oases in Peru) with wifi etc we met a Brazillian guy that was cycling through SA and was 5years and 11 months on the road. His bike was old and welded in many places. Amazing character.
Nazca to Chalhuanca
Went on a flight over the Nazca lines and had a bit of a history lesson. Many theories, I like the religious one as it is aligned with many seemingly pointless artifacts around the world. Could have been jim and Erik driving the 4x4 after too much weed.
Chalhuanca to Cusco
Increadible ride but tough. Many curves (000s literally) Climbed from 1800m to max 4600m 3 times. Stopped at a very strange little place for coca tea, needed to handle the altitude. Seems to work. Arrived earlier than usual in the afternoon to find a very crowded and hot city with no signs as is the norm in Peru. Hotels in the centre were simply not worth the money at 350USD/night. We found excellent hotel for 150USD without looking far, still expensive.
Day 11 Cusco
Day off in Cusco. Made time to allow contingency for Lina to get a flight to Houston. Plan is for me to continue further south and possibly to Montevideo.
Day 12 Cusco
Day off catching up with family and business issues. Lina flew to Houston on business.
Checked out the bike, took the pannier boxes and top case off to see if there were any cracks etc. All good. Repacked to balance weight. Checked oil, the bike is using very little oil now. After first 500 miles following first service it needed ½ litre, excessive. Now though nothing more added in 3000miles.
Cusco to Puno (and then Moquagua)
Left early, on the road by 0630hrs. 240 miles to Puno over the Altiplano. Climbed from 3800m, Cusco to a max of 4400m on the way to Puno. Road exceptional but with almost no services apart from 2 or 3 gas stations but no shops etc attached.
Puno is as I remembered it, well used. People friendly and helpful with directions and info on road quality to Moquagua. Had a look at lake Titicaca then filled up with fuel, no gas for the next 150 miles.
The ride climbed to 4000m and undulated up to 4600m from there for 90% of the ride. Started out dry for probably about an hour, the next 3hrs it rained hard and was cold especially so at that altitude. Great road though and I think in good weather it might be spectacular. I couldnt see much due to fog (clouds !!) and heavy rain.
I was thinking of heading for Tacna, very close to Chile ready for an early border crossing but the weather slowed progress so I am in the Hotel Colonial in Moquagua. Interesting is the best description, grand building but looks like a dodgy area, no food available and nothing that can be bought so looks like Ill be on a diet tonight. Has safe parking, wifi, hot water so everything I need.
Moquagua to Chile border crossing and onto Iquique. 100 + 180 miles.
The Hotel in Moquagua turned out to be very comfortable if a bit basic. 3 other Peruvian bikes were there by the morning but I left before they had surfaced. Based on the condition and stickers etc they were serious travellers.
Headed for the Tacna and then the border. Great ride early on, cool temp and smooth sweeping curves through the agricultural landscape transitioning into rocky and then flat sand/gravel where the road became straight and long. Very good asphalt as has been the case throughout most of Peru on the roads we have travelled. The border crossing was a pleasant surprise, very helpful officials both on the Peruvian and the Chilean sides. Took 1hr for the lot. Rode to Arica to change money etc, first issue the card was blocked so still in the process of getting it unblocked.
As I was riding along the sea front I had to ride below some palms, blipped the throttle to change down and got attacked from the air. Blanket bombed with serious quantities of seagull s**t, semi digested fish goo. Felt like my helmet was being slapped !!
I rode the section from Arica almost to Iquique with Nick and the chaps but from South to North. I didnt expect to be riding that road again. It was a great experience with the group and I stopped again at the same small road side cafe that we stopped at for a short break with Vince and Ian in 2011.
After passing through the vast valleys of the desert onto the plains the lack of cover exposed the road to the westerly winds that the guys who were on the Pan Am ride in 2011 will be able to relate to. Spent a couple of hours riding straight with the bike over at what felt like 40 deg, reality is it was probably about 15 to 20 but needs concentration. Had one minor incident with a bit of a tank slapper as I passed a truck which helped me re-focus !!
Holiday Inn Express tonight so I could use my credit card to pay since Im not too flush with cash at the moment due to the cash card. Planning to ride the coast road to Antofagasta tomorrow, Id like to do a bit more distance but there are no towns where I need them for accommodation.
Iquique to Antofagasta 260 miles coast road highway 1.
In case I forget, if anyone is thinking of heading through Chile its well worth taking the coast road (R1) as apposed to the R5. Filled up and headed off, not sure how to describe the ride as it was spectacular in terms of a rugged coastal road in fantastic condition with very few cars and great weather. Personally I really enjoyed it although its much the same for 260 miles, only saw 1 gas station but I have a GSA so no probs. There is very little vegetation, the terrain is desert with mountains to the east and sea to the west. The GPS was lost most of the time but anyway, unnecessary as there is only one road. Some of the rock formations are awesome with outcrops at sea that are covered in salt build up due to the spray combined with the intense heat from the sun. Ive never seen that before. I stopped about 100 miles into the ride and plugged into my music which added to the experience. There are many camp sites and very rudimentary wood/tin housing clusters. Its so remote I cant imagine what life must be like especially for young people living in those areas.
Arrived in Antofagasta and looked for Hotels, found an Ibis that has relatively good value, Chile in general is expensive and I have past experience and am currently experiencing a generally higher risk of being ripped off, be warned. Dont get me wrong, nice people that I have met but if you leave yourself open at all youll lose. Now planning tomorrows route but looks like 2 or 3 days of tedious riding to Santiago.
Antogafasta to La Serena. (Planned for Copiapo but continued) 575miles inc detour.
The Ibis was an excellent Hotel as they always are in Europe. Good concept at affordable rates and always have good secure parking.
As I was checking out I saw 5 more bikes outside the hotel, turned out to be 5 Brazilians on a similar route. Chatted with them but surprisingly they spoke very little Spanish and no English but we managed in Spanish (my Spanish !!)
We decided to ride together so I got a coffee and waited for them to get checked out. As we were about to leave the professional photographer in the group realised that his case with passport and cameras and .... everything important had been stolen from the lobby. Remember my comments ref Chile, could happen anywhere but in my experience it WILL happen in Chile if you let it. Police called in etc but I had to leave so I wished them luck and took off.
Rode to the Mano de desierto, (Hand of the Desert) about 50 miles out of Anto. Got a few photos and checked out the hand, must be about 40 tall. There were a couple of cars there so I was able to get the chaps to take photos for me. Unfortunately at the back of the sculpture it smells like a well used toilet that has not been cleaned for a while. Still its an interesting thing to come across in the desert.
Im beginning to realise that there is a lot of desert in Chile. Rode on through endless desert until I arrived at Chanaral where I needed to get fuel as it is very sparse by US or European standards. Got fuel and a drink, very hot so far. Then got told the road was closed for some construction that involved blasting. I decided to detour rather than wait, itll take about 2hrs mate yeh right. The detour turned out to be fast roads through the desert again but allowed me to get some distance in and get within a day of Santiago. I fueled up again at Vallenar and then rode the last 120 miles to La Serena. The topography changed a little as I dropped altitude and the amount of vegetation started to increase from nothing to complete cover. The temp dropped, due to both proximity to the sea and the time, around 1930hrs by then.
Found a hotel with secure parking, job done for the day.
The 33 litre gas tank on the GSA is very helpful as it takes the hassle out of fuel management to a large extent, dont have to be as careful over calcs etc. The seat is another story, I think mt S10 is better for longer distances as standard.
Santiago tomorrow ..
La Serena to Santiago. 298 miles
Late start today as only needed to make Santiago, circa 300 miles. Sorted out domestic stuff and Emails etc, leisurely breakfast and left.
Headed down R5 passing through desert again but with some vegetation. Stopped for some Papaya and juice on the road then simply got the distance done.
Covered 300 miles in about 4.1/2 hrs, obviously roads excellent for covering distance therefore almost by definition very boring. As seems to be the norm took about 1.1/2hrs to find the Ibis but got there in the end.
The GPS mapping software I bought from GPSTravelmaps.com was again useless for Chile as has been the case for most of the ride through Chile, it needs work.
I made a decision to head through Chile rather than Bolivia because, ridden through Bolivia before, have not ridden through Northern Chile. Whilst all riding has its attraction and is an experience I would say that Bolivia would have been a more enjoyable option. Bolivia though, has hassle with border crossing etc but the riding is more fun for me as the motorway miles are a bit of a chore really. I have experienced the monotony of the Chilean desert ride and won’t be doing that again in a hurry.
Colombia has probably been the best overall followed by the very different topography from Nazca in Peru to Puno including Cusco, then Ecuador with its excellent roads through the mountains. I quite like the rain for some obscure reason so that affected the rides in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Chile so far has been a bit ordinary apart from the coast road from Iqueque to Antofagasta. The Australe to the south is supposed to be very good though.
Decision time now, I’m almost definitely heading east to Argentina and then to Uruguay but am also tempted to head south for Ushuaia, that would add another 3,500 miles at least to my trip. I’ll have to see how I feel in the morning.
The bike is again completely trouble free. I believe that the Yamaha S10 might be less tiring so it only lacks the gas tank size to make it a real alternative to the GSA although I think the GSA is about 5% better on fuel consumption. I have been using the ESA quite a lot on the GSA which has been great and makes a real difference to the ride. I have used small mountain, 1px plus luggage in both sport and comfort.
Next project will be a rear mounted fuel cel for the S10, around 17ltrs would be great.
Of course the other attraction the GSA has is it just works well as it comes, no messing around needed, the benefits of evolution. Different discussion.
Attempt to cross to Argentina heading for Mendoza. (Had to return north to La Serena) 350 miles.
A lot of rain and land slides in the mountains, crossing closed. I found out at 20 miles away !! after 50 mile ride. I rode past a Police block slowly and got about a mile when they caught me and ordered me back despite me trying to persuade them to let me continue.
Options to apparently North or South, the Police were very good but would not allow me to cross, I saw dirt road that might have bypassed the slide but no negotiating possible. They said south, I said is it open, they said no !!, ..... so I went north.
I hate retracing and the 300 miles to La Serena on hot straight road was not at all enjoyable.
Stopped at a hotel and learned that the border across from La Serena was also blocked which means more road miles tomorrow. Another 200 miles further North retracing steps, 500 total.
La Serena to Copiapo to San Francisco crossing to Tintogasta. 530 miles.
Made the ride in the morning to Copipo, fast and monotonous as expected. Sorted the route into Argentina and refuelled. Met an Argentinean guy on a Veradero who was very helpful and explained the route together with some of the hazards like, 470KM with no fuel. Need to carry water etc etc. Route was mainly dirt and long to the border, climbed to 4750m. 200 miles dirt road at least, great ride, lot of gravel. Bike excellent with adjustable suspension. Had to turn off traction to get up hills so I now understand a bit about what others have said !!
Border crossings easy. Spectacular views for the entire ride, recommended for sure. Large plateau on top at 4000 to 4700m. Argentine side border slow but good, friendly.
Ride off the mountains looong but absolutely breath taking scenery. Dropped to 3500m, great to be able to breath again. Refuelled at Fiambala, bike did very well on fuel at around 14miles/ltr.
Arrived in valley in elec storm but no rain. Arrived in dark at an old and run down Hotel, 40USD bit rough but good given the situation.
Tintofagasta to Cordoba (to Villa Maria) 470 miles.
Rode to Cordoba, basically long and boring. Carlos Paz fuuuull of people and traffic, lost 2hrs at least. Arrived in Cordoba, NO hotel rooms including the Sheraton !!. Had to find gas station with cafe, load maps to GPS, refuel and head out to Villa Maria, 100 miles at night, against my rules.
Villa Maria to Concordia ready for border crossing. 375 miles
Great hotel and much needed after a long previous day. Another day grinding out the distance, got into Concordia and into a hotel that had everything including great parking.
Concordia to Montevideo 320 miles.
Blind panic for the first 1hr, thought my plastic bag wallet with passport etc had been stolen but I had packed it in a different place. Very stupid and horrific feeling.
Hotel was great with good parking etc etc. Border about 20 miles from the Hotel and a bit of a convoluted route, arrived OK and set about the crossing.
Weather very hot and long queue so I thought it was going to be a real chore but ........... turns out the Argentinean and Uruguayan guys have come together. They are both in the same office sitting next to each other and working together. One queue for both myself and the bike, about 1hr total. In addition I have 12 months in country with the bike if I want it.
Uneventful and boring day riding 320 miles to Montevideo. Great countryside and very green. Not many people, plenty of gas stations. Like riding in Europe really.
Arrived in Montevideo and drove along Rambla (sea front) to my apartment building.
Home for a while, probably should have headed for Ushuaia but ........... next time.
Covered 7,000 miles in 22 days including 2 days off in Cusco.
Some good riding but a lot of high speed slab in Chile down to Santiago and back due to the land slides. From Chilean border on I did not really enjoy the ride, too much too flat too hot. I think southern Chile might be good and the border crossings into Argentina are worth the ride as they are great roads and real mountain passes.
Best bit was crossing from Chile to Argentina with 4700m altitude and 200 miles of dirt road. Almost no other traffic, one guy on a bicycle !!.
BMW GSA is a great bike for this kind of riding. Gas tank size and suspension options are points to note.
I fitted Heidenau K60s based on feedback from ADV and they worked very well. Front is noisy though. The rear still has at least 2000m left in it so that would be 9,000, I normally get 4000 to 4500 from Toutance EXPs. Only issue is that there are a number of cracks in the tyre now so Id appreciate any words of wisdom ref that.
I'll post fuel consumption data tomorrow.
Worth noting that the BMW used almost no oil after the first 1/2ltr needed in Medellin. I thought it was going to need a lot and checked it daily but over the next 6,000 miles it used about 0.3ltrs.
I got the last photo, but facebook is dead to me so can't see the others. Pics are worth a thousand words. Hope you can post up more. 22 days. Hmmm. Well anyway, I enjoy all ride reports. Left brain logical or right brain intuitive with impressions and pictures of hot women.
Will do John,
I can't work out how to post the pics but I'll get there. I managed to get the link from FB to work. I suppose I'll need to open some kind of online account to load the pics to then set up links to that ?? no idea really.
I only had 22 days so that's the reason for the pace, as it turned out I could have made Ushuaia but I'll get to it later. I have already ridden that leg before so I know the road however would like to ride it again.