Alberta, Canada to South America

Discussion in 'Americas' started by JakeH, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. JakeH

    JakeH De-MCing Grad Studen

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    I had a thread earlier about a trip in europe this coming summer. After much research, we decided the shipping was too expensive, also food and everything in general. It also seemed like it would be more of a vacation than an adventure, riding our sportbikes confines you to the beaten path. (not the idea).

    Anyways! The plan is now South America. My riding buddies and I have our sport bikes up for sale and are looking for used DR650's or similar.

    We will be leaving in early may 2008, and need to be back by the end of august. We plan on picking up the Continental Divide Trail in the canadian rockies (a short day west of home) and following it down to mexico. The two hot spots we want to hit are baja and copper canyon, maybe one on the way down and the other on the return. We're still working on a route for southern mexico and beyond. I want to see machu piccu and angel falls and the other obvious stuff, but thats a pretty thin schedule. Help?

    My biggest concern is, from what i understand, we will be riding in the rainy season while we are in the tropics. How rainy are we talking? If it is heavy rains every couple days, then fine, but if we are going to drown for months on end we better make different plans.

    We're getting passports in order and applying for Int'l Drivers Licenses soon. Also we need shots. They are Expensive and i have heard mixed reviews on whether to bother with them or not? Something about a yellow fever card being required for some countries?

    Originally we were planning to ride to the tip, then head back until we ran out of time, sell the bikes and fly. apparently it is hard to sell bikes down there (crazy import regs) so we are going to ride south for a little over half our time and then turn around.

    When we do road trips we usually do little to no route planning, but are trying to do better this time, some structure with still room to play. We are planning to camp the whole way.

    Okay, so:
    - How rainy is rainy season
    - Immunizations
    - must see stuff, places, festivals, events, Roads
    - Advice on camping in central and south american countries (the not-paying-for-it kind)
    - How important to plan out specfic routes and schedules
    - Also, if anyone is going to be in these area's next summer, lets meet up! I will be getting some advrider stickers on my bike.


    Oh also, i understand you do not need a carnet for central and south america? correct me if i am wrong
    #1
  2. benoit

    benoit Mr. Beads

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
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    hey there this is craig and i am another one of the brave souls going on this adventure. i have ridden quads before but not really any motorcylces. so i guess this is a good way to learn. anyways as i am new to this i was wondering if i can get some input on what would be a good bike to get. i am looking for a used one and most of our trip is offroad so i need a dual purpose bike. any suggestions would be helpful with that. also i would like to know what i should do for insurance while going through mexico, central and south america. thats all that i can think of now but i will have subsequent posts. thanks for any input.
    #2
  3. AndyT

    AndyT Been here awhile

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    Sep 8, 2004
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    Mimbres, NM, USA
    A few quick thoughts. 4 months isn't as long as it seems. If you plan to ride to souhern south america and back, you have very little time for anything but riding. Camping and takng back roads can easily double the number of days to cover a given distance. I took 25 weeks to ride from Texas to the tip of SA, and up to Buenos Aires, where I flew home and shipped the bike. I spent 2 weeks in Spanish school, and 2 weeks house sitting in Costa Rica, but other than that, I was on the move quite a bit. The only countries I camped regularly in were Chile & Argentina, most of the rest, hotels were cheap enough not to bother. My experience with the rainy seasons are that it begins raining almost daily in mid afternoon. If you plan to get off the road early, no big deal.

    I went through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. In those countries I was never asked for any proof of vaccination. I did get vaccinated for Hep A & B , yellow fever, and took chloroquine for malaria, and consider it cheap insurance. In none of those countries was I asked for a Carnet.

    Take a look at the website in my sig for more info on my trip.
    #3
  4. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

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    Location:
    Lone Pine Ontario (or travelling)
    Search for the "Munn Thread" and you will know more.Also some recent RR's covered a lot of detailed info on trips to SA. Check Horizons Unlimited also.
    #4
  5. dare2go

    dare2go n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    on the road in Central & South America
    Let's start from the bottom:
    * carnet de passage - no! not required anymore!
    * we're on the road (but no bikers - LOL)
    * free camping can be rather risky in Central America (and a few parts of SA), where even Coka-Cola-trucks have an armed security guard riding shotgun... You'll find balneareos (public, privatly owned, swimming pools w. restaurant) or restaurants which will let you stay for free or very little money (under $5) - and they are safe w. security guard. We have published a list of our camping places: http://dare2go.com/camping.html - more aimed at people with a camper, but probably still useful!
    * must see places = hard to say, but probably the colonial cities in Mexico (Guanajuato, San Miguel, Oaxaca, San Cristobal, etc.), several ruins like Monte Alban, Palenque, Tikal, Copan, etc., Lago Atitlan in Guatemala and several volcanoes along the way, plus the rainforest coast of Costa Rica is nice (w. plenty of free camping!) - we're no further than Panama...
    * immunizations: for some parts of SA you need Yellowfever, apart from that Hep A+B(+C?) are useful, as are Tetanus and Typhoid (spelling?) - Malaria you're better of taking pills once you are showing symptoms, since the immunization pills usually only work for some threads, and are rather heavy on the system...
    * the rain season this year was rather heavy, with state-of-emergency situations in many countries, roads and particularly bridges washed out, and many roads impassable - so lets hope the next one will be milder :evil
    It has been the worst rain season in over 20 years!

    ?Q? - how far are you planning to go in this short time ??? Wanna get a sour ass from riding?Q?

    Enjoy!
    #5
  6. j_seguin

    j_seguin Been here awhile

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    Superior CO
    My brother and I are planning a similar trip. We were originally planning on doing it over the summer because he didn't want to wait a year to start grad school. Once we really started looking at the details of the trip he changed his mind pretty quick. It's possible to ride CA through the rainy season, but you're probably going to miss out on a lot of the stuff you want to see (unless you want to see it in the rain). I was in South Eastern Mexico (Chiapas) several years ago in May. Even then by 2 or 3 in the afternoon it was raining fairly hard pretty much every day. You could go back out in the evening, but we did the vast majority of our touring in the morning.

    Rainy season isn't the only thing you have to worry about either. While I'm told June/July/August is the dry season in Northern SA, and the temperature doesn't flucuate much over the year there, once you get into the middle and southern portions of the continent, it's winter and it gets cold. Crossing/riding in the Andes becomes a big question mark at that point. We looked at the average temps in those months in the central and southern parts of the continent and it was cold... 30s F in most places for averages.

    If you do decide to ride it you won't make good time through CA at all. From what I've read about people doing this if you make a border a day you're going fast and are lucky. Thats during the dry season where you can ride all day. It is also very hard to make anywhere near close to the same daily mileage that you do in the US and Canada because of traffic, road conditions and any number of things. We aren't planning on ever doing more than 250 miles in a day until we hit Chile and Argentina. In the U.S. and Canada we typically do 5-800 miles per day.

    As far as your route goes that is a matter of personal preference. My brother and I don't typically plan too much other than an overall course before hand, and then figure it out as we go. We're taking a bit more time with our route this time because we don't have the same first hand knowledge about what places we want to see and the best and safest ways to get to them. For instance I looked into going to Angel Falls. Unless you have a good bit of time and money it's not worth it. It's in the middle of nowhere (in the jungle) and you have to fly to a city to get to the hiking trail that leads there. We are also looking into the best way to get through Columbia. We don't want to skip it because it's supposed to be one of the best parts of the trip, but we also don't want to get kidnapped or murdered. Are we going to plan day by day road by road? No. But we are putting a lot more research into where we want to go and what we want to do before hand so it will be a lot more specific than a North American trip.

    We typically camp for free in the U.S. and Canada, but I'm pretty sure we aren't even going to bring camping gear on this trip. Hotels and hostels are dirt cheap especially when split between multiple people. If you are used to camping, packing 3-5 guys in a hotel room shouldn't be a problem. If it was only a matter of personal safety we would probably be doing some camping, sure it's more dangerous than the U.S. and Canada but you would still probably make it through ok. The thing we are concerned about is stuff being stolen off the bikes. Unless you have a foolproof method of locking all your luggage this is something to think about. Motels offer the security of either parking the bikes in your room or in the hotel lobby. That way they are locked and under supervision.

    I got shots ( I don't remember which ones ) for my trip to Chiapas and the anti-malarials. I stopped taking the pills on the second or third day of the trip, they made me feel sick pretty much 24-7, so I decided I'd take my chances. Another thing to look into here is Medjet Assist insurance, essentially they will fly you to a hospital of your choice if you get injured. Seems to be pretty much universally recommended.

    We looked at all of this stuff and a bit more and the more we researched the more it became clear that we should just bite the bullet and do it over a 6 or so month period from late september to ?. We have a bit of flexibility since we're both graduating this year and don't have jobs so I understand this isn't exactly possible for everyone. If thats the case I'd still say go for it over the summer. You might not see and do as much but it will still be amazing.
    #6
  7. shocker

    shocker Sir Flips-Alots Friend

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
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    Location:
    Stony Mountain, Manitoba
    I'm serious...his book covers lots of your questions
    #7
  8. Maarty

    Maarty n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
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    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Guys I'm riding solo from Anchorage to Tierra Del fuego starting Fall 2008.


    Any one done the ride recently that you know of.


    Maarty

    Melbourne Australia
    #8
  9. JakeH

    JakeH De-MCing Grad Studen

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    Hey a little update here.

    I got a Hep A and B booster, typhoid, and yellow fever today. I got the card for yellow fever and verified that it matches my passport, so i should be good to go. I have a week long engineering competition/party comeing up at the end of the month,(http://www.gnctr.info/ if your curious) but after that i am going to try out the malaria pills and see how bad the "vivid dreams/hallucinations" are. Rabies shot were $180 and you need it three times, so im not gonna worry about it, just stay away from animals as much as possible. I also got a prescrition for something for cholrea, so i should be covered.

    My current bike is up for sale officially, only one offer so far (a trade for a sled) but i hope it moves relativly soon (if you know someone in the ottawa-toronto-montreal area that wants a nice clean 1999 CBR 600, let me know). There are many cheap and good XR650L's KLR650's and DR650's on ebay for reasonable prices but none closeby, its a work in progress.

    The lonely planet guidebooks for south and central america are on the way, that should help with the planning. We've also decided that we're going to do copper canyon and the gulf coast one way through mexico, and catch the pacific coast and baja the other. we'll be doing one in mid-may and the other in august, is there a better season for one or the other?

    I got a list of the embassies in town (im in ottawa for school) and am going to call some up next week, hopefully they can share some good advice and maybe i can score some free maps. After going to a map specialty store, i found out maps are Expensive and are to large scale i think for out purposes. I don't want to carry 20 pounds of maps, but a good sized map of the entire continent won't be much help. Where is the balance here? most maps i found were 1:200 000 I think i would want a bit more detail?

    I'm trying to plan this while also not failing out of school, im in third year aerospace engineering, and this semester is a little ridiculous. More news as i have it.

    Thanks a lot all, great info from everyone. Maarty, i just read a thread about such a ride, but i forget who it was by, just poke around.
    #9
  10. benoit

    benoit Mr. Beads

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
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    hey so we got our bikes and we got most of the accessories for them as well. shots are done as well so the only thing left for me is the licence which is coming soon. But I have a question for those who have done something similiar to what we are doing. I am trying to gauge how much to budget for the trip. what kind of money should i expect to spend on gas first of all. that is my main cost for the trip. any help with this would be appreciated. Also if there is any other major costs, what would they be. I am trying to be more prepared for this. We are taking the Continental Divide and have recieved the maps for it so the trip is being planned. So ya I'm just trying to be properly prepared.
    #10