Ride the world with me (and Sam): A South American adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by c-m, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    Hi,

    I'm Carl (left) and that's Sam (right). Together we're planning to ride over 10,000 miles across South America. Our last trip together as a rider/pillion combination was back in 2013 when we did a mere 3,000 miles across Spain. Good prep for South America maybe?

    Here a picture from that trip, back when I had the F650 Dakar.

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    The plan:
    Travel around South America over a period of 5-6 months along a route that takes in some of the best sights "anywhere in the world" (as Donald Trump would say).

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    I've got an interactive version of the route here: http://defylife.co.uk/maps/map.html

    The bike:
    The trusted steed for this trip a BMW G650x Country. It survived some pretty gnarly trails in Morocco, has good fuel economy, and very few weak points. What's more it's fuel injected (that century old technology that's often used in mission critical applications ). Since my altitude will be changing regularly, from sea level to over 5,500m that last point is particularly important for me.

    Here's the bike as it stood in Morocco:

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    I have a list of mods on my blog:
    http://defylife.co.uk/bikes/bmw-g650-xcountry/dealing-with-the-x-my-modifications-and-accessories/

    Since then I've added an ADVMonster LED headlight. Reinforced subframe, refurbished and uprated shock/spring, beefed up auxiliary tank bracket.

    My rubber of choice is a Mitas E-07 (non-Dakar) on the rear, and a TKC80 up front. I destroyed a TK80 rear in less than 3,000 miles off road in Morocco, but on this trip I'm expecting the Mitas to last the distance. I'll have to wait and see about the TKC80 up front.

    Equipment:

    I won't detail a list of all my equipment, but here's a small selection of gear we'll be travelling with.

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    Luggage-wise I'll be using a Wolfman Enduro tank bag, 21 Brothers panniers (30l), and a Q-Bag roll bag (76l). That has to carry clothes for the both of us, camping gear (and we'll be camping in areas where the nightly temperature can get well below freezing), tools, spares, and electrical items. That's quite a challenge, especially when travelling with 2-up.

    Once we're on the road proper I'll try to find time to do an inventory.

    And off we go:

    We'll be updating this thread as we go along we hope you enjoy it as much as we will.

    More information and contacts:

    My blog: defylife.co.uk
    Sam's blog: littlebigadventures.co.uk
    Facebook: Defylife Adventure
    Instagram (me): Mikedefieslife
    Instagram (Sam): Samberzina

    #1
  2. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    The bike was shipped using Motofreight in the UK and flown to Buenos Aires with Air Canada. It was delayed a day but it didn't really matter.

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    Cost of shipping was £1500 not including charges at the other end.

    In the mean time, we took a Stenna Line ferry to Netherlands and spent the day in Amsterdam.

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    Our flight was from Schiphol, but we had a good 10 hours to kill. It was a crappy rainy day, and we got soaked walking to Biker Outfit (brilliant store, much better than what we have in the UK), where I bought a set of RevIt Neutron gloves. I actually wanted the Strike, but they were out of stock. The guys at Biker Outfit were extremely friendly and we drank tea and sheltered from the rain there for some time.

    The KLM flight from AMS to EZE was horrible. In fact I've sent a large letter of complaint to KLM but typically not heard anything back yet.

    Of course arriving at EZE none of the cash machines would work with foreign cards, so were penniless for a while. Eventually we found one that did work and booked a taxiezeiza transfer to Recoleta where we were staying.

    Our driver was Carlos. He was extremely friendly and helpful and spoke good English. So much so that I used him again when going back to the airport to collect the bike. If you need to get around BA then contact him directly rather than going through Taxi Ezeiza.

    carlosandersovejero30@gmail.com
    +54 11 2343 51 10
    #2
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  3. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    Whilst waiting for the bike to turn up Buenos Aires we had a few days to explore the city.

    We booked an apartment in Recoleta via Airbnb.

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    Incidentally after we left the area there was a massive explosion at a hospital just a block away.

    Being in Recoleta we decided to start with the cemetery. It's one of those that you might see in New Orleans, or in teeny vampire type shows and movies. Almost like a small city in itself with little avenues and larger streets.

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    This particular cemetery houses the tomb of Eva Peron, under her family name of Duarte. Anyone who's seen that film staring Madonna will know what a cult figure Eva Peron is in Argentina. For those that haven't use Wikipeadia, the film isn't good at all.

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    They love their parks here, there's loads of them and people flock to them at all times of the day to relax and/or drink mate. One park we found had some funky flower like sculpture.

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    We also headed down-town to Micro Centro and San Temlo (the later was a disappointment)

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    And of course it's not Buenos Aires if you don't catch some tango in the streets.

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    Since our trip will also end in Buenos Aires, we decided to leave visiting the colourful houses and streets of La Boca until then.
    #3
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  4. lexluther11

    lexluther11 Ride,Eat,Rest-Repeat

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    Looking forward to following along with your RR, I'll be there in South America a few months from now. Have a safe adventure.
    #4
  5. lexluther11

    lexluther11 Ride,Eat,Rest-Repeat

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    #5
  6. stromsavard

    stromsavard Serge Supporter

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    looks interesting, I'm in guys!!
    #6
  7. mceee

    mceee Welcome to the dark side!

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    All in! have a great ride, and stay safe. 7 more months and I will be riding a lot of the same area's.
    #7
  8. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    The bike arrived a day after us, but we couldn't get it right away. Everyone knows to take dollars/euros etc.. to Argentina and exchange them on the black market for an instant 30% discount on everything.

    I did have some dollars, but I also used a UK company called Azimo to transfer hundreds of GBP to myself to collect in ARS$ at a favourable rate. The only problem was that when I went to collect the cash from a local Agenper, it was closed. That meant having to get the cash the next day, then waiting until the day after to get the bike. All the time storage costs were being added.

    When I did eventually collect the cash is very straightforward and only took a few minutes. Much easier than receiving some emergency funds in Spain via Western Union a few years prior.

    With the cash in hand I called Carlos (remember our friendly taxi driver) to take me to the airport to meet Sandra from Dakar Motors. She'd be handling clearing the bike through customs. I must say she was well worth the $250 USD fee. The bike was in my possession in around 3 hours including waiting around and being flirted with by some of the customs girls.

    I took this sneaky shot when the customs guards weren't looking.

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    Motofreight did a great job of crating the bike, and it arrived safely with all my gear. Lots of gear.


    #8
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  9. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    Thanks for the link. Will have a read of that when I have the time. You know how it is on the road.
    #9
  10. Bovino

    Bovino Been here awhile

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    Take a picture of Mohammed's bracket, with an Alpaca in the background. Like next time you drop the bike on the left :-)
    #10
  11. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    With the bike cleared and kitted up we set off on a four day trip from Buenos Aires to Iguazu. Despite being out of the way we both agreed that the falls were worth the journey, who knows if we'll ever be in South America again.

    There's not much to say about the journey. It was bland, and boring. The roads were in good condition and the traffic fast. In fact rather than a single cylinder 650 we'd have been off on something like a 1200GSA or perhaps the new CRF1000 Africa Twin.

    Along the way we visited Colon, Paso de los Libres (a border town with Brazil) and Posadas (a border town with Paraguay).

    Colon was like something from the 1950s, Paso de los Libres was full of Brazilians buying duty free, and Posadas, the only real city of the bunch, saw us stay at a hostel for free since their electricity had been cut off.

    Our accommodation in Colon where we used the gas fire sparingly for fear of carbon monoxide poisoning:

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    What could have been cool and funky hostel in Posadas:

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    Back in Paso de los Libres we experienced our first off road of the trip when the Garmin routed us the long way out of town and back onto Ruta 12.

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    It certainly wasn't that smooth all the way through.

    Eventually we made it to Iguazu, we spent three days relaxing, and of course visiting the falls, which according to Wikipedia United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara!"

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    The falls themselves were spectacular and well worth the trip, but equally as impressive are the Coati. Curious little beasts they are, but don't be fooled, they can be vicious too.

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    Of course there is plenty of other wildlife at the falls too if you care that sort of thing.

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    The full track we took from Buenos Aires to Iguazu is attached to this post.

    Attached Files:

    #11
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  12. nitrotx

    nitrotx nitrotx

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    I'll be following you both and when U get near Mendoza Argentina (My Hometown) can give U some tips to visit places and probably stay with my folks they have an empty apartment and my brother and sister in law speak good English..hope this can be useful
    #12
  13. Scooter1942

    Scooter1942 Average Dude

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    My wife is from Buenos Aries and we've traveled quite a bit of Argentina. Bariloche is not to be missed, nor is Ruta 40 near Salta. One of my dreams is to ride Ruta 40 from Bariloche to Salta, but I'm not sure I'd ever get past Mendoza and the wine country without need of a liver transplant! Give me a shout if you have questions. My brother-in-law is a freelance BBC correspondent based out of BA and is well connected. Have fun...I'm jealous of the ride and because you scored a very attractive riding partner is Sam! ;-)
    #13
  14. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    Stage 2: Iguazu - Salta

    Last I wrote we'd been to Iguazu falls, next up was Salta.

    I've not been able to update as frequently as I might like as the Internet connections here are often terrible.

    Crossing the 8th largest country in the world takes some time. A lot of time in our case. We gave it four days.

    The road was long and boring with little see or even to stop and eat. Fuel was almost an issue in one area too.

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    We had many rests by the side of the road.

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    On the final approach to Salta the road turned hellish. It was like a herd of concrete shitting elephants had ran wild on it on shit all over the place.

    This a particular issue, as back in Buenos Aires I'd noticed that all was not right with the shock. Firefox Racing in the UK had been asked to recondition the shock and fit a spring suitable for an 80kg rider, 60kg pillion (both geared up) and around 40kg of luggage.

    They did just that (with no margin) but they failed to attach the hydraulic preload mechnism correctly, that or it got damaged in the post. Either way it meant that we had only 3" of movement before either rider or pillion sat on the bike.

    I did however manage to get that fixed by a KTM mechanic in Salta.

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    The fix held well (and is still good) but later the preload stopped working. (see stage 3 when I get a good enough connection to upload the report).

    The short of it is I either need to get a part machined and/or some 25mm spacers made to create preload. That or find an xChallenge shock in Bolivia, Peru or Chile (not much chance of that).
    #14
  15. c-m

    c-m Long timer

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    Hi Nitrotx, that would be fabulous. Can I PM you once we start heading down that way? Probably late November-ish.
    #15
  16. johnnybgood8

    johnnybgood8 Been here awhile

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    Im in.
    #16
  17. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Try some pipe.
    #17
  18. OnTheWay

    OnTheWay Long timer

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    Fantastic!!!!! Let the South American adventure continue and keep the nice pics coming!!
    #18
  19. Rabble

    Rabble mountain boy

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    I'm in as well, looking forward to it! I'm on my second set of Mitas E-07 on my GSA1200 and really like them, although the Dakars have sidewalls so stiff it's nearly impossible to break the bead on your own. Had a flat recently and had to use 2 giant welder's C-clamps to break that bead.
    #19
  20. nitrotx

    nitrotx nitrotx

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    Send me a PM any time , just need to know ahead of time when you going to be there cuz need to give the head up to the guys tht can help U there... ex: a place to stay...or a mechanic shop or a camp site or who can grill an asado for U guys
    #20