Safest/easiest intro to riding in Latin America?

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Meter Man, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial Supporter

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    Almost anywhere in Latin America is great, but Colombia would be tops on my list. It's a beautiful country with almost every type of riding available--from valleys to mountain passes to deserts. The climate is excellent, the people, culture, and food are wonderful.
    #61
  2. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer Supporter

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    Don't get me wrong, I love Colombia, but if the OP is looking for the mellowest traffic conditions, I'd say that Colombia is probably the last choice. I found drivers there to be the craziest I encountered anywhere in LA.
    #62
  3. BobinBahia

    BobinBahia Lifelong M.I.A.

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    Haven't been to Brazil....?
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  4. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Or Peru, from the sound of it.
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  5. BobinBahia

    BobinBahia Lifelong M.I.A.

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    Thread Idea>>>

    Which country has the craziest drivers? (Justification, with anecdotes, details.). Examples...

    Brazil: Because they all think they are Ayrton Senna?

    Peru: Because mostly First Gen drivers?

    Colombia: Because...(fill in blank)
    #65
  6. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Albania, if you're not limited to Latin America. At the fall of communism there were only a few hundred cars in the entire country. When I rode there 5 years ago there were at least a million. Few roadsigns, fewer traffic lights, and almost no one had any faint clue how to drive.

    Or: any of at least a dozen countries in Africa.
    #66
  7. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    In my experience, Peru was bad, but not like India.
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  8. BobinBahia

    BobinBahia Lifelong M.I.A.

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    Ihdia's 'special' alright.

    In Peru, randy bullocks on the road trying to mount cows on the way to Sunday market , quite a threat.

    But in India, it's not only the bullocks, it's zillions of people milling about haphazardly all over the road.
    #68
  9. charapa

    charapa Been here awhile

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    MeterMan,
    PERU has EVERYTHING :clap:clapand VERY safe (off the coast). We live in Huanuco, central Peru and LOVE IT! :y0! I do a moto PURCHASE & BUY BACK program for ADV Riders wanting a South American riding experience. It comes out 1/2 the price of renting (I have those too!), as low as $15/day and paperwork only takes 2 hours to have the moto in your name so that you can freely cross borders!

    I also give free maps and guidance for anywhere in Peru (and some of Brazil and Bolivia). :-)

    All the details are on my website!:clap:clap
    [​IMG]
    #69
    BobinBahia likes this.
  10. BobinBahia

    BobinBahia Lifelong M.I.A.

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  11. charapa

    charapa Been here awhile

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    THX Bob! Where are you now??

    Toby
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  12. BobinBahia

    BobinBahia Lifelong M.I.A.

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    Hi Toby,

    Finished the ride to Ushuaia and sold the bike in Puerto Natales the end of February. Returned to our place on the Peninsula de Maraú, Bahia (Brazil) where I've been since then.

    Hope to see you coming up the drive to visit sometime soon.

    All the best to you and Sara,

    Bob
    #72
  13. Solohobo

    Solohobo Been here awhile

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    I think a easy country that requires little Spanish and is well suited to the tourist, is Costa Rica, the problem is bike rentals there are not cheap. So next best in Central America would be Nicaragua. Keep in mind safety is all relative. The main issue with personal safety in these parts is to know where not to go, but in Panama/Costa Rica and Nicaragua, foreigners are really able to move about without many issues, outside the major cities/capitals and not have to worry about much to ones personal safety. The odd mugging/robbed situation is usually at night, involves booze/drugs/partying, a desolate road, trail or beach, where you are a sitting duck, like anywhere in the world, nighttime the bad guys have an advantage...

    Road safety is the other issue to be taken seriously, and Costa Rica has some pretty aggressive nutty drivers but nothing that is intimidating, but you need to be aware of passing cars/trucks on all two lane roads, most don't have shoulders, most are in mountains and most you share the road with people, children and farm animals/equipment and overloaded small old truck for agri deliveries...

    Nicaragua is less of the issues, but one thing all these places have is poor signage, and the fact at night, you should not on the road period, even in a rental car, unless just going to dinner.

    You do need to always park a motorcycle in a a secure/guarded area, thats is for sure.

    The other thing to consider is, medical access, and medical care. Many of these countries only have decent westernized standards in the capitals, MRI, Even Xray, radiologist, etc etc, much less trauma centers for a head injury. Just getting to a medical clinic from a rural area could be hours in a taxi's backseat...so Medical Evacuation Insurance in these parts is something you need to decide on, cuz if the sh*t hits the fan and you are are messed up big time, you will need to have a medical transport to Houston/Dallas and thats not cheap...$50K...

    Otherwise, safety in general on the tourist/backpacker trail in Central America is rather low risk...I have not spent anytime in El Salvador but the surf crowd does and has no issues (El Tunco area) and the Suchitoto area is supposed to be delightful.

    Honduras mainland is a tad sketchy IMO, San Pedro Sula at night is a no no without a taxi. Bay islands are great diving fun times. I am headed to Copan Ruins (Unesco WHS) in Jan from Guatemala City and look forward to that.

    Guatemala is a great country and gorgeous, even the city is not bad in daylight...my wife and I walked all over...in fact, my wife has rented an apartment for the winter in Antigua to get away from Chicago cold, she loves that city, its culture, nightlife and arts scene. (Unesco WHS)

    Headed to Colombia next month, that seems to be a gigantic version of Costa Rica, green vistas and mountains galore, friendly locals, pretty girls.

    If you were to look at the Lonely Planet ThornTree forum, for backpackers going to Central America from Panama to Cancun/Yucatan or reverse, most would say 3-4 months is a nice amount of time to see the key highlights, natural wonders, National Parks, great beaches, and UNESCO WHS areas.

    Borders are the biggest pain in the arse as a foreigner with a private vehicle, as you need the Original Title, in your name like the Passport, and have to temporality Import it at each border, then when leaving, get it stamped out of your Passport and repeat at next border...so border crossings are best approached in mornings, so you you are on your way by lunchtime and safely to the next town/area in daylight.
    #73
  14. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

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    I did a mexico trip last year and I am seriously considering going back in early spring 2016. I spent my winter trying to learn some Spanish, I bought a online course, rocket Spanish. I am old and I had a really hard time learning ANYTHING, but if nothing else, AT least I felt like I tried and that helped with my confidence. I made little flip cards with some phrases I thought I would use a lot, motels? restaurant?go left? Go right? Fuel?

    I went into a book store in Oaxaca and bought a translation book, one that I never would have found here. The more I tried, the more confident I felt. Was I getting any better with the language? Probably not but my uncomfortableness was reducing and I was enjoying myself more, I wasn't so uptight about trying to be understood. Was everyone friendly? No. We're my efforts always rewarded with smiles and laughter? No.

    I rode around, little mountains towns and villages, bigger cities, I never felt threatened or afraid. I wanted something different than riding in English speaking America. I wanted to challenge myself and give riding in a different country a shot. Interact with people who don't look like me or speak my language. I enjoyed it on a certain level but for various reasons I am going back and doing it differently next time around.

    I think I will have a very different result. I am back to trying to relearn some Spanish. I think it's just a respectful thing to do. Sadly, there is no one here to practice with, I live in the whitest area , really. I read ride reports, looked at maps, didn't over think it, got my ass on the bike and rode.

    I'm a solo female rider. I did ok, I think.
    #74