South East Coast of Argentina to Buenos Aires – It’s time to come home!

South East Coast of Argentina to Buenos Aires

Featuring the final leg of the journey as we headed from Tierra Del Fuego up Ruta 3, all the way to Buenos Aires. This adventure motorcyling video features clips from the stunning Peninsula Valdes with all its wildlife all the way up to packaging the bike with the freight forwarding company at the Buenos Aires airport.

A big thank you to everyone we have met along the way – it has been the most incredible journey and one we will keep with us forever.

For those of you in the UK and in Croatia, we look forward to seeing you all very soon!

Crossing the Atacama Desert – Travel Update

Crossing the Atacama Desert

Latest Travel Update while crossing the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

Cusco to Machu Picchu by motorcycle

Cusco to Machu Picchu by motorcycle

8 motorcyclists, 9 people over 4 days. Here we are shaking our ass (Groove Armada style) as we head into deepest Peru through the Sacred Valley to the Kingdom of the Incas. This is how adventure motorcycling should be as we head through remote passes, rivers, fog, rain and much more.

Some very talented dancers in this video, adopting similar choreography to that of the Teletubbies.

 

A Day in Peru – Canyon del Pato – Video

A Day in Peru

This video shows a complete day on the bike from dawn til dusk as we start the day with a puncture, then join our fellow motorcyclists James and Glen and tackle the Canyon del Plato between Trujillo and Huaraz in the Andes.

This day was a very memorable day and some of the best riding we have done for a long long time.

Riding through desert landscapes, arid river passes, remote mountain villages and the best of all the Canyon. This road featured 40 tunnels, 8 hours of riding, waterfalls, old derelict coal mines, lots of oncoming traffic (even in tunnels) and semi passable bridges.

By the way, the rough road finishes with a double rainbow, heavy rain and then we finally find a hotel room on this particular day about 8.30pm.

The following day we find that the puncture we repaired did not hold together very well so we head for a tyre repair guy to do a better job than we did.

Ramble on by Led Zeppelin definitely does the day justice.

 

Ecuador and Crossing the Equator – Video

Ecuador and Crossing the Equator

Colombia has been relaxing, an adventure, we only probably road 10 days in the month we stayed there and we are now ready for the big ride down to Ushuaia in Tierra Del Fuego/ Argentina. We are currently in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon jungle, having crossed the Equator.

Leaving Bogota we headed south over a magnificent pass between Ibague and Armenia. Climbing to an altitude of 4000m through sweeping bends, lush mountains and small villages along the way. Then after this mountain crossing we straight-lined it south towards Popayan and then the border town of Ipiales where we crossed into Ecuador.

Here is our latest video.

Riding Without Rubber – Arriving in Bogota

Riding Without Rubber

The last few days have been exciting, breathtaking, anxious and now we are safely tucked away in Boutique Hostel Violeta in the Candelaria part of Bogota.

Here is a short video which shows Ivanka describing our recent challenges and what happens if you push your tyre changes to the limit! Lesson learnt from our point of view and we won’t do it again.

The whole experience with BMW was exemplary, so if you need assistance while on the road in Colombia then do pop by and say hello to Edgar Gomez.

www.bmw-motorrad.com.co

http://www.bmw.com.co

We are now ready for the rest of the adventure and the strength and durability of the Metzeler Tourances has to be noted here; amazing that they lasted so long (10,500 miles) and incredible that they did not decide to blow on us.

Crossing from Panama to Colombia – the Darien Gap

Crossing from Panama to Colombia

A major part of the trip so far as we cross from Central America to South America
Leaving from a small fishing village called Carti in the Panama jungle and then heading on a four day crossing to the big city lights of Cartagena in Colombia via the San Blas Islands.

In short one of the most exciting things we have done for a very long time. From the buzz of hoisting the motorbike in the air and placing it on a 100 year old fishing boat, to snorkelling along the reefs of the San Blas Islands.

It feels superb to be now settled in Colombia, with the second half of the Americas to look forward to.

Enjoy the video.

Hasta luego Mexico

Hasta luego Mexico

Yesterday was our first day in Guatemala so, before the journey progresses too far I thought I should write a trip report (ahem, short essay!) for Mexico.

First, and most important, is that I let you know that we had an excellent time in Mexico. Mexico is a big country; rich in geographic and cultural diversity which can’t help but provide something for everyone, I think.

Our trip started in Ensenada, living with Roberto and Diana – our Mexican family – and attending Spanish language school. Ensenada itself has very little to offer in terms of sight-seeing but, the school was excellent,our hosts were warm and helpful, the people we friendly and happy to help and we even found some yoga classes! The yoga certainly helped with our body-parts vocabulary as well as up, down, left, right and deep. Profundo is equally useful when being reminded to breathe deeply as it is when being warned of a deep hole in the road!

The Baja Peninsula was hot, beautiful but obviously missing visits from its neighbours in the US. In some part this was due to our visiting in the off season but in many places there were clear signs that buildings have been abandoned.

 

Coffee break, Baja California

 

Jalisco provided beautiful scenery to drive through and a much gentler climate! Much greener than Baja with large fields of Agave. Jalisco is the birth place of Tequilla so Agave plants – used to make it –  are everywhere. Guadalajara appears to be a buzzing, thriving, city which would definitely be a ‘weekend city break’ destination were it in Europe. Chopala – where we stayed – was a romantic little lakeside town with boutique hotels and tasty food; a lovely little break!

One blot on the landscape of our stay in Chopala was the American ex-pat who wandered past as we were loading the bike in the morning. As soon as we told him what we were doing he proceeded to tell us how awful driving through Mexico is, how there are fake road-blocks, murders, kidnappings and all those non-holiday activity type things. I walked away and left Nick to talk to him. Nick is much better than I am at asking innocent questions like: “Oh, have you seen a fake road-block? How do you know one if you see it? Have you been kidnapped?” To which the answers are predictably: “they tell us these things”. I don’t have the energy. I am old enough to have cultivated a solid set of fears of my own and I really don’t appreciate people bringing me theirs. Not in life and not on this trip. We do everything we can to be informed – we spent time with a Mexican truck driver, our map and a pen to cross out everywhere he thought we shouldn’t go, we read horizons unlimited, talk to other bikers and read the British foreign office information. I will happily listen to facts, however scary, facts are very useful but negativity grounded in fear and not much else just makes me cross. Be informative or be fun – be both! – or **** off!

Our next stop was Guanajuato, Guanajuato which is not the capital of Guanajuato, Leon is.

This is a very beautiful and vibrant town. A UNESCO world-heritage site and well-deserving of that position. Lots of young people, lots of muisc and art and I loved it. Next time I go to Mexico I will stay there at least a month!

Then to Teotihuacan for some pyramids. We stayed in San Juan Teotihuacan which has nothing to recommend it but, the pyramids are impressive and Nick practiced his Jedi mind tricks to stop hawkers approaching us. The most successful was pointing at the ground a little way off and then, as they looked, walking past them. I had to laugh but I made him stop for fear of a beating. It’s an upgrade to the “what’s that on your t-shirt” trick but it worked! I won’t wax-lyrical on the pyramids. I am still visiting Maya archaeological sites so I will save commentary for another post, when I have decided what I think.

If you are travelling in the area by car or motorcycle please remember that Mexico City and state have a traffic reducing policy that prohibits certain number plates travelling on particular days. We learnt this because we were stopped by the traffic police as we were in violation of the rules (though I am still not sure if we were actually in the affected area.) If you have 04 or 03 in your number plate you cannot drive on a Wednesday! More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoy_No_Circula

Oaxaca, Oaxaca was another beautiful and vibrant place which we enjoyed but the best part of our stay in Oaxaca was being invited to the beach with Uli, Ivan and Ajonjoli the cat. In summary, sea, sun, fresh food and very very few other people make for a great few days at the beach. While we were in Chipehua we sent a note to Mark and Maggie (via a 3G kindle we told them to check out our spot location!) who with Swiss Andre joined us on the same day as four other people on three motorbikes. A little impromptu adventure motorcycle gathering ensued much to the delight of Dona Natalia and Don Tereso who had been our hosts and who proceeded to feed everyone else too for a couple of days.

Angry cat

Last stops in Mexico were Tuxtla where the Grupa Escala provided us with excellent lodgings, camping on the climbing room floor, San Cristobal de Las Casas which was cold, colourful and perfect for pottering about and last, but not least, Palenque with easy access to the Mayan ruins with the same name and a couple of days with Andre, the Swiss biker, his friend David, the Swiss doctor, cheap lodgings, cheap food, cheap beer, lots of tropical jungle rain and some Internet. Not the most beautiful spot in the world but a great place for a rest, read, chat and to put more flickr photos in order!

Those of you on motorcycles may be interested to know that we left via El Ceibo to Flores, Guatemala. The border crossing was straightforward, there is a banjercito to stamp out your bike and the Guatemala side is perfectly prepared for your visit. Don’t forget to keep the receipt for your tourist visa or you will have to go back to Tenocique (great coffee at Palms Cafe on the way out of town, on the righ, next to the second Pemex!) to pay your 262 pesos (each) and, for Guatemala you will need: passport, drivers license, bike owners papers and a single copy of each. The Guatemala permit costs 160 Quitzal but you can pay in Pesos and there is a bank at the border. For some reason, not many maps show the road but it is there and it does work.

Visit Mexico, it’s not all bad and a lot of it is amazing.

SANY0978

Motorcycle Diary 1 – Video

Motorcycle Diary 1

We received an email from our dear friend Rob Shenton today and he was asking how the bike was – So we made a quick video so you can see how the bike is holding up.

We are now in a town called Palenque which is in the state of Chiapas very close to the Guatemala border.
We are staying in a cheap hotel, hanging out with a Swiss guy called Andrew and we are making plans for the next episode in our journey which is Guatemala. We will make the Mexico/ Guatemala border crossing in a few days.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

We didn’t place any bets in Vegas but the odds were definitely stacked in our favour.

Let me explain.

The day we rode through Death Valley National Park we woke up at 4am. We woke up in our second hotel room of the trip and Jude, the motel manager, had set the coffee machine on timer so we were fed, watered, caffeinated and on the road by 5am. The motel was in a place called Olancha just outside the park so were set to see the sights before it got too hot.

The park itself? Well, I don’t think either of us will ever be at home in a desert; the beauty is harsh, magnificent and other-worldly and, being in a place where a person’s ability to survive is so limited is scary – no other world for it. It was hard to associate much, if any, of it with the planet I live on.

We stopped for breakfast (yes, another one!) in Beatty in a great little diner, filled up our camel packs and headed towards our agreed destination for the day. We anticipated arrival in Indian Springs at 11am and the plan was to hide in a motel with airconn.

We stopped for fuel in Indian Springs pretty much on time. We found a bench in the only shade for miles and toasted a well executed plan with some ice cold Pepsi and ice water. Nick had one of his enviable power kips and we were both feeling like we had survived, maybe even conquered, a new planet!

“Shall we carry on?”

“What? Vegas?”

“Well, we could ride down the strip, that might be cool?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah!”

Amateurs.

We managed to get to the outskirts of Las Vegas, pull into the car park of a strip mall and collapse in the nearest shade!

To say it was hot would be a gross understatement of one of the most uncomfortable journeys we had had until that point. (Yes, that includes freezing on the Dalton Highway). Riding a motorbike in anything over 35C is silly; when it gets over 40 you need your head read!

After we had recovered slightly (about an hour later) we braved the sun to cross the car park to Starbucks. A couple of hours of airconn and some Internet time later I suggested to Nick that we sit outside in the shade and start to acclimatise. “We can’t sleep here.”

And so we sat. Barely able to breathe in a hot wind that felt like a reasonable strength hand-dryer. We sat and we pretended we weren’t both quite concerned about how we were going to complete the next steps.

“Where are you riding to?” – said a man whom we had clocked looking at the bike as he pulled up in his car.

“Top to the bottom of the world”

“Where next?”

“Grand Canyon”

“Can I pitch you a road?”

Yes. Take a seat.”

Mike pitched us a route and invited us to his house.

“You may as well shower and sit in the airconn – you can leave later as it gets a little cooler, or you can stay the night and leave in the morning, we have room.”

During our chat it had transpired that Mike had a few bikes and had done our journey and many others, more than once.

“Yes please.”

Shower, pool, pizza, chat, info, maps, sleep and an early departure set us up very well for the next few days. Turns out Mike is president of Iron Butt. I discovered this while chatting to his wife who coped extremely well with the invasion of hot and sweaty biker types. Many many thanks to the Kneebone family, and their neighbours for all their hospitality and company.

Despite adding some miles into our original plan we had no choice but to follow his recommendation, did we?

Did we win in Vegas?

I reckon.

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