Table of contents
- Motorcycle tour Panamericana part 2 Beaches, jungles, gravel roads
- Dense jungle in Belize
- Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
- A bag of coca leaves at almost 5000 meters above sea level
- Curfew due to census
- Dakar Rally from Argentina to Chile
Motorcycle tour Panamericana
Motorcycle tour Panamericana part 2
Beaches, jungles, gravel roads
The Panamericana adventure continues. To Caribbean beaches in Mexico, through the hot jungles of Central America, on gravel roads over the Andes. To the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia.
The sun has been burning down for hours, at over 30 degrees in the shade, sweat breaks out of all pores in the dark, heavy textile suits. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to drive a 100-kilometer section of the original track of the “Baja 1000” rally through soft sand with fully packed motorcycles. Completely exhausted, I pitch the tents together with three Australians on a lonely beach in the evening.
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Dense jungle in Belize
A few days later the contrasting program: For more than 300 kilometers there is curve after curve, a small road meanders through green forests from sea level to 2800 meters. We celebrate Mexican Independence Day with locals and lots of tequila. I stay in Mexico for more than four weeks, lie on the Caribbean beaches of Isla Mujeres, dive in crystal clear water, look at Mayan ruins and drive a total of more than 7,000 kilometers. If you don’t walk or drive alone through dark streets at night, you have little to fear in Mexico.
The same applies to Belize, which seems to consist entirely of dense jungle. Huge ferns hang on the road that winds through lush green landscapes. The high humidity is bothering me, it is stiflingly hot, no breeze blows under the leaden sky. In all the villages, children in school uniforms wave to me. Later I see uniforms again, this time in bright orange: a dozen prisoners are plowing a field, armed guards on horses keep a watchful eye on them.
Motorcycle tour Panamericana part 1
From Alaska to California
Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
Pit stop in Calgary
Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are small countries where I only stay a few days each. I step on the gas, finally want to escape the humid heat of Central America and let the motorcycle fly from Panama to Colombia by air freight. There is no navigable land connection, and transport by ship would hardly cost less.
In addition to banana and coffee plantations, Ecuador also offers breathtaking motorcycle routes: I swing almost 1000 kilometers on good and little-traveled country roads through the small country and cross the equator here. The climate is pleasantly warm, also in Peru. The Panamericana runs along the coast as a boring four-lane motorway. So off to the mountains!
A bag of coca leaves at almost 5000 meters above sea level
I meander from valley to valley on small gravel roads, sometimes taking a whole morning to cover 100 kilometers. It goes high up into the Peruvian Andes. At an altitude of almost 5000 meters, an old woman sells me a bag of coca leaves for the equivalent of 50 cents. Chewed or brewed as a tea, they are said to prevent headaches. I pitch my tent at an altitude of 4150 meters. The temperature drops rapidly, and the next morning ice glitters on the Yamaha.
To get to Bolivia, I have to cross Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world at 3820 meters. In front of me on the wobbly raft is a heavy truck, half a meter behind me the water ripples while the wooden planks make alarming noises. Shortly before La Paz I drive to a gas station and, as a foreigner, officially pay three times the price of what the locals pay. There’s no more than 85 octane here, but they do Yamaha burns everything without any problems.
Curfew due to census
Strange, why is it so quiet outside? I look out the window and see the streets of the metropolis of La Paz as if empty. There is a curfew across the country due to a census. If they are otherwise allowed on the street, the Bolivians drive comparatively well. It feels like 90 percent of the vehicles are minibuses that serve as shared taxis. Because Bolivia is poor, there is a lack of a lot. Corrugated iron roofs cover mud huts, I hardly see any hospitals, only a few schools. Still, I don’t see sad faces. Laughing children drive an old bicycle rim in front of them with sticks, women crouch by the river with a washboard, oxen pull plows through dry fields. It must have been like that in Germany 100 years ago, and I feel a little out of place with the modern Super Tenere.
Reynaldo mines tin, zinc, lead and copper in the mine.
For ten dollars I book a tour of a mine in the famous Silberberg near Potosi. Thick dust settles over everything within minutes, the light from the headlamps eats its way through the darkness. I crawl with other visitors through the unstable tunnel system inside Cerro Rico for more than five hours. Under unimaginable working conditions, the miners mine copper, zinc, tin and lead up here at an altitude of 4000 meters. The workers numb themselves with coca leaves and a liquor cocktail made from 96 percent alcohol, and we run for our lives when a minero lights the fuses of a handful of dynamite sticks in front of our eyes. Just get out of here!
The evening sun casts long shadows as I drive on a brand new asphalt road to the Salar de Uyuni. A simple room in Uyuni costs five dollars a night, and in the evening the power goes out again. Completely normal here. Early the next morning I drive to the largest salt lake in the world at around 10,500 square kilometers. The tires crunch and the salt reflects the glistening light – nothing works here without sunglasses and a visor. Without a compass either, because as far as the eye can see I see nothing but white. After 150 kilometers south over the perfectly flat surface, I leave the lake and come to the worst washboard runway I have ever skied.
Dakar Rally from Argentina to Chile
With Alex, a friend from Germany, I follow the Dakar Rally from Argentina to Chile – 3500 kilometers in one week at temperatures of over 33 degrees. On some sections, Cyril Despres and Co. rush past just two meters away, on the transfer stages we drive on the road in the middle of the rally convoy. A great experience!
Meanwhile, my Yamaha has over 50,000 kilometers on the clock, only two leaky fork seals and a broken aluminum bracket from the cardan protector tarnish its otherwise perfect balance.
For hours I have been bracing myself against the extreme wind in Patagonia, and gusts of wind at more than 100 km / h push me from the side onto the oncoming lane. A policeman is standing on the street 200 kilometers from my destination and refuses to allow me to continue, as it is too dangerous in the storm. After a short discussion, I head south. Almost exactly nine months to the day after my departure in Alaska, I pass two wooden towers with vertical Ushuaia lettering on them. The journey ends as it began nine months ago: at eight degrees and drizzling rain. The GPS shows latitude 54 degrees south. It doesn’t go any further here. End of story, nothing to add.
Variety is a nuisance: Eating kilometers on the Routa 40 in Patagonia.
Central and South America are relatively easy to travel to. With a little preparation and a reliable motorcycle, nothing stands in the way of adventure.
Visa / documents etc..
German citizens do not need a visa for any of the countries visited. Entry as a tourist is possible everywhere without any problems, usually a maximum stay of 90 days is granted. The motorcycle must be temporarily imported into each country and officially re-exported when leaving the country. Sounds complicated, but it’s very simple, quick and usually cheap or even free. A Carnet de Passage is not required for any of the countries visited. The international driver’s license was never required, but should be carried for safety’s sake; The same applies to the international vehicle registration document.
For example, STA-Travel and ADAC offer international health insurance for trips lasting several months. It’s worth comparing, the tariffs differ significantly in some cases. Liability insurance for the motorcycle is compulsory in most countries and can often be bought directly at the border for relatively little money. You shouldn’t drive without this protection. Anyone involved in an accident in Mexico, for example, and who does not have insurance must go to jail until the matter has been resolved.
MairDumont / Claudia Werel
The trip lasted a total of six months. 40,000 kilometers were covered.
Workshops / maintenance / tires
Almost all workshops in Central America specialize in scooters and mopeds, they have little experience with modern motorcycles. Wear parts are hard to come by, depending on the make and model. Here it can be worthwhile to bring the parts with you or to send them to you or have them brought along. In Chile and Argentina there are good workshops of almost all brands in the metropolises, but with hefty prices. Tires: Depending on the dimensions you need, you may have to search a little longer, but you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for. The police in Central and South America are not interested in a 140 mm rear tire instead of a 150 mm. There are small tire workshops everywhere, they are extremely cheap and really repair everything.
There are two ways to get from Panama to Colombia. The sailing ship “Stahlratte” sails once a month and has space for around 20 passengers and ten motorcycles. Price per person including motorcycle: $ 980. Further information at: www.stahlratte.de
Those who are less flexible in terms of time will get away with air freight. Girag Air Cargo flies the motorcycle from Panama City to Bogota, the processing is professional and fast, the motorcycle is fully loaded and lashed on a pallet. Price: $ 902, payable in cash. More information at www.girag.com, the staff speak english.
In addition to the cargo flight, a ticket for the motorcycle crew must be booked. There are several providers directly at the airport, the prices are around 450 US dollars. For the return transport from South America to Germany, the costs for air or sea freight from Chile are almost the same. The pure transport costs for sea freight are often cheaper, but the handling, customs and port fees (up to 300 euros in Hamburg) can add up to 1,800 US dollars. The return of the Yamaha from Chile to Germany was handled by Lufthansa Cargo or Ultramar from Santiago de Chile, for around 1900 US dollars. Contact (English): Mauricio Acevedo, firstname.lastname@example.org
The credit card (Visa) from Deutsche Kreditbank is recommended here. You can use it to withdraw money free of charge anywhere in the world. When using a Mastercard from the Sparkasse account, a fee of 6 euros was due per withdrawal. Nevertheless, two different credit cards should be included on the trip.
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