Motorcycle tour – the north of Chile

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Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile

14th pictures

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Communicative: break at the trucker bar in the middle of nowhere

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Evening walk in San Pedro de Atacama

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

The Pacific caresses the desert and the corrugated iron road

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

On the way to the north of Chile

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Adoptable dogs keep company at Taltal

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Mad Max or Tarantino Western? Quirky desert scenes in the Baquedano engine shed on the coast near Iqique,…

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

…at the armchair near Copiapó…

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

…and in the curve at San Pedro

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Neat: Signs on main Chilean roads

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Sweet but unpredictable: countless vicuñas live in the Atacama highlands

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Optical gift: the view of the Valle de la Luna, the valley of the moon near San Pedro

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Quirky: Drive to the El Tatio geyser in the Atacama highlands

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

The optics of the lizard testify to the proximity to the other species on the Galapagos

Motorcycle tour - the north of Chile
Markus Biebricher

Strengthening is a must

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Motorcycle tour – the north of Chile

Motorcycle tour – the north of Chile
Atacama desert, wild coasts, great passes

Chile is so damn long that you can hardly capture its enormous diversity in one vacation. That is why this time we are prioritizing the north with the Atacama Desert, the wild coasts, great passes, slopes, people and animals.

Markus Biebricher


The knife flashes in the sun as the madman puts it at her throat. A blood-splattering scream, the pretty blonde sinks to the floor with her throat cut. Three screens show the murder at the same time, the next slaughter is only minutes away. In the Chilean trucker pubs, the endless loops of violence, splatter or war films are popular entertainment programs, and we just wanted to relax from the horror trip through the Christo Retendor tunnel. After countless turns in glaring light, we came to this black hole in the rock wall that looks like the entrance to the underworld. Diesel soot, exhaust fumes, dust billowed out of the throat. Drive in there voluntarily? Never, because there is still the promising old gravel pass over the Andes.

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Atacama desert, wild coasts, great passes

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The first 300 meters had fed the hope that it would be possible to tackle the dirt track that had been abandoned for years, then came the first torrent that had simply slashed the path. With all my strength I was able to maneuver the machine through the current. As the next chicane, the pass served a mudflow exit. The slope was gone again. Put your luggage down and imagine that the F 650 Dakar is a trial moped. At some point the front wheel was submerged in drifts of snow. We would have needed a helicopter to overcome them.

Finally sun and hope

For this reason we drove into the Hellmouth hours later and saw nothing, despite the activation of the two auxiliary headlights. Cobblestones, potholes, puddles of oil, that had emerged as a shadow in the short cone of light. Impenetrable soot had made it so difficult to breathe it was as if we were buried alive. From behind the trucks, which were preparing like monsters, threatened to flatten everything. After what felt like an eternity, finally sun and the hope of water in the trucker bar just before the border post.

Wild screams again. Five Chilean truckers stare spellbound at the screen, suckling on their beer glasses. Then I prefer the blazing sun outside and a few border formalities. Argentina feels different. As if it were a little less obliged to order and discipline, as if it might allow a touch more emotions in everyday life. Roads torn away testify to the violence of nature that can rage in the gorges below Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. The BMW stops in front of the Puente del Inca, now a tourist magnet, flanked by shops and colorful markets. Above the hustle and bustle, the Aconcagua graciously shows its head before wrapping itself in clouds again.

No other living things except a few armadillos

In Uspallata we immerse ourselves in the Argentine night and in the life of the proud locals. When the sun rises again, the Dakar is heading north. We tumble past huge clay pans and enjoy the sublime Andes main ridge on the left. On the right, the erosion has carved yellow, red and brown jagged rocks and white limestone sculptures out of the earth. Small tunnels in the mountains testify to the illegal mining of various mineral resources. A gravel road begins from Calingasta, which at first looks easy, but repeatedly pushes the pace with treacherous sand fields or passages made of deep, slippery gravel.

Also surprising is the fact that we don’t encounter any other creatures apart from a few armadillos on 120 kilometers of dirt track. Thunderstorms build up, lightning flashes dangerously close and again we come across torrents from the mountains that have torn the runway under their nails. Sometimes the water has turned the dry clay soil into silt. Not easy to get the machine out of it. But right now in this situation we are happy about every kilo that the small Dakar weighs less than its big GS sisters.

Muchas gracias, Señor!

Finally Las Flores and a hostel to swap mud like lightning for a dinner. The next day sees us in innocent sunshine at the Argentine border post. No, motorbikes are not allowed to jostle, please queue at the end of the line of cars. Not tragic, because that’s how you start a conversation, learn that many Argentines strive for their winter holidays over the Agua Negra Pass to the sea near La Serena in Chile. Because today is New Year’s Eve, a pick-up driver gives the Germans a bottle of champagne. And after a brief discussion, the border officer tolerates the inexplicable lack of an entry document for the BMW. Muchas gracias, Señor!

The road sucks us up into the foothills of the Andes, we see a group of motorcycles, the other vehicles
have evaporated. A mostly well passable gravel road winds up the mountain flanks. First comes that
picturesque penitentiary snow, then behind every curve views that take your breath away. This can not be true. The earth can’t look like that, it has to happen here on Mars, Mercury or Saturn. The grandiose Agua Negra Pass winds up to almost 4,800 meters. We award it the title “most beautiful passport ever”. Maybe everything just went together perfectly today? The golden light of the afternoon sun, the clear air. Up here is the geographical border between Argentina and Chile, but the Chilean border crossing is still a good 100 kilometers away.

In dirty motorcycle clothes on the market square

The descent is just as exciting, in the last glow of the dwindling day you will find a grandiose green lagoon and later friendly customs officers at the border station. Salsa music is booming everywhere, the gentlemen are in a celebratory mood, making it easier for us to return to Chile with jokes and clearly formulated instructions. A good hour’s roller coaster ride later we are in the small town of Vicu˜na. In dirty motorcycle clothes we stand on the town square. Ready to welcome the new year. At twelve o’clock sharp, a couple of tired dogs sneak across the square, we are alone and toast with the only drink our luggage has for sale: warm champagne, well shaken! Everything is quite strange, but half an hour later the events roll over: As if out of nowhere, 500 exuberant people appear, a salsa band is heating up, everyone is dancing. The two tired motorcyclists are mercilessly dragged into the party maelstrom.

The new year takes its course, washing us up on the coast. You could climb around for hours between the rocks, experience crabs, medusa, mussels, seabirds and flotsam. We forget the time. In the lovely seaside resort of Baja Iglesias, I can no longer resist the call of the Pacific. Damn it is that cold! Then we send the studded tires alternately on sandy gravel roads in dune landscapes or on sections of the Pan Americana, if we think we have to make up time.

Atacama desert conquers our hearts

The Atacama Desert casts a spell over us. Conquers our hearts because it is so incredibly diverse and offers unexpected surprises. Like, for example, a delicate red fluff on a yellow background, thanks to El Ni˜no. Or a tattered TV armchair in the middle of nowhere. Works of art made of painted stones on the edge of the slopes. Sometimes the desert is sandy, sometimes rocky, sometimes hilly, sometimes it shows thick chunks of volcanic rock, grandiose canyons or mountain ranges in the distance, and again and again almost indescribable shapes and colors.

Despite all doubts, it is full of life. Often enough, she sends the motorcycle into an infinite expanse that cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. Then amazement and admiration fill both helmets, but the cheers are carried away by the wind as well as the sonorous roar of the single cylinder. Almost every afternoon, a storm from the west sets in from a steel-blue sky, making it difficult to keep the BMW on track. Sand tornadoes are apocalyptic on the horizon. It becomes critical when the gusts strike diagonally from the front or when we encounter a truck on the Pan Americana. It feels like an elephant kicks you in the head or a giant wave hits the BMW.

A delightful change between the sea and the desert

In the bizarre coastal town of Taltal, giant waves are not unknown, because like many places on the Pacific, Taltal is also divided into tsunami hazard and safety zones. All around coastal mountains of rock and sand. To the north, the road meanders through small fishing nests close to the sea. Sometimes it seems as if the desert falls straight into the ocean. You are torn between stopping to explore the coastal cliffs and enjoying the steep curves. The charm of alternating between sea and desert haunts us for many days.

The storm is now blowing diagonally from behind when the desert bay Baquedano comes into view. Sand lashes through the only street. On the left a few cheap restaurants and houses, on the right an old railway museum. Six heavy steam engines from the boom of the saltpeter mining era are located in historic locomotive sheds in front of a huge turntable. The steel giants have been defying the sandstorms for a good 90 years and are shaping a scenario better than in any western. That is why scenes from the James Bond film “A Quantum of Solace” were filmed here at the intersection of two historically important railway lines.

Tires beyond hope

I actually need consolation when Claudia discovers a deep crack in the rear tire of the BMW that is rapidly enlarging. A closer examination reveals further cracks at the roots of the tunnels. The combination of a lot of rear load, sharp stones and extreme height differences was probably too much for the tire. Fortunately, there is a gommista even in the smallest village. These tire professionals mend or vulcanize even hopeless cases. Our tire is beyond all hope, the master says and advises to roll very carefully the 60 kilometers to the desert town of Calama. At sunset we reach the city limits and it becomes magical. Because we discover a Yamaha dealer who has a brand new Metzeler Karoo III lying around and who can still wind it up after work for little money. Probably the only suitable tire within a five hundred kilometer radius. What a lucky star is that under which this journey is written?

A big one, that much is clear, because the lagoons with flamingos, the volcanoes, the geysers and sunsets on the edge of the edge of the valley of the moon are visual gifts that will burn into your soul forever. We see all of this near San Pedro de Atacama. Formerly an oasis for hippies, today a tourist magnet that we no longer like. The slope from Geysir El Tatio towards Calama is also uncomfortable, as it is almost impossible to ski for two. But we don’t give up and believe in a mirage when, after about 20 kilometers of the worst fight against slipping and falling, a new asphalt road suddenly appears on the right hand side. What a relief! It may end up in gravel and dust one day without mercy, but morale is strengthened and the slopes to come are no longer so terrible.

Desert is brutally exploited

Nothing here looks terrible, with the exception of the gigantic mines around Antofagasta. Chile has granted mining rights to the huge companies from the USA and China for good money, but has hardly imposed any environmental requirements. Now the desert, rich in natural resources, is being exploited brutally. Which worries us, because this country is too beautiful to be sacrificed for short-term pursuit of profit. One of the many pieces of evidence of a truly captivating natural presence is the route to Arica. It leads through canyons that can hold a candle to the great role model from the USA. Or the route from Arica to Putre, towards the Bolivian border. The route only appears earthly through crazy truck drivers. And if the TV carnage continues in the trucker bars, the motorcycle paradise is waiting out here.

More information about a motorcycle tour in Chile

Chile is a delightful holiday destination: it is incredibly diverse, easy and safe to travel to, but offers enough opportunities for real adventure. An almost perfect mixture.


The presidential republic of Chile is located in the southern hemisphere in the southwest of South America. The country stretches for 4,300 kilometers in a north-south direction along the Pacific Ocean. It is on average only 180 kilometers wide, borders Peru in the north (160 kilometers borderline), Bolivia in the northeast (861 kilometers), and Argentina in the east (6,308 kilometers). The state has access to the Atlantic via the Strait of Magellan, which belongs entirely to Chile. Due to the enormous north-south extent, but also the extreme height differences in east-west direction, Chile has a great variety of climatic and vegetation zones. In addition, the country lies on the border of several tectonic plates. This is the reason for widespread volcanism and frequent earthquakes. With numerous peaks over 6,000 meters, the Chilean Andes are among the most monumental mountain ranges on earth. The highest point is the Ochos del Salado at 6,893 meters. This giant is also the world’s highest volcano. While the south of Chile is extremely rainy, the Atacama Desert in the north is one of the driest areas on earth.

Economy and culture

In the past, the Atacama Desert was famous for its saltpeter deposits; today, copper is mined there mainly in gigantic mines. This is one of the reasons why Chile is one of the world’s largest producers of raw materials. Thanks to copper, wood, wine and fishery products, Chile is the country with the highest exports in South America. It is a member of the following economic communities: APEC, Mercosur and OECD. The best-known contemporary writer is Isabel Allende, a niece of President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by the notorious military dictator Pinochet in 1973 with the help of the United States. Pablo Neruda (1904 to 1973) was the first Chilean to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Security / accommodation / guide

Even if you sometimes have the impression that you are traveling to a poor developing country, the feeling of modernity, good organization, infrastructure, order and friendliness prevail in everyday life. The same applies to the political stability that exists in spite of latent border conflicts with its neighbors (Bolivia, for example, demands back access to the sea, which it lost to Chile in the saltpeter war between 1879 and 1884). Almost every place has hostels or hotels with WiFi, the mobile network is good, and wild camping is tolerated in the Atacama. The best travel guide for us: Chile, Stefan Loose-Verlag (22.99 euros).

Travel time

The optimal travel time for the whole of Chile is not easy to determine due to the enormous climatic range. The north can be traveled all year round without any problems: motorcyclists enjoy stable weather, drought, little temperature differences between summer and winter. The Mediterranean climate prevails in the center of Chile: the summers are warm and dry, the winters mild but more humid. The south is extremely cold in winter, but often clear, while in summer it is still cool and cloudy.


If you want, you can only travel on asphalt. But there are countless opportunities for piste freaks to tackle off-road routes of all levels of difficulty. The traffic is uncritical compared to other Latin American countries, only some truck drivers stand out for their ruthlessness. The gas station network in the north and south is not really dense, and on some remote routes it doesn’t hurt to have a range of 500 kilometers. The multiple crossing of the Andes main chain on the grandiose pass roads is a pleasure. Those who shy away from crossing the border to Argentina will have fun all the way to the border and back again.

Transport / rental

Many motorcyclists bring their own bikes to Chile. This can be useful if you are on vacation for more than four weeks. Because Olaf Kleinknecht from the shipping company In Time Hamburg makes tempting offers for both sea and air transport ( The authors have had excellent experiences with In Time. The legal residence time for a foreign motor vehicle in Chile is three months.
Who wants to rent:,,,,
This company, for example, offers a KTM 690 Enduro for 90 euros / day. Some companies also offer organized tours or even a buy / buyback model (

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