Motorcycle tour through Bolivia

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Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Daniel Lengwenus

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia 29 pictures

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

1/29 Experienced globetrotter takes on a young student for her first tour of South America. An adventure in itself – for both. When the unequal team then drives across Bolivia, there is always a lot of tension.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus


he just has to live with the consequences.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

3/29 Disconcerting conditions: on this red mud, contact with the ground cannot be avoided in every case.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

4/29 Standing up is all the more difficult if the boots don’t even find some support.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

5/29 “We fight our way to Brazil, meter by meter through the red goo!”

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

6/29 After a lot of dust and deep water, chain maintenance should not be neglected.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

7/29 And if no spare parts are available on the way, a shampoo lid has to help out.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

8/29 “Carefree and quick when cornering. Asphalt can be so beautiful. “

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

9/29 Today on offer: fresh coca leaves against altitude sickness.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

10/29 Completely not shattered: The beautiful butterfly was lucky.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

11/29 Opposites attract: after enduring exertion on the slopes, one likes to indulge in the luxury of a beautiful hotel.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

12/29 Asphalt roads are fun. But the muddy, unpaved trails are the real adventure.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

13/29 Madeleine Becker (23) from Remchingen, a student at the HS Calw in the master’s course in Media Management and Public Communication, summarizes the journey in retrospect in Daniel’s words: “Adventure are those situations that you don’t want to be stuck in when you’re inside.” Yes Since then, not a day has passed without grinning and thinking back to the greatest adventure of my life.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

14/29 And when the old man leads the way, …

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

15/29 “We should have stayed on the main road. The side slopes are so exhausting! “

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

16/29 Sought-after water: In the Pantanal, several arms of water cross the lowlands and create huge swamps and fertile pastureland. Crocodiles also feel at home here.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

17/29 Mature and experienced: Daniel with his 1200 GS.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

18/29 Young and curious: Madeleine with her nimble Yamaha XT 660 R..

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

19/29 “We’re only making slow progress, having a hard time with the slopes and the trucks!”

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

20/29 Curious village youth: everyone is interested in the map on the tank bag.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

21/29 The end of a business trip: after 38 hours on the trestle, even the last coca leaf in the mouth no longer helps. The driver was very lucky that the bank was so gentle.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

22/29 Wellness in Bolivian: Simply washing your face with fresh water can be so nice!

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

23/29 Always fresh on the table: wherever there is cooking, there is deep-fried chicken or deep-fried chicken.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

24/29 Fruitful and rich in vitamins: Everything in fruit that the traveler’s heart desires grows around Tarija.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

25/29 In the Pantanal, on the other hand, there is only swamp. Capybaras thrive in it.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

26/29 A picture of a city: Sucre is nestled in the green Andes at an altitude of 2,800 meters. With its many well-preserved colonial buildings, it is the most beautiful in Bolivia.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

27/29 On the way, however, you have to make do with rather shabby dismounting. Including unexpected guests. Not everyone is calm when they see a tarantula…

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

28/29 The better hotels, on the other hand, offer significantly more. For example this breakfast: empanadas filled with potatoes with onions and chili sauce.

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia Lengwenus

29/29 Bolivia is not easy to travel to. Difficult slope conditions, hardly any civilization, little luxury. But those who face the hardships will experience an original travel experience.

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Motorcycle tour through Bolivia

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia The old man and the brat

Experienced globetrotter takes on a young student for her first tour of South America. An adventure in itself – for both. When the unequal team then drives across Bolivia, there is always a lot of tension.

Madeleine Becker, Daniel Lengwenus


Inky black darkness is suddenly torn apart by a glistening beam of light. What the hell is that?!? A UFO landing in the Bolivian bush? In any case, this bright, strongly blinding light does not seem from this world. In second gear, just above idle, with one hand protecting your eyes, it is not at all easy to keep the fully packed motorcycles in balance on coarse gravel. A few more blind meters and we have made it, the source of the alien dazzling work and … Loud calls, something is moving in the shadows. It takes time for your eyes to get used to it and recognize soldiers in camouflage uniforms. A group of men armed to the teeth forces us to stop at gunpoint.

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They surround us in two groups and prevent us from getting off our motorcycles with rough touches. Blinded by a powerful flashlight held in the eyes, only rifle barrels can be seen in the area when the abrupt request sounds: “Pasaporte!” The guys from the drug police are in a really bad mood. But what weighs worse, they are nervous! Unfortunately, this is also carried over to those who are asked! And that’s us, Madi and me!

He’s completely crazy now?

After I have my passport in my hands again, the soldiers leave me sitting on the motorcycle in the darkness that immediately surrounds me. You can’t even see the tank bag in front of me. Annoyed, I just want to start screaming … But when I look up, this fantastic canopy of stars stifles my anger and makes everything around forget.

Oh yes, Madi behind me is still being interrogated. She’ll probably practice some Spanish on the occasion. “Hey Madi”, I call, “look up at this brilliant starry sky!”

Is he completely crazy now? I’m surrounded by ten men here, I just had a loaded gun in front of my face, and now should I look up at the dark sky? A soldier suddenly yells at me: “What does a 23-year-old from Germany do in the middle of the night on the Bolivian border? With a Brazilian motorcycle, huh? ”Yes, that’s a good question, though. What am I doing here? “Do you have weapons with you?” “No!” “Do you have cocaine with you?” “No!” Two soldiers are fumbling with me and feeling my whole body! Thank goodness I’m wearing thick motorcycle clothes. After what feels like half an hour, the expected sentence sounds: “Usted puede pasar!” We are allowed to continue! Finally! I take a deep breath and look up with relief. Wow! That twinkling starry sky. He is really beautiful.

Like the hiss of an angry female puma

After this liberation, the 50 kilometers to Villamontes run through weightlessly under our coarse gravel. Civilization, the first in Bolivia, welcomes us with dimmed street lighting and a small hotel, which after what we have just experienced seems to offer protection like a fortress. Entering the inner courtyard is like immersing yourself in a haven of security. First take a deep breath and slowly come down again. The next morning we discuss how to continue. After the mammoth stage of over 500 kilometers, actually much too long for South America, the morning becomes a break for relaxation. It only goes as far as Tarija, the provincial capital, which is already in the foothills of the Andes, but still at an acceptable 1873 meters. That’s just 240 kilometers, which we can easily do.

Think! How do you get out of a city when there are no traffic signs, the navigation system doesn’t know your way around and no other maps are available? Inquire! And that takes time.

The first small ascent leads directly along the rock face into a narrow canyon. No vegetation, a boiling hot, dusty stone desert, temperatures around 42 degrees in the shade. But no shadow! Only coarse gravel on the slope and a deep trickle deep down in the gorge. No route limitation whatsoever. The Camino de la Muerte, the road of death, from La Paz to Coroico, is notorious all over the world – and it is scary. This is what this piste from Villamontes to Entre Rios does too. Here in Bolivia, almost all mountain roads seem to deserve the title “Road of Death”. Because every little mistake can be fatal. No fun. I ask my young companion how she is doing. The answer comes from the helmet like the hissing of an angry female puma: “Just go!”

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And now there is a huge truck standing across …

What does he want from me now? I have enough to do with myself here. “Don’t be distracted now, you better concentrate on this street!”, My inner voice tries to tell me. I’ve been at 180 all day because he promised me that it would be easier to drive today. And now there is a huge truck standing across. There is just a handlebar’s width left on the slope. Dani drives up, pauses for a few seconds, accelerates and makes it. Good gracious!

I take a deep breath, gather up all my courage and drive past the truck at walking pace. Don’t look down. Just don’t! How far down there? Help! I have never looked into such a nasty abyss. At least 300 meters! Steep downhill. The walking pace, the look down and this huge fear in me make the motorcycle unstable for a moment. I reflect, accelerate and hiss between the truck and the abyss. After that I’m really exhausted, shaking all over my body. But Dani is driving on again …

The stage is getting longer and longer. We’re making slow progress, struggling with the dust, the precipices, the ruthless truck drivers. They don’t brake for smaller vehicles, so you should always be prepared to spontaneously head for an alternative place. Essential for survival, especially when you are driving on the right side of the abyss and the trucks are on the left side of the wall. That costs time – and energy. It is no longer possible to get to Tarija today. Luckily there is a small place halfway there. And 20 kilometers before that, a large poster advertises the Hotel Plaza there. We are saved! A place, a hotel, accessible until dark, what more could you want?!?

A room in this hotel – for example. But unfortunately it is completely booked out, a number of drilling teams have quartered. They are looking for anything that can be monetized in this part of Bolivia. Minerals, metal, gas … The hotel owner doesn’t want us to sleep in sleeping bags in the courtyard. He recommends an eco-lodge about ten kilometers upstream.

Bratwurst and fresh potato salad

We have to hurry, it will be dark soon. In the last light, with three four-wheel drive pick-ups driving in front of us, we turn right from the main track into a dirt road that ends at a raging ford. The water washes the hoods of the long-legged Toyotas with white spray. We have no chance of getting through with the motorcycles, the water is up to our necks! On the other side, in the meanwhile black night, we see the lights of the lodge high up on the slope.

We grab the bare essentials of luggage and fight our way through this raging current on foot. With the motorcycles we would be somewhere 50 meters further downstream …

Why can’t it just run smoothly in one day? After this horror series, I just want to go to my bunk. Instead, I fight my way through bubbling cold white water with full luggage in the dark. It’s up to my waist, soaking wet is no expression at all.

We stomp into the lodge, dripping. It smells of sausage and fresh potato salad. I’m probably hallucinating already. But no, the guests really eat that. A German runs the eco-lodge. I could kiss her feet for the phenomenal food – finally an evening without the eternally monotonous rice with beans.

Strangers aren’t really welcome here

From Tarija to Potosí, 350 kilometers of wonderful, well-paved curves await us, just as beautiful as in the Alps. Asphalt, especially curved ones, can be such a blessing. We enjoy the carefree curve swing. As nice as the journey was, the gradually decaying mining town of Potosí welcomes us cruelly. At over 4,000 meters, the altitude here gives you severe headaches. And they get worse when you understand the primitive means with which the impoverished miners try to get the most out of the already exploited and long-abandoned mines. The residents are correspondingly irritated and the mood is bad. Strangers are not really welcome here. We notice that very clearly on the Indian market. If we want to take photos, we are insulted. So let’s get away. But it’s so easy to say. My GS won’t start! Here of all places!

Dani grabs my motorcycle and tries to find a replacement battery. Great, now I’m standing alone and abandoned here with his fat GS and should also be on guard. Some Bolivians stop and stare at me. Have you never seen a blonde woman? Or is it because of the fat BMW?

But I’ve survived worse so far. I put on my worst look and check it briefly in the GS mirror. Wow! Not bad, I think, and look resolutely into the eyes of the many gaping men. After half an hour of “evil looks” I hear my trusty XT roar. Daniel brought a small scooter battery with him. I don’t trust her very much, but she gives everything and the boxer actually starts. We can finally get out of this scary city – and my facial muscles relax again.

The truck slides down an embankment with a crash

What is it that is crawling so leisurely over the street that shimmers with the heat? At 100 km / h, I realize far too late that it is a huge tarantula that I can just avoid. In the wake of my suitcases, the cattle are sucked high into the air and fly, palm-sized, towards Madi’s head!

Aaaahhh! A gigantic spider flies just four inches past my visor. Whoa, what a beast! Slowly, but surely, I’ve had enough of this adventure trip. Just three days ago we had a bloody big tarantula in the bathroom. Of course, I only discovered it when I was already in the Evas costume and wanted to shower off the dirt with relish.

Somewhere on State Road 5, one of the most difficult stages of the trip, I have to replace the lost oil plug on the GS with an old shampoo bottle. While I kneel in front of the cylinder and carve out the green plastic part, a truck drives past me at a distance of less than a meter. What is he doing here on the left side of the slope? The driver is asleep, deeply and soundly. I run after and shout him awake so that he doesn’t miss the bridge to the left into the abyss. He jerks up and corrects with a jerky steering movement so that the truck just barely makes it over the bridge.

Annoying, now we have to overtake it later. And during the overtaking process you can’t see anything because of all the sand dust that was blown up. A real blind flight until you finally pass the truck. The problem has just been dealt with, the truck slides down an embankment with a loud crash.

It is best to use every gas station

“Ayuda! Ayuda! Help! Help, ”I scream as loud as I can. We grab our helmets and drive to the scene of the accident. The driver crawls out of the cab covered in blood. The hamster’s cheeks are filled with coca leaves and he says to us: “Me había dormido!” Yes, we saw that you fell asleep. He cries. He’s been on the road for 38 hours and needs the money to support his family. He would have loved to die now, he sighs, he never gets these debts paid off. There seems to be neither insurance nor regulated travel times here. How is it going to go on for the poor fellow now? I don’t even like to think about it. For the rest of the day I drive away anxiously.

Far beyond Santa Cruz, in the Bolivian lowlands, the road stretches as straight as a bolt and well paved to the east, towards Brazil. It is best to use every petrol station, the distances between the small settlements are enormous. Opposite us, German Bolivians, who live here in a similar way to the Amish people in the United States, fill up their tanks: At the back of their horse-drawn vehicle, they fill a large barrel with diesel. A little boy in blue dungarees stares at Madi motionless, without blinking an eyelid. The scene looks like something from the horror flick “The Hills have Eyes”, in which the locals eat tourists. Quickly on before the boy, who keeps on staring, nibbles on Madi. We still have to make it to the next town before it gets dark.

These descendants of German colonialists all look very, very similar. They are all of the same stature, the same features, and all of them have straw-blonde hair. The genes are probably held together in a very narrow pool …

Now they’re all staring at me again. Let’s get out of here! 80 kilometers further we find a nice hotel and a restaurant next door. As everywhere there is rice and chicken. Dani suddenly winces, almost getting a chicken wing stuck in his throat. He stares past me and points very quietly to the front door. Oh no, there are the dungarees again. Hopefully they weren’t really following us? Can it all just be a stupid coincidence? That’s really creepy. Unobtrusively we put the money on the table and run off in no time.

Meter by meter through the red goo

We should have stayed on the main road. After a number of deep and opaque water crossings on a red clay dirt road, I am lying here in the mud and wonder how I can straighten the load again. You can’t even find a secure hold on this slush with your boots on. While I desperately try to get the GS upright, sliding and cursing, Madi is looking for a parking space behind me. Typical woman! After I lifted the cow, which is expressly referring to the GS, in a fit of rage with an adrenaline rush, Madi is standing next to me!

Oh god, if the professional is already there, what will become of me? I have to help quickly now! Kickstand out and, oh no, the XT slides backwards away from me. The same game in three or four other places. I just have nowhere to put it. Anyway, I’ll just put it down. Now quickly to Dani and the stumbled GS.

On this godforsaken, lonely Ruta 10 between San Ignacio and San Juan, we fight our way meter by meter through the red slime. Behind San Matias we finally reach Brazil, completely exhausted. The dark-skinned border policeman looks at my license plate and says in German: “Hey, are you from Germany? Welcome to Brazil! ”For a brief moment it feels like we’ve just come home.

Info Bolivia

Motorcycle tour through Bolivia


2200 kilometers in 16 days. Considerable in view of the road conditions.

Bolivia is not easy to travel to. Difficult slope conditions, hardly any civilization, little luxury. But those who face the hardships will experience an original travel experience.


You should have a good command of Spanish and your motorcycle to experience this unadulterated Bolivia safely. It helps not to be too squeamish and to be able to do without comfort and luxury from time to time.


Since money is not always available at the ATMs and the banks are often closed, there is no avoiding sufficient cash reserves. US dollars, which are also known to the rural population, are best. Many Bolivians are not yet familiar with the euro.


In all cities there are both simple hostels and comfortable hotels that can even be booked via In the provinces, however, things get exciting, as there are often only very rustic accommodations available, which are normally frequented by simple workers. It can happen that you find uninvited guests (see picture gallery) or dirty bed linen. It is therefore advisable to have a sleeping bag with you. In the event that you cannot find accommodation, a light tent in your luggage is not a mistake. However, it is not possible to camp safely everywhere. The best thing to do is to contact trustworthy local people.

getting there

Since Bolivia is a landlocked country, it is imperative that you travel to the neighboring countries. To cross the border you usually have to be patient and the papers have to be well prepared. Anyone who enters with a rented motorcycle also needs a notarized authorization from the landlord. It costs around $ 100 to $ 125.


As far as we know, motorbikes are not available for rent in Bolivia. The next alternative is in Chile: it offers all BMW enduros, but the small G 650 GS costs around 130 US dollars a day. If you bring your own motorcycle, you should also take the route via Chile, as customs work there without any problems.

The Hamburg-based shipping company In Time ships motorcycles from Hamburg to Valparaíso. The costs for this are around 2000 euros there and back. The motorcycle must be packed in a transport box for this.

If you want to leave your motorcycle in South America after the tour, you have to find out exactly how long a motorcycle can stay in which country. In most cases, no more than three, but no more than six months are allowed. Only in Uruguay can a motorcycle be officially imported for a whole year. In Brazil, imports are no longer documented at all if you as a German have a German license plate. The author’s motorcycle is in Brazil. You could also rent a Yamaha XT 660 there for 75 euros a day, but it’s a long way from southern Brazil to Bolivia. More detailed information about rent or storage is available at

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