October 04, 2006 GMT
Colombia here I come...

The bike is strapped to a pallet, and I have a plane ticket.

Just a quick update to let you know I made it to Panama. This has been a hectic couple of days, but the bike will fly tonight (Tuesday), and I have a flight tomorrow to Bogota. I stayed at a real interesting place called Puerto Viejo, in Costa Rica for a couple days since I updated last, and crossed the border to Panama at a real out of the way spot. Beats the hell out of taking the PanAm, but I don´t have the energy to go into detail now. Next update will be from South America.

Me and the dogs on the beach in Costa Rica.

Packed up and leaving Nosara Coast Rica. I´m going to miss that place. photos by Lorainne Chittock

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 02:02 AM GMT
October 07, 2006 GMT
Last stop in Costa Rica

I'm getting a little out of order here, but I wanted to finish writing about Central America before going on to my first impressions of Colombia. I am in Medellin now, and everything is good.

Oct. 4, 2006

I left La Fortuna, headed for the Carribean coast. I originally thought I would just stop for the night in Puerto Limon, and head for Panama the next day. When I got to PL, it seemed pretty dumpy. This is basically a shipping town, and supposedly the center of Costa Rica's underage prostitute business. There were billboards up saying how strict Costa Rica'a laws are on sex with minors. So, I took a quick look at my trusty Lonley Planet book, and decided to try Puerto Viejo, another couple hours down the road. I'm sure glad I did, and ended up spending a couple days there.

Puerto Viejo is touristy, but not in the industrial way, it is a bit sceney though. This has a real Carribean vibe to it, lots of rastas and reggae. If I hear "red,red wine" or "buffalo soldier" one more time, I'm gonna scream. Met a guy from Madison here last night at a bar shooting pool. He is about 30, got hurt in a car wreck and got a settlement that lets him live here on the cheap. Once again, you never know where you will run into someone with a Madison connection. I think a lot of the gringos are just here for the drugs. I don't know where I have ever been asked as repeatedly and openly if I wanted some ganja or a prostitute. Being Costa Rica, part of the sales pitch is that it is organic marijuana. I didn't ask if the prostitutes were all natural, I suspect some of them have artificial ingredients. People smoke openly in the bars, and I got enough of a contact high to get the cotton mouth thing. It's a good thing I don't have a job, I probably wouldn't pass a drug test now. This is all at night, during the day the town doesn't have a sleazy feel to it. There is a strip of beach about 10 miles long that has small hotels and restaurants dotted along it, but the actual town is small, and you can walk everywhere. I rented a bicycle and some snorkel gear, and rode out of town to a beach with a reef just off shore. The water was nice and clear, but I can't really say I saw any significant wildlife. I did get 25 miles or so in on the bike, which felt good.

From Puerto Viejo, it is only 50 miles or so to the Panama border. I was hoping this border crossing at Guabito would be easier than the Paso Canoas crossing on the PanAm that I used on my other trip here. This border ended up being really small, with only some semi trucks waiting to cross. Paperwork wise, this made it very easy, but physically crossing the borde was the most interesting yet.

The bridge across the river dividing costa Rica and Panama is an abandoned railroad bridge. They just laid some 2 x 12 planks on the ties outside of the rails for the trucks to drive on. It was drizzling rain, so the planks were greasy, wet and slippery. There are actually 2 bridges like this, the second one is a few miles into Panama. There were guardrails for most of their length, but in the places there weren't, it was a long way down to the river. I just crept along, with both feet down. After the bridges the road was in excellent shape, the best I had been on since Mexico, I think. The islands of Boca del Toro are the attraction in this corner of Panama, but I had spent my time budget for Panama in Costa Rica, so I had to pass them by. The road goes south, over a suprisingly high mountain range, where you climb up through the clouds, and then back down through them. After getting down to the valley floor again, I went through some farm country before meeting up with the PanAm highway, just east of the city of David. I rode for another 100 or so uneventful miles and got a hotel in the city of Santiago.

The next day I hoped to have an easy ride of 200 miles into Tocumen, where the airport is, just past Panama City, all on freeway. Wishful thinking. In the first 2 hours, I was stopped by cops 4 times. The second one wanted money. First you have to understand that in this part of Panama, the highway is a modern 4 lane divided road, not the quality of a US interstate, but close. The posted speed limit is 80 kph (50 mph), which is absurdly low, and is ignored by everyone. When you go through a town, the limit is 50 kph (30 mph), and if you actually went that speed, you would be flattened from behind. So anyway, the first cop flagged me over, asked for my liscense and passport, looked them over and sent me on my way. The second cop was on a motorcycle on the shoulder, and pointed me to the side of the road. I pulled over onto the shoulder, and he walked up to me with his ticket book ready, and said that I had a big problem, that I was speeding. The fine was $100 dollars, and I would have to pay it in Panama City. This was in one of the 30 mph zones, and I was going faster than that, but like I said, there is no way you could actually go that speed. I argued that point for a while, and the fact that he had no radar or anything, so he didn't know how fast I was going anyway, and then he suggested that if it was a problem for me to pay the fine in PC, I could pay it on the spot for $200. To make a long story short, I offered him $20, and we settled on 30. He took the $30 pretty quickly, so I think I should have started at $10. This is the second bribe I have paid in about 20,000 miles of Latin American motorcycling, I don't know if that is more or less than most. The third cop stood in the road, and held up his hand for me to stop. I pulled over and he asked for my liscense and passport. He just asked my a bunch of questions about the motorcycle and sent me on my way. By the time the fourth guy pulled me over I was pissed. We went through the liscense and passport thing, and he said I was speeding. I said I was not speeding and would he please return my passport and liscense so I could get on my way. To my surprise he did.

It was still early in the day, and I thought I would get a chance to look at the locks in the PAnama canal, but before I got there it started raining hard. I said screw it, I'm just going to the airport. Even though it was raining, I wanted to take the road along the ocean through Panama City, so I headed into town. Mistake. Because of the rain, many of the streets were flooded. I got caught in a one way flooded street, and after watching trucks go through, could see it was pretty deep. I was still pissed, so I said screw it, I'm going for it. The water was over the brake caliper on the front wheel, but the engine never missed a beat, I kept it revved up and slipped the clutch through the water. At least I got to see all the new construction going on in PC. There are high rises going up left and right. PC is a very modern looking city, not like most of the other central american capitols. So, I got to Tocumen, where the airport is, and found a hotel close by. It's most important feature was they had ESPN on the lounge TV, so I could see the Packers on Monday Night Football, plus it was only a $2 cab ride to the airport. Unfortunately, I left my overpants draped over the bike to dry, and forgot to bring them in, and somebody swiped them. So let's see, I got busted for speeding, got my rain pants stolen, and the Packers got their asses whupped, not a good day for the home team.

The next day I got things orangized with the air freight company. I used Girag Air Cargo, as I had used them once before to ship my bike from Panama City to Miami, and they did a fine job that time. I knew the drill from the time before, very little fuel in the tank, disconnect the battery, remove mirrors and windshield and that's about it. They placed the bike on one of their standard aluminum pallets that lock to the floor of their planes and strapped it down. This took most of the day, partly because it was raining again, of course. I took a cab back to the hotel, did laundry, checked email, and got ready for my flight the next day. It was only an hour and 10 minutes in the air for PC to Bogota, so I didn't get much of a chance to wonder if I had made the right decision.

Colombia. That has been the biggest question in planning this trip. Through it or around it? From what I have been able to read, it seems to be quite a bit safer on the highways than it was a few years ago, but it is still the kidnapping capital of the world. Naturally most of that is among the criminals themselves, or wealthy Colombians held for ransom. I eventually fell off the fence in favor of going to Colombia, mainly because I know several people personally who went through without any problems and loved it. Past the point of no return now.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 05:03 AM GMT
October 09, 2006 GMT
First Impressions of Colombia

Greetings from Medellin!

The plane ride from Panama City to Bogota was uneventful. At the last minute, the air freight company said I couldn't leave the tank bag and tank panniers on the bike. I wanted to leave them on and stretch wrap them to keep
inquisitive people from unzipping them, but they said no. So, I was carrying more stuff with me on the plane than I wanted to. Immigration was easy, they just asked why I was in Colombia, I said vacation, and they gave me a 60 day visa, no cost. Since i was carrying so much stuff, I caught a cab to the cargo terminal. I was going to just confirm that the bike was there, get a hotel, and come back the next morning to extricate the bike from customs, so I had the cab driver wait. The bike was there, and they said I could get it today, if I wanted. They told me to take this pile of papers they gave me, and go to customs to get a permit so they could release the bike. The cab driver knew where customs was, maybe 1/2 mile away, and we drove over there. She waited while I went in, filled out a form, made some copies, and was told to return to the air freight company, and wait for a customs inspector to look at the bike. The cab driver took me back over there, and I paid her $10. The inspector, who was a woman showed up after an hour or so, took a look at the bike, check VIN number etc., then told me I would have to have insurance and a "chaleca" before I could take the bike.

The chaleca is a vest with your license plate number on it. The story I got was that some years ago, when the drug wars were hotter, there were so many assasinations by gunmen on motorcycles, that they made all motorcyclists wear these vests so the cops could ID them easier. Now if I was going to do a shooting, I think I would use a fake license number anyway, but this is government we are talking about here. You also have to have your number on the back of your helmet. About this time, the inspectors husband, Oscar, showed up for some reason, and he and I started talking travel and motorcycles, and he offered to take me around to get my insurance and chaleca. I gratefully accepted, because I could not folow the directions they were giving me about where to go for them. The insurance place was right down the road, but they didn't do motorcycles, so he made a call on his cell phone and found another place to go. We drove there and I filled out the form and they printed up a card for proof, but they got a digit wrong in my VIN. I hated to make them do it over again, as it had taken awhile, but no sense in not having it right. Then we went to a street that was nothing but motorcycle shops, and got atarted on having my vest made. When they got done, there was a digit wrong here too, so I had to get it done over too. By this time I was really feeling bad about wasting Oscar's night running me around like this, when he asked if I wanted to stay at their house that night, since it was now too late to get the bike. I told him I had money and had planned on getting a hotel anyway, he insisted it was fine and called his wife, who said their two boys wanted to meet me also. So we went to their house which was a townhouse type thing in a gated community, nicer than my place. They fed me dinner, and I tried my best to explian my trip, what I thought of Colombia, and life in the US, hopefully my spanish was close enough that I didn't start any international incidents by saying the wrong thing. The kids were maybe 11 and 8, and I told them I had nieces and nephews their ages. Anyway, we had a real nice time. The next day, Oscar and I went to the freight company and got the bike. I tried to give him some money, but he wouldn't hear of it, but at least he let me put some gas in his car. So, all told it cost me about $45 for insurance, $15 for my vest, and 40 cents for some copies, to get the bike out of customs.

I got some directions to get me started out of town and got on the road. I thought about looking around Bogota a little, but the place is like 7 million people or something and I just didn't want to deal with it. Bogota sets the new standard for poor or nonexistent signage, and after stopping for directions at least 4 times, I was on the highway to Medellin. I was going to Medellin because a guy who posts on Horizons has a hostel type thing there, and I thought it would be nice to get some native info on the country, especially given the reputation Colombia has.

The first thing I noticed was how many people were out riding high end road bicycles on the highway shoulder. I'm sure in the first 50 miles out of Bogota, I saw more bike riders than I had seen the whole trip up to now. A perk of riding a motocycle here is you don't have to pay road tolls. There were about 4 toll booths between Bogota and Medellin, but they have a 3 foot wide lane just for motorcycles that you just ride through. Very enlightened country. I got roughly halfway to Medellin by 3 in the afternoon, and found a motel on the side of the highway and stopped for the night. I also wanted to repack everything, since my packing system was all screwed up from the plane flight, and it was bothering me that I couldn't remember where I put some things.

The next day I was on the road by 7 and was in Medellin by noon. The last 80 miles into Medellin was unbelieveably heavily patroled by the military. Every bridge had a sandbagged machine gun pit. It was reassuring to see all these guys, but at the same time, they are there for a reason. They wouldn't go to the trouble and expense if they weren't. I was planning on staying a CasaKiwi, a hostel run by HU member Paul Thoreson. As I was sitting on my bike on the side of the road in Medellin, reading my map and looking lost, a couple on a motorcycle pulled up and asked if I needed help. I told them what I was looking for and they said to follow them, and they led me right to it. I gave them my blog address, but they didn't speak any English so they are probably not reading this, but if you are thanks again.

CasaKiwi is located in the Zona Rosa, an upscale part of Medellin, with a lot of nice restaraunts, bars, and night clubs. This part of town is where locals go to treat themselves to a night out. It's fairly expemsive, by Colombian standards, but still reasonable by American ones. Dinner with 2 beers at a great Thai restaurant was about $8. More info at www.casakiwi.net , if you are going to be in the area. One night I went to one of the dance clubs with some people from the hostel, but they play the music painfully loud, and I am just too frickin' old to appreciate that scene any more. On the other hand, it was a good chance to see a lot of hot Colombian babes all dolled up, so it wasn't a total loss. Motorcycles are a big part of upper class Colombian culture, and there are Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Ducati dealers, along with a bunch of independent
shops, all within walkng distance. I bought a pair of Joe Rocket pants to replace the ones that were stolen in Panama. Paul has a garage at the hostel, where I have been parking the bike. I have done a little maintenance on it here. One of the welds on my aluminum panniers split, and I cobbled up a fix with some angle brackets bolted around the corner, changed the oil and just looked it over. I will need a rear tire soon, but I didn't find exactly what I wanted here, and it will go to Quito, and I'll look again there.

Anyway, life is pretty good here in Colombia. People have gone way out of their way to make me feel welcome, and I have had no hassles at all. This is Monday, and I will probably leave here Wednesday and head south toward
Ecuador. It will take me 2 or 3 days to get down there.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 11:47 PM GMT
October 10, 2006 GMT
Pictures From Panama & Colombia

Border between Costa Rica and Panama.

Panama: First nice asphalt road in I don't know how long.

Colombia: Soldiers stopped to talk when I stopped at a store for a coke between Bogota and Medellin. They were not threatening at all, these guys are your friends on the highways here.

Medellin has a metro train system similar to the El in Chicago, only here the hills are so steep that one branch is a cable tram. I rode up and down just to get a look at the city from up high.

View from the cable car looking towards downtown. Medellin is about 2 million people.

Weird sculptures outside the art museum in downtown Medellin. The bridge looking thing in the background is actually the tracks for the Metro.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 10:59 PM GMT
October 16, 2006 GMT
Medellin to Quito


I left Medellin (the locals pronounce it med-eh-ZHEEN, where the "ll" is like a french J in Jacques or Jean) on Wednesday as planned. Paul at Casa Kiwi had suggested that I stop in The town of Salento for the night, and knew of a hostel there he thought I would like. The road south of Medellin was really slow going, as it was a twisty mountain road, with a lot of truck traffic, and small towns. It ended up taking me 5 hours to cover 150 miles. This highway didn't have anywhere near the military presence that the one from Bogota did. Salento was a small town, about 10 miles off the main highway. I found the hostel and cheaped out and got a dorm room, but there was no one else in it, so it was a private room anyway. There is a national park near here, but I decided I need to get some miles in, so I just stayed the night and left in the morning.

The next morning I got on the road fairly early, and had a pretty easy 200 mile ride through farm country to Popayan. This is a colonial era city, on of few that have survived with an intact downtown. It is diferent than anyplace else I have been in Colombia, but I don't think it compares with the colonial cities in Mexico or Guatemala. It's a nice enough town though, and i got a room in a hotel for $12, and that's for a nice place. It's going to be tough going bck to the US and paying American prices again, but I don't have to worry about that for a few months yet.

Shortly after leaving Popayan headed south, the road goes up in elevation, and the country gets drier, turning into grassland rather than the forest and farm areas I had been going through. It reminded me of Wyoming or west Texas, where you get those hundred mile views down a river valley. There was even cactus growing, which I didn't expect in Colombia. I thought I could get across into Ecuador today, but it started raining, which slowed me down, and by the time I got into the town nearest the border I was wet and cold and didn't feel like dealing with the border, so I got a room in a truckers motel.

The next morning, I had just a few miles to the border and got there by 8 am. I don't know why I was surprised, but his turned out to be one of the more pleasant borders of this trip. It took about 10 minutes to get stamped out of Colombia and turn in my vehicle permit, and not more than 30 minutes to get my passport stamped and my motorcycle permit on the Ecuador side. Ecuador uses the US dollar, which is one less mental adjustment I have to make in a new country. It was 150 miles or so to Quito, and there were several military checks on the highway, and I got stopped at one and had to show passport and bike permit, but no big deal. I got to some town north of Quito and there was a fork in the road, so I took it. Both forks were signed to Quito, but the one I took, didn't go past the equator monument hat I have seen in pictures, so I didn't get a picture of that, but I was in the southern hemisphere for the first time. When I got close to quito, a guy pulled up next to me on an XR600, and asked in English where I was going. I really wasn't sure, as I thought I would try the Moto Guest House, which is run by an Ecuadoran who runs guided motorcycle tours, but I didn't have the address. We went to an internet cafe and I looked up the address, and Roberto, the guy on the Honda, led me to it. It turned out that nobody was there, so I headed to the Turtle's Head pub, owned by a British guy, Albert. Albert rides a KTM 950 and also has a Husqvarna 610 SuperMoto, and he posts on Horizons Unlimited, which is how i knew to go there. Like so many of the people I have met on this trip, he has gone way out of his way to make me welcome here. My bike is parked at the bar, along with whichever of Albert's bikes he is not riding. Tomorrow he is going to help me make some phone calls and find a tire for my bike.

Myself and Paul, the owner of Casa Kiwi, in Medellin.

Colombian cycling team training on the highway south of Medellin.

Where do you think these last two were taken? Wyoming? Maybe west Texas? Nope, southern Colombia, south of Popayan.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 04:48 PM GMT
October 23, 2006 GMT
More on Ecuador

As my faithful readers will recall, I met two Ecuadorans, Xavier and Enrique, back in Mexico who were on their way to Alaska on bikes, and we had exchanged emails before we went our seperate ways. While I was back in Quito, I had emailed them to tell them I was in the neighborhood. Xavier wrote back and said that they would be happy to see me, and gave me some pointers on a place to see on the way to their hometown of Ambato. I went to Lake Quilotoa, as Xavier suggested, and it was a great side trip. The lake is in the crater left by a volcanic explosion, I suppose like Crater Lake in Oregon state, although I've never been there. It was about a 2 hour ride off the main highway over some incredibly high mountains to get to the lake. Ecuador has several peaks of nearly 20,000 feet, and while the road didn't go nearly that high, the lake is at 4,000 meters, which is about 13,000 feet, so it is way up there.

I have been over 13,000 feet with this bike in Colorado, so I haven't been too worried about rejetting for altitude, it definitely runs rich and loses power, but there is so much elevation change in these countties, that you would have to always be changing jets, and better too rich than lean. Bolivia is yet to come, and that is higher yet, but so far so good. While I am on the subject of the bike, I don't want to jinx myself, but it has just performed nearly flawlessly, in about 7600 miles so far. As far as routine maintenance, I have changed the oil three times. One time I couldn't find my prefered oil, so I changed it again when I did. I am changing filters every other oil change. I have cleaned the air filter, added water to the battery, and adjusted the chain twice. I changed the rear tire in Quito, to a Japanese Dunlop Trailmax. I could have got a Brazilian Pirelli cheaper, but I have no experience with them. The original Michelin Sirac went almost 8,000 miles, and it had another 1,000 in it, whn I took it off. The only non routine items have been the fan worked intermittently back in Mexico, I traced that to a bad fuse, even though it was not blown. The side stand safety switch stuck once, I still need to find some WD-40 and get it freed up a little better. The right pannier developed a split up one of the welds, I cobbled up a fix in Medellin using some angle brackets to reinforce the corner. Thats it, other that that, put gas in and ride it. Oil consumption has been about 4 ounces in 2500 miles, and very consistent. At the low speeds on most of the mountain roads, I have been getting over 50 mpg, at 75 on US interstates it drops to the low 40's, so speed costs.

Meanwhile, back at the lake, I stayed in a little hostal right by the rim of the crater, run by an indigenous family. There was a husband and wife and their three kids, maybe 11, 9 and 4. A room for the night , with dinner and breakfast the next morning was $6, so you can imagine that it was pretty basic, but they were really nice people and it was very interesting. A bonus was that they spoke the clearest Spanish I have heard in a long time, so I could actualy have some meaningful conversation with them. Their first language was Quechue (sp?), which is a native language that is actualy fairly widely spoken in Ecuador, and I'm told, Peru and Bolivia. I suppose their Spanish is so perfect because it is a second language, and they don't use all they short cuts that a native speaker would.

The next morning, I got directions for an alternate route back to the PanAm highway that was about 50 miles of gravel roads. It went through some little villages, and I got to see some indigenous people herding their llamas and sheep on the road, in native dress. I am not sure native dress is really correct, because the women all wear bowler or fedora hats. A 5 mile or so stretch was paved in round river stones, just like the one I described back in Mexico, on the way to Real de Catorce, right down to the pattern of the stones, so there are some pretty consistent influences all across Latin America. I went back over the two mountain ranges I went over to get to the lake, only slower on the gravel roads. I got back to the highway and rode south to Ambato.

I got to Ambato in the early afternoon. I had the address of the hotel that I had the address to the hotel that Xavier's family has, but Ambato was bigger than I thought it was, and at the first place I stopped for directions, there was a guy there who was delivering parts for a truck dealership who said he was going right by there, and I could just follow him. Once again, people have been unbelieveably friendly and helpful. I got to the hotel and Xavier was there, and I had lunch with him and his family. They set me up with a room in the hotel, and a place to park the bike. Xavier had some work stuff to do, so later on that night Enrique, the other guy I met, picked me up at the hotel and we went to dinner.
Enrique's English is about on par with my Spanish, so we can talk, but it is a lot of work on both our parts. It turned out that the restaraunt we went to was sponsoring a runway model show at a local shopping mall that night. Hmmm, sit around the bar and work on our language skills, or scantily clad models? OK, we're there. They started out with some guy singing, but before we could find some tomatoes to throw, they brought out the girls. It ended up not being that big a deal, but it was still interesting, especially the mall, which put most American malls to shame. Like most of Latin America, small motor cycles are everywhere, and in an appliance store in the mall they had a Suzuki AX-100 street 2-stroke for $1150, including a helmet, a 14" color TV, and a boombox. Such a deal. After that we went to a Karaoke bar to meet two women that he knew. They were prettier than the models. Anyway, they were really into the Karaoke thing and wanted me to sing too. I said I can't even speak Spanish, so I sure can't sing it. To my dismay, there were a few English songs in the book, so I got trapped into doing "Hotel California". At least there is no recording of that, if there was it would be great blackmail material.

The next day, I hung out with Xavier, he manages a small furniture manufacturing plant. Lots of bent and welded tubing and sheet metal, so I felt right at home, with my background in manufacturing. I don't know real much about their business, but when I get some free web time, I need to send him some links on some equipment I think he would find interesting. Then he gave me a little tour around the city. Later that night, I went out for ice cream with Enrique and his 8 year old son Isaac. I am probably spelling that wrong, but the pronounciation is ee-SAHK. Isaac races motocross on a 50cc KTM, so he is off to the right start.

The next day was Saturday, and there was a rally race nearby, and some of Xavier and Enrique's friends were racing. It was mainly a car race, although there was a bike and quad class, with a few entries. We hung around the pits, and they introduced me to their friends, while we checked out the cars and bikes. Except for the language barrier, it was just like a day at the races with my buddies back in Wisconsin, from my Formula Ford driving days. After the rally, Isaac wanted to go to the local go-kart track. He really had to twist our arms, let me tell you. These karts were a lot better than the wimpy rental karts we get in the US. 7 hp Honda OHV engines and no governors, good for at least 50 mph. Isaac drove his so well, I forgot I was racing an 8 year old, and punted him from behind hard enough to get him crossed up pretty good. It didn't even faze him though.

The next day, Sunday, Enrique, Isaac, and me went to the tourist town of Banos. We went to the zoo, paddled around a lake in a raft, went to the hot springs, and just had a relaxing day. Anyway, I just can't express enough how much I appreciate these guys taking me under their wing and showing me around. I got to see so much that I would never have on my own, especially the daily life of working people in technical fields similar to my own. I hope one or both of them can get to the States again at some point so I can return the hospitality.

Lake Quilotoa, in a volcanic crater west of Latacunga, Ecuador. It´s up at 13,000 feet or so, and probably a couple of kilometers across.

The kids in the family who owned the hostal I stayed in at the lake.

Cotopaxi, the world´s highest active volcano at nearly 20,000 feet. It is less than 100 miles from the equator, yet has snow on top all year.

Xavier and Enrique, along with Enrique´s son Isaac. Notice how they are dressed, even near the equator at this elevation it can be cold. If you look closely, in the background you can see Volcan Tunguragua spewing ash.

Citroen cars being prepared at the rally.

Rally car in action.

A local delicacy is Cuy (koo-EE). They look like Guinea pigs or something.

Me chowing down on one of the little guys. I hope you all appreciate the lengths I go to in reporting on life in South America. I thought it had a fishy taste.

Isaac apexing like a pro at the kart track.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at 10:13 PM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!