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Old 7 May 2013
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My story in bolivia and peru

Hello everyone!
My name is Yossi, I'm 23 years old from israel, and i've started travelling by motorcycle in south america a month and a half ago.
I've always dreamed of travelling by bike, but it seemed way too expensive and difficult. in santa cruz in bolivia i looked up prices and found that the best decent japanese bike i could get, a 07 suzuki drz-400s, cost 5000$ which is waaay out of my budget. but after looking around some more, i found a chinese 250cc for only 1350$ including insurance and plates, and decided to go for it. if i'll have to i could just abandon it and carry on.
so far i've done 4400km on the bike- from santa cruz to sucre, tupiza, uyuni, potosi, la paz, rerrunebeque, back to la paz and a few days ago crossed the border to cusco in peru.
obviously the bike has some disadvantages- the engine only produces 25hp, and in the altitudes of the andes (3500m+) it probably only has 15hp, so the maximum speed is only 80 km/h. the bike does not have an oil filter, so i need to change the oil every 1000km. the electrical system is crap and keeps on giving me trouble. but the bike is cheap, the parts are cheap, and everything is easily accessible so i'm learning how to maintain it by myself easily, despite having no prior experience and this being my first bike.
so far i've had a few interesting stories-being stuck at the side of the road twice and being accomodated by generous locals, being arrested for crashing into another motorcycle and injuring two women(thankfully only flesh wounds...), drowning in a river and having a friendly local help me drain the water from the engine and get it to work again, and riding through some amazing scenery.
i'll upload more photos and update this thread as my trip continues, i plan on finishing in colombia in three months, for now i just want to say 2 important things:
1. it is possible for a gringo to exit bolivia with a bolivian vehicle, as long as you tell the person at Aduanas that you will be returning to bolivia in a set number of days (i got a permit for 120 days, but i have no intention of returning to bolivia).
2. the chinese motorcycles are not the most reliable, but they're not too bad(so far!). i've done 4400km without mechanical problems, and i met another colombian dude who did 26000km(!) on his chinese quinqi 250cc without mechanical issues. in any case parts are dirt cheap so changing them isn't very difficult. i'll continue reporting as the miles rack up

for now i'm in cusco for the next two weeks, and then i plan riding to arequipa-nazca-ica-lima-huaraz-trujillo-mancora-(ecuador)guayaquil-quito-(colombia)cali-medellin-bogota-cartagena. if anyone is going by that route in the next three months, let me know. and if anyone has any recommendations for nice roads or scenery- please share!
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Old 7 May 2013
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Great story! Do you have any kind of travel blog or web page?

Bruce Clarke - 2020 Yamaha XV250
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Old 8 May 2013
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Originally Posted by osabros View Post
so far i've done 4400km on the bike- from santa cruz to sucre, tupiza, uyuni, potosi, la paz, rerrunebeque, back to la paz and a few days ago crossed the border to cusco in peru.
Hi Yossi,

very nice post, thanks a lot for sharing

I'm going to travel in that zones in few weeks, so please, could you tell about nice roads you have done so far, or other experiences such as hints about border crossing, or others to avoid or to experience...

many thanks for your help and have a great proceeding of your trip


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Old 9 May 2013
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Great post, very refreshing, this is what travelling by motorcycle is all about. Bolivia is one of the nicest places to ride a bike. Abrazos Fernando
Fernando Costa
Ilhabela, SP BRAZIL
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Old 9 May 2013
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hey everyone! thanks for the replies. i haven't yet opened a blog, i actually think it's better to write in the forums so that my story and details will be easily accessible in searches for other people's sake. if this is against the rules or something let me know. and excuse me for not writing with capitals or perfect grammer- it's just internet laziness

Chapter one: santa cruz to Tupiza- learning the new bike, amazing scenery and being saved from drowning.

So I land in Santa Cruz Bolivia after three months in south america. I've backpacked through the highlights of Argentina, Chile and Brazil, but as much as I enjoy travelling, it just doesn't feel like it's an adventure. I'm thinking of buying a bike, but I'm afraid of the costs- in Israel a new basic kawasaki klx250 costs nearly 11,000 USD, as much as the budget for the rest of my trip! and gasoline is 2 USD per liter! but then again this is Bolivia- the least advanced and cheapest country in south america. It must be slightly cheaper here!
First day and I grab a taxi, tell the driver I need a bike to travel to Colombia. "You need something japanese", he says, and takes me to some agencies. the first bike is a transalp for 8500 USD, not good. The second agency has a beautiful suzuki DRZ-400s, but it costs 5000 USD. Disappointed, I return to my hostel, and in front of my hostel i find a small bike with big bags. I take a look around it and out of the hostel comes jorge- a friendly 26 year old colombian. i ask him a few questions, and he tells me his chinese 250cc quinqi has travelled 26,000 km without fault, and his plan is to take it all around the world. amazed, i decide to check out the chinese options.
next day i come to a street full of agencies selling chinese bikes, and i find the prices ridiculous- a brand new 2013 montero mt250 (a reasonable copy of a honda xr250) costs onlt 1250$, with another 100$ for plates and a year of bolivian SOAT (segurancia obligatoria para accidente de transporte, it's what they call insurance here in SA). after a short test drive, i decide to go for it.
and after three days (it was the weekend) i get my brand new bike. a dream come true!!!

as soon as i return to my hostel and show my bike to friendly Jorge, he is visibly impressed and immediatley sits down and shows and explains all the different parts of the engine. i've had a bit of experience riding friend's bikes, but i've never had one of my own. Jorge teaches me about chain adjustment and some more basic maintanence. we buy a new spark plug made from Iridium which he says should last me 30-40 thousand km, and some chain lube and a motul kit for puncture repair. important stuff.
the next day we drive to lomas de arena, enormous sand dunes outside santa cruz, for my first ever off road drive on a bike. jorge patiently explains to me how to stand up to absorb the bumps, how to choose a good trail, and how to cross streams. we get to the sand and i feel the bike constantly slipping and twisting, but thanks to my chunky off road tires and by taking it slowly and listening to my new mentor it comes easy.

on our return to santa cruz on the highway i start hearing strange squeaking noises from the front disk. jorge tries to help me figure it out, but it comes and goes so it's difficult to figure out the source. (after 500 km the squeaking stopped- i reckon the front disk wasn't aligned well but after wearing it in a bit it sits better in the shoes).
another dilemma i'm dealing with is how to break in the engine. everyone that sees my new bike tells me to take it easy for the first 1000km, but after reading THIS article i think to myself- it's a 1350$ bike, let's experiment and try what the guy says, and when i finish with the bike i'll open up the engine and see for myself if he's right. so after 60km of riding calmly, i start driving the bike at full throttle- but only after the oil has heated up and given the road conditions. in a few months i'll see if it was good or bad.
i say goodbye to jorge, and leave for my first journey- santa cruz to samaipata. i tie my backpack to the rails on the back of the bike, and off we go! the scenery itself is amazing, and add to that the adrenaline of my first taste of the ultimate freedom the ride is only 120 km, through twisting mountain roads, sometimes paved and sometimes dirt, and i'm loving every meter of it!

i arrive in samaipata and meet some friends, and go on a few trails surrounding the village. samaipata is awesome- a small village surrounded by green mountains and beautiful and challenging trails. fantastic.
after three days with my mates, they take a bus to sucre and i decide to join them but to take the scenic route- samaipata-vallegrande-la higuera-villa serrano-sucre. 500 km of almost only dirt, in two days. the first day i ride to vallegrande and stay there the night. it's a small and pretty town, but symbolic because it was there that another dude that travelled through SA on a bike - Che Guevara - was displayed to the public after being caught and killed in nearby la higuera.
on the morning of the second day i wake up early and try to start my bike unsuccessfully. after gliding out of the parking lot for 200 meters and trying to figure out the problem, i ask some bolivian guy for help and he kindly shows me how to give it a bit of gas while starting. it was from this occurance that i spent the next 100km buggering up my electric starter- i'd play with the
throttle while trying to start it, and not understand why the bloody thing was so difficult to start! another friendly bolivian showed me to just push the starter and gas it when the engine has started, and if it still is difficult to slightly raise the idle speed and the bike starts up perfectly.

this route was by far and away the most beautiful road i have ever seen. a narrow dirt track going up and down green mountains and crossing enormous bridges on the wide rivers. abandoned villages, mud houses without electricity, and a feeling of authenticity i haven't seen anywhere else since. during the 200km from vallegrande to villa serrano, i saw three other cars on the road.
unfortunatley towards the end of my route i got cocky, and drove too fast through some muddy areas of the road. i slipped and fell three times, got covered in mud, and learned to be careful while approaching such trecherous surfaces.
in sucre i reunited with my friends, and spent a few days relaxing. i went to nearby mechanic to replace my rear sprocket- the bike has really short gears so it would only go 95 km/h at best. after replacing the rear sprocket and removing two links of the chain, i spoke to the guy about going to the salt flats of uyuni and la paz and how the altitude will affect my performance- santa cruz is 400m above sea level, while uyuni and la paz are almost 4000m. the guys recommended i replace the jet of the carburetor, and showed exactly how he did it. i had a 105 jet originally, and according to his calculation i needed 10% less, so i got a 95. perfect. i really felt how the bike responded much better and had a higher top speed.
another beautiful area i drove in was the maragua crater outside sucre- a series of villages in a beautiful flower shaped crater with amazing colors. 110 km, 5-6 hours, utter beauty. recommended.

from sucre i drove the 400 km to tupiza via potosi in one day. the road from sucre to potosi is very pretty, a steep climb to the highest city in the world- over 4000m. i really felt how the bike was losing power in the altitude- even after changing the jet and the rear sprocket i could only get to 75 km/h. but at least the road was paved, which is something i learned to appreciate. from
potosi to tupiza i had 240 km, and according to my manual i had 12L in my gas tank. the bike was doing 23-24 km/l, which gives me a theoretical range of 266km. after refueling in potosi i headed for tupiza assuming i'll get there without needing to refuel. i was wrong... i wanted to refuel after 120 km, but the gas station didn't have gas, and 7 km before tupiza i ran out of gas. i didn't know then how far i was from tupiza, so i didn't want to immediatley switch to my reserve, but luckily the road was going downhill so i just glided in neutral all the way to tupiza. you should've seen the look on the policemen's faces when they saw me, hunched low for aerodynamics gliding silently through their checkpoint. but i made it to tupiza, switched to my reserve and made it to the gas station. i was feeling lucky that day, but i never imagined how much...
i reunited with some friends in tupiza, and had an hour and a half before sundown to find a nice trail. i rode out to the countryside looking for something interesting, when again i made the mistake of being way too cocky- i drove too fast, slid around a few times, until i finally slid and fell of the bike at around 30 km/h. thanks to my coat and gloves all i had was a small blue mark on my knee, but i had severed the fuel pipe. with a handy leatherman i shortened the pipe and managed to stretch it to the gas tank. i then started looking for a way back to tupiza, but i was on one side of a small river and the road was on the other side. i reached a place where i thought i could cross, but when i got close i saw it might be a bit deeper than i thought. in a moment of true idiocy i drove forward, went through halfway of the river, and then the bike fell with the exhaust side into the river. dammit.
luckily, on the other side of the river was Dieter, a jeep driver for one of the tour companies. when he saw what happened he helped me pull the bike out of the water, and said the same thing happened to him a few weeks ago! we locked the rear wheel and lifted the bike backwards so the water will exit the exhaust, drained the carburetor, and for ten tense minutes ran the engine at 1500 rpm (at full throttle!) until the engine was hot enough to evaporate all the water that was in the exhaust and engine. after those tense ten minutes the engine roared to 7500 rpm, and i returned safely to tupiza at 80 km/h.
i bought the bike because i lacked adventure, and after only 1500 km i got more than i ever desired. travelling on a bike is awesome. and i am officially the luckiest guy in south america!!

BTW just want to add some general info about bolivia from my experience:
Petrol price- 3.74 bolivianos (0.5~USD) per liter for local plates, 9.8 bolivianos (1.4~USD) for foreign plates.
Traffic police and checkpoints- scarce, usually next to toll booths. very little in cities except la paz.
local insurance for one year- 190 bolivianos (27.5~USD)
Toll Roads- every asphalt road between cities is a toll road, free for motorcycles.
Roads to avoid- Tupiza-Uyuni - terrible dirt road, not very pretty. Coroico-Yucuma- VERY dangerous road, construction work until 2015 closes the road from 0700-1700 every day except sunday.
Personal Highlights- Salar de Uyuni, Tupiza area, Samaipata area, Maragua Crater near Sucre, Chacaltaya mountain next to la paz.
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Old 10 May 2013
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This quote made my day! " i bought the bike because i lacked adventure, and after only 1500 km i got more than i ever desired."

Wonderful ride report...I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

Keep up the great work!
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Old 17 May 2013
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up the center of Peru

Hey! DON'T go down to the coast of Peru. Stay in the beautiful highlands! The roads are great, the people honest, the views FANTASTIC, and great places to stay for cheap! Much of it is even paved!

These are the days to do:

Cuzco to Andahuaylas (I stay at Casa Mansion Hotel, buy there are decent hostels too near the center of town)
Andahuaylas to Ayacucho (I love Marquez de Valdelirios, but Hostal Florida near the plaza is cheaper)
Ayacucho to Huancayo (Hostal Balsas is great price and nice location out of town)
Huancayo to Satipo (INCREDIBLE fun and beautiful road down into the mountain jungle! ) (any of the places near the plaza are ok and safe with a place to store the moto)
Satipo to Oxapampa, the Austrian colony town. (Ask for Italos restaurant at the end of town. He is a great friend and has a hostel too!)
Oxapampa to Puerto Bermudez (Albergue Humbolt by the river run by a crazy Spaniard named Jesus who will treat you like a king!)
Puerto Bermudez to Aguaytia (stay at Hospedaje Turistico Harry)
Aguaytia to Huanuco (Hostal Joe Galvez right on the plaza with a garage next door)
Huanuco to Huaraz (incredible ride between the snowcapped cordillera, all paved now) (stay at Albergue Cherup)
Huaraz to Caraz (short day, but you will need to eat up a few km as the following day will be long) (stay at Los Pinos Lodge)
Caraz to Cabana (on plaza)
Cabana to Huamachuco (stay at Hostal Huamachuco)
Huamachuco to Cajamarca (stay at Los Balcones de la Recoleta, but DONT get a room facing the street!)
Cajamarca to Celendin (stay at Orange B&B if they have finished construction, but if not Hostal Celendin on the plaza is OK)
Celendin to Chachapoyas. This is the most amazing road in Peru! (stay at Chachapoyas Backpackers)
Chachapoyas to Baugua Grande
Bagua Grande to Jaen
Jaen to Ecuador

I can give you more details, names of people, sights to see along the way.... just give me a shout out!


Last edited by charapashanperu; 20 May 2013 at 04:56.
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