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SOUTH AMERICA Topics specific to South America only.
Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  • 1 Post By gatogato
  • 1 Post By markharf
  • 1 Post By Jvlianja
  • 1 Post By dimfta
  • 1 Post By jfman
  • 1 Post By jonnodubai

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  #1  
Old 21 Dec 2017
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questions about road conditions for south america tour

i am planning my bucket list trip from OR, USA down to South America and back to my home in Costa Rica.

I believe having citizenship in both the states and Costa Rica eliminates IDP issues, as well as eliminates tourist entry fees but my question is about the roads further south on the pan american.

i see travel video journals of roads i would not walk my goat on, let alone drive my FJR 1300 on. obviously i want to take in some off the highway journey's, but i have a straight up street bike and my wife, despite being Costa Rican, is spoiled, so too many nights away from a nice hotel is just not gonna happen.

i plan to fly the bike over the gap into Colombia and then Pan American it down to Santiago, over to Buenos Aires, and back up to Colombia.

so my question is, is the pan american highway really as bad as is shown in the videos? I see some commentary about going only 30 kilometers in an hour. I want to complete 20,000 kilometers in South America in 75 days, but obviously it is all about road condition.

Thanks for any advise

Last edited by justmarty; 21 Dec 2017 at 01:54. Reason: misspell
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  #2  
Old 21 Dec 2017
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Most of the Pan-Am is pretty tame from what I can remember. There are lots of washouts which create construction zones with dirt in Mexico and Guatemala. You should be fine with tires like Metzler Tourances for example. If you are riding 2 up then I think that is your best option for tires. I think you should do some kind of off road motorcycle training course with your wife before the trip. Having someone else train your wife and you about situations and falling will raise her confidence on the trip.

Something more important to worry about is where you can find replacement tires on the trip. It is hard to find a 17" motorcycle tire in many parts of Latin America. What tire size does your bike use?
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  #3  
Old 21 Dec 2017
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We all love to document the impossible mud pits, landslides and washed-out bridges, because that's what makes us feel like wild adventurers. What use are photos of smooth asphalt highways, which could just as well be experienced back home?

In fact, the PanAm is basically simple and smooth, just like I-5 or US 97. Every so often a bridge goes down or a stream bed flash-floods, but for the most part you just cruise along wondering what all the fuss is about. You do want to be prepared for those occasional rough patches, and your FJR is going to feel somewhat squirrelly when the time comes, but seldom will conditions be even as bad as rainy-season in C.R. If you're sticking to the main route (as you certainly will, given your mileage goals), you'll be fine.

I'll offer that if you do in fact turn left in Santiago, you'll miss some of the premier sights further south. On the other hand, if you have any intention of taking in the sights, you'll want longer than 75 days in which to do it. That's worth thinking about.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #4  
Old 21 Dec 2017
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thanks mark. that is what i thought. i have the pan american running north south about 40 miles from here and it is not the best road all the time, but i have seen much worse.

thanks for the advise on the southern part of the road below santiago as well. i will weight out options, and 75 days was my first thought time line. got a kid in high school and do not want to leave her for too long. i could always ship my wife home and continue solo for a while!!!

come to think of it........that just might work out great!!
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  #5  
Old 21 Dec 2017
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hey gato, como le va,

thanks for the mexico info. i will be one up driving from the states to cr. good advise on the course but i cut my teeth in 69 riding a honda 50 and had my first bike at 16, a dt250. i have well over 400,000 kilometers on the street and more than a few minutes on a track.

but very sound advise and something i forced my son to do before i ever let him ride on the road. but you did remind me that i should put her through CPR class in case something happens in the middle of no where. no guarantee she will use it on me, but.....

and yes, a 180/55-17. and that is why i was thinking about mailing one ahead. i bet i could send one to DHL in san paulo and they would hold it for a while, or perhaps to a nice hotel and they would hold it till i arrived as well.

i saw an article about a couple on v-storms that ran Heidenau K50, a 35.00 tire and i seriously wondered how they made the trip. i have never had the style you offered, but i will check it out. thanks for the reply.
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  #6  
Old 25 Dec 2017
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Hola Justmarty

Panamerican from Colombia to Ecuador will be fun, and then Ecuador show you great new roads; if you need info about yor 155 80 17 tire I can ask here in Bogota, i heard about Michelin and Pirelli.
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  #7  
Old 26 Dec 2017
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questions about road conditions for south america tour

I live in Arica/ Chile and the roads from here to Santiago are pretty good. Sometimes boring (due to desert crossing) but ok.
Do not hesitate to contact me when you are around Arica, for tips, recommendations or just a


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  #8  
Old 28 Dec 2017
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thanks for the info and the offer on checking for the tire, but i have set up something with a hotel that will hold it for me. remember i live in costa rica and sometimes the calidad de las carreteras makes me wish i had a monster truck.

have a great day and thanks again
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  #9  
Old 28 Dec 2017
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dimfta,

i just might take you up on that drink. thanks for the road info. everyone is very helpful. i was enchanted by the pics of your city a long time ago. quick question i think i know the answer to.

i had a goal of visiting Bolivia via La Paz from Cusco, but i think it is a very cold trip and my wife would not be agreeable to that. short distance she is ok, but that route, Cosco to La Paz ,
is all upper elevation, correct?
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  #10  
Old 29 Dec 2017
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For me, South America equals Andes s; now capped mountains, it truly is a beautiful continent and there are roads(now often good ones) that go all up in and out of these majestic mountains.

If you ride the Panam the whole way it will mean a lot of sand, more sand, beaches, big cities and more sand.

Colombia and Ecuador a little better but starting in Peru yes.
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  #11  
Old 11 Jan 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justmarty View Post
dimfta,

i just might take you up on that drink. thanks for the road info. everyone is very helpful. i was enchanted by the pics of your city a long time ago. quick question i think i know the answer to.

i had a goal of visiting Bolivia via La Paz from Cusco, but i think it is a very cold trip and my wife would not be agreeable to that. short distance she is ok, but that route, Cosco to La Paz ,
is all upper elevation, correct?


Yes, but not too high just around 3500 m over sea level.
You have to go from Cusco to Puno (a nice city in titicaca lake) I recommend stay there and visit the floating islands of Uros. Is a mid day trip by boat and very cheap.
After there, you have to go to Copacabana (Bolivia) to La Paz.
Is cold when the sun goes to bed hahaha, so you can drive only during the day in that highlands.
From La Paz to Arica you have to ride 500 km passing near Chungara lake (the highest lake of the world) at 4800 m osl. You will see a lot of llamas, vicuñas and others wild animals


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  #12  
Old 20 Jan 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
We all love to document the impossible mud pits, landslides and washed-out bridges, because that's what makes us feel like wild adventurers. What use are photos of smooth asphalt highways, which could just as well be experienced back home?

In fact, the PanAm is basically simple and smooth, just like I-5 or US 97. Every so often a bridge goes down or a stream bed flash-floods, but for the most part you just cruise along wondering what all the fuss is about. You do want to be prepared for those occasional rough patches, and your FJR is going to feel somewhat squirrelly when the time comes, but seldom will conditions be even as bad as rainy-season in C.R. If you're sticking to the main route (as you certainly will, given your mileage goals), you'll be fine.

I'll offer that if you do in fact turn left in Santiago, you'll miss some of the premier sights further south. On the other hand, if you have any intention of taking in the sights, you'll want longer than 75 days in which to do it. That's worth thinking about.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
Without repeating what Mark has said I agree with all of it !

I am currently on the Ushuaia to Dead Horse general direction and doing it over 3 years in 15 day stints every 6 months ( job wife and kids to return to) now in Quito - all of the region is passable with a pillion up behind I am riding solo but met others who are 2 up and the whole experience is just awesome !
I crossed over the Andes 7 times Chile / Argentina just because i could and what an experience, especially the people you will meet all along the way - as we say in Ireland "a stranger is a friend who you haven't met yet"
the only delay I had along the way was when I was badly detained- delayed by two police men in a southern Argentina remote checkpoint - they made me show them in detail the entire route, drink tea, take selfies have a laugh and then they called ahead to a to a forward town to secure a room for me for the night !! just brilliant !
one advice is to stay in Hostels you will get recommendations here on HU and along the route - they are mostly clean and much more friendly than hotels .....
safe riding and enjoy
Jonno
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  #13  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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I dunno - 20,000 KM in just 10 weeks. That's a lot of riding and not a lot of sight seeing. Lots of folks will take months to do that same trip.
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  #14  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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You can take your FJR and you don't need to stay on the Pan Am. I took a Victory Cruiser on that trip and only took the Pan Am when I had no choice or it was the more interesting ride. The trickiest part was the crossing from Ecuador to Peru at La Balsa, but if an old guy on a big fat bike can do it, so can you. A slightly aggressive front tire is a good idea, but I just rode with what was on the bike and bought whatever was available on my route. I was actually hoping to create a presentation on street bike overland travel at an HU meeting because I think some would be interested in that.
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  #15  
Old 28 Jan 2018
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It's not the Panamericana that generates all of those dramatic images; it's the intentional detours some folks make. I don't recall any place that would have been much of a challenge on a street bike. You might, on some occasion, find a muddy detour around a construction but for the most part, you'll find typical two-lane conditions with potholes. The Tico/ Panamanian portion is pretty typical of the rest. When you get to the desert in Peru and Chile you'll have just the right bike. Have fun!
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