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SOUTH AMERICA Topics specific to South America only.
Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

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


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #1  
Old 6 Sep 2023
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South America Or The Full Pan American Highway?

Hi folks!

So time is hurtling by at an alarming rate and the “big trip” is not too far away now and the time to start the real planning must begin. My wife and I are planning on taking a 12 month sabbatical from work

Originally we planned to do the Pan American Highway from north to south on our motorcycle (2 up as my wife doesn’t ride), but on speaking to a few travellers we’re having a re-think, our heads have been turned by the people on the road saying that you could easily do one full year in South America.

For you guys who have actually ridden the full Pan American and or travelled extensively in South America we’d love to hear your thoughts/advice.

Many thanks

Gav & Jack
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  #2  
Old 6 Sep 2023
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Depends entirely on how quickly you like to travel, what you like to do off the bike, whether you stay on pavement or try your best to get onto gravel and dirt, how direct your route is, and lots more like that. it’ll also depend on whether you’re thinking of a round trip or one-way.

I rode rather quickly from Washington State to Ushuaia in about 4 months, then slightly more slowly from Ushuaia back home in another 6 or 7. People go twice as fast as I did, but others twice as slowly—or more slowly still. There are direct routes and very roundabout routes, fast ones and slow ones, boring (IMO) and interesting….

There are no rules. Hope that’s helpful.

Mark
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  #3  
Old 6 Sep 2023
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On the other end of travel time, over a period of 5 separate trips, I spent close to 6 months in Peru and southern Ecuador, riding almost every day. At what level do you want to experience the country vs travel through it? Is your goal to ride the whole PanAm Hwy in one trip?
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  #4  
Old 7 Sep 2023
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We’ll have a time frame of 12 months to complete a round trip which will have to cover the time on getting us and the bike back to the UK. We’d love to do some unpaved roads, Ruta 40 in particular and the mountain pass through Patagonia.

So much to consider and research.
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  #5  
Old 7 Sep 2023
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pan American

how good is your Spanish key factor when in SA although locals on big bikes probably know English and can recomend better routes Time is always the virtue
enjoy the trip
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  #6  
Old 8 Sep 2023
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Haven't done the Panamerican and only been in South America as a foot/plane/bus tourist, but I think your instincts are good, and the key question is: how keen are you on doing the US and Canada? Cutting out those two comparatively expensive countries saves not only accommodation costs (two-up, you're probably not going to be camping full time?) and things like the automatically more expensive US travel medical insurance, but also the cost of getting your bike across the Darien Gap. On the other hand, maybe you don't want to miss Central America and Mexico.

If I were you, I'd hedge my bets by starting the trip in SA, somewhere like Santiago/Valparaiso or BA/Montevideo on the other end, get right into the really nice Patagonian roads, take a comfortable pace down to Ushuaia, then keep going north for as long as you want to. Maybe your natural pace will be quick enough that you will make it up to Alaska in that time. Maybe you will have a perfectly enjoyable year in SA alone.

EDIT: If you're UK-based and want to see the Arctic Ocean from a saddle, then Nordkapp is far more accessible/easy, and technically a smidge further north than Prudhoe Bay or Tuktoyaktuk
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  #7  
Old 8 Sep 2023
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If it was me, I'd do the "fast" roads for one half of the loop, and then gauge how meandering you want the rest to be. Everyone has a plan until they come up against reality, having flexibility can lead to genuine adventure rather than box-ticking.

As for the lingo, try and find a local Spanish speakers club to practice south American accent comprehension. I got to speak with lots of Argentinians and a couple of Peruvians in the UK and it proved helpful when I moved here and started working with lots of international native speakers ... good luck with Chilean Spanish though
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  #8  
Old 8 Sep 2023
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You have a PM
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  #9  
Old 9 Sep 2023
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Great info and advice guys, I thank you!! I’ve always got by in France, Germany and Italy with the lingo. I’ll get into the Spanish well before we head off. It’s a lot more daunting than jumping on a boat and heading out in Europe.

Flipflop thanks for the PM I’ve replied.
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  #10  
Old 9 Sep 2023
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Some Thoughts

Some personal thoughts from me.
If something is useful. Use it.
Else just leave it. No right or wrong.

Weather/climate. It is good to follow the seasons.
South part of SA in Nov-Feb.
Alaska July-Aug.

Given that, it is hard to do a 12 month trip from Alaska to Ushuaia
(More common is to do it around ½ or 1½ year)

Plan your trip so that you are in Patagonia October- February. Check both climate and tourist season. Doing Carretera Austral, Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia and up to start of Ruta 40 during that time period.

The area around Ecuador and Colombia has no real summer/Winter period. Nice all year.

=> It depends on when you start where I would start. Colombia or Chile.
And then I have the same view as AnTyx. Do South America first. It is huge !! And see later if you want to include central America and Mexico. That would be more than enough.

My very personal view is that Ruta 40 is not that fantastic.It has some very nice parts. But also long straight dessert part with nothing to see. But we all have different views. That is good.
Carretera Austral was the opposite. WOW behind every corner.

And some advice from Nathan, the post man:

https://youtu.be/UA6d4UNcE94?si=5kANFzRJ71LNPbOI


Pictures from
* Ecuador
* Bolivia
* Chile
Attached Thumbnails
South America Or The Full Pan American Highway?-0128-23.jpg  

South America Or The Full Pan American Highway?-2613.jpg  

South America Or The Full Pan American Highway?-220-44.jpg  

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  #11  
Old 9 Sep 2023
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Sound advice from Erik G there and I have to agree. Also I would like to mention that the Andes area of southern Peru, northern Chile and the altiplano (highlands) of Bolivia have a rainy season from approx December to April - that it might be good to avoid.

My personal thoughts, no rights no wrongs just my meaning: Riding just the socalled Panam road which actually isnt a road and hardly is called so is for the most part really boring. Take the socalled Panam in Peru, the road 1N and 1S - if you only travel that road you hardly see ANYTHING of the interesting stuff in Peru as almost all interesting stuff lies up in the mountains (a few exceptions as the capital of Lima, Nazca lines etc) but you miss a whole lot of nice and interesting things such as the Chachapoyas area - one of the most mindblowing rides I had during my RTW trip and all the archeological sites in that area, you miss the mountain area of Cordillera Blanca, you miss Cuzco and the secret Valley, Macchu Picchu, the whole jungle/amazon area of Peru, you miss the beautiful city of Arequipa, you miss Lake Titicaca and Puno town and many many more. And the list goes on for every country through central and south America. Skip the Panam and find youre own route through the countries and pick what you want to see.

Northern Argentina fantastic, southern Argentina - not so much! So if I had only one choice I would travel through northern Argentina and then head over to Chile and do southern Chile and Carretera Austral. But then you will miss San Pedro de Atacama in Chile which is a shame as it is a very facinating area. So you will most probably miss something anyhow - but then again it gives you an excuse to go back at a latet occasion…
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  #12  
Old 10 Sep 2023
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I have a UK Reg 2005 BMW Dakar coming available in Jan - Feb 2024 (Delivery Ecuador or all points South). My wife and I have used the bike for easy riding all around SA over the last four years. Its in perfect condition, mileage approx 38,000. Contact me by whatsapp (Geoff on +573114118032) if interested.

Sent from my moto g(7) using Tapatalk
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  #13  
Old 11 Sep 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbofurball View Post
Everyone has a plan until they come up against reality, having flexibility can lead to genuine adventure rather than box-ticking.
Like Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
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  #14  
Old 12 Sep 2023
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I left Los Angeles September 1st and arrived in Ushuaia March 8. I was hoping to get to the bottom before the end of February but got stuck in Valparaiso for a month waiting on parts. The way back north was much slower.

A point about the Pan American Highway- myself and the riders I met along the way tried to avoid all highways, including Pan Am. We tended to seek backcountry routes and small border crossings and avoid the trucks and commerce along the Pan Am. Of course, in some places it just can't be avoided.

There's no right or wrong approach. Do it the way you want. I wanted to ride out of my driveway and go as far south as I could. A word of caution, I took a year off to do it. It's been 5 years and i haven't been home. In fact, I sold that home and am currently using the internet at a hostel in Poland. So, fair warning!
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  #15  
Old 16 Sep 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik_G View Post
Some personal thoughts from me.
If something is useful. Use it.
Else just leave it. No right or wrong.

Weather/climate. It is good to follow the seasons.
South part of SA in Nov-Feb.
Alaska July-Aug.

Given that, it is hard to do a 12 month trip from Alaska to Ushuaia
(More common is to do it around ½ or 1½ year)

Plan your trip so that you are in Patagonia October- February. Check both climate and tourist season. Doing Carretera Austral, Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia and up to start of Ruta 40 during that time period.

The area around Ecuador and Colombia has no real summer/Winter period. Nice all year.

=> It depends on when you start where I would start. Colombia or Chile.
And then I have the same view as AnTyx. Do South America first. It is huge !! And see later if you want to include central America and Mexico. That would be more than enough.

My very personal view is that Ruta 40 is not that fantastic.It has some very nice parts. But also long straight dessert part with nothing to see. But we all have different views. That is good.
Carretera Austral was the opposite. WOW behind every corner.

And some advice from Nathan, the post man:

https://youtu.be/UA6d4UNcE94?si=5kANFzRJ71LNPbOI


Pictures from
* Ecuador
* Bolivia
* Chile
Hey Erik!

Thanks for taking the time to reply, I read your "Trip that never happened" boy, what a wordsmith you are! I loved reading that and I have just bought a copy of the Carretera Austral book as you recommended and the route you planned looks great! I think the more we think about it we are leaning towards shipping our bike into Santiago so we would be setting out from Chile as you suggest.

I'll be popping in more often over the coming months.

Thanks for all the input folks, really appreciate it!
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