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SOUTH AMERICA Topics specific to South America only.
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  • 1 Post By sanump
  • 1 Post By Peter Bodtke
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Old 10 Apr 2024
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Temporary import restrictions for South American countries

I'm planning to ride from San Francisco down south to South America on my 1200 GS. Would like to take a break after 3 months and then ride all the way to the southern point. Want to take it easy and enjoy riding and sightseeing. Is this possible with all the temporary import restrictions such as the number of days that we can keep the motorcycle in one country? Do you think its better to buy in one of the South American countries rather than taking your own bike?

What is the right time of the year to reach Mexico and start riding south to avoid rains and extreme winter conditions?

Thank you

Last edited by sanump; 11 Apr 2024 at 10:30.
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Old 12 Apr 2024
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Hi sanump,

>Do you think its better to buy in one of the South American countries rather than taking your own bike?

In 2012 I left New Jersey riding a BMW F800GS. At that time the Stahlratte was running and if there was room on the boat, you could get from Panama to Colombia without the fuss of arranging for a sea container or the expense of air freight. The mighty Stahlratte has been gone for a while now and I don't know if any boats are offering passage for you and the motorcycle. Someone on this forum or the Mexico Central America forum might have a contact for a boat. On the homeward leg, I took the Stahlratte from Cartagena, Jamaica, Cuba, and was dropped off the coast of Cancun, MX. It was great to ride my own bike and enjoy the trip on a bike I set up.

A few years later I figured out how to get around the Darien Gap challenge by buying a Cross Triton 250 cc (Chinese) bike in Peru. On and off for years I would fly to Peru, ride the bike for a corporate-length vacation, and put it back into storage (it was Peruvian plated, so no TVIP needed.) During COVID the bike was sold. Last year I bought a Honda XRE 300 cc and rode it for 5 months, through 6 countries, 30,000 km. The Honda had ~5,000 km on it when I bought it. I prefer to buy a bike that is not right off the dealer showroom. The bike was sold at the end of the trip for a fair price and I went home. If you aren't in the country when the buyer is ready to transfer ownership of the bike, you'll need a local person to be authorized to sell the bike on your behalf. Otherwise, you'll be making a trip back to complete the paperwork. Here are things to consider:
  • knowing what bike you would want to ride for weeks and months? (Honda does not import the XRE to the US. I test-rode both for a week plus in Peru before buying.)
  • getting your gear and a luggage system to the country of interest. I bought a used top case at a great price in Peru but took my own panniers (Pelican cases that were strapped onto the pannier frame.) Another rub, some countries want to collect import duties for new motorcycle parts when flying in. I have read of riders paying duties going into Ecuador by plane, but these policies change all the time and depend on who is working the customs line at that moment. I think most customs officials are looking for suitcases full of iPhones or laptops.
  • has a bike that has been properly serviced and/or refreshed before you took ownership? Either buy from a reputable seller or have the bike carefully checked over before closing the deal.
  • how will you sell the bike at the end of the trip? This is a trick issue. Some riders manage to sell their bike to another traveler (the free trade zone in southern Chile comes to mind), and some riders sell their bikes legally or otherwise to a local. The problem lays in the cost for a local buyer to register a foreign-plated bike, it can be quite high (import duties strike again.)
There are lots of people and businesses that will sell a new or used bike. You might check with Freedom Bike Rental in Ecuador (they are a well-run tour and rental company, but I'm not sure they sell used bikes), search and find online forums that sell bikes, Facebook motorcycle groups (ex. BMW MOA, Horizons Unlimited) and FB Marketplace (yes, you can search by country), or WhatsApp Groups like "Motos in South America" where riders at the end of their trip are selling their ride. I bought my bikes from Around the Block Moto Adventures, in Peru. They do a great job of refreshing a bike. You can contact charapashanperu the owner on the HUBB or through their website. I was happy with my used bikes and had a great experience, but nothing is perfect and that includes motorcycles.

You might even find a BMW 1200 for sale, but given the importation taxes most Latin American countries collect, it won't be cheap.

> Is this possible with all the temporary import restrictions such as the number of days that we can keep the motorcycle in one country?

Most countries will issue a TVIP for 90 days. Sometimes you'll be asked how long you are planning to stay. Always go for the maximum. Why? You could face unexpected issues that take time to sort out: mechanical, health, political (i.e. civil unrest that blocks a road or closes a border), the country could draw you in or the country is just plain big (ex. Brazil), or maybe you fall in love. Opps, you said you were traveling with someone, so I assume you have a partner. =)

Most countries (all that I know of) will all you to extend the TVIP. I haven't extended a TVIP, but understand it can be done at the border or perhaps an airport or large port. Famously, Uruguay will issue a 12-month TVIP. It's no big surprise that many riders store their bikes in Uruguay. I have read more than a few times about someone leaving their bike in storage for a quick trip home, then getting delayed and then they are sweating over dealing with an expired TVIP.

There is also the concept of "suspending the TVIP." Again, most countries (all that I know of) allow "authorized" storage, which means a commitment to not ride the bike. Of course, the steps require paperwork and someone or a business that can legally hold the bike. Typically the cost for storage is $1.00 per day. Suspending the TVIP does not stop the clock on insurance, so you may need to buy a new policy when you return. In-between some countries (in the no man's land or right next to it) there are sometimes storage businesses that will store a bike. In those cases, no TVIP suspension is needed, because the bike isn't in one country or the other. There is a storage business between Paraguachón, Colombia, and Venezuela. I understand they charge one price for open-air storage and more when sheltered from rain.
Peter B
2008/09 - NJ to Costa Rica and back to NJ
2012/13 - NJ to Northern Argentina, Jamaica, Cuba and back to NJ
2023 - Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia...back to Peru.

Blogs: Peter's Ride
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Old 12 Apr 2024
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South American bike

I have a Colombian bike
=> It can be in Colombia forever.
But when I ride to another country, it is no difference between a Colombian bike and European or US bike when it comes to temporary import permission.

Yes, you take it easy and enjoy riding.
Normally you get 90 days when entering a new country.
Some have more.
Than it is different how many 90 days you can get.
Ecuador has limits per year. Argentina => just get out and back again and you have 90 new days.
But as far as I know, there is no problem to get at least 2 times 90 days in any country. That ends up to a lot of days......

The question is not about when to start i Mexico.
But when to reach the most southern part of South America. It is cold down there when it is winter time => Summer in north

Nov-March is the period to be in the south.

You can't avoid rain. Except at part of the west coast. Atacama.
You will get more or less.
With altitudes between sea level and 4 500 m, you will meet all weather conditions.

Conclusion: Do not go to the most southern parts during their winter.
Rest: Just take it as it comes.
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Old 13 Apr 2024
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You can store your bike in Costa Rica or Panama at a Gov't bonded warehouse (probably Mex too), suspend your TIP and go home for a bit. When you return, reactivate the TIP and continue south by shipping to Colombia. As others have said, March in the South is the onset of winter.
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Old 15 Apr 2024
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Originally Posted by sanump View Post
I'm planning to ride from San Francisco down south to South America on my 1200 GS.
What Peter says is spot on. I did the same, multiple 6 week trips to Peru on a Honda Tornado 250cc moto that I bought from Around the Block Moto Tours in Huanuco. Planning to do the same in Chile; purchase another small cc moto for multiple trips.

Your 1200GS will be extremely limiting and a detriment to your experience in Central and South America. Weight is not your friend. You don't need that many cc's in Central and South America. You'll be reluctant to travel on any roads other than the PanAm and a few other major roads. The best of SA is on roads that are prohibitively challenging on a heavy moto.
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Old 16 Apr 2024
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Thank you @Peter Bodtke, @Erik_G, @SharkBoyG, @LD Hack

Peter mentioned about suspending/pausing a TIP. How can we suspend/pause a TIP? Which countries in SA allow this?
Can i extend a TIP remotely?
After reading @LD Hack, probably i will get a Himalayan 450 or something small from the US and ride down south.

This is my plan roughly:
1) Ride from SFO to Panama City
2) Ship across the Darien Gap and store the bike in Columbia
3) Go back to Columbia after a month or two and ride From Columbia till Peru.
4) Store the bike in Peru.
6) Go back to Peru after a month or two and ride all the way down to the southern most point.
7) Ship the bike back to SFO.
Does this look reasonable? Do you folks see any inherent issues or any other suggestions?
I'm not planning to carry the camping gear so as to reduce the load. Can i still survive in Central and South America?

Last edited by sanump; 16 Apr 2024 at 05:17.
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Old 16 Apr 2024
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look up in ioverlander
ipiales,colombia and chaclacayo,peru or swisswasi,tumbes are good places to store your bike
lot's of himalayans around south america so spare parts shouldn't be a problem
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Old 16 Apr 2024
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Originally Posted by sanump View Post
Can i still survive in Central and South America?
If you don't have Spanish language skills, focus on learning some Spanish, right now. I use Pimsleur, a speak and repeat teaching method. Rocket Spanish has the same method, I believe. Traveling, for me, is meeting local people, so language skills are an important component of travel. Away from the main tourist routes, there will be little to no English in many countries, and Spanish at any level is very helpful to have. Language is an ongoing component of the adventure.

Your plan sounds good.
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Old 17 Apr 2024
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Shipping to SA ?

Really consider if you want ship to SA.
Especially if you want a Himalayan.
That you easy can buy in Colombia.
And return to Colombia and sell it.

Use one bike to Panama. And another from Colombia.
Or start in Colombia. For a SA trip
And do mexico + Central America as another trip.

I have sent you a PM,
with links to by blogs for the trips I did from Colombia.

I did Carretera Austral as the most southern part.
(fantastic area)
I kept to Ruta 40 in Argentina.
But very remote areas in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
Mountains and jungle.
Where i did not see another foreigner for months.

The gringo trail= Pan American => a lot of travlelers. On big bikes. trying to get to Ushuaia as fast as possible.
I skipped Ushusai
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own bike, renting

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