A Travellerspoint blog


Rest day

sunny 24 °C

Market place in Tupiza

Market place in Tupiza

This indoor market is hidden away through a small entrance in a blue painted wall. In there you can buy just about everything. To us it was a real surprise because everything we had read or been told suggested that finding toiletries, clothes etc would be hard in Bolivia. The market was divided into narrow passage ways each specialising in different goods. So one aisle contained electrical goods another womens clothing and another contained food etc.

Old woman in Tupiza

Old woman in Tupiza

Tupiza was our first encounter with the traditional dress of Bolivia. Many older women still wear the mulitple dresses and bowler hats. They don't appreciate having their photos taken though unless you buy something from them.

Posted by Mick G 14:11 Archived in Bolivia Tagged motorcycle Comments (4)

Into Bolivia

A day of Firsts

sunny 21 °C

Day Four Tuesday 27 April 2010

Only interesting for Bikers

Today consisted of a day of firsts. It was our first border crossing, first time riding over the tropic of Capricorn, first time above 3,000 metres first sight of Lamas, first ride on sand, first ride on rough gravel roads, our first fall and first ride at night.

Leaving tilcara we have a 125 mile ride on routa 9 to the border town of Iquita. First of the firsts though is the crossing of the tropic of Capricorn and the chance for a photo shot. As always now we have fallen into a group of four bikes. Hedley and Selena on “Billy” a GS 1100, Neil the odd one out from the rest of the group as he is the only person not on a BMW. Instead he’s chosen to fly the flag for Britain and travel on a Triumph Tiger. Then there is Dennis who is on a GS 1200 and of course us. We have become the slow riding group as we are more interested in seeing the sights and taking photographs. The pay off for this is that we leave earlier than the rest and let them catch us up and pass us. By the time they do this we are usually on out fourth photo stop. So it was that we paused for the photo on the tropic of Capricorn and everyone else missed it!

Next of our first was the riding on sand. This was an unintended adventure caused by a demonstration blocking the road on the outskirts of Iquitos resulting in a detour of about one mile on sand and then another mile on gravel road. April travelled in the back up van thankfully which allowed me to complete it without falling off although a couple of cars coming in the opposite direction had near misses from a number of us as we passed them. The drivers didn’t bat an eyelid! Two of the couples came off in the sand which is hardly surprising and was an ill omen for us just a few miles down the road.

[/b][b][/u]Boring Bit

The next first was the border crossing into Bolivia involving lots of queuing and waiting. The process goes that we first have to export out bikes involving looking at V5, stamps we had collected in our passports when the bikes entered Argentina, then some form handing over. We had collected a form when the bikes entered the country which we now had to exchange for a form as they left. After the bike had been sorted we had to get ourselves out of Argentina. This meant going to another window where at the back of the building where we handed over our V5 registration document, our passport and went through the whole process again.

Eventually everyone was out of Argentina but now we had to travel 50 metres down the road to get into Bolivia. Needless to say the whole process started again. First we entered. We showed our passports to a very bored Police Officer who gave us a green form to fill in (the usual things such as name occupation etc etc. Then we gave that form to someone behind another window and then gave us another form which we took to another man in another office who demanded 10Bolivian for no good reason and let us into the country with our bike. WE WERE IN!
First time in Bolivia. Straight to a café to celebrate. What a contrast from Argentina. The bikes as always attracted a massive amount of attention. The place itself was buzzing with people.

Then we headed out of the town towards Tilcara our overnight stay in Bolivia and where we were to spend our much needed rest day tomorrow. First though we needed to negotiate 40 to 50 miles of gravel road.

Heading out of the town we were soon stopped by a Police Road block where we had to pay 5 Bolivanos (about threepence) for the privilege of passing a piece of rope strung across the road. Then we entered the supposed gravel section. Unfortunately for us the Bolivians are in the process of building a paved version of Routa 14 to Potosi. They were very busy with this and many sections of the road have been completed. The problem for us was they didn’t want anyone driving on it. Consequently we were diverted onto a very rough sand and gravel road where we promptly hit some deep sand and fell off. The only advantage of this was that falling onto sand is very painless and we both came away unscathed. Unfortunately for the bike one of the panniers took the full brunt of the fall and was badly knocked out of shape.

After some help with getting the bike back up by Alan the van man in the support vehicle it was decided that discretion is the better part of valour and all the pillion passengers got in the van to ride what was going to be a very demanding section.

The next forty miles was some of the most demanding riding I’ve ever done. I’m not an off roader and have usually preferred the comfort of solid asphalt. The road threaded between partially paved sections of a few hundred metres, long sections of rough gravel, and small bits of sand that connected the two. Standing on the footrests was the only way to keep any stability which after a few miles for a confirmed tarmac person like me became very tiring.

The forty miles were also the best riding I’ve ever done. Three of us decided to keep together. Neil who is an experienced trials rider had to take it steady on his Tiger which didn’t have off road tyres on and Hedley and I who wanted to play it safe. Others in the larger group who were very quick and experienced flew away at 50 or 60 miles an hour while we kept it down to 30 to 40 miles.

Interestingly we also had some river crossings to make and some interesting rides around Lorries, buses and cars all of which kicked up enormous quantities of dust. This meant riding through an impenetrable cloud when you passed anything or anything came in the opposite direction or indeed when you were overtaken which usually involved some large truck.

All of this riding took place at over 3000 metres which makes you very breathless and can mean suffering from altitude sickness. The bonus was the brilliant scenery that looked like something out of a western movie. Cactus trees and red rocks.

By the time we got to Tupiza it was dark and although there is no planned riding in the dark it was inevitable because of the road conditions. Neil, Hedley and I rode into Tupiza trying to find the hotel and promptly got split up. Hedley managed to find it at the first attempt while Neil and I were left roaming a strange town until eventually stumbling over it. The experience is not recommended when you are in a strange town after a long ride in the dark when the locals have no traffic sense..

Cliche Corner

Discretion is the better part of Valerie( although all of her is nice)

Random Thoughts

A brilliant day

Posted by Mick G 22:03 Archived in Bolivia Tagged motorcycle Comments (1)

North through Argentina

Long straight roads and lots of miles

sunny 16 °C

[b][u]Quite Interesting

First Day Saturday 24 April 2010
Leaving BA passing through slums where the rubbish sifters live. Every night people, in fact whole families sift through the rubbish left out by the shops restaurants and hotels. As we passed by the shanty towns we could see mountains of bags that had been collected and moved there for some reason unknown to us or perhaps for resale.
Heading out of BA takes a lot of time. The suburbs stretch for some 70 miles and even on the motorway of ruta 9 this took an hour.
The riding was quite boring as we had 300 plus miles to cover and all on motorways.
Our first experience of Argentine driving conditions and the first time we all rode together.
The drivers seem to have a death wish in the cities but as we got further out the experience seemed less dangerous or perhaps we just adapted to the new rules. The Highway Code became a distant memory.
First stop was Santa Fe. The holiday Inn stands in the middle of town like a great tower monument to another world. All the buildings around it are dilapidated but in the centre of town is a pedestrian precinct which is modern and well cared for.

Second Day Sunday 25 April 2010
Riding in a group of ten was a bit hectic yesterday so we a group of decided to leave early and take our time as today was going to be a very big ride of 425 miles to Rio Hondo and a lakeside Hotel. This proved a good decision. Four bikes, a steady pace and quite a few stops made for a really good days riding. The reward was a great hotel with outside swimming pool and views across the lake.
A great evening a free meal and wine.
Flat as flat can be. Rode through marsh lands with thousands of birds on endlessly straight roads
Sunset at Rio Hondo

Sunset at Rio Hondo

On the road to Rio Hondo

On the road to Rio Hondo

Third Day Monday 26 April 2010
Heading into the Andes proper some more flat riding then our first sight of mountains.Gradually through the day the mountains got bigger and we climbed steadily up to 2387 meters where we stopped in a small town to get ready for the border crossing into Bolivia dirt roads and poverty.
As we have climbed and travelled further north we have noticed two things above all else. The poverty has increased and the weather has got warmer. Now in Tilcara both are very in your face. To get to our accommodation we have travelled through dirt streets and experienced the warmest day so far of 25 degrees. The hotel is fantastic though and I have experienced my first exotic food of lama steaks which taste a lot like pork.
Some of the roads and scenery have been spectacular. The roads twist and turn climbing steadily through mountains that look like they’ve been fashioned from cardboard and then stippled with cactus. Massive dry river beds indicate the amount of melt water that must come down in floods.
A great day but we are all very tired. It’s quite full on and we don’t seem to get much time to rest. We are looking forward to a rest day after tomorrow.

Posted by Mick G 21:57 Archived in Argentina Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Leaving Buenos Aires

Collecting the Bikes

sunny 18 °C

Interesting things

The purpose of coming to Buenos Aires is to collect out bike to start the trip North through Argentina, to Bolivia, Peru,Chile and then West through Argentina again to finish in BA in five weeks time.

First though we have to get the bikes which is a little more complicated than it might sound. First a "Notrie" came to the Hotel and examined all the participants driving documents and took two full copies of passports and the vehicle registration document. Statements were signed and fingerprints taken, smiles exchanged and handshakes made. He then left with his two assistants never to be seen again.

Next step was on the following day we all went down to the Customs house and sat around for three hours. The man who opens up was an hour late for work but no one seems to bat an eyelid. Eventually someone comes and takes all out passports away and we wait somemore. Then passports are returned in dribs and drabs and in no particular order. After a wait of three hours all we recieved was a stamp in our passports.

Day three sees us go to the Warehouse to collect our bikes. Here we wait for another three hours until we are shown inside and taken to the bikes buried under a mountain of bubble wrap. Numbers are checked, papers are signed and at last we have our bikes and the bonus is they are all in one piece and all of this was done in record time!!!(apparently)

Our Hotel in BA is the Hotel Cambremon. If you want to see what it looks like and what we thought about it follow the link to tripadvisor.


Quite Interesting

Each evening and morning we have a briefing about routes and what to expect. Very professional.

Cliche Corner

Everything comes to he who waits (No it doesn't all you get is a stamp)

Random Thoughts

All the waiting was worth it just for the ride from the warehouse to the hotel. The sight and sound of 8 or 9 bikes riding through the city centre turned everyones head. They are not used to seeing that type of thing. (I know what you're thinking but don;t tell me you don;t get the urge to show off once in a while !!)

Posted by Mick G 17:30 Archived in Argentina Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

Buenos Aires Tour

Being a tourist

sunny 18 °C

Quite Interesting

Buenos Aires is a great city as far as cities go but as I said previously its enormous. Greater BA stretches for 70 miles ! So with limited time we decided to take a tour bus and were really glad we did. It took three hours and covered some of the numerous parks and squares and then to the Boca area where the famous Boca Juniors stadium is. ( famous if you follow football that is it was Maradonna home ground ---Maradonna not Madonna). The tour was probably the only safe way to see this part because the area around the stadium is very run and down and dangerous. The area immediately around the stadium is a tourist area and patrolled by Police but you are advised to stay within that part and not stray.

In the same area is the Tango district with its colourful houses and Tango cafes. A bit of a tourist trap but still worth seeing.


Cafes and restaurants are everywhere as you would expect. Meat eating seems to be a national pastime. Last night a group of us went to a locals cafe where we became the entertainment for the night. Eight of us ordered a mountain of meat, chips ,salad, beer and wine which came to 50 pesos each (about £8 each). The only problem being when the chef brought out the raw meat for us to choose. I just hope he washed his hands.

The night before this we went to another Steak House as a group. This was like the Chinese and Indian Buffets where for a set fee (£10) you can eat as much as you like and each person gets a free bottle of wine !! I think we'll need double seats for the return flight.


Posted by Mick G 09:14 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 25) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 »