How to Prepare For A Motorcycle Trip Around The World - Buying a bike in Chile
I was very excited when I arrived much too early at the airport in Frankfurt. Still, I had big plans and did not want anything to go wrong. Please click here to view my route in Google Earth or here to open the map in a new window.
Nevertheless, everything went wrong and we had to get out of the plane again after we did not get permission to start a few minutes after 11 PM.
That's why the next day I found myself swimming in the pool of a nice hotel in Panama. For my connection flight was already gone. One day later, I finally arrived in Santiago de Chile where Pablo picked me and my disposable cardboard box up from the airport and took me to a thanks giving party with his friends. Thanks a lot :)
couchsurfing. I stayed with him while I tried to get a RUT Tax number as many people before me have describet in the internet, to legally register a bike. We went from one office to the next in the 7 million city of Santiago until we got the information,
But we did not give up so easily. In Santiago, there were many motorbikes for sale. Some Chinese guys already started with 300.000 Pesos. 1 Euro = 700 Pesos. For me, we got a trustworthy Honda CGL 125 in good condition for 700 Euro or 500.000 Pesos. Plan B was to register it on my friends name.
Vulnerable computer technology such as BMWs can not be repaired in Africa, South America and Asia, and the theoretical argument that you can simply have the required parts forwarded by post fails in practice because the hard-working customs authorities often need several weeks to process a shipment if it ever arrives.
Since in Chile all contracts are not valid if they are not made with a notaria, we had to go there, so the "owner" could give me permission to travel all of South America with "his" bike.
To do so I had to promise him the bike for a nice price after I have finished my trip. Its much easyer to transfere ownership of German bikes.
If you ship an exotic bike into a country were its hardly been sold you will not be able to find any spare parts or people who know how to deal with all the modern computer bus systems of expensive bikes. This has nothing to do with passion but with intelligent planing.
At "long way round" they had to ship a BMW home because there nobody could repair it even they had a big team and were loadet with spare parts (but the small bike they bought insted worked even better then). If you are chosing to ride the same bike as everyone else in this country, everything will be easy to get and easy to repair,
Not looking like money on legs also will help you to get into contact with the locals more easily but if you look like an ATM, they will treat you like one.
I was happy to be able to finally leave the crowded city, which somehow reminded me of New York, towards Patagonia. I went south and followed the Panamericana Route 5 to a big animal market. A friendly family invited me to camp.
Since the highway was expensive and boring, I followed some nice winding small roads to Coelemu the next day and on to a small half island. My little Motorcycle did 9000 rpm max 100 km/h easily and if needet, parts for this widespread motorcycle are easyer to find as for two BMW F800 or a BMW 1200 GSA and much cheaper too.
The area somehow reminded me of the Black Forest in Germany. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the nice view. Just very few places still reminded of the big earthquake and the tsunami one year ago.
Many birds life here. While looking for a place to sleep, I met Coco and Tom. Tom was working as a professor of Astronomy at the University of Conceptione. He was able to speak German and invited me into his nice house with a wonderful view to the sea.
The next morning, he introduced me to his neighbors. They had a very nice bathroom with a great view to the sea as well. There on a rock lived a lot of seals GPS S36°32'02.5" W027°58'42.5".
I spent a few hours watching them. On the way back I did not believe my eyes. When I came to a small farm there was a dead pig hanging on a tree. I was invited for a meal.
"Sternenkinder" School for handykept children. There I met some people from Germany who did a social year with the organisation "Weltwärts".
On the next morning, I went past many lodges and hotels to the volcano Villarica close to Pucon GPS S39°23'30.8" W071°57'33.4". Slowly, the 30km gravel road went up to 1400m altitude.
I woke up by next morning, when a big group of hiking people passed my tent on their way to the top of the volcano. I quickly refilled my water bottles, took my camera, left my tent and followed the group to a cable car.
Of course, I did not look like any of them, since I was the only one with no helmet, no backpack and no stick but the people were very friendly and allowed me to use the cable car up to the first snow field.
From there we went zick zack one after the other up the volcano. On top the view was breath taking. Out of the big active crater there came some acrid steam.
I was fascinated by the power of nature.
The next day it was pouring from rain so I did not want to leave my dry place. Because the day before I have given my last bread to a hungry dog and now did not had any food, I was invited from very friendly people who were working as tour guides.
It is amazing how friendly the Chilean people were. At night they even forced me to sleep in the warm house, because the night was going to be very cold up there.
When I wanted to leave the next day I could not find my gloves anymore. Maybe I should have locked them before I hiked up the mountain,
but Pablo from the ski station gave me his old gloves. In Pucon, I saw the loaded XL 700 transalps of the two Krad Vagabunden.
I have been reading their travel report riding through Southamerica but had to travel a few thousands of kilometers to finally met them personally.
We were talking about the volcano when I mentioned that my gloves had been stolen there. A few seconds later they gave me a new pair. Thanks a lot :)
I followed a small, winding tarmac road 30 km to the hot springs Termas de Huife GPS 39°13'33.00" S 71°38'50.00" W.
There was a wonderful Hotel with WiFi and two pools, where one could swim in the hot water of the thermas.
A few meters up the road, there was a more natural, cheaper place with hot springs as well. I also found a place to do wild camping. What else do I need?
Back in Pucon, I pitched my tent for free on a closed campground, went swimming in the lake and just enjoyed my life.
In the evening I read the very interesting travel report of the Krad Vagabunden. That's how nice camping can be :)
Later on, I went past Panguipulli, Los Lagos and Osorno to Puerto Monte. Again, in only 150km distance the Vulcan Cordon Caulle (puyehue) and in 400km distance the Vulcan Hudson (tierra del fuego) was blasting dust into the air, which reflected the sun light. Therefore, and because I was quite south it was freezing cold and I was happy the company Hein Gericke had sponsored me a really nice and warm jacket.
Later on, the sun finally came through, so I could go swimming for a few seconds in the cold water of the lake.
Frutillar is a small village with many one floor houses and a nice beach directly at the beautiful lake Lago Llanquihue.
In front of the house foto you see a supermarket ;)
As usual I was allowed to wild camp and to use the Internet in a small restaurant where I was really happy about a long mail of the Krad Vagabunden :)
In Puerto Varas, a nice little touristic city, I spend another day, before I followed the nice, winding tar road through nice cold rainforest with the noise of many birds past Ensenada up the Vulcan Osorno.
At 6 AM in the morning, this place was quiet and nobody was to be seen. I felt like the last human on earth. Many doors were open and all the furniture was there, but no life at all. Only the top of the Vulcan attracted me and so I started to hike.
It was hard to find some foot steps to follow. It seemed as if here not many people have been walking lately. The further I went the steeper it became. Enormous crevasses gaped. Step by step I worked myself up.
As the sun came out around noon, I was climbing the icy escarpment very close to the top. Suddenly, everything started cracking, melting and dripping and I realized I was in great danger.
I did not think about taking photos now. My camera was somewhere hanging in the snow. Now I had to survive. My fingers burned, so cold were they. I tried to hold on to the ice so I don't slip away.
Most of the traces I have seen before have been from crampons, which I did not have. Far down now I could see some mountaineer, holding each other with a rope. I realized that if I would slip I would slide far down into one of the big crevasses. This can't be the end. Suddenly I missed my family very much.
Deep I drove the stick I have found on the way into the snow, to hold on to it. Very very slowly and with trembling knees, I planned every step. It was much harder to go down as it had been to climb up.
Finally, I managed my way down. Very thirsty and with hurting knees I reached the station, where my bike was.
Here, the ranger of the national park was very angry with me. To climb up the Vulcano, I would have needed a guide and much more equipment. This was far too dangerous. Already this year 5 Tourists have lost their lives. I could imagine why and promised not do hero/stupid things like that in the future.
It was like a penalty that my back tire was flat when I reached my bike. To pump it up with my small bicycle pump did not help. Because I was too tired to change the tub in front of all the other tourists who were siting in the restaurant, I drove the 10 km to Ensenada with the flat tire.
Unfortunately in this village there was no mechanic, so I finally had to take out the wheel myself. It took ages to change the tube. When I finally managed, it went flat again. I must have done something wrong.
I left all my stuff at the petrol station and took the bus 40 km back to Porto Varaz to get a new tube.
It already went dark when finally everything was all right again. I was allowed to camp with the friendly, German speaking family again.
Another day without food and I also did not have time to go swimming. Manana...tomorrow...
Today this was a funny story. When I felt lost in the big city of Valdicia, I tried to ask a local motor biker from the club "Rockets" on a red traffic light, where I could pitch my tent. He did not understand what I said, made a photo and went on.
Like always I went to the biggest hotel, which turned out to be a casino with more then 400 Machines, to use the Internet there, when the security officer invited me for lunch. He also had a motorbike and had recognized my motorbike on the security camera as the one he had seen on the facebook page of the friend I tryed to talk to on the red traffic light. Later on he also invited me to spend the night at his home, where I could take a shower and wash my clothes.
Back in Pucon, Yesenia invited me into the nice little house of her family. I met Yesenia on the big party the night I came to Villarica and since then we have been in contact via Facebook. To be able to take her on the bike, I attached some ropes onto a flowerpot and used this as a helmet. This had already worked out in Africa before :)
Her family was very friendly and tryed to teach the gringo some Spanish words, while I tryed to teach Yesenia and her brother Miguel some English and German words. It was interesting to see how similar those languages were. For example "Reis" was similar in both languages.
Before the breakfast, some people got into their car to visit their relatives for the Christmas meal. When they arrived, they were surprised. There was a really funny thing walking around the garden. A huge Alien with lots of futuristic computer stuff.
This foreign visitor came from far away with a vehicle that probably even could fly. Nobody understood what he tryed to say. This Alien was me.
Everybody looked at me and tryed to communicate with me, women even tryed to kiss me. Other country's, other behavior ;)
It still was a nice party with a electric Christmas tree made in China and heaps of good food. The weather was warm, so Yesenia and I went swimming in the lake, where I got sunburned. Christmas presents are not usual in Chile.
It really hurt, when I finally had to say good bye and travel north to see the big firework in Valparaiso. From San Fernando on, I followed the "Ruta del Fruta" with lots of traffic to San Antinio.
I just stopped in Talca and Los Angeles to check my Oil, to buy some sunblock lotion and to swim in the nice "Punta Verde". Here, many really nice houses were hidden behind big fences - seems to be traditional nowadays in Chile. To be able to reach the water, one had to get permission to enter someone's property first.
San Antonio was a huge, ugly city with a big harbor, but no hotels. I was allowed to camp at the firefighter station, after I told them I was a firefighter as well. The people there told me there also was a German firefighter Station in Valparaiso as well.
There I wasn't allowed to camp, but was invited from one of the friendly firefighters who worked there for free. We had nice Empanadas and Hot Dogs with Majo.
Talking about Dogs: Here in Chile it happens very often, that dogs come running towards you. They try to bite you in your leg or to jump in front of your wheel while riding past. I can understand that this dogs want to make suicid so they don't have to bark all night, but this way riding a motorbike in Chile doesn't get more pleasant.
On my way to the Villa Kunterbunt GPS S33°01'52.23" W071°38'17.80" I went up a small road which was so steep that a car who had to stop there, could not go on anymore, because the wheels did not have enough traction. There I met Simone, Panny and the two from dreiradententour.de.
On new year, the streets were crowded with people. Everybody was wearing funny plastic heads, glittering hair and strange glasses.
Another day without food. I was just too busy. I went from Valparaiso to Santiago early in the morning. Reaching the City, Pablo gave me some papers which i needed to enter Argentina with my bike. The road took me up the 3200m altitude high PASO INTERNACIONAL LOS LIBERTADORES, LOS ANDES, CHILE.
I had to ride through long, slippery, wet tunnels many times with no light at all. Fortunately, the electricity of my bike did not fail.
Because of the high altitude, my bike lost power while the petrol consummation was rising. To leave Chile was easy. On the Argentinian side, the officials gave me some documents and told me with their hands to ride 60 km to the Duane. After 20 km police man stopped me and send be back because I hadn't been at the Duane.
Back at the boarder - on top of the mountain again - they told me now to ride 15 km back. There i would find the Duane. When I asked where to get petrol from, they filled my tank for free. Exactly after 15 km i came to a big building with an empty parking place. It looked closed.
Inside, Ifound the Chile and the Argentina checkpoints like a drive in at Mc Donald's.
On the first day of the year it was much easier to cross this boarder as any African boarder has been on my previous trip.
They accepted my Documents, the computers were working, the officers know what they had to do and did not beg.
It only took a bit of time when I started to talk with one of them who had a motorbike as well, because I did not want to leave my original power of attorney document. Finally, someone took a photo of it with his cellphone and I was allowed to leave.
When I went dark I heard a tasseling noise from my chain. I decided to tighten it the morning and pitched my tent somewhere off the road. After a quiet night I found out the bolts of the rear sprocket had gone loose, but weren't lost, so it was easy to tighten them again.
After another 20 km I found a petrol station but all the banks were closed. I changed 20.000 Chilian pesos to 160 Argentinian Pesos at a camping place and followed the tar road towards San Juan. After 20 km, the Tar turned to gravel. Until the next junction it was 30 km on the GPS.
Now the pist became harder and harder. Suddenly there were soft sand fields, river beds or big vibrations.
To protect my netbook, i carried it in a self made handbag around my neck. Till the next junction it was 100 km. That was the bad news from my GPS but after all I had made already, I did not want to turn around and travel the much longer way past to Mendoza.
I was really afraid to get a flat tire here in the hot desert and will never be found. At this time, I did not know the Rally Dakar was going to take exactly this way the other day. The map on the Dakar web page showed something else.
I was really happy to see another car after 50 km. We talked with hands and feet and I got some water. Then I followed the road up the mountains.
My little Honda went all the way with no problems. Just before the asphalt started again, 80 km before San Juan, I saw some tents beside the road. It turned out this was the base camp of the gendarmes who were waiting for the Rally Dakar tomorrow.
They allowed me to stay and offered some hot dogs. It was nice to be together with people after this hard off road part but I wasn't happy about this in the night. I could not sleep, because people were playing music, making firework and drinking alcohol.
The other day, the first motorbikes rushed through in the heat of noon. Then some Quads and Cars were following. At the end the big trucks came.
During the day also here in Argentina I met many nice people again. When I walked by, they offered me some Beef or something to drink.
Think about this: They see a foreigner and even invite him to their houses. We could learn a lot from them in Germany. Here, they even had Internet so i could write these lines.
Its raining. ITS RAINING!!! I was really happy about this because then it wasn't so hot. I packed my stuff and wanted to leave, but I had to stay for lunch. Until then I skyped with my family back home.
When came outside of the city again, I saw my Motorcycle standing on a pickup. The people wanted to go the same way and had decided to give me a lift.
On our way, we met Henrico. He was travelling 5 months already with auto stop and couch surfing. He only had a small backpack and a US$ 4 tent and his guitar. Compared to him i did not travel low cost at all and had much too much stuff. Henrico already had a couch surfer place in the next city and took me along.
The people were very friendly again. It wasn't a problem that suddenly there were two people coming. My motorbike was parked in the kitchen and i was allowed to leave all the stuff which I did not need so far with them until the end of my trip.
The 450 km Tarmac from San Juan past the Valle de Luna to La Rioja was hot and boring. The wind feeled like a hairdryer in my face and it was hard to decide weather to ride with an open or closed helmet while the sun was slowly burning my cheeks - even with my sunblocker.
To protect against the strong UV light from the sun, I was only wearing long sleeve clothes. I saw thirsty cows along the road many times.
Water is a rare good here and its missing is the reason of so many animals here. Probably more with humor was the memorial of Nocolas Caputo with lots of broken "caput" car parts all over the ground.
Sometimes i could even see some mud houses beside the road which reminded me of Africa. Argentina is a very civilised country so this was very special.
In La Rioja i had found a place to stay with couch surfing. I was really looking forward to a cold shower but wasn't expecting to get my own room and a pool to swim...
I really felt as part of the family. Everything was so perfect that I stayed one week instead of one night.
Andrea gave me riding lessons and showed me how one could make Mayonnaise (On Egg with Oil whipped) and roasted almonds (One cup with almonds, one cup with sugar and half a cup with water cooking and steering until everything is dry again. Then the sugar will start to melt and will be caramel).
We also played cards, Monopoly or I had some fun with a Quad. I even had the possibility to play as a drummer for a band.
Time was running fast and the day came, when I had to continue my trip, even if I would have liked to stay.
It was hard to say goodbye. I got a lunch pack and a tin of tire repair spray.
I'm already looking forward to visit this place on my way back to Santiago again and to welcome my new friends in Germany one day. Thanks so much for everything!!!
On my way to Bolivia I got the news that the company Touratech has mentioned me on their webpage. This made me so proud. Continue to next page.