We kick off this motorcycle expedition in Las Vegas heading to Mexico and Central America. Steaming jungles, smoking, snow-capped volcanoes, cactus-strewn deserts and long tropical coastlines makes for a pretty big playground. Firstly, we wind our way through the Sierra Madre Mountains and ride coastal routes on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides. The soaring jungle-swathed temples of Palenque are a must! Then, into Central America, which is the Ring of Fire, so views from the road of smoking volcanoes are the norm. We take the back roads through Costa Rica’s rain forests where howler monkeys leap over ahead and the coatis snuffle roadside – oh! watch out for that pothole!
Flying our bikes to Bogota, Colombia, we discover the incredible wonders of South America. This is a continent with mist-covered peaks, thundering falls, towering volcanoes, verdant cloud forests, bone-dry deserts, red-rock canyons, ice-blue glaciers and shimmering salt flats. We’ll ride from the jagged peaks of the Andes to the driest desert in the world. Along our route, there’ll be buzzing indigenous markets, pretty colonial towns and vibrant cityscapes. There aren’t many other places on earth that offers so much variety. And let’s not forget the iconic Machu Picchu in Peru!
This is the incredible setting for a great Latin America motorcycle adventure tour! You’ll ride the length of the longest mountain range in the world, ride across the Equator, into the driest desert and past South America’s highest peak, Aconcagua, as you make your way to the most southerly city in the world – Ushuaia. This motorcycle journey will be the best 17,000 miles you’ve ever ridden!
This tour forms Stage 2, 3 and 4 of our Trans Americas Motorcycle Expedition.
At a glance
The Rider Price shown is based on the rider using their own motorcycle. For tours less than four weeks, you will need motorcycle rental if you do not have your own motorcycle available at the start destination of the tour.
|Aug 25 – Dec 12, 2020||£26,995||£5,400||£14,995||Tiger 800: £6,867|
Dates & Prices
|The Rider Price shown is based on the rider using their own motorcycle. For tours less than four weeks, you will need motorcycle rental if you do not have your own motorcycle available at the start destination of the tour.|
|Date:||Aug 25 – Dec 12, 2020|
|Rider Shared Room:||£26,995|
|Passenger Shared Room:||£14,995|
|Bike Rental:||Tiger 800: £6,867|
Central America & Mexico
Arrive in Punta Arenas, our final destination, and rub the toe of Ferdinand Magellan!
This epic motorcycle tour operates for 110 days. It starts in Las Vegas, USA and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile
Weeks 1 & 2 – MEXICO
Some riders may be joining us in Las Vegas. Head south via Tombstone to enter Mexico through a small border post and spend our first night at Nuevo Casa Grandes, over 100 miles south of the border. Copper Canyon is larger than the Grand Canyon and we follow the narrow road that winds its way through the lush and spectacular scenery to Batopilas. Head for the colonial heartland of Zacatecas, the centre of silver mining production and the tiny cobbled streets and pink cathedral of San Miguel de Allende.
Climb high into the steamy cloud forests and tiny mountain villages, before descending to the Caribbean coast and endless miles of deserted beaches. Take a plunge in the ocean for the first time since Alaska! Enter Chiapas Province, once the stronghold of the Zapatista rebels, and visit the breath-taking Mayan ruins of Palenque, before spending our final night in Mexico in another colonial gem, San Cristobal.
Week 3 – GUATEMALA
Head into steamy Guatemala and ride to the small town of Panajachel on the edge of Lake Atitlan, with its stunning volcanic backdrop. Relax for a few nights at the exquisite colonial town of Antigua Guatemala. We are here for Independence Day celebrations, so plenty of parades and parties! Dodge the old smoking colourful buses in a hectic ride around Guatemala City to head to the border with Honduras.
Week 4 – HONDURAS & NICARAGUA
Visit the most southern Mayan ruins at Copan. The ride across Honduras takes only a day, but we go off the main Pan American to see local life in smaller villages. In Nicaragua, our first stop is on the main plaza in Granada, where we can sit on the veranda and watch life go by or go boating on Lake Nicaragua. We head to the coast to get our first taste of Pacific beach life and enjoy the best sunsets and fresh lobster.
Week 5 – COSTA RICA & PANAMA
Our penultimate Central American country is Costa Rica. Ride from the palm fringed beaches of the Pacific, past Arenal Volcano to the Caribbean coast for a cocktail on the beach. Stop along the way in the jungle with a chance to walk, raft or zip line through the jungle canopy. Down the coast we cross into Panama on a route used by banana traders since the 1900’s.
Ride over the Bridge of the Americas into our first real city since Las Vegas and prepare the bikes for freight to South America (or back home if you leave us here) – but not before exploring the old city and seeing the huge container ships pass through the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.
Week 6 & 7 – COLOMBIA
We spend enough time in Bogota for you to collect the bikes, have them serviced and also see some of the city itself. The Gold Museum is a must! We head north to Villa de Leyva and Bucaramanga through the Chichamocha Canyon, turning across the flat plains to the UNESCO Listed town of Mompox on the banks of the Magdalena River. Ride through coffee plantations and sugar cane fields and through lush green mountains. Your first experience of riding in the Andes will never be forgotten!
Our furthest point north in South America will be a two night stop over in Cartagena, on the Caribbean Coast, arguably the best preserved colonial town in South America. We turn back south and into the mountains to the city of Medellin, former stomping ground of Pablo Escobar, and then it twists and turns the whole way south, where we’ll stay at a coffee plantation lodge, and an 16th century converted monastery. The biggest danger in Colombia will be wanting to stay!
Week 8 – ECUADOR
Crossing into Ecuador, we head for the quaint Indian market town of Otavalo. Then it’s a major milestone – The Equator! We can park one wheel in the north and one in the south as we straddle the line with our bikes. Time to explore Quito is followed by a twisting mountain road through to UNESCO Listed colonial gem, Cuenca. Then we overnight in a tiny border town, before crossing into Peru.
Weeks 9 & 10 – PERU
Peru is a contrast to what has gone before and you’ll encounter desert! We head through the Sechura Desert to the city of Trujillo, from where you can head out to the surf beaches at Huanchaco or explore the adobe ruins of Chan Chan. Travel the tiny dirt road of Canyon del Pato, back into the high Andes. We descend back to the coast to Paracas and then it’s another spectacular climb into the Andes to Ayacucho, before reaching the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo. We spend two nights here and you have time to take the train to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. After, we ride to Cusco, where we can enjoy a beer at the famous motorcycle overlander bar, The Norton Rats!
It’s a high altitude ride across the altiplano to Puno on the edge of Lake Titicaca where you can take a boat out to the reed islands of Uros, followed by more breath-taking riding to Chivay – let’s see if we can spot condors at Colca Canyon, before we take more uncongested roads (well, ok, watch out for llama and alpaca!), to the White City of Arequipa & El Misti Volcano.
Weeks 11 & 12 NORTHERN CHILE & ARGENTINA
We reach the Chile and Arica, the City of Eternal Spring and from here we ride the Pacific Coast, on an empty road, which snakes between towering desert cliffs and the ocean. When we head inland, its endless horizons of desert to San Pedro de Atacama, a busy “hippie” town with some of the clearest skies in the world and home to major observatories. The night sky here is like you have never seen before!
Then over the Paso de Jama Pass to Purmamarca and settle down to enjoy your first juicy Argentine steak, with a glass of full-bodied red wine. We continue south to Cafayate, a famous wine region, with a day off to do a little wine tasting! Then a tiny road through the cloud forest is a pure delight. Enjoy good mountain tracks through red rocks and canyons and ride in the shadow of Aconcagua, South America’s highest peak. Crossing the Andes, we reach Chile’s modern, bustling, cosmopolitan capital, Santiago with time to explore and to prepare the bikes for the final leg or, if you leave here, your bike is freighted home.
Week 13 CHILE & ARGENTINA LAKE DISTRICT
After time to rest in Santiago, and a few days to explore the city, we set off south to the famous Ruta Interlagos and the Chilean Lake District. We have time to explore the Lago Panguipulli and Lago Calafquen and take a remote dirt road across Conguillo National Park. Our road to the border is in the shadow of Volcan Llaima and once in Argentina, it’s the Seven Lakes Road en route to the beautiful lakeside town of Bariloche. Be prepared to think you are in Switzerland!
Week 14 CARRETERA AUSTRAL & RUTA 40
Cross back to Chile to ride the Carretera Austral, an incredible dirt road nestling between the ocean and the mountains, curling around turquoise lakes, passing jagged hanging glaciers and sparkling waterfalls. Stay in the old wooden houses of the original German settlers and pine cabins by the lakes. This section of riding can be challenging, but the region is pristine and stunning.
Then it’s the most infamous road in South America – Ruta 40. A gravel road through the heart of Patagonia where the strong crosswinds will battle you for the bike! We rest overnight at a traditional estancia and dine on fresh racked roast lamb. In El Calafate, we divert from the main route to visit the immense ice colossus of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Week 15 TORRES DEL PAINE & TIERRA DEL FUEGO
We return to Chile again to explore the soaring granite peaks in Torres del Paine National Park, yet another World Heritage Listed sight.
We will board the ferry, traversing the Magellan Straits to Tierra del Fuego, which steams back and forth without respite. We cross from Chile back to Argentina amidst reminders and memorials to the Falklands War. Then all too soon, you’ll ride the final pass – The Garibaldi, before dropping into Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel. It’s straight to the Tierra del Fuego National Park and the “End of the Road” sign. Congratulations! You are one of a tiny handful of riders to have ridden to the most southerly point accessible by road. Time to celebrate!
Week 16 TIERRA DEL FUEGO & PUNTA ARENAS
There are two free days in Ushuaia for you to soak up the atmosphere, before heading back north. Our final night on Tierra del Fuego is at a remote estancia overlooking Lago Blanco. It’s a perfect location to reflect on the magnificence of Patagonia. Our final days ride still has some awesome dirt roads across the island before taking the ferry again and a short ride to Punta Arenas (Chile). We drop of our bikes for freight and say our good-byes. You’ll leave with life-long memories and friends.
We use 100% hotel accommodation, which is booked in advance. We primarily use good quality 4* and on occasion, 3* hotels. In bigger cities, this tends to be 4* hotels, sometimes belonging to an international chain; in smaller or more remote places, hotels will be more independent, characterful hotels. In some more remote locations, we use the best available. Most riders are delighted at the high quality of the accommodation included. Almost all hotels we use will have rooms with en suite bathrooms, satellite TV, free wifi, bar and restaurant. In warmer climates, hotels generally have swimming pools.
We like to favour independent hotels with character where we can. So for example: In Quito, we use the Cafe Cultura Manor Boutique Hotel rather than the Marriott down the road. In Copan Ruinas, we stay at a small guesthouse ” Casa de Cafe” that serves delicious organic coffee and macadamia nuts pancakes on its terrace. In Cusco, we stay at a hotel set in a 17th century colonial mansion, just off the main plaza, even though parking is a couple of blocks away. In Patagonia, there are plenty of incredible accommodations that are remote – we love Hosteria Las Lengas in Tierra del Fuego. We hope you get the idea!
What we don’t promise you is to stop at the top hotel in every town we pull into. This is not billed as a luxury tour, but we do ensure that you are comfortable, have a clean bed, can get a cold beer and a hot shower. And remember that sometimes “best in the location” may end up being fairly basic, but this is only on a few remote and “off the beaten track” destinations.
A note for riders who book Single Room – there are five locations on this motorcycle expedition, where there is no single room option. We have already taken this into account when calculating your price.
You have the benefit of booking your motorcycle expedition with a UK tour operator who has in place Financial Payment Protection Insurance with Towergate Stevens & Chapman, so that your money paid to us in advance is protected in accordance with The Package Travel Regulations 1992.
Before you go
For clarity, we do not include your passenger flights. Once we have confirmed that this tour is a guaranteed departure, it is your responsibility to organise your own flights to and from the start and end point.
You need to book an outward flight to our start point, Las Vegas to arrive no later than 25 August 2020. Please note that the GlobeBusters Team will be riding in to Las Vegas from Alaska, around 5pm on 25 August The earliest leave date is any time on 12 December 2020 from Punta Arenas, Chile.
This trip also has an intermediate flight between Panama and Colombia. This is booked via an agent in Panama and you will pay for this at that time – please do not book it in advance of travel.
Only book your flights once we have confirmed that your motorcycle expedition is a guaranteed departure. We do not refund flight costs if you have booked flights for a tour that has not been notified as a guaranteed departure.
Should you wish to arrive before the official date or stay after the official end date, please simply request extra nights at the time of booking and we can make the reservation at our group hotel.
We understand that booking an expedition is a big commitment both financially and in terms of time and preparation. Here are some of the most common questions we are asked before riders book. If you wish to meet with us prior to booking to ask more questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
What type of bike do I need?
Our expeditions are designed so that you can use your own motorcycle. We recommend that you use a dual purpose / adventure style bike. We support any make and model. Our Support Crew ride the Triumph Tiger 800XCA or Tiger 1200XCA. We also have extensive experience with the BMW GS motorcycle range, having ridden them for over 15 years. What is important is that you have a reliable and robust bike that you are comfortable riding and has been fully serviced prior to the start and has new tyres.
What riding experience do I need?
Riding in South America is not suitable for novice riders. Unpredictable road conditions and other road users, can make for a chaotic and challenging ride. It is also strongly recommended to have experience of riding your motorcycle on unpaved surfaces such as gravel, and dirt as some of the expedition routes are on these types of roads, especially down in Patagonia. Please note that our route covers around 6-8% of dirt and gravel roads (up to 1,500 miles), although as the infrastructure develops, this may reduce in future years. In addition, if there any roadworks on our route, normally diversions will be on temporary dirt roads. You do not need to be an expert, but riders normally have undertaken off road training, such as that provided by Adventure Bike Training or Off Road Skills.
Consequently we recommend to get the best out of this tour that you are an experienced motorcyclist, who has ridden overseas before and is used to touring. You will enjoy the experience more if your riding is of an advanced standard and by that we mean you have a good command of slow control (eg you don’t dangle your feet or paddle at slow speeds and can U-turn your bike), you are assertive on the road and have good forward planning and hazard perception, you are able to perform safe and precise overtakes and are able ride to the legal speed limits.
You also need to have some experience of riding your motorcycle on unpaved surfaces such as gravel, and dirt as some of the expedition routes are on these types of roads. In addition, if there any roadworks on our route, normally diversions will be on temporary dirt roads.
How does motorcycle freight work?
Included in your price is freight to and from the UK, but no matter where you are based in the world, we can facilitate freight of your motorcycle. Freight outside of the UK may incur additional costs – please ask us for a quote.
You must take your motorcycle to the appointed freight depot. Our freight agent will crate your motorcycle and do all the necessary documents. Your bike is either air freighted or sea freighted to the start point. At the other end, the GlobeBusters Team facilitate the Customs Clearance of your motorcycle. Sometimes you must be physically present for your motorcycle to be cleared; sometimes we can do this on your behalf. Each trip is different and processes regularly change. When the trip finishes, you will ride your bike to our freight agent, who will freight your motorcycle back to the original leave point.
What about servicing & tyres?
For expeditions of over 6,000 miles, we will facilitate all servicing, by making the appointment in advance at the dealer and we pre-order tyres for you if you have requested this. Where possible all servicing is arranged at an authorised dealer for your make of bike. You are responsible for the costs of the service directly with the dealer, as well as the costs of any new tyres you have requested. On this route our service points are in Bogota and Santiago.
Is it difficult to get fuel?
We have never had any issue with finding fuel. In certain regions, once en route, we will warn you in advance of any possible fuel shortages or if there is a route with a key fuel stop, where everyone must fill up with fuel to get to the next destination. It is not necessary to fit any after-market large fuel tank or carry fuel bottles, although some riders chose to do so. Our support vehicle also carries spare fuel for emergencies.
What is the average group size?
Our motorcycle groups are normally between 10 – 16 riders, some with passengers. Our groups are often very international and whilst the majority of riders come from the UK, we also get riders from USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and so on. Groups are predominantly solo male riders, but every expedition normally has between one to four couples travelling.
Is this ride suitable for a passenger?
We have had other riders successfully complete this ride with a pillion passenger. Your passenger needs to also be an experienced tourer.
Is there a support vehicle?
All our expeditions have a dedicated GlobeBusters Support Vehicle, driven by a GlobeBusters Support Driver. It is capable of carrying two motorcycle and two passengers. Our support vehicles carry a satellite phone, mobile phone, medical bag and spinal board, spare fuel, water, tools, some spare parts, some spare tyres. Our support vehicle provides temporary assistance to you if you have a mechanical problem or an accident and are injured.
This is not a luggage vehicle – you must carry your own luggage on your motorcycle (with the exception of a pillion passenger who can place one small pannier size bag in the support vehicle). For more information, please see our Support Vehicle section.
Do I have to ride in a group?
No! We do not make you ride in convoy. We offer you the freedom to decide how you would like to ride. We give you a road book, GPS co-ordinates and hotel information. You can use this to self-navigate. If you prefer to ride with our Expedition Leader, then you can do this. Occasionally we will ask you to ride in a group when we are crossing a border or if there is a security issue.
What documents do I need?
You will need your original documents as follows: Passport, Motorcycle Registration Document or Title, Driving Licence, International Driving Permit. In addition you must have travel/medical insurance and 3rd party motorcycle insurance (where available). As visa requirements are dependent on your nationality and a complex with constantly changing requirements, we would direct you to our appointed visa agency for advice. www.thevisamachine.com
Are these countries safe?
We advise you to check with your own government about the safety and security of these places. As of November 2018, and according to British FCO advice at that time, none of the route runs through areas that have travel warnings in place, although some of the countries do have some regions that are advised against travel. We do not go to any of these regions. Nicaragua is currently essential travel only advice.
What will the weather be like?
The Trans Americas Motorcycle Expedition is run at the most optimum time for the best weather possible. However, given we are travelling almost the length of the planet, there are some sections of the trip which will not have the best weather conditions. We are in Central America in rainy season, which often can mean afternoon downpours in the lowlands and jungle areas. We are in the Andes in dry season, so we expect the skies to be blue, but altitude will make it chilly in the evenings. We are in Patagonia in November – the start of their summer – but it is so far south, that summer can mean snow flurries or T-Shirts. The bottom line is that on this trip, it is possible to experience every weather condition – from below freezing to above 45 degrees centigrade heat at the start in Arizona to flooded Panamanian streets. So be prepared!
Do I need visas for travel?
UK / EU Citizens will normally require a USA visa in advance, because we are leaving the USA overland into Mexico and do not have a return flight ticket out of the USA. We recommend each person check out the US requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme and visa requirements for the US to satisfy themselves. No other visas are currently needed in advance of travel at this time.
The above information is provided in good faith. It is your responsibility to have the correct visas in place prior to travel. Please check what requirements are necessary for your nationality.
What about my health when I am abroad?
It is a condition of your travel with us that you have in place travel / medical insurance to cover you for medical treatment and repatriation if you suffer any illness or injury when on the expedition, including any injury sustained from riding or being a passenger on a motorcycle. Before you travel, we strongly recommend that you visit your GP or a specialised travel clinic to get advice on the recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures needed for the countries on this trip. Please note that we do travel in malarial areas and regions of high altitude, so ask for specific advice on this. As background, the websites listed below may prove useful.
Please note that many countries on this route do not have the same level of medical infrastructure nor consistent medical standards that you may be used to. In particular, emergency services often may be a long distance away, with no co-ordinated response, or sometimes no medical response available within reasonable times. This is a risk you need to accept when booking.
What about local currency?
The base currency for this trip is the US Dollar. The US Dollar is readily exchangeable for the local currencies. When you bring US Dollars, it must be in MINT condition or locals will not readily exchange the notes. The websites below will give you the current rates of exchange.
USA – US Dollar
Mexico – Mexican Peso
Guatemala – Quetzales
Honduras – Lempiras
Nicaragua – Cordobas
Costa Rica – Colones
Panama – US Dollar
Colombia – Colombian Peso
Ecuador – US Dollar
Peru – Sol
Chile – Chilean Peso
Argentina – Argentina Peso