The colours, noise and chaos of Mexico and Central America will certainly challenge your riding skills. The cooler climes and winding roads of the Sierra Madre and its colonial heartland, incredible highlands of Guatemala, the Mayan ruins in Mexico, the tropical jungles and the smoking volcanoes of Costa Rica means that this part of the world will be rattling your senses a long time after you have left.
You’ll be able to visit the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, bargain in the local markets of Chichicastenango, try magnificent margaritas in Mexico and smell the incenses at the main cathedral in Zacatecas. Our favourite part of this tour is the ride into stunning Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico and then the final approach into Panama City over the Bridge of the Americas, signalling the end of this part of our journey.
This is Stage 2 of our Trans Americas Motorcycle Expedition and can be done as a standalone ride.
At a glance
Central America & Mexico (Stage 2)
This epic motorcycle tour operates for 38 days. It starts in Las Vegas, Nevada and ends in Panama City, Panama.
Weeks 1 & 2 – MEXICO
Enter Latin America 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 breathtaking 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. Then it’s a short ride into the highlands to visit the famous Indian market at Chichicastenango.
Relax for a few nights at the exquisite colonial town of Antigua Guatemala. 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 Tucson and prepare the bikes for freight – but not before exploring the old city and seeing the huge container ships pass through the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.
We use 100% hotel accommodation, which is booked in advance. We primarily use good quality 4* and some 3* hotels. In bigger cities, this tends to be 4* hotels, sometimes belonging to an international chain; in smaller or more remote places, hotels can be more independent, characterful hotels.
In some more remote locations, we try and use the best available. Most riders are surprised at the quality of the accommodation included. Almost all hotels we use as standard 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 and in this part of the world, it can mean hotels with colonial character, or jungle lodges, or even beach cabins, although we kick off in Las Vegas on The Strip and the famous La Palazzo Resort! But once we head south, things take on a very different feel – as examples, in Chichicastenango, we use Hotel Santo Tomas, in Copan we use the Casa de Cafe and in Palenque, we use the Villa Mercedes. We do stop in the 4* Crowne Plaza in Panama, as its infrastructure assists us organising the freight of bikes and flights out.
What we don’t promise you is to stop at the best 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 feedback shows that many riders are delighted at the standard of accommodation and rate it as better than they expected.
And remember that sometimes “best in the location” may end up being fairly simple, but this is only on a few destinations.
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 should to book an outward flight to our start point, Las Vegas, Nevada to arrive on 20 August. (Please note that the GlobeBusters Crew arrive into Las Vegas around 5pm on 20 August, having ridden from Alaska with the rest of the riding team). The earliest leave date is any time on 26 September 2018 from Panama City.
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 a motorcycle 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?
We recommend that you use a medium to large capacity dual purpose / adventure style bike. We support any make and model. Our Support Crew ride the Triumph Tiger 800XCA or Tiger 1200 XCA. We also have extensive experience with the BMW GS 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?
This is primarily a ride on paved roads, but sometimes the road surfaces are in poor condition. Often the driving style of other road users can be unpredictable and towns or cities can be chaotic. You also need to have some experience of riding your motorcycle on unpaved surfaces such as gravel and dirt, as up to around 200 miles 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.
This trip is not suitable for novice riders. We generally recommend 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.
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?
This ride is approximately 5,000 miles and so we do not organise any service points for the bikes or to pick up new tyres. You must ensure that your motorcycle has had a full service prior to arriving and has new tyres. Tyre choice is your responsibility but we do provide advice on this at our Pre-Expedition Meeting.
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 8 – 12 riders (some have passengers), to a maximum of 16 riders. 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. 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 Motorcycle 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 travel Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, USA. We advise you to check with your own government about the safety and security of these places. As of November 2017, 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.
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 the length of the planet, there are some sections of the trip which will not have the best weather conditions. For Stage 2 of the ride, it will be pleasant and cool in the Mexican highlands and hot and humid through Central America. It is also rainy season, so you can expect downfalls from time to time in the afternoon – we have ridden into Panama City in flooded streets before!
Do I need visas for travel?
UK Citizens do not require a visa in advance for any of this tour.
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. 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.