** This tour is only available to book for members of Mr JH Johnson’s Private Tour **
This is a perfect introduction to the Andean heartland of South America! Peru is the highlight of any tour in the Andes and it is famed for its charming colonial highland towns, soaring snow-capped mountains and, of course, Machu Picchu, where a days visit to the famous Inca citadel is included on our itinerary, of course!
But no Andean adventure would be complete without also riding high to the second largest mountain plateau in the world, in Bolivia, where we visit the de facto capital, La Paz. We’ll also take our bikes on barges across Lake Titicaca and you’ll have the option to try out the “Road of Death” too.
Watch out for the alpaca and llamas, flamingo and condors, as we wind our way on our way through the mountains on this spectacular South American motorcycle tour!
At a glance
This motorcycle tour is a 15 day itinerary following a stunning Andean route through Bolivia and Peru, with the tour starting and ending in Arica, Northern Chile.
This is a 15 day itinerary, covering around 1,820 miles in Peru & Bolivia. We start and end the the tour in Arica, Northern Chile
1 September. Day 1: Arica, Chile
Arrival into the northern city of “Eternal Spring”. Collection from airport – please arrive no later than mid-day. Bike familiarisation. Group Evening Welcome Meal.
2 September. Day 2: Putre, Chile (95 miles)
In the morning we go to the Bolivian Consulate to obtain the authorisations to take the bikes into Bolivia and by lunchtime, we leave Arica, we head eastwards and start our climb into the Andes Mountains – we go from sea level to 3,500m! Our overnight stop is a small mountain town close to the Luaca National Park, in the shadow of the Taapaca volcanic range. It gives you a chance to acclimatise before heading even higher tomorrow.
3 & 4 September. Day 3 & 4: La Paz, Bolivia (225 miles)
With very little traffic, these mountain roads are a treat and take us to the high altiplano of over 4,000m high. Once in Bolivia, there’s an immediate change. Bolivia is one of South America’s poorest countries and you’ll see small adobe villages, herds of llama, alpaca and vicuna and many traditionally dressed locals, with brightly coloured skirts, bowler hats and ponchos.
La Paz is the de facto capital of Bolivia and is nestled in a valley, surrounded by snowy peaks and dominated by the white head of Illimani, the sacred mountain. As La Paz is around 3,700m, we have a day off here to acclimatise. If you are up to it, there is an optional day’s ride on the notorious “Road of Death”, a narrow dirt track leading out of La Paz and clinging to the mountains (140 miles out & back). You might have seen it on Top Gear’s Bolivia Special? If you get vertigo, maybe this is not for you, but it’s an amazing adventure!
If you prefer to see the city of La Paz there is plenty to do; visit the “Mercado de las Brujas” – the Witches Market, wander the old cobbled streets to admire the old colonial buildings and magnificent cathedrals or look around the intriguing “Museo de la Coca”.
5 September. Day 5: Copacabana, Bolivia (90 miles)
Heading out of La Paz, we climb out of the city and take to the high plateau towards the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and at an altitude of 3,800 meters. The road offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We take small wooden barges across the lake – you may be sharing with cows!
Our destination today is Copacabana, famous for its 16th century Basilica and where each day the local tradition of vehicle blessing ceremonies take place. We can take our bikes to the shrine, cover them in flower garlands, set off firecrackers and wait for a sprinkle of holy water from the priest to bring us good luck on the journey ahead. In the evening, we can enjoy local trout from the lake and a cool Inca Beer, as we watch the sun set.
6 September. Day 6: Puno, Peru (90 miles)
The Peruvian border is only a short ride away and is normally quiet. Nevertheless, groups of bikes are always a talking point and the subject of some negotiation, so a little patience is needed.
The road continues around the lake to Puno, where our 4* hotel is located on the shore line, with great views of the water from their sun terrace. In the afternoon, you head down to the hotel’s private jetty for our boat to take us out onto Lake Titicaca to visit the floating reed islands around Uros. This provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who live on lake, their history and beliefs.
In the evening, the adventurous can try some local delicacies in the evening such as “cuy” (guinea pig), ceviche or how about a pisco sour cocktail? Our 4* hotel is located on the shore line, with great views of the water from the sun terrace.
7, 8, 9 September. Day 7, 8, 9: Cusco, Peru (245 miles)
Leaving Lake Titicaca behind, we head across the high altiplano, over passes of more than 4,000m, through snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers. These roads are traffic-free through spectacular Andean scenery. We are heading for the UNESCO World Heritage Site and former Inca capital, Cusco, where we have a day off the bikes so that you can explore this unique city and another day to head to Machu Picchu.
Cusco is located at 3,400 meters and full of history relating to the conquest of the Incas; the mix of old Spanish and Inca architecture is obvious as you stroll around the main plaza and side streets. You have two days off the bikes. On one day, you will visit the ancient citadel of Macho Picchu. You’ll take the Vista Dome train to the town of Aguas Calientes and then a short bus transfer to the entrance of Machu Picchu, where your English speaking guide will take you around this breath-taking ancient site.
On your other day, we can ride out to the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Or you can explore Cusco itself and head up to Sacsayhuaman located on the edge of the city and marvel at the fascinating stone work carefully cut to fit with perfection without the use of mortar.
In the evening, why not head over to the famous biker bar “The Norton Rats”, a favourite haunt of all overland bikers, then try a llama steak for dinner.
10 September. Day 10: near Chalhuanca, Peru (255 miles)
Today we start our descent out of the high Andes back towards the Pacific coast. This is a stunning ride and is often voted one of the best riding routes in South America. Climbing and descending several times through Andean valleys, gorges and plateaus, with small villages and the ever present llamas and alpacas watching as you ride pass, the road will unwind before your very eyes and it truly a biker’s delight. Our final location is at a remote riverside lodge, conveniently placed at around the halfway point back to sea level.
11 September. Day 11: Nasca, Peru (225 miles)
We continue our descent out of the Andes Mountains, but not before still crossing a few more 4,000 meter passes! Today sees the transformation from the lush green high peaks to the sand dunes around Nasca, including Cerro Blanco the highest dune in the world. Also, watch out for condors gliding on the air currents on your ride down! Nasca is famous for its mysterious Nasca Lines, carved into the desert and you can ride to the Look Out Tower to see some of the lines etched in the sand.
12 & 13 September. Day 12, 13: Arequipa, Peru (350 miles)
You then climb back into the mountains to 2,400m high to our destination, Arequipa. Known as the “White City”, it is so called due to the colour of the volcanic rock used for construction of many of its main buildings, including the stunning cathedral in the main plaza. Arequipa lies in the shadow of El Misto volcano, providing a dramatic backdrop. Take a day to relax here and stroll down to the historical centre – you can visit the 500 year old Inca Mummy of Juanita the Ice Maiden or the UNESCO listed Monasterio de Santa Catalina, or maybe just sit at one of the many balcony bars to watch the sun set, whilst sipping a traditional pisco sour cocktail.
14 September. Day 14: Arica, Chile (270 miles)
Today we leave Peru behind and cross back into Chile. As we leave Arequipa, our first challenge is the twisty roads with the old trucks and careful overtaking is well planned. The ride through the desert is stunning and free from traffic and we are soon at the border and completing formalities. We enter Chile and make the short ride to the coastal city of Arica. After arriving at the hotel, we check our hire bikes and return them. We will then have our end of trip meal to celebrate a great ride through the Peruvian Andes of South America.
15 September. Day 15: Arica to Home
Transfer back to airport and fly home.
Flights: We do not include your passenger flight in our prices. Once we have confirmed a guaranteed departure for the tour, it is your responsibility to book your own flights. For this tour you will need to have an international flight to and from Santiago, Chile, with a domestic flight to and from Arica. Please book your flight to arrive after 3pm on 1 September 2019 and you can leave any time on or after 15 September 2019
You are in for a treat on this tour as we use different styles of accommodation, to suit the area we are in. You will stay in a 16th century monastery converted to a hotel, a lakeside hotel overlooking Titicaca. The standard of the accommodation is mainly 3* or 4* star, with one 5* hotel. In the more remote Andean, towns we aim to stay at the best accommodation in the area, which is often the equivalent to a 3* standard. In the main towns, we use high standard hotels such as:
You should note that as we like to provide characterful hotels close to the colonial centre of towns, on occasion, parking is not available on site, so we need to park the bikes in a secure location within a few blocks of the hotel. We think this is a small price to pay for some of the magnificent locations we are staying in.
You have the benefit of booking your motorcycle tour 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
Where you have chosen to rent a motorcycle, this is organised us with the local motorcycle rental provider. Your rental fee includes:
We act as agent for the local rental agency and on arrival you will be required to sign the local motorcycle rental contract and provide your credit card details as a guarantee against damages.
If you require any other motorcycle accessories (tank bag, top box, GPS mount, GPS unit etc), please request these on booking and an additional charge may be applicable.
For clarity, we do not include your passenger flights. It is your responsibility to organise your own flights to and from the destination. Once we have confirmed a guaranteed departure, you need to book an outward flight to our start point, Arica to arrive no later than around 3pm on 1 September 2019. The earliest leave date is any time on 15 September 2019 from Arica.
Should you wish to arrive before the official date 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.
When you book a tour with us, we provide you with Tour Specific Guidance Notes that give you detailed information about what you need to know to prepare and plan your tour, and what to expect when on tour. Here are some of the questions that we often get asked before a rider makes a booking:
What riding experience do I need?
This route is primarily a paved road route, with some dirt / gravel roads in the Andes, but mainly twisting tarmac mountain roads and across the high altitude Altiplano. Generally road conditions are good and once out of town, roads are traffic free. You do need to watch out for slow moving trucks in blind bends and skittish wildlife. The larger cities of Cusco and Arequipa are busy and a little chaotic. You will be riding at altitude, including some passes over 4,500m high and some nights are at altitudes of 3,300 – 3,800m. This tour is suitable for a good road rider, preferably with previous experience of touring. It is also suitable for experienced two-up couples.
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, a highlighted map and hotel information. You can use this to self-navigate. If you prefer to ride with our Motorcycle Tour Leader, then you can do this.
What is the average group size?
Our groups are normally between 8 – 12 riders (some riders will have passengers).
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?
Yes, this tour operates with a local support vehicle and driver. The support vehicle will carry a maximum of one piece of luggage per person, up to a maximum of 60 litres each. Your luggage should be dustproof and waterproof and we recommend soft bags such as Ortlieb. Hard suitcases or baggage with wheels are not recommended.
Tell me about motorcycle rental
Where you have chosen to rent a motorcycle, this is organised by us with the local motorcycle rental provider in Chile. Your rental fee includes:
We act as agent for the local provider and on arrival, you are required to sign the local rental agency terms and conditions of hire – please request these, if you require sight in advance. It is mandatory that you provide valid credit card details as a guarantee against damages. On collection, we advise you to check your rental motorcycle carefully and to take photographs of it, as proof of its condition.
Please note that on rare occasions we may need to substitute your choice of motorcycle for something similar.
If you require any other motorcycle accessories (tank bag, top box, GPS mount, GPS unit etc), please request these on booking and an additional charge may be applicable.
What documents do I need?
You will need your original documents as follows: Passport, Driving Licence, International Driving Permit.
What about flights?
You must book your own passenger flights to and from. The normal route is to fly to the international airport in Santiago, Chile and then transfer to domestic airlines to fly direct to and from Arica, Chile. When you book a flight, please make sure that it arrives in Arica after 3pm on the first official day and you can fly home any time on the final official day. We will pick you up from the airport, provided you arrive on the official start date. We drop you off at the airport, provided you leave on the official end day.
What will the weather be like?
We are travelling at the end of the dry season in the Andes, so we would expect some rain showers. It is also very chilly at high altitudes, especially in the evening. We can also experience deep blue skies and sunshine, but remember at altitude the sun can be very strong, so make sure you have sun cream.
Do I need visas for travel?
At time of writing, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most EU Citizens do not need any visas in advance for travel. US Citizens require a visa for Bolivia. This 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 large capacity 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 the country of your residence. 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. The above factors mean that injuries or illnesses that may be recoverable, if you were in your home country, may have serious or fatal consequences. This is a risk that you accept on 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.