This is a perfect introduction to the Andean heartland of South America! Northern Chile, Peru and Bolivia are all included in this exciting 16 day motorcycle adventure! Let’s start in Chile with the Atacama Desert, the dramatic coastal riding along the Pacific Ocean and the tiny pueblo of San Pedro de Atacama, famous for the Valley of the Moon. Here, the skies are so clear and the stars so bright that huge observatories are stationed close by. Peru is the highlight of any tour in the Andes and it’s 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, 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 of Chile, Peru and Bolivia starts in Antofagasta, Northern Chile and ends in Arica, Northern Chile. Led by global adventure motorcyclist, Tiffany Coates, this tour delivers stunning highlights:
This is a 16 day itinerary, covering around 1,950 miles / 3,140 kms in Chile, Peru and Bolivia. We start the tour in Calama, Northern Chile and end it in Arica, Northern Chile.
16 September 2017. Day 1: Antofagasta, Chile
Book your flight into Santiago, the capital city of Chile, and then onwards the town of Antofagasta in the Atacama Desert. Familiarisation with motorcycle. Evening group meal to welcome everyone.
17 September 2017. Day 2: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (238 miles)
Set off for San Pedro, a tiny mountain village amidst stunning volcanic landscapes and take a ride out to the stunning Valley of the Moon for sunset.
18 September 2017. Day 3: Iquique, Chile (305 miles)
Cross the Atacama Desert to reach the Pacific Ocean, then enjoy miles of dramatic cliffs and coastline on deserted roads to reach the coastal town of Iquique.
19 September 2017. Day 4: Putre, Chile (265 miles)
The Atacama Desert extends northwards to the border with Peru – see the mining ghost town of Humberstone, the ancient hieroglyphs and the magnificent view on the Cuesta de Camarones. We then climb into the Andes amidst the volcanic landscapes of Lauca National Park.
20 & 21 September 2017. Day 5 & 6: La Paz, Bolivia (222 miles)
We head off to Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, to La Paz, the de facto capital of Bolivia, where we spend two nights. Don’t underestimate the traffic chaos in El Alto, before descending into the City! You will have the afternoon to explore the Witches Markets or see the cathedral. On your day off, there is an optional day’s ride on the notorious “Road of Death”
22 September 2017. Day 7: Copacabana (100 miles)
A short ride alongside Lake Titicaca and a quirky wooden barge takes us across the Lake to Copacabana, famous for its 16th century Basilica, where we can get our bikes blessed in a traditional ceremony specifically for vehicles held outside the cathedral. Enjoy an “Inca” beer in one of the local lakeside bars.
23 September 2017. Day 8: Puno, Peru (100 miles)
More riding around Lake Titicaca to our waterside hotel for lunch and an afternoon boat ride to visit the floating Uros Islands. Puno is also a great place to try guinea pigs for supper!
24, 25, 26 September 2017. Day 9, 10, 11: Cusco, Peru (245 miles)
Across the high altiplano, over passes of more than 4,000m, heading for the UNESCO World Heritage Site and former Inca capital, Cusco. In Cusco, you have one day off to visit Machu Picchu and on the other day there is an optional ride to the Sacred Valley of the Incas or can just explore the museums and old city walls.
22 September 2017. Day 12: Chivay, Colca Canyon (238 miles)
We ride over a 4,000 metre pass to reach the small town of Chivay in the Colca Canyon. Today’s ride has around 80 miles on good condition gravel roads. Take a late afternoon ride out to the Cruz del Condor to spot condors swooping on the late afternoon thermals.
20 & 21 September 2017. Day 13 & 14: Arequipa, Peru (150 miles)
We continue across the Andes to the “White City” of Arequipa at 2300 metres and in the shadow of the El Misti Volcano. Take a day off the bikes with the opportunity to see the Ice Maiden Juanita, stroll around the peaceful UNESCO listed Santa Catalina Convent or try the traditional Peruvian cocktail, pisco sour, in one of the many balcony bars around the main plaza.
30 September 2017. Day 15: Arica, Chile (265 miles)
Once we are out of Arequipa, it’s traffic free roads the whole way. Our final days ride takes us along the Pacific Coast of Peru and crossing back into Chile to the coastal city of Arica, known locally as the City of Eternal Spring. Farewell Group Evening Dinner.
1 October 2017. Day 16: Flight: Arica – Santiago – Home
We transport you to the local airport in Arica, for your flight back to Santiago for onward transfer to your home country.
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 in Chile, with a domestic flight to Antofagasta and from Arica with either Sky Airlines or LATAM. Please book your flight to arrive no later than 3pm on 16 September and you can leave any time on or after 1 October.
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, an old colonial mansion in the back streets of La Paz, a lakeside hotel overlooking Titicaca. The standard of the accommodation is mainly four star, with one delightful 3* hotel in La Paz and one 5* hotel in Arequipa. Some of our favourite places to stay on this tour are:
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 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, who is the Approved BMW Travel Partner for Chile. 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.
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 dearture, you need to book an outward flight to our start point, Antofagasta to arrive no later than around 3pm on 16 September 2017. The earliest leave date is any time on 1 October 2017 from Arica. Your flight route will normally be an international flight to Santiago (Chile’s capital) and then via LATAM or Sky Airlines to/from the start/end points.
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 optional dirt/gravel tracks (including the option of riding the “Road of Death” in Bolivia) and on 80 miles stretch of good graded gravel roads between Chivay and Cusco. The tour is mainly on twisting 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 La Paz, 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 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 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
We organise your motorcycle rental with our approved local rental agency, in accordance with your selection. Your rental includes your motorcycle, equipped with side panniers. Further accessories are available at an additional charge. Your rental covers unlimited mileage and the insurance is third party liability (this means that damage to the motorcycle is not insured). You are able to purchase additional insurance to limit your maximum damage payment (provided you have complied with the terms and conditions of hire)
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. You will also have to leave a credit card as a guarantee against damages. We advise you to check your rental motorcycle carefully and to take photographs on any pre-existing damage when you collect it.
Please note that on rare occasions we may need to substitute you choice of motorcycle for something similar.
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 de Chile and then transfer to LAN or Sky Airlines to fly direct to Antofagasta (and back from Arica). When you book a flight, please make sure that it arrives in Antofagasta before 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?
Northern Chile will also be dry and pleasant (you will be in the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world). Arica is know as the City of Eternal Spring, as the temperature is very constant at around 22C degrees. We are travelling in dry season in the Andes, so the chance of rain is low. We would expect to have deep blue skies and sunshine, but remember at altitude the sun can be very strong, so make sure you have sun cream. However, it will be chilly in the evenings, when we are at altitude.
At time of writing, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most EU Citizens do not need any visas in advance for travel. USA citizens require a visa in advance 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.
Travel Health / Medical
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.
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.