Following on from my Northern RTW trip with my friend Ingo in 2019, I was keen to explore more of Russia/Mongolia and follow the Silk Road down through the ‘Stan countries. Then COVID came along and the world ground to a halt and along with it my plans of motorcycle travel. Now things are changing and travel is again much easier, but not on the Silk Road, where countries like Tajikistan are still not allowing foreign travellers.
So, where to now? I started looking further afield and the more I studied South America as a moto travel destination, the more appeal it had. Plans were made, flights were booked and the countdown was on.
My humble Suzuki DR 650 was converted into a bike capable of carrying everything I might need for the 12 months I estimated the journey would take.
If I was going to go to the trouble of getting my bike across the Pacific, then I may as well see all that I can while I’m there.
Will I manage 12 months travel in South America? I don’t know. I think it will be exhausting. I speak no Spanish and can’t see myself learning anything other than the basics. Conversation via Google Translate, while helpful in getting my daily needs, is limiting. Thankfully the internet and a plethora of apps have made connecting with home easy, but time will tell. I think I may need to do the journey in stages, leaving the bike and flying home for a break. Let’s see how it goes.
Now that things were in motion I needed to get the bike to Auckland and to a facility that specialized in crating and certifying the bike, ready to fly. Despite all their assurances of keeping the crate to a minimal size and weight, this proved not to be the case and we ended up with a crate far larger and heavier than was required, with an Air Freight bill to match. Honestly a small family of refugees could have joined my bike for the flight inside that crate.
The bike flew out to Santiago Chile on the Saturday and I passed my obligatory PCR test (that was never checked) before Kathy and I said our goodbyes and I followed my bike to Santiago the following day.
Arriving in Santiago on the Sunday and of course the Monday is a public holiday, so Tuesday is the day I hope to retrieve my bike from Chilean Customs.
In the meantime I’m staying at Hostal Casa Matte, a biker hostel close to the centre of Santiago. This place has a following amongst moto travellers as somewhere to safely store your bike, and enjoy the use of the workshop. It’s an entry point hostel for bikers flying in across the Pacific. There are equivalent type places in Buenos Aires for bikers coming in over the Atlantic.
My first impressions of Santiago are the smog, homelessness, graffiti (most of it anti-govt and anti-police), litter, street dogs and residential security systems that would match anything in South Africa.
I’m told there are gated communities where things are a lot nicer, but I wasn’t hanging around long enough to find out.
I had arranged to meet with Julio, an independent import agent who specializes in importing and exporting bikes for travellers like me. Julio walked me through the maze of paperwork and fees. We started at 9am and by 2pm they delivered my jumbo crate.
30 minutes later I ride the bike away from the airport and head into town on the right hand side of the road. I have a Temporary Import Pass for my bike that matches my 90 day visa.
Adventure before dementia, hola South America!
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