We were back in the US in a new state for us, Florida. After the eventful departure from Botoga it was nice to enjoy a relaxing flight and collect our babies on the other side, safe and sound. We must admit, the LAN staff at the airport in Bogota were very helpful, we were really messed around with the dogs flights so they waived their pet freight fee ($50 per dog) so the girls got a free ride. Thanks LAN.
The process for collecting the girls after the flight was very different at Miami Airport compared to Dallas where we flew in with Skyla from Australia. The girls were in their crates literally sitting next to the conveyor belts in the baggage claim. Anyone could have walked past and taken them. When Skyla flew in from the US she was taken to a separate secure location and we had to get a heap of stamps and approvals before they released her to us. It was one extreme to the other but it was also the difference between travelling as cargo and checked luggage. Our preference would ...
When will someone bite the bullet and build a road between Panama and Colombia! For now, adventure riders can either fly (by aeroplane) or ship (typically sail boat or ferry) themselves and their motorbikes between North and South America. Of course this depends on the politics of the time and how well Colombia and Panama are getting on. On our way to South America we chose the seven day sailing option from the San Blass Islands off Panama which proved to be an adventure and overall fun experience. This time, returning north with time against us, we decided to fly and from our online research and communication with other motorcycle travellers the easiest way to fly was with Lyn Cargo.
Stu had spent a lot of time requesting quotes from various airlines to crate our motorbikes from Bogota to a range of destinations in North America including Miami, Mexico City and Montreal. Ideally we wanted to get as far north as possible to see Canada while it was still warm, and then travel anticl...
After a productive visit in Bogota sorting our shipping quotes and getting Weeti's paperwork in order for flying to the US, we decided to take a 3 week trip back into Venezuela to visit some friends and attend a Moto Event in the state of Falcon. This would be our last chance before leaving South America and who knows when our path would bring us back here.
There is always plenty of excitement and drama when visiting Venezuela and this occasion didn't disappoint. We entered near San Cristobal and as is usually the case the border was busy. When we first entered Colombia we had conducted a temporary import of both our bikes which was valid for 3 months, it was now less then a month later and so we pleaded with the Aduana officials to allow us to keep the paperwork and skip the import when we returned. Initially this request fell on deaf ears, but after struggling to transfer our VIN to their form with carbon paper, they reconsidered thinking it was a great idea and that it would be ...
From the mountains of Cuenca we traveled a few hours to Salinas on the coast of Ecuador. The distance wasn't far, 350km, but the journey took most of the day. From Cuenca we climbed up further in to the mountains on a narrow, twisty road through thick cloud cover and very wet, cold conditions. Our visibility was dangerously low, sitting in second gear with hazard lights and high beams on trying to increase our visibility to other drivers as much as possible. The locals power around those mountains, perhaps they know them like the back of their hands, we certainly didn't and often didn't know if the road was curving to the left or the right until we saw a rock wall in front of our tyre. As you could imagine the descent was a welcome change along with a coffee break and the removal of all our layers as we moved in to warmer coastal climates.
Passing around Guayaquil was also slow and traffic was particularly bad because it happened to be the week that the Pope was visiting. Never mind...
Cuenca is a small city with a lot of history and set between two fast flowing rivers. It has a cool, wet climate being elevated at 2,500m. We stayed in Cuenca for 10 nights, a long time for The Pack Track to stay in one place, and learnt a lot about this bustling city for example in 1999 its historic centre reached UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
When we arrived in Cuenca we knew we either had a short stay or long stay. We had arranged, weeks earlier, for a replacement credit card to be sent from Australia to a friend (Michelle) of a friend (Daniela) in Cuenca. Postal endeavours in the past had not gone to plan for us, in fact we could describe them all as a tad disastrous, but we were hopeful this time it would go smoothly. We made contact with Daniela through Facebook but the parcel had not arrived.
Okay then, we could be in Cuenca for two weeks. We needed cheap pet friendly accommodation that was flexible. Booking.com helped us by locating the Check-Inn Hotel, only 3 blocks...
After three long days crossing the Sechura Desert of north western Peru, we finally arrived at the Ecuadorean border late in the afternoon. This would conclude our tour of all the main land Spanish speaking countries within the Americas. Note, I didn't say Latin American countries as we hadn't yet visited Canada, considered by some to be a Latin American country due to its French speaking parts or French Guiana although not a country on its own.
The border crossing at the La Tina Macará was fairly uneventful. There was very little traffic and we quickly took turns entering the Aduana office and completing the immigration and vehicle import paperwork. The border officers were older gentlemen and took a shine to Janell who is always very receptive to attention and happy to smile and chat to keep the crossing pleasant and hassle free.
We didn't have any specific agenda for Ecuador except for one task. Having lost a credit card in Bolivia, we'd made arrangements to have replacement ca...
Travelling from south to north Peru you realise what a big country it is and how many incredible sites there are to visit and explore. After the pinnacle of Machu Pichu it was hard to imagine anything could be quite as cool but then we pulled in to the town of Nazca, about 450 km South of Lima (the Capital) to see the ancient Nazca lines and a very barren landscape.
We've been really lucky to arrive at some major tourist attractions in the off-peak season completely unintentionally. The advantage is of course hotels and tour guides need your business and pay more attention to your needs. We found a lovely hotel for a very reasonable price that was very accommodating of our motorbikes, allowing us to park them in the main lobby on what looked like a brand new white tiled floor. The motorbikes were a terrible obstacle to the other guests accessing the hotel through reception and we offered to move them but the staff insisted we leave them for security.
Nazca is located in a region of...
In case you're not aware, there are many different ways of getting to Machu Picchu, the 15th century built Inca city situated in the Andes mountain range, Peru. We had researched a few options including trains, buses, trails and hikes but our sense of adventure drew us to the Inca trail hikes. The hikes usually take 4 days, the fourth day being the day you arrive at Machu Picchu, take all your photos then get a train back to Cusco in the evening. What you'll often find with these tours is that they book out months in advance. We couldn't afford that kind of deadline so we did some further investigation and found a short trail that was pet friendly. Other bikers had blogged about riding to a Hydro-electric scheme, parking their bikes and then hiking. So this is how The Pack Track saw Machu Picchu.
We had a delayed start leaving Cusco. Janells chain and sprocket desperately needed replacing before we left the city. We visited a street known to have a few motorbike parts and accessor...
Why do men transform into giant babies when they get sick? All their manliness is consumed by the illness and what is left is the shell of a man with the temperament of a 5 year old boy. Stuart is no exception to the rule. It had been a while since his last bout of sickness but it struck again the day we left Sucre, Bolivia, headed for Cochabamba.
We had been on the road maybe two hours after a breakfast feast in Sucre with our friends Hernan and Noelia from Argentina. The first symptom was a "sore tummy" and was closely followed by a headache, nausea and diarrhoea so it was slow going with long toilet breaks. Every time we stopped Stu would lie down on the ground for a few minutes until the pain passed then we would try to continue. Maybe 100km along Stuart lay down and wouldn't get up. We were in a tiny town with a few houses and services along the highway. It didn't take long for the locals to approach us with offers of assistance. We had some medication for these circumstances b...
Bolivia is a landlocked country bordered by 5 countries - Peru, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil - with diverse topography and climate from mountains and deserts to rainforest. Up until we reached Potosi we had only experienced a very isolated and desert region at the southern tip of Bolivia. Potosi was our first city stop and a big surprise to us, dispelling all the backward expectations we had for this beautiful country.
Potosi sits at an elevation of 4,000 m on the side of a mountain. It was well after dark when we arrived, a riding situation we like to avoid as much as possible for safety and comfort reasons. It gets bitterly cold when the sun goes down at these elevations and Janell doesn't like to ride with her tinted visor raised because the chill eats at her face. When it's very cold and dark, she rides close behind Stuart, slightly to one side, to utilise the light his headlight casts and both pray that no goats, llamas, alpaca's etc. wander on to the road because it w...
We entered Bolivia from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, on the 1st of May 2015. At this entrance to Bolivia there's no town, no shops and not even a sealed road. There is only a small brick hut that services as the migration or border control office. So we spent a few nights in San Pedro, a big tourist town with all the essentials, to stock up on supplies for the road ahead and for Janell, to squeeze in as many hot showers as she could to build up 'cleanliness credit'.
San Pedro sits at around 2600 m elevation and its almost a straight road up the mountain to an elevation of 4800 m to the turn off to Bolivia. There was a mountain bike race running out of San Pedro the day we left and we passed many competitors battling the challenging ascent and cold conditions as we cruised up pass them. Interestingly we noticed our motorbikes gasping for air a little with the quick ascent.
The advice we were given by other motorists about Bolivia was not to exceed 80km/h, not to pass the migration u...
Concepcion is the second largest city in Chile, situated on the coast about five hours south of Santiago. Concepcion gets a blog of its own because the most incredible thing happened on our arrival in this big city and we had so much fun the three nights we stayed.
The Pack Track had a late departure from Malalcahuello on Monday, 23rd of March 2015. It was 300km to our next destination, Concepcion, so we decided to have a lazy last morning at our friends place. The ride was quick, we were on good roads, so we stopped along the way and arrived in Concepcion at 5pm. We rode directly to the main Plaza to find wifi and look for accomodation online.
The motorbikes were parked in a designated motorbike parking area beside a restaurant in the Plaza. We had not even removed out helmets when we were swamped by high school students asking questions and wanting photos. We tried to tell them we weren't famous but they didn't care. The crowd grew and three gentlemen who had been sitting at the r...