You probably have noticed that there is one major difference on this tour: Several outdoor companies did supply me with new gear. This means a much fancier packing list. Its also for 2 people, because for one year in Southamerica, my girlfriend did accompany me. And a much fancier gear list. We packed 16kg per person and two bikes. Quantec Trekking SLR Racing.
|Ortlieb Handlebar bag||Waterproof handlebar bag, 5l and 7l||430gr||x2|
|Ortlieb BackRoller Classic||Waterproof panier bags 20l||830gr||x4|
|Ortlieb dry bag||Waterproof tent bag 22l||260gr||x2|
|StS Ultra Sil||Mini daypack, 20l||69gr||x2|
|Camerabag||Small bag for our cam||210gr||x1|
|Netbookcasing||Selfmade case for the EEEPC||10gr||x1|
|Bergans drybag||For clothing, 10l||45gr||x2|
|Bergans netbag||For stuff, 8l||30gr||x4|
|Nordisk Tyr||Bikebackpack for water, 4l||500gr||x1|
|Bergans toiletrie bag||Small and light||40gr||x1|
|Penny Stove||Selfmade campingstove||15gr||x2|
|Snowpeak pot||Titanium pot, 2l||124gr||x1|
|Snowpeak pan||Titanium pan||66gr||x1|
|Snowpeak cup||Titanium cup||113gr||x1|
|Meru cup||Stainless steel cup||113gr||x1|
|Nordisk Spork||Foldable titaniumspork||15gr||x2|
|Baladeo 22||Small pocket knife||22gr||x1|
|Gerber Evo||Small pocket knife||51gr||x1|
|EEE PC S101||Netbook||1270gr||x1|
|Olympus SP-590 UZ||Bridgecam with 26x Zoom||450gr||x1|
|Plugadapter||European to american||30gr||x1|
|Typhoon Nano||Mouse for the netbook||14gr||x1|
|My Passport 500gb||External HDD||175gr||x2|
|Sanyo Charger||USB-Charger for AA/AAA||42gr||x2|
|Canon EOS 450D||Digital SLR||1080gr||x1|
|Nordisk Vitus SL||2-person tent||2400gr||x1|
|Nordisk Celsius LP||Down sleepingbag till -10°||1050gr||x2|
|Atriach Skin Microlight||Matress, short, 120cm||390gr||x2|
|Eva matress||5mm matress||190gr||x2|
|Patches||To fix holes in tires||x30|
|Chain oil||Much needed for salty and rainy areas||x1|
|Cablebinder/Zipties||Always handy for improvising||x10|
|Inner tube||Spare bike tube||x2|
|Brakeplates||For the Magura HS33 brakes||x16|
|Gear cables||Were not needed in the end||x3|
|Gearholding Piece||Learned later: Its part of the derailleur||x2|
|Spokes||Yeah for spare spokes, not needed in the end||x10|
|Sparescrews||Always carry some||x10|
|Chainparts||Not needed again||x3|
|Bergans Super Lett Jacket||Rainjacket||420gr||x2|
|Bergans Super Lett pants||Rainpants||380gr||x2|
|2XU bikeshorts||Bikeshorts, short||180gr||x2|
|2XU tricot||Tricot, short||175gr||x2|
|2XU compression shirt||Shirt, long||175gr||x2|
|2XU compression socks||Socks||63gr||x2|
|Bioracer tricot||Tricot, short||160gr||x2|
|Bioracer bikeshorts||Bikeshorts, short||200gr||x2|
|Roeckl Solar||Bike gloves||42gr||x2|
|Alpina Pheos||Bike helmet||235gr||x2|
|Lake MX-140||Bike shoes||980gr||x1|
|Shimano SH-WM50||Bike shoes||725gr||x1|
|BOC bike sandals||Sandals with SPD-System||760gr||x2|
|Berghaus Trekking Zip||Zip-off trousers||350gr||x1|
|Berghaus Pitzal Men||Trekkingtrousers||380gr||x1|
|Berghaus Hoody||Warm Baselayer||360gr||x1|
|Berghaus Technical Zip Tee||Longsleeve Men||200gr||x1|
|Berghaus Technical Zip Tee||Longsleeve Women||200gr||x1|
|Berghaus Technical Tee||Warm version Women||250gr||x1|
|Berghaus gloves||3-1 mitts||210gr||x2|
|Meindl Boots||Hiking boots||1660gr||x1|
|Nordisk Down Socks||Down Socks||100gr||x1|
Total weight: 32.095 grams
Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French-Guiana, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, USA and Canada. Aka: Every single country South/Central/Northamericas.
This will be a long one. My longest trip so far, 18 months. Two entire continents. -10° and +45°. Bikes, boats, planes, trucks and on foot. Travelling with two, travelling solo. Mountains and deserts. Jungle and islands. Rivers and Forests. An epic journey from Patagonia to Canada.
Lets begin at the beginning. I met a girl in Germany and really, truly, honestly stayed for 9 months. But instead of a baby, we got a new tour. ;-) After the Africa trip I was both exhausted (I lost 14kg weight, I looked like a scarecrow) and eager for an even larger tour. So I rested and schemed, looking for something new to do. We worked on a website, made a blog, asked around for companies that are willing to give us bikes, ended up with a lot more than just bikes, made routes and plans and initially, it was the basic idea to travel around the world for 3 years. America and Asia mostly, returning home with the Transibirian Railway. It did not quite turn out that way, but it was great nonetheless. 1,5 years, every country in South, Central and Northamericas. Some trouble on the road, but nothing that did not get fixed.
The first destination was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More or less decided at random, we flew down there and started to bike. Since Diana was not quite used to tropical weather, weird non-european countries and biking in general, we took it easy and took busses more often than not. We headed inland soon, to the wonderful waterfalls of Iguazu, before entering Paraguay. Some biking ensured, followed by a bus ride to Uruguay. A bit more biking, a boat to Buenos Aires. At that point it was clear that we needed to improve our Spanish and decided to stay for 5 weeks in the city and do a language course. With that new knowledge we headed out again on our bikes, 3000km towards Bolivia. Since winter is the best season for Bolivia, and Patagonia was completely frozen at that time, we decided to tackle the centre first, go till Cusco in Peru, and make our way down to Patagonia later, in spring. This way we reach both areas in their best seasons.
The beginning was rather boring and flat, lots of fields, highways and trucks, but after about 1000km, after Cordoba, it started to become more interesting. Salt lakes, rock formations, passes that lead into different climate zones, and the city of Salta were all welcome sights. The landscape transformed from agriculture and fields to mountains and canyons. We were slowly heading up over 3000m in elevation to the highlands of Bolivia. The air was crisp and very clear. You could see mountain ranges that are more than a days ride away, especially at the Salar de Uyoni, the largest salt lake in the world. Its used as a salt mine, they even have buildings completely build out of salt. We took another bus from there to La Paz, mostly because it was extremely cheap, and stayed a few days before heading on a mountaineering tour to the Huana Potosi, a 6000m mountain. The death road was another nice tour, since we had our own bikes with us. We got a little bit lost and ended up in a several hundred year old Spanish castillo, but such surprises are always welcome.
We made our way towards Cusco along the lake Titicaca and finally entered Inca territory. The sacred valley is dotted with dozens of ruins, and the Machu Picchu is around the corner. The most visited tourist site in all of Southamerica is well worth it. We decided to trek there, using an unused railway. We started hiking at 4 o'clock at night, and I was first at the ticket booth, together with an Austrian mountaineer. Good on you bud, because when they opened at 6 o'clock, there was a line further than I could see, and busses started rolling in. The first 30 minutes were quite magical, since the entire site was still empty, as most people stayed at the lookout, making the classical postcard shots.
Then, we killed our bikes. At least, temporarily. Dismantling the bikes into small packages, carrying them up to the hostels attic, locking them in place. Because we were going to hitchhike to Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world and back. We also had flights to the Easter island, Rapa Nui, and couldn't take the bikes along for that anyway. It worker out really well, because the faster pace meant that we had more time for hiking and sights. It was really easy to get a ride, especially in Chile, since its only one long north/south road. It took 10 minutes to get a ride, sometimes 1000km or more in one go. We even camped next to the truck when it stopped in the evening, and continued with the same driver in the morning. This way we made it to Santiago de Chile, Valparidiso, El Bolson, Bariloche, Ushuaia, Puerto Madrin, Mendoza... all these places we haven't been to in Argentina before. From ice cold end of the world feeling in the Ushuaia National Park and Torres Del Paine National Park, to penguins and whales near the peninsula valdez, the wine region of Mendoza, passing the Aconcagua (sadly off season, and no access to the mountain was allowed), going through the Atacama desert and San Pedro de Atacama with the valley of death, beautiful sand rock formations and sand boarding, flying to Rapa Nui with its enigmatic stone figurines, all the way back to Cusco, to get back to our bikes. This little detour took 2 months to complete and was well worth it.
We assembled our bikes and headed down towards the coast. A couple of passes separated us from a well deserved 80km downhill to Nasca, Peru. Another great location for visitors, Nasca offers many old non-inca ruins, the famous Nasca lines that can only be seen from a plane, and wide open deserts. We stopped at one particual small oasis on our way to Lima, it was literally a tiny water hole in the middle of sand dunes. Another backpackers paradise. Lots of sand boarding and dune buggy tours going on, and a museum in the nearby town that showed oddly shaped cone-headed skulls.
Lima, capitol of Peru, was a true colonial town, with amazing architecture. Our hostel was an old villa, a true palace full of gold-rimmed pictures and marble statues. They even had a peacock as a pet. And still, it costs about 5$ a night. After this foray into civilization we headed inland, to the jungle. Pucalpa and Iquitos, Amazon river was next on the list. Boating on small banana boats, cargo ships that take passengers that sleep in hammocks, incredibly crammed together, we headed down the river. Its actually rather... boring, because you sit in your hammock all day, looking at the river slowly moving by. It could have been almost romantic, but not on a noisy and chaotic boat with hundreds of people. Especially, when one of them steals your handlebar bag, containing your camera, money and passport. Ouch. (Luckily, I carried a spare)
The stops along the river were the highlights. Iquitos with the Pilpintuasi Butterfly farm, seeing red uakaris and ocelots, Manaus, completely out of place city in the jungle (it was Christmas, and they even had santa claus and fake Christmas trees in town, very surreal), Santarem and Altar do Chao with its hidden gems and beaches, and finally Belem, the northern port on the coast of Brazil. Here were are again, almost were we started that tour, on the Brazilian coastline. We busses into French Guyana, which is actually France in a literal sense, cycled to Suriname, the only country that required a visa on the entire trip, and to Guyana. Of all the places in Southamerica, I remember these the fondest. They were remote and almost untouched by tourism, all the locals regarded you as curious visitors, and not walking ATMs like it can happen on the Pan-American Highway, or as its called here: The Gringo Trail.
Venezuela was less welcoming, and made it a bit awkward to change money, as it had to be done on the black market. We did not linger too long, but spend more then enough time in Columbia, 2 months on the coast alone. A short detour to Ecuador made sure we have been to every country on the continent, seeing Quito and tons of iguanas, but unfortunately we did not have the free budget to see the Galápagos islands. Working in Bogotá on a Colombian soap opera remedied that fact a bit, and we headed north towards the ciudad perdida, the lost city, a 4 day trek into the jungle, and finally Cartagena to catch a boat to Panama. Which took 3 weeks, due to some misunderstandings, but Cartagena is really not a bad place to hang around.
Panama City was the place that my girlfriend and me split up. She wanted to stay while and do her dive master certification, while I itched to ride my bike more. Furthermore she was going to New Zealand and Australia to do Work&Travel, while I was heading further north on the American continent. We met one more time in central USA, before she headed to down under, and it turned out to take almost nine months before we saw each other again, in Singapore.
Meanwhile, I started to cycle central america, passing many places that I knew from my first visit. Not much had changed, and I tried to find new, previously unseen sights, like Copan and other Mayan ruins. Belize was a particularly nice detour, as was Yucatán. As I mentioned in the tour report on my RTW trip, I love Mexican food. I made my way towards Mexico City, this time fringed with Aztec ruins, and giant olmec heads. The famous sun stone of the Aztecs, Teotihuacan and the Pyramid of Sun and Moon were among the major sights. From Mexico City I actually did take a bus north, because there weren't too many places of interest on my way. While my final destination will be New York, it turned out that the 3300km bus ride to Tijuana did actually take me further away from it. But I wanted to head to L.A., to start one of the most iconic rides in the world: The Route 66.
Stretching over 4000km through the wild west and central USA, from Los Angeles to Chicago, this old highway is a dream for bikers. Usually motor bikers, but hey, I ride on two wheels, so why not? (maybe because every single days was 100 Fahrenheit or more, that's why.) But the tour was fantastic and I made such good progress, that I even build in two major detours: One north towards the horseshoe bent, the antelope canyon and Mesa Verde National Park, and another one south, to the Very Large Array (giant radio antennas in the desert), Roswell (perfect timing: Annual UFO days), and the Carlsbad caverns. I was aided in these tours by extremely friendly locals, especially the warmshowers hosts stood out from the crowd. I started using couchsurfing and warmshowers for the first time on this tour, and the results amazed me so much, that I will try to do a few of these on every tour now. Its so much nicer to directly meet and stay with local people, instead of being locked away in a hotel.
After the Route 66 I somewhat lost my clear goal, and I had quite a bit of time to kill, so I slowly cycled, very relaxed with about 100km per day, through Canada and the great lakes area, to Toronto and the Niagara Falls, to Montreal and Boston. Many detours, lots of nice forest, lakes and rivers. A good end, to a good tour. Just like the end in Capetown, New York felt like a haze, unreal. I flew home, again searching for a new goal.