07.-09.03.2016 Colon (Panama)
Apparently, 3 seems to be THE magic number here...
In march (03/2016), we are here to finish our southamerica tour.
Procedures and bureaucracy in order to get vehicles from 3 different transports out of a port are quite time consuming! Registrations, controls, libraries full of papers to fill out, signatures, stamps, running from one to the other office (actually TAKING A TAXI, to get there - distances are enormeous), waiting here and there, getting 3 copies of everything, talking to agents and and and... We are hoping to get the bikes and the van today - on the 3rd day, being here (at the port). The last vehicle, we should get today - after... take a guess: ...3 p.m.!
Yesterday, Domenico and Marc were taking "their" group (3 remaining customers) out for our last group dinner and to say good-bye. We spent (almost) 3 amazing months together and enjoyed MORE than 3 countries, landscapes, cultures, kilometers and more on the motorcycles!!!
We will now take the chance to say the most essential thing to our Edelweiss customers (in 3 words):
WE THANK YOU!!!
The group got new members (do we really have to mention, how many?! OK: 3) and is continuing through central america to Los Angeles with new guides.
You, dear reader, please stay tuned over the next weeks - as there will be more awesome pictures and interesting stories here on a blog (concerning the next leg)!
After hours of bureaucracy, the first box was opened! This is one of the bikes coming from Europe... the ones coming from Colombia made us wait much more!
Inside the "Free Zone" of Colon
waiting and waiting... there is time for a group picture!
last dinner together for the "South America Group"
finally the bikes and the van are here!
Ready to leave again, the Panama to Los Angeles section is starting. Domenico and Marc are flying back to Europe, and wish you a lot of other wonderful experiences!
06.03.2016 Cartagena - Colon
And here we are, after 77 days we finally reached Panama, final destination of this great tour! Once we reached the hotel, we had time to visit the famous Panama Canal, that connects the Atlantic and the Pacific ocean, one of the wonders of modern engineering! We went to see the Gatun Locks, a system that lifts a ship up 26 metres to the elevation of the Gatun lake. Once reached the lake, ships can then proceed to the other side, where they will be lifted down. A very interesting visit! Our next task will be to take our vehicles out from the container and from the port... the tour is not yet over!
Entrance of the Gatun Locks visitors center
one ship ready to be "lowered"
gates are opening...
the ship slowly starts moving
panamax ships fit perfectly in the locks, 33 metres wide and 305 metres long
one of the "mules" that escort the ships and help them during the crossing
The Gatun lake
Ships waiting to enter the locks from the lake, direction Atlantic
02. - 05.03.2016 Cartagena rest days
We have to spend a few days in Cartagena, in order to ship our bikes to Panama, so we have some time for enjoying the historical centre, the hotel, the beach... and also do some maintenance to our van!
Some impressions of Cartagena, while looking for a mecanic to change the tires and the break pads on the van...
Changing tyres for the van
After a long day, back in our hotel...
Domenico and Marc, enjoying a fruit juice near the beach - before continuing work
in the port, waiting to load our bikes and wan in the container, we met other travellers...
Heiri and Joseph
Otto entering the container
After loading the van, somehow Marc had to get out...
Police sealing the container
Evening out, this is the famous "Cafe del Mar"
"Goodbye Colombia" dinner
Cartagena by night
01.03.2016 Monteria - Cartagena
Last riding day in South America, we did it! Today we reached Cartagena de Indias, on the Caribbean sea. From Buenos Aires we did approximately 17.000 km, we crossed this huge, magnificent continent that fulfilled our weirdest expectations and filled our memories with plenty of stories to tell! Cartagena is one of the most beautiful cities in the Caribbean and its historical centre is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once arrived, we also organized a "Goodbye dinner" for Wolfgang, who tomorrow is going to fly back home. Wolfgang, it was really a pleasure to meet you and ride with you! Wishing you all the best!
Next task will be the shipping of all vehicles (and of all of us, of course!) to Panama, stay tuned!
back on the coast by Coveñas
The Caribbean Sea!!!
Heiri trying a massage
The location for our coffee break
We always find spots for "playing" a bit
and after dinner, if you want a good ice cream, this is what you have to look for... of course italian ice cream!
An interesting version...
Cartagena by night
29.02.2016 Medellin - Monteria
Another long riding day was waiting for us: 400 km north, to our second last destination in Southamerica (before going to Cartagena).
But first, we went to BMW Medellin ("Ruta40") and with Pablo's help, our motorcycle could be fixed!
After that, we went up curvy roads (with maaany slow trucks), got into fog again in the altitude and then into a jungle-ish climate, when we came down again.
The tourguide bike is fixed. Thanks to Pablo and "Ruta40"!
Fog is waiting...
...but not for too long - on the way down, it cleared up and got hot
Speaking of "hot... This is, how people get rid of old furniture...
The palmtrees are just a slight indicator for the climate, we went into
The landscape changed to hills and along the road, there were many farms, where they grow cattle
It got dark before we reached our destination - because of the late start this morning (due to the works on the bike)
28.02.2016 Rest day in Medellin
What a nice surprise today! Our colombian friend Pablo, who did the Grand Alps tour last summer, was looking at our blog and he saw that we were in Medellin. She came to greet us in the morning, he showed us a bit around his city and we also met him again for a very nice dinner. Thank you Pablo! Edelweiss is like a big family around the World!
We also discovered the city a bit (one can definetely NOT see everything in one day...). Today, Medellin is famous for its orchids, or as the second biggest city and industry centre in Colombia (after Bogota, the capital) - but in the past, it was known for its drug cartells... But Medellin is much more than that: it is a modern, vibrating, beautiful, clean, big,... city, that deserves more than one visit.
Pablo with Marc and Domenico
some impressions of Medellin, thank you Pablo!!!
the cable car station. Medellin has a very modern public transport system!
Botero Plaza in Medellin. This square displays 23 sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, who donated these and several other artworks.
modern buildings in the area where our hotel is located
Heiri and Otto on a guided tour about Pablo Escobar (one of his houses, where he and his family lived)
People are still digging for hidden money
...but he also had a safe - like a room full of money, that he was weighting, instead of counting
The place, where he was shot
The cemetery, where he lies
People are still honouring him, because they say "he did good for the poor and homeless of Medellin"
On the way to the longest open air escalator
people in this "barrio" (neighborhood), playing Bingo
walls and buildings are painted nicely
what a view over Medellin at the top
take a closer look at the "fingernails"
Finally, we went to this hill
Sculpture of the indigenous
Southamerica had great cultures already - before the "conquistadores"...
Medellin by night; view from a hill, where Pablo took us - on the way to a nice dinner with typical colombian food
27.02.2016 Manizales - Medellin
The plan was, to have a nice ride over twisty roads and enjoy the coffee area.
Reality was a bit different: 30 minutes after start, the tourguide bike lost power and we spent almost 2 hours to fix the problem - just to end up with loading the bike into the van. Then we had a beutiful road ahead, winding along a river and leading us through beautiful nature.
But wait... there are some roadworks waiting for us on the last 70 kilometers and we had to stop several times for quite a while. And all this with humid 37 Celsius. Finally, we were happy to arrive Medellin and enjoy the well airconditioned hotel.
Probably, bad fuel might have caused the problem? So lets get rid of it and replace it with new/better
Almost every hill is covered with coffee plants
Truck surfing - or a cheap way to travel...
Waiting at one of many roadworks - THAT was slowing us down immensely
26.02.2016 Cali - Manizales
We did not know it - but this was our last day, riding as the complete group (well, after Roland had to leave us in Brazil already). Unfortunately, Wolfgang will leave us as well after Manizales.
Leaving Cali was much easier, than entering it: the roads were empty and after Cali, well paved. The ride was excellent and at the end of the day, we were climbing up to Manizales on a curvy road that gave us a smile.
Speaking of climbing... The last bit IN Manizales, the GPS led us to the hotel through narrow streets that were so steep, that the van had to follow busses in the first gear.
The 4 musceteers at a coffee break
..."nicely" illustrated for those who cannot read, or who do not know, what it is
THESE two knew and enjoyed it
Visiting a coffee factory
OK, they did not give tours in the factory - so we bought and tasted some products
Coffee plants near Manizales
For the goodbye dinner for Wolfgang, we decided for a buffalo beef restaurant
In Southamerica, the music (and probably other noises) are always to loud.
Solution: Wolfgang deactivates the loudspeaker
Cheers, thank you and goodbye Wolfgang.
It was a pleasure, travelling with you!
25.02.2016 Pasto - Cali
Our first complete riding day in Colombia led us from Pasto in the altitude to Cali - means from cold to hot, from cloudy to sunny, from south further north...
Entering Cali is.... ...lets say "interesting": the traffic is insane and more than once, we wished to NOT have the panniers on our bikes, so that we could sneak through the endless lines of cars and busses and trucks - just as the millions of local bikers did.
Otto likes it!
Coffee break - the shade is very welcome, as it was very hot!
...as i said...!
A biker couple who turned around after passing us - to have nice talks and exchange interesting news about the road, the people, the weather, from where to where, .... everything...
Not just rain stopped us (to put our rain gear on)...
...but also a broken gear shift on Heiri's bike - but this was fixed very easily...
...and we had a quick lunch.
Weather changed from rain to sun - back to rain...
...HEAVY rain, so that even the locals took shelter at a gas station
24.02.2016 Otavalo (Ecuador) - Pasto (Colombia)
Bye-bye Ecuador - today we entered Colombia.
The landscape was amazing and the roads twisty and in good condition - almost. Riding on well paved road, one gets surprised all of a sudden by roadworks, where they compete/renovate parts and this leads us probably to our last "offroad" experience.
Good, nice, curvy, ...
And there are NO rules! The picture shows our AND the opposite "lane"; but who dares, "wins"
Stop for a coffee at a museum - but noone wanted to see the mammuth (the "real" one).
We want to RIDE!
Green nature. Guess why: because it rains a lot
Otto, if THAT will hold, when we continue riding...?!?
The roads were good and curvy again and the formation enjoyed them
Old plastic bottles - used for growing flowers and other plants in the streets of Pasto
Locals, playing games outside
23.02.2016 Quito - Otavalo
Today, we just had a quick and short ride of 150 kilometers, to get to Otavalo, from where we eill head towards Colombia tomorrow.
22.02.2016 Rest day in Quito
Today we all had plenty of time to explore this beautiful city. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is known by several exalting names. It is called "The Florence of America" for the artistic wealth of its museums and temples, and "Light of America" for having been the hotbed of the seditious ideas which eventually led to the indipendence of America. It also has the distinction of being the first World Heritage Site on the planet!
a beautiful dog admiring Quito from the "Panecillo" hill
the "Virgin of Quito" on the top of the Panecillo. Inaugurated in 1976, it is a 45-metre-tall monument of a madonna, made of seven thousand pieces of aluminium.
other impressions of Quito
When rain started pouring down, the passage under the arcades became suddenly very crowded!
Quito offers great views
The incredibly decorated interiors of the San Francisco church. It was forbidden to take pictures, but I could not resist...
The San Francisco square, probably the most beautiful in Quito
21.02.2016 Quilotoa lake - Quito
Another spectacular ride in the morning took us from Quilotoa back on the "Panamericana" road. From there, Quito was very easy to reach and, since we got there quite early, we decided to visit the "Mitad del Mundo" before reaching the hotel. Mitad del mundo, or "the middle of the world", is the monument located just a few miles nort of Quito which highlights the exact location of the Equator (from which the country takes its name). Reaching the hotel was also very interesting, because it is located in the heart of the city and very close to its most beautiful sights, so we had to ride through some very narrow (and some also steep!) roads. A little walk through the centre and tasty dinner together to finish this beautiful day.
the morning ride
Ecuador is one of the biggest producers of bananas in the world
finally we saw one volcano! And what a volcano, this is the Cotopaxi, reaching a height of 5,897 m, one of the world's highest volcanoes.
group picture at the equator
Marc (south) and Otto (north)
our GPS does not agree this is exactly the equator...
some impressions of Quito by night
20.02.2016 Baños - Quilotoa lake
We are in the volcanoes region of Ecuador, but unfortunately these huge mountains seem to be a little shy in these days and we could not see any today, since their summits were all covered by clouds! Anyway the ride was really beautiful, especially the last part before reaching the spectacular Quilotoa lake. This is a water-filled caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The caldera was formed by the collapse of a volcano following a catastrophic eruption about 800 years ago and has since accumulated a 250 m deep crater lake, which has a greenish color as a result of dissolved minerals. Our hotel is located on the top of the caldera, very close to the viewpoint, from there it is possible to hike down to the basin bottom, but not everybody thought it was a very good idea!
on the way from Latacunga to Quilotoa
Heiri and Josef
Josef and Domenico looking like twins
the saturday market in Zumbagua, where we could have lunch
Heiri trying some local sweets
Canyon del Rio Toachi
The last 7 kilometres before reaching the hotel were on a gravel road, here Wolfgang!
The Quilotoa lake with its spectacular colors!
Heiri and Wolfgang
Group picture. Josef is missing because he wanted to reach the bottom of the crater...
Marc taking panoramic pictures
And here is Josef coming back up
the crater from the bottom
Last picture at dusk, the moon and the lake... so nice!
19.02.2016 Cuenca - Baños
Today we left Cuenca and took a sidetrip through the Amazon jungle. We crossed the Andes in the morning, a great road that unfortunately we had to ride very slowly because of the fog (here called "neblina") and some rain! Reaching the other side of the mountains, the temperature changed very quickly, we were in the jungle! Another beautiful road took us to Baños, located on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano. Baños is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ecuador due to its amazing natural beauty (it is home to more than 60 waterfalls) and its plethora of available adventure sports.
First picture stop on the Andes
Coffee break in the morning
Before reaching Baños, we could see the amazing "Pailon del Diablo" waterfall
18.02.2016 Loja - Cuenca
First riding day only in Ecuador! Today we rode between 2000 and 3000 metres of altitude on the Andes, the roads in this country are really good and well paved, unless you choose to ride on some backroads like Wolfgang and Josef did! Cuenca is really a nice city and its beautiful historical centre (protected by Unesco) offered at evening plenty of options for a tasty Edelweiss dinner!
first coffee break in Saraguro
The Andes in this part of Ecuador
Otto approaching a curve
Arrived in Cuenca
The imposing Cathedral
the Cathedral from the side
17.02.2016 Piura - Loja
As you will notice, not many pictures for today! We left the hotel at 7am in order to reach the border as early as possible. Leaving Peru was very easy and fast, but the customs officer in Ecuador was the slowest ever! It took him an average of 25 minutes to do the paperwork of each vehicle, so in other words we spent there almost three hours! Anyway Ecuador welcomed us with beautiful roads and enchanting landscapes, we can't wait to discover more of this country!
waiting and waiting and waiting...
of course our bikes attracted some children!
Arrived in Loja
16.02.2016 Chiclayo - Piura
Another short riding day, but as we had to cross the "Desierto de Sechara", it was a quite hot day. Piura will be our last overnight stay in Peru and tomorrow, we will enter Ecuador.
Josef and Wolfgang, leaving the hotel in Chiclayo
up to 38 Celsius plus wind - but more like from a hair dryer
Wharf in Parachique (NONE of the old ships will be given up!)
Quite some villages and cities have such a nice welcome/good-bye sculpture, reflecting some typical things of the region
Plaza and cathedral in Sechura, where we had some lunch
Workers in the rice fields
15.02.2016 Trujillo - Chiclayo
On our 3rd last day in Peru, we continue north to Chiclayo. On our way, we visited the "Lord of Sipan", a fairly young archeological site, where they found untouched tombs of an ancient leader, priest and more...
Warming up along the coast near Huanchaco
Lunch break in Pacasmayo
Visiting the lord
Not the original gifts and things in the tombs, but these replacements are showing, what they found in the untouched area.
For more interest in the history/story, one can also visit a museum nearby
The lord of Sipan
Otto and Domenico at the tomb of the oldest person, found (45-55 years old)
...and how they produced them.
All tombs are protected against rain, as everything is built with clay bricks.
...and "el Nino" gets worse and brings more rain since a couple of years
14.02.2016 Trujillo restday
Central place "plaza de armas"
One of several artists in the pedestrian zone
13.02.2016 Huaraz - Trujillo
Another spectacular ride today! Leaving the hotel we rode between the "Cordillera Negra" and the "Cordillera Blanca" until we reached the Canyon del Pato with its steep and arid walls! And well it was not only the steep and arid walls, but also the (quite many!) kilometres on gravel road and the dark tunnels that we will always remember! Back on asphalt, then, beautiful windy roads brought us to the coast again and then finally on the Panamericana towards Trujillo where we will spend the next 2 nights.
Beautiful sky as we left our hotel in Huaraz!
The Andes in the background
Huaraz is located in an altitude of 3.052 m - the snow and ice (glaciar region) begins here above fourthousand-something...
Caraz, a nice town where we stopped for our first break
Heiri and Otto
Also on pavement: some narrow bridges
In the Canyon del Pato
Wolfgang and Josef
the entrance of one of the many tunnels!
in some tunnels, there was pavement - but also some with gravel and/or sand
didn't I mention the steep walls? and the gravel?
Picture for Touratech
not only tunnels, we also had to cross some narrow bridges!
out of the canyon
last break before reaching Trujillo, our bikes always attract local people...
... well, not only the bikes
On the PanAmericana - towards Trujillo...
12.02.2016 Barranca - Huaraz
From zero to 4800 metres of altitude, from the sea to the mountains, from the desert to the glaciers, from 30 to 2 degrees, all in one day! What a day! Words can not express the feelings after this ride!
first coffee break
Wolfgang buying some local fruits
...and tasting the strange stuff (was good!)
Hitting the Andes again!
we met a lone rider from Colombia, so we could also ask for some good tips!
Any resemblances are pure coincidence!
curves, curves, curves,....
entering "ruta del cambio climatico"
more or less, we reached the top of Mont Blanc!
Approximately 60 km of gravel
...and stones and things...
the Huarapasca glacier
some ancient graffiti, men lived in this area already many centuries ago
Puya raimondii, also known as queen of the Andes
we made it!
10.-11.02.2016 Pisco - Lima - Barranca
Around 200 km from Pisco to Lima, that we decided to do as soon as possible in order to reach BMW Motorrad Peru and have our bikes inspected! Then, after a free afternoon, a nice dinner together and, on the next day, back at BMW to wait for our bikes! We were told that the bikes would have been ready by noon, but we left Lima after 5pm, so... no time for any breaks until Barranca!
On our way to Lima: this car doesn't look like it - but it still works...
Many chicken farms along the road
At traffic lights, people sell all sort of things
Electricity - even in the peruvian capital, it looks like everywhere else...
Arrival at BMW Lima
Same mileage (after approximately 12.000 km): Heidenau and Karoo - a comparison
Edelweiss dinner in Lima
Lima by night
our bikes at BMW Lima
09.02.2016 Nazca - Pisco
When did we last see the ocean? It was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, around one month ago, we were on the east side of this continent... and today we finally reached the west side and the Pacific Ocean! What an emotion!
On the way, to Pisco, we could also visit the Huacachina oasis, one of the most famous tourist attractions of the Peruvian coast.
Leaving Nazca through the hot and dry desert road, north
also an abandoned bus can make for a good picture
a little bit overloaded?
first coffee break
Otto, you still have a long way home!
on the way to Huacachina...
Approaching Huacachina - near Ica
a Dakar veterane
The Huacachina lake, also called the "Oasis of America"
Legend holds that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.
Take a closer look at the front (oil...)
when we finally reached the coast in Paracas...
...some friendly pelicans were waiting for us
Marc feeding pelicans...
Heiri feeding pelicans...
... and Domenico chasing them! Well it was actually a scientific interest, he wanted to see their wingspan!
Arrived in Pisco, as you can read on the boat
Town hall (left)
new cathedral (right) - built, where the old one was, after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 2007
Plaza de armas
Pick-up time 9:00 am to go to the little airport, check-in and then fly over the famous Nazca lines. Since we are all quite big (and heavy!) men, they had to split us in two different aircrafts!
The Nazca lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, created between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards. The largest figures are over 200 m across! The flight was not the most confortable ever, but fortunately it lasted only 30 minutes!
arrived at the airport
Heiri and Wolfgang before boarding
and we're flying!!!
This is, what we hope to see...
let's try to find some figures between the lines!
the "panamericana" road
back on land
The german maths professor, Maria Reiche (1903-1998), who examined the lines for decades and played the most important part, making UNESCO considering the lines as world heritage (1994).
open street butcher
street food (cheap and good)
Josef, buying nuts
"hard" work, nice car
07.02.16 Chalhuanca - Nazca
Following the road, we climbed almost 4600 meters, rode in rain, sun, clouds, having temperatures between 5 and 35 Celsius, passed areas, where actually just Lamas can (want to) live - and again: CURVES!
Then, we saw the huuuuge dune (2000 meters high) in the haze (or was it mist?) and had a nice descend (again with millions of c.u.r.v.e.s.), down to Nazca. The city with its population of approximately 20 thousand (but at least as many tourists) is dry, hot, not too much to see - but the famous Nazca-Lines, that we will see tomorrow: from an airplane...
leaving our hotel in the morning
we found out that this place is loved by travellers...
... and by alpacas!
...did we already mention the curves?!
today we finally could see a condor!
Coffee break in the middle of nowhere
Gasstation, "a bit different"
Otto and Heiri
Kitchen of a local "diner" in the Andes (with the food, running around)
Lost and damaged parts can be fixed - here with duct tape
...and this was not even the highest point today.
From rain to blue sky
Meeting a canadian biker, going south
Trout, soup, chicken - today's lunch
Not boring at all: more curves...
...plus the huge dune in the background
2000 meters high. If one wants to sandboard, you can - but you have to walk up there (no sort of vehicle is allowed to enter the dune, protectionwise)!
Descending towards Nazca
....and for the final: some more curves
06.02.16 Ollantaytambo - Chalhuanca
We are leaving the Sacret valley (Valle Sagrado), to cross the Andes to the (west) Atlantic coast. Our next destination is Chalhuanca, before we reach Nazca, with its famous lines. Nice weather and awesomely curvy roads are waiting for us on our way there...
Tasting some corn juice at the roadside
Otto, "scratching" curves
Beautiful nature plus curves, curves and more curves - what a fun ride!
One of many stands, where one can have lunch
WE had lunch in a "Cevicheria" - tasting Ceviche (raw fish/seafood, marinated in lemon juice and onions, served with sweet potatoes)
Some impressions of the road and nature alongside (no explanation needed)...:
Our hotel - no Wifi, so we had very nice conversations...
A quick look into the kitchen
Edelweiss was here!
Noone knew, what this was - we assume, it is a kind of amphore, to transport liquids (oil, wine, etc)
A pond for fresh "Trucha" (trout)
05.02.16 Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo
Today we finally reached Machu Picchu, the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres above sea level and most archaeologists believe that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The Incas built the estate (in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls) around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Entering Machu Picchu
We arrived on a foggy morning
a lot of fog, hoping that the sun comes out later!
before visiting Machu Picchu, our first challenge was to climb the Wayna Picchu, the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu, The Incas built a (very steep!) trail up the side of the Huayna Picchu and built temples and terraces on its top. The peak of Huayna Picchu is about 2,720 metres above sea level, or about 360 metres higher than Machu Picchu.
Wolfgang on the way to Wayna Picchu
Josef, on the way up to Wayna Picchu
a last obstacle, before we reached the top
After around 40 minutes of climbing, we reached the top of Wayna Picchu!
This was the view when we reached the top, normally there should be an amazing view over Machu Picchu but all we saw was fog or clouds!
different ways of meditating
Then the clouds started "opening" and we could see Machu Picchu...
... always clearer! What an amazing wiew!!!
some other impressions...
reaching Machu Picchu again, we could start our guided tour of the site
Otto at the astronomical monument at Machu Picchu
the main gate of the town
What a beautiful site. I will use the words of the movie "The Motorcycle Diaries":
"How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?"
an example, how they did things
how the inka split stones (make holes, insert wood, put water on it, *crack*)
The Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Three Windows
a solar calendar
The Temple of the Condor
This man "discovered" Machu Picchu (again)
Back in Machu Pichu Pueblo, from where we took the train to Ollantaytambo
04.02.16 Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
The next exceptional experience is waiting for us: Machu Picchu!
Today, we leave Ollantaytambo, to take the train to Machu Picchu Town (formerly known as Aguas Calientes). There, we will discover the town a bit and spend a night, until our day tomorrow will start very early (again at 05:20 a.m.), as we will climb the WaynaPicchu as some of the just 400, that are allowed per day.
We left the hotel in Ollantaytambo at 5:20 am
immense, how much water in the Rio Urubamba
Arriving in Machu Picchu Pueblo
Some impressions of the town...
An Inka withe the three symbols
- condor (peace)
- puma (strenght)
- snake (wisdom)
Aguas calientes (the "old" name of Machu Picchu town) means "warm water" - because of the thermal springs here
Yes, Domenico - cute!
...but we have no free space on our vehicles...
03.02.2016 Cusco - Ollantaytambo
Today, before leaving Cusco, we visited the SOS Children's Village. This is an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. It was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Imst, Austria and has nowadays many villages in all South America.
Then we proceeded to Ollantaytambo, the basecamp for visiting Machu Picchu, one of the highlights of this tour!
Visiting the SOS Children's Village in Cusco, where we also brought many presents for the children.
giving the presents to the organization
inside one of the houses
some impressions of the village
"my name is Josef - and yours?"
we also got some little gifts from the children, here Heiri showing the gifts
save the nature and treat it well!
picture of Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS Children's Villages
the week schedule
Of course all children wanted to see the bikes!
Coffee break in Maras, all together on a bank like the locals!
On the way to the salt ponds near Maras
The salt ponds. Since pre-Inca times, salt has been obtained in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. The highly salty water emerges at a spring, ant then the flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels constructed so that the water runs gradually down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds.
On the way from Maras to Ollantaytambo
Our hotel in Ollantaytambo
...tasting "cuy", which is a speciality/delicacy here (guniea pig)
02.02.2016 Cusco rest day
Plaza de armas with its cathedral
The last supper (...having a Chinchilla...)
loooots of churches everywhere in Cuzco
"new" spanish architecture - built on top of ancient inka walls
hidden behind walls: a playground
Buying toys for the kids (SOS Kinderdorf)
01.02.2016 Puno - Cusco
As we were told at the border, Wolfgang and Josef have to get a local insurance at Puno - then we can continue our ride to Cuzco, the former Inkca capital, where Pizarro won against Atahualpa and ended the inca culutre. Cuzco and its surrounding has a lot of inka and colonial buildings and remainings, that one simply cannot discover in one day...
Waiting for the SOAT (insurance) office top open
Germans on the way up to Alaska (van) and an Austrian with an Poland-girl, going south (bikes)
The moment, when you start thinking "please let the route lead me more to the left"
the highest point of our today's journey (Cuzco is on 3400m)
Peruvian Rail, passing by
slowly, but steady approaching Cuzco from south
local market in a little town
Lamas, Alpacas, sheep, .... all sorts of animals...
31.01.2016 Copacabana (Bolivia) - Puno (Peru)
Goodbye Bolivia. Thanks for some very interesting days and many beautiful impressions!
Hello Peru, we are hoping for an exceptional time within the next 2 weeks...
Today after crossing the border, a short ride to Puno allowed us a visit to the famous "floating islands", where the Uros tribe have been living for many centuries. The Uros islands are a group of around 80 man-made totora reed islands floating on Lake Titicaca. Way before the Inka empire took over, this tribe made the wacky decision to move their village out into the lake. The problem is that Lake Titicaca doesn’t have that many islands. The Uros solution – build new floating islands!
Waiting for the blessing, but all we got was rain.
Border crossing Bolivia - Peru (under the rain)
Road to Puno
People wearing traditional costumes in Puno
one of the many boats taking tourists to the floating islands
the "way" to the floating islands
entering the Uro village
the view from one floating island
our guide explaining us life in the village and how these floating islands are built
leaving the island
30.01.2016 La Paz - Copacabana (Bolivia)
Leaving this crowded city with its immense traffic was not easy. Today, we were heading north west to the Titicaca lake. The beautiful town (actually beautiful coast) is quite close to the border to Peru, where we will cross tomorrow. Copacabana is very touristy, for backpackers as well as for southamericans, who pilgrim to this place, that gave the more famous Copacabana in Brazil its name.
Leaving La Paz
First view on lake Titicaca
Group picture by the Titicaca Lake
All those stands were selling delicious fish - near the ferry
Bolivia has no coast - but hopes, to get back a bit one day
We could not resist the fish
These little "ferries", or better say rafts, did not look very safe, but then we saw that they can transport also a bus!
Unloading had to happen backwards - but in a team, we help each other and so it was quite easy
The last bit to Copacabana
Paved and curvy
A viewpoint above Copacabana. On the very right corner, one can see the bolivian version of the floating islands. But we will visit the ones in Peru, tomorrow.
Some impressions of Copacabana...
All vehicles that are decorated like this, are blessed by the local priest for a safe journey.
That, we want to get as well tomorrow morning, before we leave!
The view of Copacabana from the "Calvario" hill. It was not an easy climb, being at an altitude of almost 4000 metres there was quite a lack of oxigen!
The Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana is a 16th-century Spanish colonial shrine that houses the image of the Virgen de Copacabana. Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia.
Around the Basilica, women were selling lots of religious souvenirs.
29.01.2016 La Paz - Coroico - La Paz
Today our goal was the famous "Routa de la Muerte" (Death Road), but due to bad weather conditions (rain and fog) we had to give it up and, after reaching Coroico, we came back to the hotel the same way. A very nice riding though, that took us up to the "La Cumbre" pass, at an altitude of more than 4500 metres! Did you think the Alps were high?
28.01.2016 Cochabamba - La Paz
Sucre is the capital of Bolivia, but all the administrative institutions are in La Paz. It is a city, The 2 million city of La Paz was waiting for us. Approaching on a flat plateau and crossing the poor outskirts of "El Alto", one reaches the city at the top. All hills, going down into a basin are covered with houses, built of red bricks. Before crossing the immense traffic up there, we turned right, "surrounding" the city in noth east and going down on nice roads and through beautiful landscapes with interesting rock formations again. Our hotel was located in a richer part of La Paz, where we stay for two nights, as tomorrow, the "death road" awaits us...
On a break, Heiri was giving away some sweets - so, no wonder, the kids did not want to let him go...
Interesting to see, how earth is "folding"
Gaining altitude, but with lots of wonderful sights.
An old ruinous chappel, built of clay bricks
Lunch break at the roadside: Lama and pasta.
...the pasta was good, but simply too much. This little friend was happy about that fact
Approaching La Paz, we had another stop and were tasting some fish, fresh fruit juices and having nice talks
LA PAZ - from the top
Descending roads to our hotel
27.01.2016 Sucre - Cochabamba
Saying bye-bye to the "white city", we had quite a diversified route to Cochabamba. Pavement, solid earth, gravel and stoney roads were waiting for us. Also, road blocks (again....strike, what else?) were challanging the bikes and the van, to find a good way around them... But: all in all it was another sunny and beautiful day!
All rivers were carrying a lot of water
Red rocks along the road
Sometimes, pavement was under construction or about to be fixed. The detour here is marked as dangerous and some (white) stone stratifications are pleading for all the good things...
Nice and curvy, but...
...also the bridge was still under construction and we had to take the death road like detour (or better: old road)
Luckily, it was not raining, otherwise the earth/mud/clay...road...thing... would have become quite slippery
How many people must have worked how much time, to build this kind of road (for many kilometers)
A beautiful lake - looking a bit like in the Alps
26.01.2016 Potosì - Sucre
Today we did just a short riding through the Andes of Bolivia, so we could reach Sucre by lunch time and we had the whole afternoon to enjoy this beautiful city.
Sucre, ‘la ciudad blanca’ or white city for the color of all its historic buildings, is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and its centre, with the typical Spanish colonial architecture, is really a gem.
we are losing altitude today, from 4000 metres in Potosì to 2800 in Sucre
Otto and Heiri
Puente Sucre, a pedestrian bridge used mostly when the river carries a lot of water
walking in the beautiful historical centre of Sucre
Mercado Central (central market)
la ciudad blanca
Plaza 25 de Mayo
nice sunset behind the Andes
and to finish this beautiful day, a good dinner together!
25.01.2016 Colchani - Potosì
As we mostly used yesterday for relaxing and fixing, we started the day with a ride on the salt lake and visited the train cemetery, before we left Uyuni towards Potosi.
Potosi is mainly known for its mining for silver but even more interesting was the curvy route on best pavement to there! What a difference to the ride to Uyuni, two days ago...!!! Climbing another 1000 meters, we ended our day in an altitude of more than 4000 meters.
The team with Domenico
Riding on the Salar de Uyuni
Visiting the train cemetery, near Uyuni
Before leaving Uyuni, it was absolutely necessary to wash all the salt off our vehicles!
Climbing curves up into the mountains
Whenever there was green/grass, there were herds of lamas
In such a beautiful environment, it is hard to decide, if enjoying the perfect road has priority - or stopping every 5 minutes, for a good picture
24.01.2016 Rest day Colcani (Salar de Uyuni)
Today, we took the time to relax a bit from yesterday, to fix our bikes and some had a quick ride on the Salar.
Fixing the bikes
"Gomeria" - a mechanic, who changed Heiri's flat tire/tube
Just mentionning: it was sunday and this guy was HAPPY to help!
First time on the salt lake
Heiri and Domenico
Back in the hotel.
Everything here in and around Uyuni reminds of the yearly Dakar rallye, of which one stage is here
23.01.2016 La Quiaca - Colchani
Colchani is a little village at the border of "Salar de Uyuni" (thze world's biggest salt lake), north of Uyuni city/town.
To get there, first some challenges were waiting for us:
One, which we did not expect was the border crossing from Argentina to Bolivia, which took us FOUR hours. Reasons were a big crowd, people interpreting the end of the waiting line "differently" and not enough personell on the bolivian side to handle all this. If Wolfgang wouldn't have brought some "german Ordnung" to the whole chaos, we probably would STILL be waiting there...
The second was the road itself, which began with harmless pavement, then changed to gravel and finally to sand...! Some minor trouble and this kind of road led to the fact, that we reached our salt hotel in the dark. Everybody was well proud but also very exhausted.
Smart start on pavement
Having a quick stop for fuel and a "ChoriPan" - grilled saussage and bread
Wonderful views, again and again
Heiri enoys it, too
Roadworks stopped us just for a few minutes
Also gravel roads can be curvy and fun
Heiri got a flat tire
Then the harder bit began: sand, gravel - and more sand
Nice sunset, before arriving in our hotel (after darkness fell across the land...)
Next morning: some impressions of the salt hotel...
Salt counter, standing on a floor, covered with salt (like almost the entire hotel floor)
22.01.2016 Salta - La Quiaca
Our last complete riding day in Argentina led us via curvy and small roads in a jungle like environment, impressive rock formations that were colored like rainbows and finally a flat and hot area to La Quiaca, which is directly at the border to Bolivia, where we will enter tomorrow.
Heiri, enjoying some curves
Almost jungle like
Quick photo and water stop
Coffee break at the roadside
Always having an eye on the group
Crash car art
People blocking the street for 30 minutes, then letting vehicles pass, just to close the barricades for another 30 minutes.
Rocks, hills and mountains in different colors
Most Bolivians aren't really tall...
Stop for some Empanadas at a local market
...I said EMPANADAS!
...here we go!
Free lamas everywhere. They have their own road signs, to warn the drivers.
Safe parking inside the hotel
Wolfgang, maneuvering around the corners
20.01.2016 Termas de Rio Hondo - Salta
Today we finally could say goodbye to the plain!
The Andes seemed to appear suddenly and then the route began to fold in serpentines leading us up to Tafi del Valle, located on an elevation of over 2000 meters.
Having passed Cafayate, we entered then the Quebrada de las Conchas (canyon of clams), a deep canyon created by the river of the same name. Surrounded by impressive walls of rock displaying a multitude of red hues and different formations, one feels so small and the only thought is gratitude to be able to see such a place!
Reaching Salta, we brought the Tourgiude bike to a mechanic... and tomorrow it will be ready to ride again! Fingers crossed!
Andes, we are coming!
Enjoying the first curves
Domenico trying to take good shots!
Huge cactus, here called cardones
now it's Marc trying to take a good shot!
Wolfgang posing with (and like) a cactus
arrived in Cafayate
Coffee break, Domenico said it was the best coffee since he left Naples!
Quebrada de las Conchas... here some impressions, but honestly pictures give just a "faded" idea of this place!
Also here many shrines along the road!
taking the wheel to the mechanic
Salta by night
where old and modern meet!
19.01.2016 Quimili - Termas de Rio Hondo
Another long and hot day, it could have become a boring one but a "nice" big hole gave us a bit of thrill today! Domenico unfortunately could not see it because of a truck lifting a lot of dust in the air, and riding through this hole, some spokes of the front wheel were damaged. So we had to load the bike and, tomorrow, we have to try to get the wheel fixed when we reach Salta.
gravel and dust
arrived in Termas de Rio Hondo
Otto taking care of the chain of his bike
Heiri and Josef
18.01.2016 Corrientes - Quimili
A long, hot and straight ride through the "Chaco", which is a region that is known to be hot, flat and dry. Surprisingly, we found it not as dry as we expected, but in a few weeks, the green will be gone. The route takes us west towards the Andes and there is no other way, than crossing these dry lands.
Leaving Corrientes, we had to cross the Parana river, that we followed for the past two days.
Welcome to "Chaco"
our location for the morning coffee break
Heiri, making friends
Every single bit of shade is more than welcome.
Heiri and Otto
not a single curve for miles and miles...
Many vehicles are driving with an extra "sort of air condition", to cool their engines
Approaching a brick production site
Everyone wants to be on the foto with this "beast"
In such a heat, it is very important to have enough breaks and water
Many of those (red) shrines are along the road - pleasing a Saint for "everything".
Others are covered with plastic bottles - not as a bin but to plead for always enough water.
Gaucho vs Wolfgang
17.01.2016 Posadas - Corrientes
Still following the Parana river, we rode west today. The road yesterday was straight and with some more "hills", whereas today was straight and flat. The vegetation is still very green and due to the heavy rains, many fields look a bit like a swamp. Temperature didn't change much - at least, it didn't get colder!
Looooong, straight road
Cattle, horses and other animals were standing on the fields, most "in the fields", covered by water up to their bellies
Wide and flat land
A local, offering knifes at a gas station
One can see such stands almost everywhere along the road, where people sell plants, fruits, honey, handcraft, etc etc
A nice surprise at the end oft the day: a little sand challenge, to get to our hotel in "Paso de la Patria / Corrientes"
Beautiful garden, rooms and...
last, but not least: the swimmingpool !!!
The region is quite famous for fishing. As parts of the town streets were under water, people were even fishing, standing on their balconies
16.01.2016 Puerto Iguazu - Posadas
Our way led south, following the Parana river and visiting the ruins of an ancient mission, founded by Jesuits in 1610 and meanwhile declared as UNESCO world heritage site. As we already faced in Iguazu, the temperatures were between 36 and 40 Celsius - but without the refreshing swim in the pool. The wind, while riding, was not helping either - it was like from a hair dryer...
Fruits, eggs, vegetables and more, sold at the road side
Our "huge" bikes are always fascinating for the locals
If there is no restaurant for lunch, simply buy something in a supermarket, look for the "placa de armas" (a central park in every town/city) and meet locals - here having a flee market...
...and some of them spoke quite good german, as their ancesters were immigrants after world war 2 and they preserved some traditions - and the language
Following the Parana river
A visit at the ruins of one of the jesuit missions (here: San Ignacio Mini)
Having some refreshments after the sightseeing, some of us were "target" of this lady, who fell deeply in love
14. - 15.01.2016 Rest days: Iguazu waterfalls
Today, Heiri, Joseph, Otto and Wolfgang went for a visit of the brazilian side of the Iguazu waterfalls. A taxi brought them from the hotel in Argentina through the border to the waterfalls - and back. THE highlight of the day was a helicopter flight (1 hour), that went over the "tres hitos" (the point, where the 3 countries meet) to the Itaipu dam and then to the waterfalls. A final hike and a boat trip into the waterfall completed that adventure.
On the second day most of the group took it easy and Domenico went to see the waterfalls from the argentinian side, very impressive as well!
Tres hitos - meeting point of Argentina (bottom right), Brazil (top right) and Paraguay (left)
On the way north to...
...the Itaipu dam.
...and back south-east, approaching the Iguazu waterfalls
...consisting of many "smaller" waterfalls...
...and "Garganta del Diabolo" - the "devil's gauge"
Now, let's go and see the falls from the ground!
...and another wild animal
...until almost IN the waterfall
The river is floating quite calm... just to change into a wild spectacle, when falling in several waterfalls!
Otto and Heiri decided to take a boat ride and go almost under the waterfall, so they needed some waterproof equipment!
The waterfalls from the boat
On the next day, a couple of nice coatis, a very typical animal in southern America, welcomed Domenico to the Argentinian side of the Iguazu waterfalls.
like a procession...
impossible to get closer to the waterfalls! This is the devil's gorge!
many people enjoying a fresh breeze
butterflies like me... or maybe just my shoes
Tres hitos - the argentinian point of view, where the 3 countries (ARG/BRA/PGY) meet
Wolfgang, fixing his brake pads
13.01.2016 Cascavel to Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)
Today, we said good-bye to Brazil and re-entered Argentina, close to the famous Iguazu waterfalls, that we will visit during the next 2 days.
Before leaving Brazil, we stopped by at the world's second biggest dam: Itaipu. A guided tour out- and in-side the dam taught us about the immense building, its capacities, energy production, masses of water, etc. One can feel really tiny, standing at and in this giant (one of the 7 new wonders of the world).
The Itaipu dam between Paraguay and Brazil
But first, we had to get there - passing one of the many road police stations, where they expose all the crashed and impounded vehicles
Starting the dam tour, first outside, in a bus...
The entire "project" from far
A "transformer", built from material, that was used for building the dam interior
As it was raining a lot and heavily the last days and weeks:
To relieve the dam and to regulate the water level, one giant gate was opened
One of the trees in the "workers garden", where all workers could and can plant their own tree, which is then marked with their data on a plate at the bottom
ON the dam
...we are SO tiny...
just to have an idea of the size!
Wolfgang and Josef
A Cathedral of concrete
Wolfgang, explaining some physics
"hall of fame"
OMG, the dam is leaking...
Endless corridors, that one better rides on a bycicle (motorbikes are not allowed, unfortunately)
20 giant turbines are hidden under those orange "fields"
One of the huge rotors/turbines
and the energy goes away, to Paraguay and Brasil! This dam covers almost all the need of electricity of Paraguay and approximately 17% of Brasil!
Border crossing Brazil-Argentina
12.01.2016 Ponta Grossa to Cascavel
This was a long, straight and hot day for riding... The initial plan in Cascavel was a group dinner (check) and after that, some cocktails, to celebrate Marc's birthday (no check - as everyone was quite tired). We are all looking forward to Iguazu, tomorrow!
One of the highlights on the road: termite hills
warm and straight
Indigenous people, selling some handcraft at the roadside
The support van had its first challenge: helping Brazilians with a punctured tire.
They did not know the tools, we used...
View from the room in our today's hotel
Enjoying a liquor 42, after a very good asado, that we had for group dinner
11.01.2016 Capao Bonito to Ponta Grossa
The group decided against a long ride on the motorway, but for a (bit longer) very, very beautiful country road with uncounted curves in a wonderful landscape - as far as we could see it in the rain and clouds...! Must be awesome to travel, when it's dry!
Close to our destination, we wanted to visit the "Parque Estadual de Vila Velha", which is a natural reserve with stunning stone formations. The website says "open until 5.30 p.m." - basically... Arriving at the gates, we were told, the last entrance was at 3.30, 15 minutes before we got there. No chance, to get in. NONE. So, we unfortunately missed that spectacle and moved on to our hotel.
But Universe is just! In the evening, some bikers from a local club went by to say hello and to invite us for a local beer, some good food and nice talks... Obrigado!!!!!
Why should today start different, as yesterday ended?
Preparing to leave
Theme for today
Through beautiful hills
The rain caused a lot of landslides on this route today
Quick coffee break after refueling the tanks
ONE side of the road was always free!
...not necessarily clean...
Sadly, we could not see this in real.
(picture source: Wikipedia)
A fun evening with a local biker chapter
Was an awesome surprise!
10.01.2016 Atibaia to Capao Bonito
As we are actually in the rainy season, we were quite lucky the first days, but now we are riding our motorcycles in a bit sun, but mainly in rain showers and strong rain. Today, our lunch break was a perfect timing - before the worst rain, we faced so far.
The route was not too long and took us via motorways, country roads and finally (for some real fun) a bit offroad...
It started raining strongly, just when we stopped for lunch
Not a first class restaurant, but such menue "halls" are quite common here
Otto's F 800 got washed away, almost
End of pavement, yippieh!
The 32 km were a bit muddy and slippery sometimes...
Arrival in our Hotel
We had all this, just for us alone!
Idyllic located rooms
09.01.2016 Rio de Janeiro to Atibaia
After leaving our most eastern point of this journey, we were heading back west, to Atibaia.
As we are now moving on towards Iguazu with its famous waterfalls and there is nothing "special" between Rio and there, we (just) have to make distance in the following days... Most of the almost 500 km were motorway and rain.
...but not entirely!
07. - 08.01.2016 Rio de Janeiro
What an impressive mega city - with a population of almost 12 million.
Founded in 1565 by the Portugese, it became capital of both, the state Brazil and Portugal from 1815-21 and when Napoleon overran Europe, it was the residence of the portugese Monarch (1808-22). After 1960, Brasilia became capital of Brazil.
Rio has a tropical savanna climate with long periods of heavy rain from December to March. In Inland areas of the city, temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius are common during the summer, though rarely for long periods, while maximum temperatures above 27 can occur on a monthly basis. Along the coast, the breeze, blowing onshore and offshore, moderates the temperature.
It is headquarters to Brazilian oil, mining, and telecommunications companies and (together with Sao Paulo) the most important economical and financial city of Brazil. Nevertheless, poor and rich are living closely, but the less priviledged are mostly residing in the so called "Favelas" - quarters, built of very simple and cheap materials.
Rio is well known for Carneval, (especially the beaches of) Ipanema and Copacabana, the sugarloaf, the Christ statiue - just to name some of the highlights... The Maracana Stadium held the final of the 2014 Fifa World Cup (with Germany as the current champion). Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics.
Before we could enjoy Rio...
...we had to find our way through dense traffic jam in the afternoon rush-hour and passing close to favelas and...
...bring Otto's bike to BMW (the #1 dealer in Brazil/Southamerica)
...and deliver Roland's bike to one of our partners, where it will be parked safe, until being shipped back to Europe
Arrived in Rio!
The next day we were going to visit Corcovado (the hill with the big Jesus Statue in Rio), but not without a "nice" hat for Heiri
First nice view from Corcovado, down on (one part of) Rio - Ipanema
The hat was not enough...
Heiri fell in love with that umbrella, too!
View from Corcovado to the sugarloaf
Cristo Redentor (the Jesus statue's name)
And then back to Copacabana
06.01.2016 Paraty to Angra dos Reis
Before leaving Paraty, of course we had to take a look at its beautiful historical centre, famous for the cobblestone-paved streets and untouched for more than 250 years. As we soon realized, the streets in the centre are so bumpy that we could enjoy a very good motorcycle riding training! By the way, despite the bumps and the heat, Paraty is really a beautiful spot and has a unique flair!
After a very pleasant ride, we reached then Angra dos Reis, a much newer town where we could take advantage of the facilities of a modern hotel and relax a bit!
some impressions of Paraty
Josef and Wolfgang
Also the van is coming!
The Santa Rita church
The wonderful coastline between Paraty and Angra dos Reis
Our hotel in Angra dos Reis
Some relax for Wolfgang...
... and Heiri
05.01.2016 Santos to Paraty
Today we had to face some traffic leaving Santos and passing by its harbour, the biggest of all Latin America! And, when we reached Paraty, we discovered that the hotel had simply "forgotten" our reservation! So, since it is high season and we could not find any other accomodations here, we decided to stay one night in two different "pousadas" and move tomorrow to a bigger hotel in Angra dos Reis.
Coffee break by the coast with a beautiful view
In Sao Sebastiao, located in front of Ilhabela (beautiful island). We have to admit there was quite a long line to take the ferry to this island!
Leaving Sao Sebastiao
Light lunch in Ubatuba by the beach
the beach of Ubatuba
04.01.2016 Curitiba to Santos
The weather, temperature, roads and traffic became much better today on our 440 km ride to Santos.
Not all of us could enjoy the ride on the motorbike - Roland had to join Domenico in the van.
He damaged his arm, when he tried to hold his bike from falling, 2 days ago. After a visit at the hospital, we unfortunately will have to leave Roland here, who has to fly back home and get a surgery on his arm.
Motorway to Santos
"another version of BMW"
Long bridge, only for pedestrians (in Iguape)
Refreshing sugar cane juice
...and a quick rest in the shade
...here, we had to say good-bye...
We will miss you Roland and are sending our best wishes.
03.01.2016 Blumenau to Curitiba
The ride to Curitiba was a long day on motorways, which were extremely crowded by people, driving back home or to work after a long weekend with new year's eve celebrating in Florianopolis...
Short break in Sao Francisco do Sul
Nice architecture at the harbour
A beer by/for grandpa
Retired men, playing in a cafe
Heiri and Marc
Some kind of "pirates of the caribbean" feeling
02.01.2016 Florianopolis to Blumenau
Our route took us 300 km through hills, clouds and rain until we reached Blumenau.
The city is well known as typical german, and famous for its architecture and the biggest Oktoberfest in Brazil.
Beer is brewed, following the "german Reinheitsgebot" - pure and natural
On the way...
...along a river with a lot of water, due to strong rain over the last weeks
Our hotel in Blumenau
...with german cake
Strange street names
We saw those on the road already - now closer
Dinner at a "Biergarten"
...by the river
01.01.2016 Recovery day in Florianopolis...
31.12.2015 New Year's Eve in Florianopolis (Floripa)!
Florianopolis is a city, of which a small part is on the main land, but most of it is on the island of Santa Catarina.
It is known for having a very high quality of life and has a population of 461.524, according to an estimate in 2014. The economy is heavily based on IT, tourism and services. The city has 42 beaches, is a center of surfing activity and the most famous area for recreation, nature and radical sports. The New York Times reported, that "Florianopolis is the party destination of the year 2009...".
Today was a day for relaxation, a short tour, or some fixing...and a nice party!
The relaxing bit was easy. The fixing was successful. The short tour became kind of a torture, because of unbelieveable traffic jams and heat, combined with high humidity.
Finally, the end of 2015 and the welcoming of 2016 was great!
The longest suspension bridge in Brazil (built in the 1920's) "Puente Hercilio Luz", connecting the island of Santa Catarina and the main land
We had to find someone, to fix the rim on Heiri's bike.
Well, it is not a BMW service point...
But a local mechanico with the appropriate skills and tools...
Well done!!! Obrigado (thank you)
New biker friends - you meet them everywhere on the journey...
Group dinner on new year's eve
Starting with a fine Prosecco (what else could our Italian, Domenico, order?! - but it was brazilian and good...)
Everybody is looking forward to a nice evening in Florianopolis.
Waiting for the fireworks to be started
This is a major event here and thousands of people are celebrating
The fireworks were amazing!
Shot from about 6 ships, it endured almost half an hour, without any break...!
Everyone was really fascinated
Feliz ano novo (happy new year) to everybody!!!
30.12.2015 Porto Alegre - Florianpolis
Today, we extended the initial route to Florianopolis from 450 to 602 km.
We started along the coast in 35 Celsius - with a short break at a beach, to get some refreshments.
Instead of just following a quite straight line, we implemented the "Serro do Rio do Rasto", which is a very well known and beloved road, up into the mountains, that has maaaany curves and turns. It is surrounded by a wondeful landscape. Up in the mountains, it was much cooler, as we were arriving in the clouds (1412 m).
From there, we decided, not to go back down the same route on wet surface (because it started raining, meanwhile) and even more traffic than on our way up. So we stayed "up there" and did a nice and steady descending with many curves, too - but also with partly rain...
Reaching the Florianopolis region, the traffic became more and more, until it became insanely crowded. After a long, exciting and hot day, we finally reached our hotel - tired but happy.
A quick resfreshing break near "Albatroz"
Silent moments of enjoyment at a crowded beach.
Surfers and bikers
The mango ice cream was delicious.
A shopping center on the way
Serra do Rio do Rasto
Break, after climbing the "1000 curves" with our vehicles
Serra do Rio do Rasto - this was the way up...
Awesome, but lot of traffic - but awesome!!!
29.12.2015 Welcome to Brazil
At 7 a.m., we started a short distance from Punta del Diabolo (Uruguay) to the brazilian border at Chui - but in total, a 580 km to our today's destination: Porto Alegre. Following straight roads along farm and swamp land, we could see the typical animals like horses and cattle but also herons and giant capibaras.
Tonight, the agenda is to rest and be prepared for the tour tomorrow, that will lead us another 600 km to Florianopolis, where we will have some rest days and will celebrate new year's eve...
Breakfast at the border
Chuy (urugayan part)
Chui (brazilian part)
Now, we will have a great time in Brazil
Capybaras (the largest rodent in the world)
Short break at the roadside
Heiri and Roland
Quick lunch break
The Edelweiss sticker was missing - we changed that!
Hotel Swan Towers in Porto Alegre
28.12.2015 Start of our Tour - Montevideo to Punta del Diabolo
Finally, we packed our bikes and the support Van, to ride a distance of 320 km to Punta del Diabolo, which is a beautiful town in the dunes "Dunas del Diabolo" and close to the brazilian border.
In summer time, this place is crowded by people, who spend their holidays here. It is a mix of touristic shops and bars but on the other hand still an old fishermans village. The beaches are inviting for swimming and sun bathing- embedded in a breathtaking environment of sand dunes and stone formations.
Lighthouse in La Paloma
Everybody is in a good mood
Nature is beautiful
In autumn, one can see whales close to the coast
Lunch in La Paloma
Nice dunes and beaches at Punta del Diabolo
27.12.2015 Rest day Montevideo
Today, we did not ride the bikes and everybody could enjoy the day off in Montevideo...
26.12.2015 Rest day Montevideo - Minas
Today, we went to discover the hills north-east of Montevideo.
The main town in our destination was Minas, which is named after the mining (especially gold) in this area.
Close to Minas, there are several sights to see and first we wanted to visit the "Cerro Arequita" - a lava stone formation with a cave and a nice reataurant for lunch. Unfortunately, the location was closed and so we took some nice pictures and went on to Salto del Penitente, a very beautiful waterfall!
Finally, after quite some distance on straight roads within the last days, we found some nice curves, leading our way there. While having lunch, we could see eagles gliding over the valley and enjoy a refreshing breeze.
On our way back, we took the "Ruta Panoramica" and again, we enjoyed some curves on pavement, but also our first real bit of gravel, where everybody could test his adventure bike on 17 km, surrounded by untouched landscape.
beautiful gravel road at Cerro Arequita
Cerro Arequita, a nice volcanic formation
the road to the "Salto del Penitente" waterfall
A quick lunch near the waterfall
Some offroad fun
25.12.2015 Rest day Montevideo - Colonia del Sacramento
What might be a good plan for a day, where everything is closed for Christmas...?
A ride to Colonia del Sacramento!
Located by the Rio de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina, it is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and capital of the Colonia Department. It has a population of around 27,000 and is renowned for its historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Founded in 1680 by Portugal as Colónia do Sacramento,it kept changing hands from crown to crown due to wars and treaties. On 10 January 1809, before the independence of Uruguay, it was designated as a "Villa" (town) and has since been elevated to the status of "Ciudad" (city).
Due to its good location, the harbour was also used by smugglers, quite a while!
Parking in the old town center of Colonia
Light-house with a nice view over the city
...from the other side
Such eye catchers, one can find quite often
Park with cathedral
Little town harbour
plan of the citadel
Sometimes, it is SO good, not burning in the sun...
In the middle of nowhere, we found "Nueva Helvetia", founded by...
Well, make a guess...
Distance to origin
A good team!
24.12.2015 Rest day Montevideo - Punta del Este
We were told, Punta del Este "is like the uruguayan Monaco".
In fact, it is quite touristy and some wealthy people seem to live there...
...but it is not like Monaco - it has its own charme.
Approaching P.d.E., one first comes across nice new villas with a beautiful view on the skyline and the city, followed by long dunes and nice beaches (one with the stone hand).
On the other side of Punta del Este, there is a harbour for both: fishermen and impressive yachts and surrounded by many restaurants.
Starting to Punta del Este
A walk in the dunes, somewhere on the coast between Montevideo and Punta del Este
Nice villas at the city entrance
Harbour with big yachts
Who is watching whom...?
The sea lions are waiting for "organic waste" from the fish cleaning
...and getting an extra fish for a picture
Fisherman, fixing his net
Catch of the day
Group picture at the beach with its famous stone hand
"Parador Los Dedos"
Santa Claus came visit us!
Christmas eve - group dinner
This is, how they celebrate here: not a silent night, but big fireworks everywhere!
Parties can endure until early morning...
After all the paperwork was done yesterday, today we finally had to go to the port to pick up our bikes and the support van! We reached the container where all our stuff was stored and everybody could not wait to have it open! Finally after a bit of waiting (very short time for southamerican "habits"!) we could unload everything... and now we are finally on track! A very big thank you to our local partner for completing the whole procedure in just 2 working days!
Montevideo container terminal
Wolfgang can't wait to open the container!
before getting the van out, you have to get in...
it was not so easy, believe us!
... but we managed it!
and here they are
when the van is out, it is the turn of the bikes!
Heiri and his "baby"
Josef and Wolfgang connecting the battery
Ready! Just Otto is missing on this picture, because his bike came to the airport.
The Tour Guide bike, what a beauty... we could not have wished us a better present for Christmas!
and now that we have the bikes... briefing time with a quick overview of our trip!
22.12.2015 Buenos Aires - Montevideo
Wake up call at 5am today, the ferry to Montevideo leaves at 7:15 and we had to be there one hour earlier to check in the luggage... is that a plane or a ferry? Well it's a superfast ferry, doing 52 knots! We reached Montevideo under a tropical rain and honestly some of us were quite happy that today there was only paperwork to be done with immigration and customs, in order to get our bikes tomorrow! Let's keep fingers crossed that we get our things out before the port shuts down for Christmas!
in the "BuqueBus" ferry
arrived in Montevideo, not really a warm (dry) welcome by the weather!
rain and wind, who wants to get the bikes today?
because of the rain, the luggage came quite late and we had to spend the time somehow...
luggage is arriving!
waiting for the agent to take us to the immigration office
lunch in the "mercado del puerto" of Montevideo
21.12.2015 Buenos Aires
Welcome to Buenos Aires, Argentina! This great city is often called the “Paris of South America,” for its soaring architecture and rich European heritage. Domenico does not really agree with this description, because most of the immigrants came from Italy in the 19th and 20th century. It is estimated that up to 17 million Argentines have some degree of Italian descent (up to 37% of the total population), so let's call it the Naples of South America, ok? Why Naples? Well of course because of the legendary Diego Armando Maradona, the best soccer player of all times, born in Buenos Aires and playing for the Naples soccer team in the 90s.
Today we explored a bit this beautiful city, the crowded and picturesque districts of San Telmo and La Boca and then, after meeting all the participants in the afternoon, we went for dinner to a typical "parrilla" (grill) restaurant on the scenic waterfront of Porto Madero. Argentina is very famous for the meat, and we tried a "few" kinds! After dinner a nice walk back and straight to bed, tomorrow the alarm rings very early and we can not miss the ferry to Montevideo...
Entering the San Telmo district
Of course when we are in Buenos Aires we can not forget that Pope Francis was born here!
giant flag at the "Casa Rosada", the house of government
christmas dog, quite strange to think it is almost Christmas and to walk around with t-shirt and shorts!
Again Maradona, Domenico is feeling like home!
And here we are: Heiri, Marc, Wolfgang, Josef, Roland, Otto and Domenico!
Puente de la Mujer, the modern bridge in Puerto Madero
a little aperitif before dinner!