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About Aotearoa to the Andes

A little bit about us. We're both 26, both lawyers, both, prior to this trip, working in the same commercial law firm where we met as new graduates. 2 1/2 years into our relationship we have put the commercial world behind us to embark on what we're told will be the real test of our relationship - having worked together and lived together I feel we're well placed to spend six months in such close proximity of one another.The idea was posed a little over a year ago; not content with a Contiki tour of Europe, a popular trip for Kiwi's, the two of us had been exploring alternative options for our 'overseas experience'. In the back of our minds was the possibility that each of us had a different idea of what and where would make for a true adventure - fortunately we landed on something we were both willing to give a go: motorcycling the length of Latin America.With no motorcycle experience, no mechanical skills, and little travelling done between the two of us, six months motorcycling an entire continent may seem like a bold choice. Or, if your outlook on life is of the more cynical variety, simply foolish. That may be so. But, we're going to give it a go.

Trip Start: 2012-10-24 Trip End: 2011-10-01 .

Author Archive | Aotearoa to the Andes

#73 This Is It – The Final Blog

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The final photo of the bike

We rode into Bogota with the knowledge we may not ride out again. This was where we were to, fingers crossed, sell the bike or ship it back to New Zealand. It didn’t take long while held-up in a bedraggled hostel to acknowledge the issues we were facing and appreciate that our stay in…

#72 Colombia – The End of the Road

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For a long time our blog anticipated we would ride from Santiago, Chile to Tijuana, Mexico. We had even discussed the possibility of continuing all the way to Canada. During our travels we met many with the bold aim of crossing the Americas in their entirety, from Alaska to Ushuaia. This is entirely possible, just not at our pace, or…

#71 Journey to Middle Earth

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So I’ve come to realise I’m all about milestones. It started with travelling a certain amount of kilometres, then it was about getting to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world, though once we were there we weren’t sure quite what to do. However, on heading north we started running out of milestones. I mean passing from one country…

#70 History repeating itself: Banos, Tena & Quito

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Back inland toward Baños, we had a repeat of the ride to Cuenca, only this time the cause was a very badly potholled road. We did at least manage to find accomodation before nightfall stopping in a small town where Saturday night meant continuing festival celebrations were at their most rowdy. In the past we would have viewed stumbling on such…

#69 Mating Season in Puerto Lopez

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Ecuador began a little as Peru had when two police officers stopped us and tried to elicit a bribe. Only we didn’t know that is what they were trying to do at the time. Reece had blatantly contravened the road rules by passing a truck on a speed bump when we heard the sirens. A man in uniform told old…

#68 25,000 kilometres – Reece

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With the border into Ecuador fast approaching we passed the 25,000km mark. Our journey began on a concrete parking lot outside the airport at 0km; passing cotton floating through the air like snow at 1,000km;  passing fields of sunflowers all staring at us at 10,000km. And now, some might say against odds, on a Peruvian highway cruising along, we passed…

#67 Surfing the Sea, Surfing the Sand

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Almost more exiting than Machu Picchu and the Nasca lines was the knowledge we would get our first glance of the sea in the many months since leaving the Atlantic coast in Uruguay. After three months in Bolivia, the plan was to pass through Peru with haste, admiring the scenery from the back of the bike. That meant long days…

#66 A Line in the Sand – The Nasca Lines

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‘Whale’

I remember as a small child blessed with chicken legs and a high pitched voice, watching a documentary on the Nasca Lines. These mysterious lines, sprawled out across the desert, sometimes stretching for kilometres. These mysterious lines, only viewable from the sky – forming triangles, squares, monkeys, condors, astronauts? Like the Bermuda Triangle or the City of Atlantis, these…

#65 Machu Picchu means ‘Muchos Pictures’

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Llamas keep the grass trimmed to perfection

We overheard a guide telling his group as we arrived at sunrise to one of the seventh ‘new’ wonders of the world that Machu Picchu means ‘Muchos Photos’ and it was easy to see why he must make this joke day in day out – it was more magical than we could have…

#64 Floating Islands

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The good fortune we expected from having a Priest bless our bike lasted all of about half an hour. Crossing the border into Peru we were extorted by the Police for not carrying bike insurance. Having only just entered the country and insurance not being available for sale on the border I would have thought some leniency would be in…

#63 Only in Bolivia – Sorata & Copacabana

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View over Lake Titicaca from our cabin.

After the road blocks, dirt roads, hold ups, friend chicken, and rain storms, I didn’t think I would miss Bolivia. But it has its distinctions: the scenery is unparalleled and the experiences equally unmatched. Where else in the world can you chill out for an hour with a monkey around your neck, or…

#62 Surviving La Paz

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A dried, llama fetus on sale at the Witches Market in downtown La Paz.

Sitting in a descending canyon, surrounded by moon valleys, La Paz is famous for its unique topography, and altitude (3,600 m.a.s.l) and even more famous for its unique tourist attractions. During the day visitors flock to bicycle down the road dubbed ‘The World’s Most Dangerous’, despite…

#61 In the Jungle the Mighty Jungle

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The tour began with a lazy three hour boat ride up the river. It gave us a chance to relax, enjoy birdlife, and, most importantly, nature (that’s why I come up here). We disembarked for a short walk to our base camp surrounded by abundant foliage. Almost there, I was busy reflecting how pleasant life was when suddenly I noticed…

#60 The Day that was Worse than the Worst Day Ever

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After surviving the mud to reach San Ignacio de Moxos we were both under the impression we could conquer anything, a conviction we came to rely on sooner than expected.

If you look closely you can see the cork.

As I have mentioned once or twice on this blog, Bolivian cuisine leaves much to be desired. In small towns across…

#59 The Worst Day Ever

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Arriving in Santa Cruz we finally found a bed to sleep in. One so comfortable we hardly left it, spending most of our time in the city watching television. Even our hostel’s pool couldn’t drag us away from the comfort of a mattress. Four days turned into five after a night on some heavy cocktails. Admittedly only two of them,…

#58 Up Close and Personal with the Bolivian Police – Torotoro to Samaipata

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We are not sure why Jesus is holding a baby T-Rex as advertisement for the National Park….A comment on creationism perhaps?

Not content with getting up close and personal with a puma our next stop was Torotoro National Park, home of the Tyranosaurus Rex. Well its footprints. In between our jurassic adventures we had been invited to the home of…

#57 Job Vacancy: An Intrepid Opportunity

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Looking for more excitement from your work? Interested in walking a puma every day for a month? No. Then how about a bear, or possibly a jaguar? If large mammals aren’t your thing there are opportunities to work with spider monkeys too. The word ‘job’ is used in the loosest sense of the word as you will be required to…

#56 Three Days and Two Nights on Another Planet

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We wound our way into Uyuni, a dusty empty town on the outskirts of nowhere, but buzzing with tourists. Why? Because around the corner is the Salar de Uyuni, the salt flats of Bolivia. And a little further south, the emptiness and stunningness of South West Bolivia.

We’d heard the roads were gruesome so we decided to take a tour…

#55 The Mountain That Eats Men

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At 4,030 metres Potosi has a claim on being the highest city in the world – a fact not easily forgotten while wheezing our way around the city’s streets. Between gasps of air we admired the colonial-style cathedrals, which can be found on every corner of the city’s cobbled stoned streets, a relic of its former grandeur. But the real reason we,…

#54 Living like Bolivians – Sucre and around

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While not slaving away on the grass plantation we were partaking in local customs, playing football, and trying local delicacies – generally being one with the Bolivian people. Or something like that.A number of evenings we headed down to the tiendas (kiosks) at Totocoa. The town of Totocoa contained a handful of kiosks selling no more than you would expect…

#53 A Taste of Slave Labour in Bolivia

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Turns out that February/March is the end of the rainy season in Bolivia – not the best time to be travelling dirt roads on a motorbike. So to pass the time we had arranged a ‘workaway’ at a hacienda outside Sucre – a programme through which workers are provided food and accomodation in exchange for a few hours labour a…

#52 Sleeping in a Riverbed During Rainy Season – La Quiaca to Sucre

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Bolivia: the poorest country in South America; the cheapest country in South America; a country with bland, unflavoured food, where you are guaranteed to contract food poising at least once; a country with unpassable roads, roads likely to age your bike by years in months. All this we had heard before arriving in Bolivia. So why did we want to go?…

#51 Adios Argentina – Cachi to La Quiaca

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With baited breath we felt the end of Argentina approaching; but not without some magical moments. I will give a quick rundown of our final experiences in Argentina after finally making it to Cachi after ‘crossing the brown sea’. We had intended to treat Northern Argentina as simply a necessary passage in order to reach Bolivia, but every day we…

#50 Parting the Brown Sea – The Road to Cachi

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Thinking we were done with river crossings we faced an even bigger hurdle leaving Cafayate. Although there was a perfectly adequate asphalt road to east we chose the route which would wind us through the Mars-like landscape of the Quebrada de los Calchaiques. Our decision was sealed by the recommendation by Jo and Gareth Morgan, in their book ‘Up the…

#49 Red Flags and Water Bottles – The Legends of the Peoples’ Saints

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On a long and lonesome road in Argentina (and Chile), where your only company is your own thoughts, emptiness stretches out to the horizon. Nothing but small shrubs and hard dirt cover the desolate landscape. However, in this distance, etched into a rock,  on the top of a smal hill, or even just by the side of the road are…

#48 A Triathlon around Cafayate

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Just when we thought there was no more excitement to be had on the road to Cafayate what did we come across but a washed out road. Actually quite a few washed out roads. As Reece likes to tell people, when reading blogs of bikers falling over water, or being trapped trying to cross a river, we always wondered why…

#47 Making it into Reece’s Top 5 Ride

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To make it into Reece’s Top 5 Ride is to be something special, something magical, something transcending just pretty views or nice scenery. As we’ve journeyed across South America we’ve seen many amazing places, but to get into the Top 5, takes a certain something, a je ne sais quoi, an X factor. I don’t even have 5 right now,…

#46 The Triumph of the Sun: Chaco Regions

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‘The earth burns with the quenchless thirst of ages, and in the steel blue sky scarcely a cloud obstructs the unrelenting triumph of the sun.’ I honestly do not think Winston Churchill’s description of the deserts of the Sudan are an elevated portrayal of how it felt to travel by motorcycle through Paraguay (and as it turns out North-Western Argentina)…

#45 Carnaval Paraguayan-Style!

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No trip to South America could be complete without attending Carnaval but with no plans to visit Rio we were happy to settle for what Paraguay had to offer. We had heard there was more bare flesh, more brazen performers, and more crowd involvement and it lived up to its reputation: plenty of skin on show and a lot of spray…

#44 Diamond in the Rough: Itaibu to Encarnacion

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As the wildlife of Itaibu didn’t quite live up to expectations we decided to try our luck at another National Park further south. That didn’t work out too well either. Bad map, no information, usual story. When we asked a local to point us in the right direction and she indicated heading towards Argentina, the opposite direction of where the…