The desert sections are simply hard. Soft sand, rocky roads, no roads. It´s all included.Your mission, if you choose to accept it, takes you to the unbelievable beauty of the South- Lipiz desert and it´s colored lagoons, active volcanoes, geysers and spectacular rock-formations. Naturally we will also visit colonial capital Sucre, the silver-mines in Potosi, the salt-flats in Uyuni, the surrealistic scenery of Tupiza, the scariest busride of Bolivia and much more spectacular places and roads.
On top of this all we will attempt to ride our motorcycles on the absolute highest road in the world (+ 5.800 mtr. or +19,000 ft. above sea-level !!!).
This is the best South America has to offer.
Day 1. Airport pickup at Viru viru, Santa Cruz (alt. 400 mtr.)
We pick you up at the airport of Santa Cruz, Bolivia from where we drive to the small town Samaipata (120 km, 3 hours). There we check into a comfortable hotel and spend the rest of the day to relax and rest from the flight. If your flight arrives late, we will spend the night in Santa Cruz. In that case the following day is considered day 1.
Day 2. Samaipata (alt. 1,600 mtr.)
We start with a “briefing” where we learn more about our route, the weird local “traffic rules” and about each other. To get used to your bike we go for a ride to the archeological site “El Fuerte” which is an old Inca town build around the, much older, largest stone-sculpture in the Americas.
Day 3. To La Higuera. (alt. 1,900 mtr) 175 km, 50% offroad
In the morning we go towards the tiny mountain-village La Higuera, the place where revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara was captured and executed.
We stop for lunch in Vallegrande where we also visit the “Che Guevara” museum and the hospital-laundry where Che’s lifeless body was presented to the world.
At the end of the afternoon we arrive in La Higuera. With some luck you can have a chat with eye-witnesses of the events
Day 4. To Villa Serrano. 120 km, 100% offroad
After visiting the school building where Che Guevara was killed we leave towards Villa Serrano. On the suspension-bridge over the Rio Grande we’ll have a picnic-lunch and if the conditions are good (mostly the water level) you can go for a swim.
We’ll arrive in Villa Serrano in the afternoon where, if we are lucky, we can see the world’s largest charango (a 6 mtr. guitar) build to commemorate don Mauro, a local charango hero.
Day 5. To Sucre. (alt. 2,800 mtr) 190 km, 50% offroad
We leave Villa Serrano early in the morning so we can visit the Tarabuco “Sunday-market”. This is the only place in Bolivia where you can take photos of traditionally dressed indigenous people without them turning away or throwing stuff at you.
After lunch we continue to the colonial capital Sucre. The entire city-center is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Day 6. To Potosi. (alt. 4,000 mtr) 155 km, 0% offroad
In the morning there is time to wander around beautiful Sucre. After lunch we head out on smooth tarmac and start to climb towards the altiplano (high planes) until we reach Potosi, at 4,000 meters above sea level the highest city in the world.
Day 7. The silver mines.
In the morning we’ll visit the “miner’s market” where you can buy anything, ranging from coca leaves to dynamite. Here we’ll do some interesting shopping to have some “boys fun” later. (When we come out of the mines we’ll find something to “blow up”.)
Then we continue to the mines where we will be “geared up” and descent into the belly of “Pajcha Mama” (mother earth) to see the 500 year old, still operating silver mine. (Not suitable for those who don’t like small spaces).
After lunch you can explore the “Casa de Moneda” (the mint). At one time every single coin, used in the western world, was made here.
Day 8. To Uyuni. (alt. 3,700 mtr.) 205 km, 0% offroad
Crossing incredible scenery and passing tiny villages we go to Uyuni where we will visit a “train graveyard”, a fantastic collection of discarded railway material dating back to the 19th century. This includes at least a dozen steam locomotives.
Day 9. To Uturuncu (alt. 4,200 mtr.) 260 km, 100% offroad
Leaving Uyuni we enter the desert. Nothing grows here but the emptiness is far from boring.
At first the roads are clearly roads, but the further we go, the less obvious the roads become and the more spectacular the scenery becomes.
We will spend the night at the base of the Uturuncu volcano.
Day 10. To Polques (alt. 4,400 mtr.) 120 km, 100% offroad
We will try to scale Uturuncu via the absolute highest road in the world (5.800 mtr. or 19,000 ft) before we continue our route to laguna Chalvin and its thermal waters.
We will spend the night next to a hot-spring where you can sit in steaming-hot water, gazing at a zillion stars.
Day 11. To Agua de Perdiz via the green lagoon (alt. 4100 mtr.) 182 km, 100% off-road
Heading south we pass painted desert landscapes, endless valleys littered with massive rock-pillars until we arrive at the “green-lagoon”. We turn north passing volcanic vents that blast their gasses into the cold sky, bubbling boiling colored mud-pools and the “red lagoon” with islands made of crystal-white borax where thousands of flamingos come to breed. Passing the famous “stone tree” (arbol de piedra) we end the day at Agua de Perdiz, an amazing sandy valley where the “road” is 5 km wide.
Day 12. To the Necropolis of San Juan. 150 km, 100% offroad
Via the active volcano Ollague and the “stinking lake” with 1,000 flamingos we make our way to the remote town of San Juan and its “Necropolis” (city of the dead).
Day 13. Crossing the salt-flats to Uyuni 247 km, 90% offroad
Still surrounded by empty desert we make our way to an even more desolated area, the Uyuni salt-flats. 11.000 square km of pure salt, as flat as a pool-table. We´ll ride across it and make a stop at “Cactus island” for lunch before we´ll return to the more inhabited part of the world (Though Uyuni is hardly a metropolis).
Day 14. To Tupiza (alt. 2,950 mtr.) 185 km, 100% offroad
In the morning we leave Uyuni behind us and via the altiplano desert we make our way towards Tupiza, the place where the infamous Banditos Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were finally killed. The scenery is among the world’s best.
Day 15. To Tarija (alt. 1,860 mtr.) 205 km, 50% offroad
Via scenic back-country roads with deep canyons we ride to Tarija, the wine-region of Bolivia. Dinner will be served in the house of the marquis of Tarija.
Day 16. Rest day in Tarija.
Various options to discover Bolivias wine capital or just rest….
Day 17. To Villamontes (alt. 390 m) 245 km, 70% offroad
Via snaking mountain-roads we ride from the rolling hills of Tarija to the arid dry Chaco. The last part of this road is aptly named: “The scariest bus-ride in Bolivia”. On the motorcycle, where you yourself are in control, it is a lot less “hazardous”.
Day 18. To Abapo (alt. 445 m) 321 km. 15% terrain
After all the “off road” days it is again pleasant to feel asphalt under the tires. Our way leads us through the gas production zone of Bolivia. After visiting a monastery, we drive on a very narrow but abandoned railway bridge. An exciting ride.
The highlight of the day is another crossing of the Rio Grande, this time over an old but still used railway bridge.
Day 19. To Samaipata. 206 km. 50% terrain variant depending on weather conditions
The road to Samaipata takes us alternately over sandy roads and asphalt roads along the Pirai River, the Eastern Cordillera up to Samaipata, our starting point.
After we arrive, it’s time to say goodbye to the bike, get under a hot shower for a while and pack up.
Day 20. To Santa Cruz
We leave our bikes behind and set off for Santa Cruz where we can do some last minute souvenir shopping and enjoy Brazilian Churasquero as well as oriental cuisine.
Day 21. To the airport.
Always a sad moment when we say goodbye at the airport. But who knows? You won´t be the first to come back for more.