Bolivia Motorcycle Adventures
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The best way to explore Bolivia by motorcycle
Wild Wild West
Wild Wild West tour is a great motorcycle adventure for those who are not afraid to leave the tarmac.
There are some pretty challenging off-road sections, but nothing too long or too difficult. Crossing the wild west of Bolivia on a Dual Sport bike is feeling like John Wayne on this horse
Starting with the “Ruta del Ché” we cross the mountains towards Sucre, the colonial capital of Bolivia and the indigenous market of Tarabuco. Then the 500 years old, silver mines of Potosí, followed by the “Salar de Uyuni”, the largest salt flats in the world, the train grave yard, the Dakar monument, follow the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in the spectacular scenery of Tupiza, pass an old tunnel, tasting a selection of wines in Tarija, Bolivia’s wine capital, ride the actual most anxious road of Bolivia, have a “high” snack on an yesteryears railway bridge and enjoy the fantastic roads and scenery of the wild west of Bolivia.
Highest peak: 4.400 m
This tour always starts on Wednesday.
Day 1. Airport pickup at Viru-Viru, Santa Cruz (alt. 400 m)
We pick you up at the airport of Santa Cruz/ Bolivia from where we drive to the small town of Samaipata (120 km, 3 hours). There we check into a comfortable hotel and spend the rest of the day to relax and discover.
If your flight arrives late, you need to spend the night in Santa Cruz. In that case the following day is considered as Day 1.
Day 2. Samaipata (alt. 1.650 m)
We start with the briefing where we learn more about safety riding, our route, the local traffic rules and about each other. To get used to our bike, we go for a ride to the archeological site of “El Fuerte”. Classified World Heritage by UNESCO, it is an old Inca town build around the, much older, largest stone sculpture in the Americas. For some people, it is an ancient Alien landing field!
Day 3. To La Higuera (alt. 1.900 m) 175 km, 50% off-road
Leaving early in the morning, we stop in Vallegrande to visit the hospital´s laundry, where revolutionary hero Ernesto Ché Guevara´s lifeless body was presented in 1967 to the world.
After lunch, we continue our ride towards the tiny mountain village of La Higuera, the place where Ché was captured and executed. On the road we observe condors, the world biggest bird.
After our first special drive, we arrive at the end of the afternoon in La Higuera.
In the evening at the campfire in the courtyard of our hotel, we listen to Don Juan’s comments from the time of the guerrilla war.
Day 4. To Villa Serrano (alt. 2.100 m) 120 km, 100% off-road
After visiting the ancient school building where Ché Guevara was executed and the related sites we leave towards Villa Serrano. On the suspension bridge over the Rio Grande we have a picnic lunch and if the conditions are good (mostly the water level) we can go for a swim.
We arrive in Villa Serrano in the afternoon, Bolivia’s capital of the charango. It´s a kind of a small, double 5 strings guitar, very difficult to play.
Day 5. To Sucre (alt. 2.700 m) 190 km, 30% off-road
We leave Villa Serrano early in the morning so we can visit the Tarabuco Sunday market. This is the only place in Bolivia where we can take photos of traditionally dressed indigenous people without them turning away.
After lunch we continue to Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. The rest of the afternoon and evening is for exploring this beautiful colonial city. The entire white painted city center is classified World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Day 6. To Potosí (alt. 4.100 m) 155 km, 0% off-road
We leave Sucre after lunch. On smooth tarmac we start to climb towards the altiplano (high planes) until we reach to a strange bridge, which we intent to ride. The mining city of Potosí is with 4.100 m altitude the highest city in the world and also classified Word Heritage by UNESCO. During the ascent, the guides will give us instructions about altitude sickness.
Day 7. The silver mines in Potosí
In the morning we visit the miner’s market where we can buy anything, ranging from coca leaves to dynamite. Here we do some interesting shopping to have some “boys fun” later.
Then we continue to the mines where we will be “geared up” and descent into the belly of “Pacha Mama” (mother earth) to visit the 500 year old, still operating silver mines. Not suitable for those who don’t like small spaces.
After lunch we visit the “Casa de la Moneda” (The mint house) museum. At one time every single coin, used in the western world, was coined in Potosí.
Day 8. To Uyuni (alt. 3.700 m) 205 km, 5% off-road
Crossing incredible canyon scenery, passing tiny villages, watching for vicuñas (family of camelids), emus (ostrich family bird) and thousands of lamas, we arrive at the small mining village of Pulacayo. Here we walk a little around the ancient railway station, the mine entrance and we climb the train wagon with which the American outlaws Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid arrived in Bolivia.
Next break is Uyuni where we visit the train grave yard, a fantastic collection of discarded railway material dating back to the 19th century. This includes at least a dozen steam locomotives. Perfect photo shooting.
Day 9. Salar de Uyuni daytrip 195 km, 90% salt-road
The Salar de Uyuni is a dried up salt lake, the size of a small country (11.000 km square). Since the largest salt lake of the world has no references, what so ever and because there are only two colors in the world (blue sky and white salt), there is no perspective. Our brain will have a meltdown and we can take the weirdest photos (crazy photos with crazy bikers).
On our way, we visit the cactus island “Inca Huasi”, the salt market, the flags monument, the salt hotel and… the Dakar monument.
Day 10. To Tupiza (alt. 2.950 m) 185 km, 20% off-road
In the morning we leave Uyuni behind us on a new asphalt road. We will be surprise to find a huge Expresso machine at café “Alamo” in the small mining village of Atocha, where we have lunch.
Before entering Tupiza we will ride the Bolivian Monument Valley. This is a part of the region where the (in)famous Banditos Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid operated and were finally killed. But with all the spectacular stone monuments, don´t forget the hotel´s pool!
Day 11. To Tarija (alt. 1.860 m) 205 km, 40% off-road
When the rubber touches the off-road track, the landscape changes instantly into scenic back country roads with deep canyons. There is no infrastructure among our itinerary, so a picnic lunch is the only option.
The ride to Tarija, the wine capital of Bolivia continues quite diverse, just after passing the last mountain, a fantastic panorama opens up to the Tarija valley.
Dinner will be served at restaurant “El Marqués”, a gastronomic highlight.
Day 12. Rest day in Tarija
Options for those who don´t want to rest:
Visit of Casa Dorada and Castillo Azul,
Wineries tour with local tour operator,
Visit of the paleontological museum (Extinct mammals).
Day 13. To Villamontes (alt. 390 m) 245 km, 20% off-road
Snaking mountain roads take us from the rolling hills of Tarija to the arid dry Chaco region. The last part of this road is considered one of the scariest bus rides in the country. On the motorcycle, where we are in control, it is a lot less hazardous. Photographers get ready… and if you miss the part, no problem, we will ride it again…
Day 14. To Abapo (alt. 445 m) 321 km, 10% off-road
After all the off-road stages, it is again pleasant to feel asphalt under the tires. Our way leads us through the gas production zone of Bolivia. We ride a special to a monastery and cross an abandoned, very narrow railway bridge. An exciting ride, nothing for people with fear of height. Only basic restauration, so we have a Bolivian grill dinner.
Day 15. To Samaipata 206 km, 0% or 20% off-road, variants depending on weather conditions
The road to Samaipata takes us alternately over sandy tracks or asphalt roads along the Piraí River, the Eastern cordillera up to Samaipata, our starting point. We leave our bikes behind and hurry to jump into the hotel´s pool.
Day 16. To Santa Cruz
Late in the morning, we set off for Santa Cruz where we can relax, hanging around the plaza and do some souvenir shopping. In the evening, we have a farewell dinner.
Day 17. To the airport
Always a sad moment when we say goodbye. But who knows? You won´t be the first to come back for more…