New attempt with additional verification. A pic of me who is the same dude as on the motorcycle pics further down, as well as the contract of selling the bike with the same note.

TL;DR: Title

I started in Bolivia, where I bought the motorcycle in EL Alto (the outskirts of La Paz). From there I traveled six months through Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica. 10 000KM were traveled on a Sumo Tekken 250, other parts were done by bus hitchhiking and sailboat.

Ask me anything about Motorcycle traveling, Chinese bikes, dangers, experiences, or whatever you fancy. I've by now traveled most of Latin America, support a Cuban family with their business, and a lot more...

As a verification check out these 2 pictures of me with the motorcycle. + New attempt with additional verification. A pic of me who is the same dude as on the motorcycle pics further down, as well as the contract of selling the bike with the same note.

Comments: 684 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

onemanclic345 karma

I've often fantasized about this! Kudos to you on your journey. Questions:

  • What triggered this need? Was it "escapist"?
  • Why did you choose to do it alone? On motorcycle instead of car?
  • How dangerous is it? Did people see you as a gringo/conquistador? A target?

Thanks for your thoughts!

4577EDN563 karma

Trigger: I'm from Germany, where a lot of people go travel or do something different for a year after high school since we don't have obligatory military service anymore. I just ended up choosing something rather specific and extreme.
It started with me wanting to go to South America and not being keen to get into many buses for so many hours since distances there are long (and I'm tall).
Alone: didn't have anyone I saw fit to ask to join, in the hindsight, it was the best thing to be free and by myself.
Motorcycle: it's cheaper than a car and you experience traveling more than behind a windscreen.
Danger: The biggest dangers are the roads (as far as you could call them roads) and the drivers, especially truck drivers, which often try to overtake in sneaky mountain roads, cut curves and so on.

FaustusC833 karma

To be fair, I think it's a very german thing to go to South America so it's not that extreme lol.


4577EDN429 karma

Just can't get out of old traditions man... /s

throwawaytesticle69155 karma

Total cost for the trip?

4577EDN246 karma

About 8500€, so maybe 9800$ at that time

ComplaintInfamous126 karma

how you got that money?, i was penniless at that age

4577EDN324 karma

I worked in a car manufacturing site and didn't take time off. Working shifts also paid extra.

bitman_moon131 karma

Traveling Solo, did you meet some special people who you bonded with?

4577EDN243 karma

I met quite some great people - travelers and locals. Still in contact with some of them. I gained a great understanding of the situation and point of view many locals had, especially farmers and other people with a more simple life.

globalnecromancer30 karma

How well did you speak Spanish?

4577EDN6 karma

almost fluent

Sunburn79106 karma

What is the most dangerous situation you were in?

What is a situation you thought was going to be dangerous that ended up being nothing?

4577EDN235 karma

I got lost in the mountains in Peru, it started to rain, get dark, and was close to freezing point. Was a close call, but after some hours of fighting a found a house and begged for shelter.
Then there were tones of dangerous driving situations.
The 'death road in Bolivia which became quite a tourist attraction is nowhere near as bad as you'd think. by now there's no normal traffic there anymore. I drove worse that still have normal traffic.

junkyarms33 karma

Wow! Do you have a map of your route? What was something that happened during the trip that you wish you knew about before you got there?

4577EDN46 karma

I don't have a map, need to export my google maps history sometime and make one...

If I would've known how much trouble the chain would make I would've replaced it right the first day haha, apart from that the misleading map that lead to the story from above.. would've been nice to know the road doesn't exist like it's on the map.

muffinman197592 karma

How long ago were you 19?

4577EDN98 karma

that was 2017

muffinman197544 karma

Very cool, I lived in my bike for 2 months did a multi state trip. I always tell myself I should have done Pan American high way.

Glad your safe and you have story's to tell. You still ride?

4577EDN34 karma

Nice! It's never too late, go for it, or do a part at least. Down to Panama is quite popular, often there are good deals of people selling their bike to bring it back up or drive on.

duanei66 karma

In 2017 how did you get from Colombia to Panama? I was going south in 1974 and was stopped at the Darien Gap, end of road. I needed a freighter to get to Cartagena. Where in Colombia did you go? Why not Venezuela?

4577EDN118 karma

There's still no road. You can ship or fly the bike. I decided not to and did the small distance in Panama and Costa Rica with a backpack only. I went from Cartagena to San Blas by sailboat. Would probably have been about 12000km otherwise.

Venezuela was in crisis back then already, borders to Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru were full of refugees with rough stories of what was going on in their homecountry.

In Colombia I visited a lot of parts, just didn't go too deep into the jungle as I saw a lot in Ecuador and Bolivia already. Visited Cartagena, Santa Marta, Palomino, Bucaramanga, Medellin, Bogota, Cali and a couple more places

Shiny-And-New61 karma

Have you seen the motorcycle diaries, did it inspire you?

4577EDN110 karma

I was told about it during my travels and read it afterward. While I noticed that my route was very similar I didn't know beforehand. The book actually made me think more critically about him due to the way he pulls profit out of other people's helpfulness and is careless about his driving and behavior.

joshmoneymusic10 karma

Surprised it took this long to have what I’d consider the most obvious question asked. Hopefully he’ll answer...

4577EDN6 karma

I did :)


What was the best and worst country you were at?

4577EDN118 karma

Best: Bolivia for sceneries and Colombia for people.
There wasn't really a worst, but I felt Ecuador didn't really have something the others didn't. On the other hand, you get everything in a small package which is great if you only have 3 weeks on vacay or sth

HogofWar818 karma

If only you could get to Galapagos on a bike. Hehe.

4577EDN26 karma

True! The major thing I skipped due to limited cash.

Remnants11 karma

Which parts of Bolivia did you travel through? Do you have a map of your route?

4577EDN36 karma

Sucre, Potosi, Oruro, La Paz, Uyuni, Titicaca lake, Cochabamba, Madidi national park and everything in between those places basically.

MargaretaSlayer47 karma

Did you ever ride on a road and think ”If my bike breaks down here I am going to be in big trouble”?

4577EDN82 karma

When crossing the cordillera Blanca in Peru I didn't see another person for ~300km and it's likely nobody would pass those small paths anytime soon, definitely would have been a major problem. Had a couple of similar things on the whole trip.

jorph40 karma

This is my dream, never to be fulfilled. How much did it cost?

4577EDN72 karma

Go for it mate! about 9800$ all in all, incl. equipment, motorcycle, flight.

violet420lm36 karma

Yo! Im a girl , have you met girls that did what you do, or have any advices for a female? :) Because I’d love to do this kind of stuff but I’m a bit scared to be alone

4577EDN73 karma

I barely dealt with being a light blond, tall foreigner, so I don't think you would stand out much more if you use a local bike model and keep the amount of luggage low. Nonetheless, Latin cultures are still more macho than the US or Europe. I personally met tones of female backpackers who all had a great time and a married couple traveling with motorcycles. If you want more specific info there are quite some female moto travel Instagramers that for sure can give you better tips and have actual experience as a woman. For example itchybootstravel, nattplu, motogypsy

Iusedtobeonimgur31 karma

Do you speak spanish or you got by with english ?

4577EDN70 karma

I'm quite fluent and that helped a lot, especially with getting better prices, help, and with the mechanics. I'd recommend having minimum basic Spanish for the rural areas and Bolivia.

ergotpoisoning30 karma

Did you get into any danger that wasn't to do with the roads? Like robbery/assault etc?

How strictly did you stick to your route? Did you have a specific route planned, or was it more free-form?

Did you have a budget beforehand? Did you stick to it?

4577EDN84 karma

Did you get into any danger that wasn't to do with the roads? Like robbery/assault etc?

Not on that Trip. A woman pickpocketed me once but I noticed and she dropped my wallet when I screamed at her. I've had stuff happen in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Nonetheless, Latin America isn't as unsafe as the media makes it seem. But I wasn't in touristy places, so that might have helped. Also the local Motorcycle blends in even with luggage.

How strictly did you stick to your route? Did you have a specific route planned, or was it more free-form?

I didn't plan too strictly just main direction and stops, everything else I did on the road adapting to time, recommendations, and what I was up for.

Did you have a budget beforehand? Did you stick to it?

I had a budget since I did a summer job and didn't want to spend more than I earned in the job. It worked out well without too much budgeting, I always tried to live as cheap as possible but purchased stuff I thought is worth it, trips or nice food here and there.

Iola_Morton27 karma

Much problems with your motorcycle in terms of breakdowns, flat tires etc, and how did you deal with it? Any wipe outs? I live in Cartagena, by the way and am thinking of doing something similar on a Royal Enfield Himalayan

4577EDN64 karma

All the freaking time. Every 3 days of riding I had a major problem I'd say. Mostly due to the cheap ass bike I bought.
The advantage of that cheap ass bike was that everyone had a similar one, so there was a mechanic or even just some random dude in every town that had parts and knowledge.
But sometimes you just have to get creative. Once the frame broke under the luggage rack so I took all the luggage on my back and lap for ~200km and drove half standing with the tail part of the frame tied up so it wouldn't touch the wheel.
Another time my chain (which wasn't hardened well) got so long that I couldn't stretch it without the rear brake gripping so I had to dismount the rear brake and drove 300km with only the front break...

So I'd say get a bike that is durable and easy to repair. I don't know how common enfields are now but they weren't in 2017 so I wouldn't recommend it. A nice Honda 250 is basically the perfect option if you can keep the luggage down.
Beautiful City you live in! Me encanta!

Iola_Morton15 karma

Thanks for the answer, dude. Royal Enfield has really taken off, at least here in Colombia, but not sure about other countries. Anyways, did you have any major wipe outs??

4577EDN27 karma

I crashed 3 times, all of which were avoiding accidents with trucks that cut into my lane or similar. All three times I had to break hard on gravel or dirt, leading to me laying down. My gear did its job though and I never got seriously injured.

v112358s20 karma

any cool people you meet on your trip?

4577EDN24 karma

For sure, made some great friends. A lot of people with interesting life stories and a few people that were influential politicians and stuff. No specific story that would be interesting to tell though.

localhermanos19 karma

Any sex on the trip?

4577EDN25 karma


slimyhagfish13 karma

Was it fun?

4577EDN23 karma


pj93116 karma

Did you tend to keep to yourself, or did you try to meet a lot of interesting people? What was the language barrier like?

4577EDN18 karma

Didn't really have a barrier since I spoke Spanish quite well already. Had many interesting conversations with locals (farmers, mechanics etc.). But mostly they were short and connections didn't last since I drove on almost every day. Met some travelers with whom I'm still in contact.

Das_Gruber15 karma

What kind of mechanical issues (if any) did you experience on this trip and what actions did you take to resolve them?

4577EDN28 karma

Many. Basically almost everything. Told two stories answering u/Iola_Morton. But as stated there that was often due to the cheap bike. In general, try to pick a bike that is durable and used by locals. I had basic repair stuff with me and learned on the way, everything else was rather easy to solve since every town had a mechanic who knew the motor since all Chinese fakes basically have the honda 150 or 250.
I learned how to take apart the whole bike and put it back together on the trip, it's less frightening than you would think. I learned how to replace the clutch cable, adapt the chain, brakes, swap parts...
Never had a flat, even though there are many instant repair sets that will at least bring you to the next town.
feel free to ask if you have any more specific questions since I kept it quite broad.

Jimoiseau10 karma

A few boring practical questions, so I apologise in advance: How difficult was it to deal with importing a bike from one country to another? Also did you have a bike license before you went or need one while you were there? Did you get insurance for the whole trip or have to get a different one for each country?

4577EDN18 karma

The importing was quite a hassle sometimes, many border agents wanted money to 'speed up the process' which I never gave. Just plan 2-4 hours per border and your fine.
I had a license, it helped me more in knowing how to avoid accidents though. It was never properly checked.
I got Insurance for each country, was easier and cheaper, you can get one for multiple (not all) counties though.

brandonmiq7 karma

interested to hear about this as well. i've done some decent road trips on my bike in america, but the only ones i've done abroad with bad roads were led by guides who fixed my flats and repaired my bike wipeouts for me. I'd be nervous to do a trip like this without a mechanic along for the ride, as I'm not a good mechanic at all :-/

4577EDN4 karma

Answered the main comment.

EarthCadence15 karma

What is the general attitude towards foreigners, specifically white people there? I know you were just travelling, but there is a trend taking off of young white people buying land down there because it's so cheap and lush. Sometimes this is seen as a modern form of colonizing. Personally it's something I would love to do and plan to spend 3-6 months there in the near future. Curious what your experience from the locals was!
How would you say the culture is most different from the western/European world?

4577EDN23 karma

The attitude is great as long as you are respectful and especially if you try your best in Spanish. I've had plenty of wonderful encounters with locals.
The family has a much bigger value in Latin cultures. Also, it was very interesting that all store types were gathered together, f.e. all plumbers, flower stores, etc. were always in the same street. Regarding common stores, you just went to the same one your parents went and your grandparents went so they all had loyal customers. The specialist stores used the gathering as an advantage because people knew which street to go to when they needed something, a specialist somewhere else wouldn't be found by customers.

dr-rocoto15 karma

Where was your second photo taken? Looks nice!

4577EDN23 karma

Somewhere in Bolivia on the way from Potosi to Sucre if I'm not mistaken. Amazing drive, would love to experience it again.

dalatinknight14 karma

Did you become radicalized and try to sieze the means of production in a random caribbean island?

On a serious note, ever been in a situation where it felt you were done for?

4577EDN12 karma

Yes, what do you think were the newest changes in Cuba come from? /s

I got lost in the mountains of Peru after my navigation told me to follow a road that didn't exist, the road I followed wasn't on any map/app I had and I lost signal, it got cold, dark, and rained so much that the dirt road turned into a river, didn't see a sign of human life for hours. I was saying my goodbys already and giving up hope, but I encountered some house after a couple of hours in the dark and begged them for shelter.

Jjjrrr1211 karma

How much drugs did you do?

4577EDN42 karma

Nothing haha, never was intrigued to try them. Even thy are very cheap there: in colombia 24g weed were around 3 bucks, 1 gram of coke was also around 3 bucks

Ok_Avocado221011 karma

When I was a kid I had a motorcycle and some days I would ride it so much that I would get “saddle sore” from bouncing around on the seat all day. How did you keep your Butt from chaffing and getting sore from riding so many miles?

4577EDN16 karma

I but a scarf under my but and later a piece of alpaca fur. It helped but still had a sore but all the time.

APupNamedScooby-Doo9 karma

What do you regret not doing on your trip?

4577EDN26 karma

I couldn't go to Galapagos due to my limited budget. Otherwise, I did basically everything I wanted experience-wise. I regret not having a proper GoPro and barely having pics of myself with the bike because I traveled alone though.

thousandkneejerks9 karma

Which landscape or area really stood out for you?

4577EDN22 karma

Landscape wise Bolivia is just unbeatable. Every part looks like you're on another plant. the high planes barely have plants but are colorful through the minerals in the ground.

Username_For_9 karma

Thats such an awsome trip!!! I’m happy you got to experience it. I’ve only recently got into mutli-day bike/ camping trips and am envious.

Where’d you stay at night, like camp, hostels, hotel?

4577EDN18 karma

Mostly so-called alojamientos (basically very simple hotels, often with shared bathrooms) which not rich locals use when traveling. Sometimes also hostels and AirBnBs. IOverlander is an app that shares great info about cheap accommodations where you can store your bike safely, often even parked it in the lobby of a hostel or something.

Solviento8 karma

How did you keep your bike secure? I've always assumed that someone could easy take your bike if you were to leave it out somewhere even for a few hours.

4577EDN15 karma

The advantage was that its a common bike model there, so it didn't stand out. Overnight I always made sure it was safe in a garage, inside the lobby of the hostel, or wherever.

Amazing-Badger53908 karma

At what places did you sleep?

What was the coolest animal you saw?

Did you score a lot of latina females?

4577EDN17 karma

At what places did you sleep?

Mostly so called alojamientos (basically very simple hotels, often with shared bathrooms) which not rich locals use when traveling. Sometimes also hostels and AirBnBs.

What was the coolest animal you saw?

I watched a cobra (i think) catch and eat a chick in an animal sanctuary near Tena in Ecuador, pretty crazy.

Did you score a lot of latina females?

Traveling constantly and taking uncommon routes in the middle of nowhere limit that topic a lot more than most people think.

lnkuih8 karma

How/where did you buy and sell the motorbike and for how much?

Did you double up with other people for any/much of the trip?

4577EDN10 karma

Bought in Bolivia ~1700usd new. Sold for a bit less in Colombia to another traveler.

I did a few little parts with other mototravelers and once took a dutch guy with me for a day trip around some ruins in peru. Otherwise all by myself.

lnkuih4 karma

Thanks for the info! Funny how buying and selling can end up cheaper than if you had hired or paid for transportation the whole way. Also you probably start to feel a connection to a bike that you own

4577EDN4 karma

Sure think still miss it even though I had many problems with it. The price of course doesn't account for maintenance and gasoline though.

hx197 karma

This is something I am planning, going from the middle of Europe to China and back. And one day potentially Alaska to Argentina. All of it on some cheaper old bike.

So my question is, did you know anything about bikes before your trip? Especially the technical side of things - how to fix if anything broke down etc.? That is my biggest fear as I am absolute novice when it comes to motorbikes and my plan is to do a lot of off road.

4577EDN10 karma

I learned on the way. Carry the most important spare parts, buy a reliable bike, and especially a model that is common where you travel.

wolfford7 karma

What do you remember about Colombia?

4577EDN9 karma

The openhearted very happy people! Just loved how you could feel them grow after they got the major part of the drug/cartel problems under control. Amazing country, would recommend it to anyone.

darkblitzrc6 karma

How did you manage to cross from Colombia to Panama? Did you ferry over to Panama?. Since there are no roads connecting both of them due to heavy forest, aka Tapon del Darien. (Source, I'm from Panama.)

4577EDN4 karma

Sailboat from cartagena to san blas.

d13robot6 karma

Very cool! Did you write a travelogue of your experiences ? Also; what languages do you speak / did you ever find it difficult communicating?

4577EDN24 karma

I did for some things, only for private documentation and memories though. I barely shared or posted anything on social media, too big of a hustle and I don't really care about it.
I spoke Spanish quite well already when I started, which was a huuuge help. Nonetheless, it's important to learn the local slang, sometimes it gets you good deals and fair prices at the market, other times saying a word which might be friendly in one nation is quite insulting in the next and might start a fight.

Xsteak1426 karma

Oof 10k km on a 250? Ouch.

4577EDN25 karma

yeah... My butt hurt the whole trip basically. Especially because the Chinese fake honda doesn't deliver the same power, so it was closer to a 150 I'd say. Maxed out at 95km/h mostly

CemTheKebabSlayer6 karma

I can travel with my 2014 Yamaha YBR 125 at 110km/h. 95km/h is what 100cc motorcycles do.

4577EDN14 karma

Yes, but modern 125ccs are built to have a high speed as you can drive them with car license or starting from a younger age in many countries. This leads to long gears and high max speeds. I'd compare the bike I had more to a 150cc or even 200cc power-wise. basically, it was a 250 Honda copy, just bad quality which showed in the top speed (which did reach 120 on occasion). Remember that your Yamaha wouldn't do the same at 4000m in Bolivia either.

Calvertorius6 karma

Was that motorcycle a 2 stroke that you had to mix oil and gas? Was that ever an issue with getting fuel?

4577EDN9 karma

4-stroke. Fuel was an issue sometimes so I used a milk gallon for extra fuel. Even then it got tight here and there, but there's always someone in a town willing to sell a dumb foreigner fuel for too much money in case you really need it, needed that twice. Quality is a much bigger problem though, while you're used to 95/97 in the US or Europe they often have 85, 90, or even 80 octan. The motorcycle chokes on it quite a bit and the fuel filter needs to be cleared on the regular.

Viriidian6 karma

Did you receive any abnormal (from a western perspective) vaccines or buy medication for your trip?

4577EDN12 karma

I got the rabies vaccine (dogs like to attack motorcycle drivers) and malaria medication.

AsianCloud5 karma

Did you eat any local food that stood out from the rest?

4577EDN11 karma

Alpaca in Bolivia was interesting and good, llama is not very enjoyable. Chicken feet in Peru were okay. Guinea pig tastes like something between rabbit and chicken... and of course a lot of local stuff that is known around the world like ceviche

Fiery-But-Peaceful5 karma

How hard was it to get all the different passport?

Also that sounds like an awesome adventure, and you did it so young.

4577EDN29 karma

I guess you mean the visas? With a German passport it was quite easy since I could visit the most nations a month or so on a tourist visa, just the immigration for the bike was quite a hassle most times.
It was and I'm glad I did!

954kevin5 karma

Was it fast, and did you take it off any sweet jumps?

Asking the real questions we all need answers to...

4577EDN7 karma

It wasn't very fast max was 120, but mostly couldn't pass 94km/h.

some big bumps on dirt roads, street bumps, or holes in the road made a great wanted or unwanted jump and hurt butt. Ecuador was especially tricky since they had those speedbumps and often faked them with paint, then you thought its just paint and noticed it way too late...

Plus_Web_22545 karma

Were there violent robbers to be wary about? I know of an american that got robbed for his motorcycle, he wouldnt give it so they shot and killed him.

4577EDN13 karma

I've heard some stories. They seem to be very few. I personally haven't experienced anything similar or heard first-hand experiences. I think it is important to blend in though as I did. Motorcycle jeans, locally common model, little luggage all make you appear less different. People on a huge BMW stand out.

sabrtoothlion4 karma

Username suggests you are the bike. Did the human also make the trip? 😑

4577EDN10 karma

No fellow human I am not the bike, I swear.

NTGenericus4 karma

Awesome trip! How did you find places to sleep?

4577EDN5 karma

Mostly tried to plan ahead the night before where I will stay. Often the app iOverlanders has helped me find a cheap place with parking for the bike.

hohoh033 karma

You didn’t step foot in Brazil? I feel discriminated! Nah just kidding, but why though?

4577EDN5 karma

Brazil is awesome and I definitely want to go, but I only had a limited amount of time and money, and as brazil is huge I would plan at least two months for it.

Nutmegan-03 karma

How was your Spanish before and after the trip?

4577EDN4 karma

Very good before, almost fluent after. Now pretty fluent as I've traveled more.

annodomini14043 karma

Gibt es Möglichkeiten, eine ähnliche Erfahrung zu haben in ein deutschsprachigen Land ?

Ich lerne gern deutsch und die Erlebnis ist ganz besser wenn man die Heimsprache sprechen kann nein ?

4577EDN7 karma

Klar, aber in Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz ist das teurer. Du kannst die deutsche Version meines AMAs hier finden.

Shoryukends3 karma

Hey there! Sounds like you had an amazing experience! What country would you say you stayed the longest in? Additionally, shortest? Thanks

4577EDN4 karma

Longest Bolivia and Colombia, shortest Ecuador. Correlates to both my interest in them and their size.

Bigusdickus20203 karma

How did you fund your trip? What do you do for work?

4577EDN5 karma

I worked in a car production site, nights paid well. Now I'm an university student

unchartedfour3 karma

What is the most dangerous situation you found yourself in during this trek?

4577EDN5 karma

I got lost in the mountains of Peru after my navigation told me to follow a road that didn't exist, the road I followed wasn't on any map/app I had and I lost signal, it got cold, dark, and rained so much that the dirt road turned into a river, didn't see a sign of human life for hours. I was saying my goodbys already and giving up hope, but I encountered some house after a couple of hours in the dark and begged them for shelter.

Reaver_XIX2 karma

How did you afford the trip and how much did it cost roughly? Looks like an amazing experience, where is your next adventure?

4577EDN3 karma

Saved up working in a manufacturing job. Cost about 9800$.

Next up is exploring Europe in shorter trips. The next big plan is to travel through Africa, down the west coast up the east. Also planing India and the Himalaya region.

Aka_BigGrig-1 karma

How many dead bodies did you see?

4577EDN4 karma

One alpaca getting slaughtered on the roadside.