« Release the Coons | Main | State Department Advisories »

September 10, 2017

Planning for Tierra Del Fuego

I'm sort of loosely trying to figure out my trip to Tierra Del Fuego. Like...how far will it be? How will I cross the Darien Gap? Will my cell phone work in Latin America? etc.

It looks like the first part of the trip will be about 6,400 miles.

Then, this guy says he can ship your bike from Portobelo, Panama, to Sapzurro, the first town of Colombia. Then, on another cargo ship, to Turbo, Panama.

From Panama, the trip is pretty wide open, but I'm thinking something like this (9,000 miles).

Then, the last little part to get to Tierra Del Fuego, is about 600 miles and you have to take a ferry.
So, the total mileage looks something like:
North/Central America: 6,400
South America: 9,600 miles
Total: 16,000 miles

If you ride 300 miles a day, that would take about 53 days of riding, plus, it might take about 3-4 days to ship the bike, so that's about 56-57 days. So, about 2 months on the road.

Although, now that I think about it, if I'm crossing the border for 16 countries, then that's going to kill about a half a day for each border crossing. You have to go through Aduana, Immigracion, Immigracion, Aduana each country you go though. So, that takes a while. So, if we add 8 days to it, then you have 64-65 days. I think that, what I can do is, if I'm behind schedule, I can just make a balls-out run down through the Sechura/Atacama desert to make up time, and then hit Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil on the way back from Tierra Del Fuego.

Then, if you're spending $100 a day on food, gas, lodging, then that would cost about $5,300, not counting shipping the bike.

When does my passport expire? May of 2023. So, I've got 5+ years before it expires.
How many pages are left empty in my passport? I have about 12 pages left in my passport. Not sure if that will be enough, because they seem to stamp your passport when you enter and exit a country. So, let's see how many countries I would go through:
Mexico,Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile. So, that's 16 countries, or 32 stamps. But it looks like they can usually do 2-3 stamps per page. So, if they did 3 stamps per page, it would take up 11 pages. That would be cutting it pretty close.

Maybe I should get a new passport before I leave and ask for one with lots of pages in it. I think you can get special passports with more pages.

OK. Here's the deal:

You used to be able to add more pages to your existing passport, but they don't do that any more.

If you renew your passport within the United States, please indicate your preference for a 28-page or 52-page book by checking the appropriate box at the top of the form. The good news is that there is no fee difference for book sizes.

My deal is that I don't want to turn in my current passport. I always just tell them that I lost the old one, so I don't have to turn it in. In theory, they return your passport to you, but I'm not clear that they always do return it.

The Verizon Trip Planner says my iPhone 4S is compatible for Voice, 2G, and 3G data with the following countries:

El Salvador
Costa Rica

What would be the best time to roll into Tierra Del Fuego (temperature-wise)?

So, I'm trying to figure out when the best time would be, ideally, to get to Tierra Del Fuego. Like, ideally, I'd get there on the warmest day of the year. Much like I did when I got to Dead Horse, Alaska. I got there on July 31, and then left on August 1st. However, for the record, when we left Dead Horse on August 1st, it was 38F, and raining. Like...we were freezing our asses off from Dead Horse to Ptarmigan Pass. It was very close to snowing. Not fun. So, I really don't want to repeat that experience in Tierra Del Fuego.

In places where the difference between the length of day and night is greater between summer and winter (such as very far north - Alaska, Norway, etc), the solstices are called midsummer and midwinter. But where the temperature variation is more noticeable than the variation in the length of the day, like in Iowa or the lower United States, we use the terms "the first day of summer," etc.

Northern Hemisphere:

Summer Solstice - The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is June 21.
Winter Solstice - The shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is December 21.
Normally, December through February feature the coldest temperatures of the season in most of the United States.
In Alaska, the coldest day of the year usually occurs in mid-to-late January for much of the state.
In Alaska, the hottest day of the year usually occurs in July 1st - 20th for the northern part of the state.

Southern Hemisphere:

In Argentina and Australia, winter begins in June. The winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is June 20 or 21, while the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is December 21 or 22.

Winter Solstice - The shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere is June 21.
Summer Solstice - The longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere is December 21.

In Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), the warmest month of the year, on average, is January. But, it looks like, if I could get down there by the end of February, I'd be OK.


I am not sure when my last day on the project will be. Right now, I believe my contract is set to end on 12/31/2017. However, they could terminate my contract tomorrow (which would be fine with me), or they could extend me through June of next year. You never know with these things. My problem is that, if they decide to extend my contract, I'm not clear that I'm in a position to refuse the work. So, basically, if they choose to extend me again, then it means my trip to Tierra Del Fuego is put on hold for another year. This is not something I desire, but again, I can't really walk away from this project. I just can't.

Assuming that they let me go at the end of the year, however, then my plan looks something like this.
1) Ride the KTM from Los Angeles to Denver.

2) Ride the Honda from Denver to Los Angeles, staying as far south as possible, due to winter weather in northern hemisphere.

Now, the timing of this doesn't have to be in December. In theory, I could bring back the KTM the next time I'm in Los Angeles. (I'm not clear when that will be. I'm in Oakland for the next two weeks, apparently.)

But, in theory, I could swap bikes some time around the end of this month, before it starts to snow (hopefully).

The reason that I want to start my trip in Los Angeles, is that I want to roll through Baja again. I kind of like it down there, in a crazy sort of way. Like, it's just this barren desert, and it's really hard to say what the attraction is, but there are a few places along the Baja that I have skipped, and this bothers me at night. Like, OK...sure....I've been to Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Bahia De Los Angeles, Loretto, Mulege, La Paz, Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas, San Jose Del Cabo, Muleje...but there's a few places in the Baja that I've not been.

I've not been to Bahia Tortugas, Puerto San Carlos. These are a few of the towns that I skipped on my previous trips through the Baja. And, what's funny, is that Peter DeLeo told me this. He castigated me. When I told him about my maiden voyage down through Baja on the XR650R, he told me....."No. Man. You're missing it. Get off of Mexico 1. You've got to go down to all of the out of the way beaches. You've got to get down there to where no one has ever been before. That's the trip man. That's what you're after."

But, of course, I just ignored him. I was scared to death. It was the first time I'd ever been outside of the United States alone on a dirt bike in the Mexican desert. I wasn't comfortable pushing the envelope in the manner he described. But now...yeah...I'm all in. So, I do want to hit a few of these smaller off-the-beaten path places. Finally.

So, Bahia Tortugas and Puerto San Carlos. Those are the big ones on my list that I'd like to at least visit on this trip.

Then, down to Pichilengue, catch the ferry to Mazatlan, and just follow the coast (on the Pacific side, this time).

So, right now, my map looks something like this.

From here, there's nothing tricky in Central America. Just roll down into Panama. This time, I'll go all the way to Yaviza, Panama, and then ride up to Colon, as well. So the Costa Rica / Panama part looks something like this.

So, if I look at these maps that I've thrown together here, my milage now looks something like this:

Denver to Punta Arenas, Costa Rica: 5,630 miles
Punta Arenas to Colon, Panama: 900 miles
Denver to Colon, Panama: 6,530 miles
Miles per day: 300
Days from Denver to Colon, Panama: 22 days

So, the ride through North and Central America looks like roughly 6,530 miles. And, if I'm doing 300 miles a day, then that's 22 days. Or, 3 weeks. So, that doesn't seem too far off. It seems somewhat reasonable.

The Darien Gap prevents vehicles from driving to South America. It's a swamp/jungle that's protected, overrun with drug traffickers, snakes, mosquitos, jaguars, police that need to be bribed, etc. It's not a good place for a gringo to go on a street bike.

To get to South America, I can either crate the bike up at the Tocumen cargo airport like I did last time, or I might possibly try to put the Honda Africa Twin on a ferry/sailboat.

One guy say's he'll take your bike on a sailboat from Portobelo. So, I might end up taking a ferry/sailboat from Portobelo, which is only 30 miles from Colon, Panama.

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 10, 2017 at 12:11 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)