Traveling Chile via Motorcycle
Chile, running like a string of spaghetti down the western South American coast, is an increasingly modern country that now earns a high standard of political and civil rights rating from Freedom House. That means it is a place where you can visit and ride motorcycles without some of the nasty political intrigue that plagues other countries.
The Andes Mountains dominate the eastern border of the country, with the west presenting deserts, agricultural areas, and vast ranches. Given its 2880-mile north-south stretch, the climate ranges from dry desert in the north to glaciers in the south.
Thanks to its narrow design, Chile offers relatively close access to Argentina, to the east. This allows travel to various cultures and terrain challenges. Major roads are paved, with a vast supply of dirt roads in less travelled portions of the region. Sparsely populated areas mean you can ride free of dangerous traffic.
Owned by an Australian/Argentinean husband-and-wife team, South American Motorbike Tours (SAMt) offers a set of South American tours, mostly about two weeks in length. SAMt’s 15-day Patagonia Tour, which takes you to the “End of the World” at Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, may be the most exotic of all their guided tours (motorcycles are also available for unescorted rental).
Truly an adventure, SAMt is an Official Travel Partner of BMW Motorrad and exclusively offers BMW GS motorcycles of all sizes for this tour. Basically a one-way tour, you begin in Osorno, Chile in the Los Lagos Region, and then cross into and out of Argentina’s Gaucho country via the Andes over the next week.
A highlight of the trip is a visit to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in Torres del Paine National Park, which is a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve. At the end of the tour, you fly out of Punta Arenas at the Strait of Magellan, 53 degrees south of the Equator.
You may be roughing it on the roads on the GSes, but SAMt puts its riders up in four- and five-star hotels along the way. For safety a satellite phone accompanies the tour in case of emergency, and a 4×4 support vehicle moves your luggage along.