Originally Posted by jfink
So, we are in Santiago Chile right now having shipped our bikes to Colombia and traveled from there. Here are a few things we have learned that may help as you pass through South America.
1) Insurance: in Colombia you will need SOAT (liability insurance). BUT, ask for and buy the international insurance if you can, not just the one for Colombia. You will need the insurance at least in Argentina, Brazil and we found in Peru (because we were stopped twice and were asked for it). In Peru we were stopped in Juliaca (I think that is spanish for cluster fuck) and Puno. If you act like you can't speak spanish (no act for us) and emphasize that the SOAT you bought in Colombia WAS international they may let you go without having to pay a bribe. One fellow we met from Germany who spoke spanish well, warned us about Puno and had to pay a $110 US bribe, for not having SOAT.
Argentina requires SOAT insurance. We tried to buy International Insurance at all the normal places in Santiago, (Fabella's, etc) but turns out they REQUIRE a RUT. Not sure what RUT means but what it is, is a national Chilean ID that everyone is given when they are born. These folks will not sell you insurance unless you have one. However; we purchased tickets for a ferry in Chile and they required a RUT and simply used our passport number. Hmmmm ... like I said, buy it in Colombia if you can.
2) Speed limits: In Ecuador they have just begun strict enforcement of the traffic laws. Over 15kmh and they impound your bike and take you to jail for three days. Be warned!!! After speeding by the policia at over 30kmh above the speed limit in Colombia, we were fortunate not to have been stopped before we found out about this. So far, about the only other place where speeding and following the law was important was Chile. Don't try to bribe an officer in Chile, it is the same as here in the states, you may go to jail.
3) Hotels: in South America add a couple things to your shopping list when looking for hotels. In additional to safe parking and wifi (which is NEVER wifi) add toilet lids and hot water. Nothing worse than sitting on porcelain and then having a cold shower.
4) Gasoline is really only a problem in Bolivia. Bolivia is a beautiful Country but the estacion de gasolina have been given the right by the government to fuck the tourist. For the nationals the gas is subsidized and they pay around $2/gal. But you will pay around $7/gallon for gas, poor quality gas (84 octane) if you are lucky enough to get gas. They don't have to sell us gas, and I think they don't like doing the necessary paperwork for tourists to buy gas. But, if you just stay, are persistent, act like you won't leave, eventually they will give in. Pull up, open your tank and don't take no for an answer (that is hard for us Americans to do, I know). And there are usually gas lines, but in most SA countries you can go around the autos in line to the "moto" gas line. There is no gas in Bolivia within 100 kilometers of the border, to reduce the potential of black market trade (Bolivians buying cheap and selling higher).
Many towns in Bolivia have "families" who sell gasoline from barrels. If there isn't a gas station or there isn't gas at the station, and you are running low, be persistent and ask for gasoline. Eventually they will send you to someone in town who sells black market gas. But, it won't be cheap. We paid over $12/gallon for gas in a border town with Chile. You should have no problem with quality, but the KTM ... eh?
5) Roads: Toll roads in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are moto ride free. There are little lanes on the right side of the toll booth that allow you to go around. Some are pretty narrow and off camber so watch your cases. In Chile, there are tolls for motos.
Beware the "oh, this road is good!" advice you get. Wash board roads are a given. Riding 200 kilometers on roads that shake the fillings from your teeth is normal. Deep sand, mud when it rains, road construction, big rocks, trucks and buses ... did I say road construction? Best advice I can give is 'drive like a local'.
Great ride report!!! We will be in Ushuaia the 20th through 23rd of December.