ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-12-2013, 08:25 AM   #331
SS in Vzla.
Totally Normal? I'm not!
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Banana Republic of Black Gold
Oddometer: 1,111
Venezuela Heads Up

Hello DR,

I've been enjoying your RR for a couple of days now, thank you for taking the time to post.

If your plans include Venezuela, here's a heads up... If not, it might as well be posted for anybody else planning to come down here.

MONEY EXCHANGE:

The official exchange rate at the present time is 6,30 Bolivares for 1 USD.
THAT is the rate that your bank will apply if you use you use your credit/debit cards.
BUT
The black market rate for CASH goes around 60-65 to 1. (That is not a typo, there is actually a ten times difference... and growing)

"Black Market" meaning anywhere that is NOT official.

So, bringing USD cash means huge savings. As a matter of fact, if you use your credit card, at the official 6,30 to 1 rates, Venezuela will appear to have outrageously expensive prices, since everybody adapts to the approximate value of the black market exchange rate.

Obviously the money changers at the border will try to lowball you with the official exchange rate. Let them know up front YOU KNOW the exchange rate for cash is 65 to 1 and haggle from there... you will probably be able to get anywhere between 45 to 55 from them which is still very good.

Changing cash in-country outside of an official Money Exchange Office is "technically" illegal, but everybody does it, so be discreet about who you ask. Hotels (preferably posadas) and Stores in smaller towns would be a good place.

If you plan to do some riding in Venezuela, I would suggest you exchange about $200 at the border (where its easier). $200 will take you a long way here, especially with gas being practically free at less than 10 cents a gallon.

Be advised that Paraguachon (border town opposite to Maicao in Colombia) is an absolute shithole... As a matter of fact, IMO it is the worst shithole in all the country... The area from Paraguachon that is close to the Colombian border towards the San Antonio del Tachira / Cucuta border crossing is barely a little bit better.... So if you just intend to do this short loop in order to scrape a little of Venezuela, I would advise you to stay in Colombia as it is not worth it.

If your intentions are to see some of the nicer areas of the country, you will need to head more in-land. If this is the case, drop me a PM and I'll gladly help with border crossing information, route suggestion, GPS maps and beer (if we manage to meet as I'm traveling abroad for work a lot lately).

FUEL at the border (any border).... There are always shortages of fuel within an approximate distance of 200 kms from the borders... Simply because "free" gas is smuggled across to Colombia or Brasil and sold with huge profits, so anybody with a 5 gallon can will try to make some money.
The very abundant POS 70s American cars all have huge 80-100 gallon tanks that they fill to ride across the border and resell. This takes time. This means HUGE lines at the few gas stations that are open (when I mean huge lines, I'm talking about several hours wait)... so my advise would be to fill your tank in Colombia... Once you are approx 200-250 kms in-country, fuel can be purchased normally at "free" prices without much delay.

People ask about safety in-country... Things are a bit chaotic right now. Insecurity levels have risen a lot in the last years, but this is mainly true in the cities. My advise is stay out of the big cities unless you absolutely need to go there or you have some "chaperon" (local guide)... The big cities are nothing to write home about anyways and the nice areas are away from them...

You will be safe on the roads and smaller towns and people will be friendly to you.

I would advise against bush (stealth) camping. Except in the Gran Sabana N.P (border with Brasil) where wild camping is not a problem and actually a great thing in a spectacular area of the country.

Do not leave your bike or luggage unattended and park your bike in a locked garage at night.
Basic common sense precautions.

Anyway, I hope this info helps (you or others).

Have a great Darien crossing.

Buen Viaje!
__________________
SS. '98 BMW F650 / '06 WR250F / '07 KTM 990 Adv
Caracas, Venezuela

SS in Vzla. screwed with this post 11-12-2013 at 08:38 AM
SS in Vzla. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2013, 08:59 AM   #332
hwunger
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Left Coast
Oddometer: 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by DRRambler View Post
... so there has been plenty of pinto on my plates.
.
um ... no beans of any kind in Argentina !

as pne sez .... asado ! ... washed down with great Malbec
hwunger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2013, 11:56 AM   #333
DRRambler OP
AKA Albertastrom
 
DRRambler's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Alberta
Oddometer: 822
Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Hello DR,

I've been enjoying your RR for a couple of days now, thank you for taking the time to post.

If your plans include Venezuela, here's a heads up... If not, it might as well be posted for anybody else planning to come down here.

MONEY EXCHANGE:

The official exchange rate at the present time is 6,30 Bolivares for 1 USD.
THAT is the rate that your bank will apply if you use you use your credit/debit cards.
BUT
The black market rate for CASH goes around 60-65 to 1. (That is not a typo, there is actually a ten times difference... and growing)

"Black Market" meaning anywhere that is NOT official.

So, bringing USD cash means huge savings. As a matter of fact, if you use your credit card, at the official 6,30 to 1 rates, Venezuela will appear to have outrageously expensive prices, since everybody adapts to the approximate value of the black market exchange rate.

Obviously the money changers at the border will try to lowball you with the official exchange rate. Let them know up front YOU KNOW the exchange rate for cash is 65 to 1 and haggle from there... you will probably be able to get anywhere between 45 to 55 from them which is still very good.

Changing cash in-country outside of an official Money Exchange Office is "technically" illegal, but everybody does it, so be discreet about who you ask. Hotels (preferably posadas) and Stores in smaller towns would be a good place.

If you plan to do some riding in Venezuela, I would suggest you exchange about $200 at the border (where its easier). $200 will take you a long way here, especially with gas being practically free at less than 10 cents a gallon.

Be advised that Paraguachon (border town opposite to Maicao in Colombia) is an absolute shithole... As a matter of fact, IMO it is the worst shithole in all the country... The area from Paraguachon that is close to the Colombian border towards the San Antonio del Tachira / Cucuta border crossing is barely a little bit better.... So if you just intend to do this short loop in order to scrape a little of Venezuela, I would advise you to stay in Colombia as it is not worth it.

If your intentions are to see some of the nicer areas of the country, you will need to head more in-land. If this is the case, drop me a PM and I'll gladly help with border crossing information, route suggestion, GPS maps and beer (if we manage to meet as I'm traveling abroad for work a lot lately).

FUEL at the border (any border).... There are always shortages of fuel within an approximate distance of 200 kms from the borders... Simply because "free" gas is smuggled across to Colombia or Brasil and sold with huge profits, so anybody with a 5 gallon can will try to make some money.
The very abundant POS 70s American cars all have huge 80-100 gallon tanks that they fill to ride across the border and resell. This takes time. This means HUGE lines at the few gas stations that are open (when I mean huge lines, I'm talking about several hours wait)... so my advise would be to fill your tank in Colombia... Once you are approx 200-250 kms in-country, fuel can be purchased normally at "free" prices without much delay.

People ask about safety in-country... Things are a bit chaotic right now. Insecurity levels have risen a lot in the last years, but this is mainly true in the cities. My advise is stay out of the big cities unless you absolutely need to go there or you have some "chaperon" (local guide)... The big cities are nothing to write home about anyways and the nice areas are away from them...

You will be safe on the roads and smaller towns and people will be friendly to you.

I would advise against bush (stealth) camping. Except in the Gran Sabana N.P (border with Brasil) where wild camping is not a problem and actually a great thing in a spectacular area of the country.

Do not leave your bike or luggage unattended and park your bike in a locked garage at night.
Basic common sense precautions.

Anyway, I hope this info helps (you or others).

Have a great Darien crossing.

Buen Viaje!
Thanks for that GREAT info. I don't think I'll make it to Venezuela but plans can change in a heart beat so I may yet need to reference this stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hwunger View Post
um ... no beans of any kind in Argentina !

as pne sez .... asado ! ... washed down with great Malbec
Rice...there has got to be rice. But then Asado and Vino tinto sounds pretty good
DRRambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2013, 01:14 PM   #334
DRRambler OP
AKA Albertastrom
 
DRRambler's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Alberta
Oddometer: 822
Day 79 The Big City

Day 79 November 10 Santiago to Panama City

My spot at Hotel Hong




A day riding your motorcycle is always a good day. Even if the highway is four lanes the whole way.



The big bridge on the way into Panama City







The 250km ride was fast and easy today with only a spot of rain. Not a bunch to report other than riding into Panama City is quite impressive.









It is certainly unlike any other Latin America city I have seen so far. For the next 4 nights Iíll be here awaiting the departure date of the ship. Iím staying at the Panama House B&B Hostal which is centrally located and a good headquarters for exploring.
DRRambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2013, 07:22 PM   #335
asejeff
n00b
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Oddometer: 3
Great reporting Dave. I have been along since the ride to Onoway - on green klr in your pic of riders leaving Riverside. Probably seems long ago. I hadnt known about your ride til that day and was incidentally at Riverside to trade klr for a tenere having just returned on it from a trip to PEI. It seems your trip is going well in part because of your approach. I know you'll enjoy continued success as you were clearly well prepared to start and to react using resources as you find them including the applicable advice on the forum. Once you have finished the entire trip, I look forward to buying you a beer or two in St Albert as thanks for this window on an excellent adventure. All the best. Jeff
asejeff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2013, 07:41 PM   #336
pne
Gnarly Adventurer
 
pne's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Alberta, Canada
Oddometer: 308
Quote:
Originally Posted by DRRambler View Post
Rice...there has got to be rice. But then Asado and Vino tinto sounds pretty good
and some of their awesome ice cream for dessert. mmmm. I gained quite a few pounds in buenos aires
__________________
Touring USA on a KTM Superduke, I have no idea what I'm doing:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=890358
pne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 03:43 AM   #337
DRRambler OP
AKA Albertastrom
 
DRRambler's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Alberta
Oddometer: 822
Quote:
Originally Posted by asejeff View Post
Great reporting Dave. I have been along since the ride to Onoway - on green klr in your pic of riders leaving Riverside. Probably seems long ago. I hadnt known about your ride til that day and was incidentally at Riverside to trade klr for a tenere having just returned on it from a trip to PEI. It seems your trip is going well in part because of your approach. I know you'll enjoy continued success as you were clearly well prepared to start and to react using resources as you find them including the applicable advice on the forum. Once you have finished the entire trip, I look forward to buying you a beer or two in St Albert as thanks for this window on an excellent adventure. All the best. Jeff
Hey Jeff,
Thanks for the support and joining us on the ride out. Did you get that Tenere yet? Too bad riding season is over for you. I'd love to meet you when I get back and tell you some of the stories.
DRRambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 05:52 AM   #338
Toiretto
Getting into it!
 
Joined: May 2013
Location: Montreal
Oddometer: 50
What an awesome trip! Thank you for sharing!
Toiretto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 10:15 AM   #339
DRRambler OP
AKA Albertastrom
 
DRRambler's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Alberta
Oddometer: 822
Last Days in Central America

Day 80-82 November 11 - 13 Colon, Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, Panama City

I stayed up rather late (for me) chatting and drinking beer with three of the more long term guests at the Panama House B&B. Two of them are from Panama and one from Venezuela. It was fun practicing my Spanish and learning about their home countries. I was advised to skip Venezuela which was my intention anyway due to some time constraints.

I have four days in Panama City so I need to find some things to do. Today I rode to the city of Colon and then back to the Miraflores locks on the Panama Canal.

There are two routes to Colon. I rode north on the beautiful toll highway which was almost empty of traffic and cost almost $5 in tolls. Although the speed limit is 110kmh I rode about 90 taking in the scenery.



I started catching up to two big bikes loaded for adventure. I waved as I passed them and in Colon we found each other and chatted about our trips. They are from Denmark and started in Alaska with Ushuaia as their goal. We will likely meet again in South America.

Colon is not a pretty city. Old rundown buildings and garbage dominate the city centre. Itís a port town and it looks like a different planet compared to Panama City.









After Colon I found the Gatun locks and the nearby construction of the new locks. There is a visitor center at Gatun but I didnít go in.





One of the huge gates for the new locks



The new locks under construction



The ride back took me on the free road that passes all the communities along the way. The speed limit is 60kmh and the going slow but I have plenty of time. The sight and smell of garbage is everywhere along this road. Kind of depressing and frustrating to see things like this.







Miraflores was busy with bus loads of seniors and tourists. But I expected nothing less, after all this is the Panama Canal. I was there during a shipís passage and got to see the locks in action. I especially like those cool little Mules that keep the ships in the centre of the waterway.













Skelly hopefully parked safely




The day was a nice 160km round trip and well worth the time.
I spent the rest of my time in Panama City getting ready for the boat trip. I needed cash so I decided to take a walk downtown and look for a bank that would accept my debit card. The small walk ended up being about 10km but I got a lot done.







I found a salon to get my golden locks cut. And I purchased some sandals to replace my broken down units.



I also bought a cheap set of ear buds to replace the pair I lost in Mexico.

Tomorrow morning all of the bikers sailing on the Stahlratte will meet here at the Panama House Hostal and weíll ride together to the dock.

For the next 5 days Iíll have no internet but I will try to operate my Satellite tracker. My location can be seen on the map by clicking this link Where is Dave Now?
Talk to you all when I get to Colombia!
DRRambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 10:56 AM   #340
davey1212
Gnarly Adventurer
 
davey1212's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Somerset, UK
Oddometer: 125
Ahhhhh ! Panama House...happy memories !!
You will hate The Stahlratte ! Beer, rum, good food, the islands, swimming, warm sea. I am beginning to dislike you, Dave.
Try to sleep on the BBQ island...you will probably be alone and it will be something you never get the chance to do it again.
Enjoy it all and I look forward to reading and seeing the pics when you return.
ps. It may take some time to get your bikes released at the Aduana by big Manfred/
davey1212 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 02:13 PM   #341
hwunger
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Left Coast
Oddometer: 218
Si

Quote:
Originally Posted by pne View Post
and some of their awesome ice cream for dessert. mmmm. I gained quite a few pounds in buenos aires
let me guess .... Dulce de Leche helados .... hmmmmm
hwunger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 06:33 PM   #342
RedDogAlberta
High Plains Drifter
 
RedDogAlberta's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Red (Neck) Deer, Alberta
Oddometer: 5,181
Continued great stuff! Keep it coming.
__________________
I'd rather be dragging a club than clubbing in drag.

08 Buell XB12XT
RedDogAlberta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 07:17 PM   #343
junkyardroad
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado
Oddometer: 101
Thumb

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Hello DR,

I've been enjoying your RR for a couple of days now, thank you for taking the time to post.

If your plans include Venezuela, here's a heads up... If not, it might as well be posted for anybody else planning to come down here.

MONEY EXCHANGE:

The official exchange rate at the present time is 6,30 Bolivares for 1 USD.
THAT is the rate that your bank will apply if you use you use your credit/debit cards.
BUT
The black market rate for CASH goes around 60-65 to 1. (That is not a typo, there is actually a ten times difference... and growing)

"Black Market" meaning anywhere that is NOT official.

So, bringing USD cash means huge savings. As a matter of fact, if you use your credit card, at the official 6,30 to 1 rates, Venezuela will appear to have outrageously expensive prices, since everybody adapts to the approximate value of the black market exchange rate.

Obviously the money changers at the border will try to lowball you with the official exchange rate. Let them know up front YOU KNOW the exchange rate for cash is 65 to 1 and haggle from there... you will probably be able to get anywhere between 45 to 55 from them which is still very good.

Changing cash in-country outside of an official Money Exchange Office is "technically" illegal, but everybody does it, so be discreet about who you ask. Hotels (preferably posadas) and Stores in smaller towns would be a good place.

If you plan to do some riding in Venezuela, I would suggest you exchange about $200 at the border (where its easier). $200 will take you a long way here, especially with gas being practically free at less than 10 cents a gallon.

Be advised that Paraguachon (border town opposite to Maicao in Colombia) is an absolute shithole... As a matter of fact, IMO it is the worst shithole in all the country... The area from Paraguachon that is close to the Colombian border towards the San Antonio del Tachira / Cucuta border crossing is barely a little bit better.... So if you just intend to do this short loop in order to scrape a little of Venezuela, I would advise you to stay in Colombia as it is not worth it.

If your intentions are to see some of the nicer areas of the country, you will need to head more in-land. If this is the case, drop me a PM and I'll gladly help with border crossing information, route suggestion, GPS maps and beer (if we manage to meet as I'm traveling abroad for work a lot lately).

FUEL at the border (any border).... There are always shortages of fuel within an approximate distance of 200 kms from the borders... Simply because "free" gas is smuggled across to Colombia or Brasil and sold with huge profits, so anybody with a 5 gallon can will try to make some money.
The very abundant POS 70s American cars all have huge 80-100 gallon tanks that they fill to ride across the border and resell. This takes time. This means HUGE lines at the few gas stations that are open (when I mean huge lines, I'm talking about several hours wait)... so my advise would be to fill your tank in Colombia... Once you are approx 200-250 kms in-country, fuel can be purchased normally at "free" prices without much delay.

People ask about safety in-country... Things are a bit chaotic right now. Insecurity levels have risen a lot in the last years, but this is mainly true in the cities. My advise is stay out of the big cities unless you absolutely need to go there or you have some "chaperon" (local guide)... The big cities are nothing to write home about anyways and the nice areas are away from them...

You will be safe on the roads and smaller towns and people will be friendly to you.

I would advise against bush (stealth) camping. Except in the Gran Sabana N.P (border with Brasil) where wild camping is not a problem and actually a great thing in a spectacular area of the country.

Do not leave your bike or luggage unattended and park your bike in a locked garage at night.
Basic common sense precautions.

Anyway, I hope this info helps (you or others).

Have a great Darien crossing.

Buen Viaje!
This is good to know, thanks for posting!
junkyardroad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2013, 07:38 PM   #344
BTL
OMG!! Winter is back
 
BTL's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: St Albert. Alberta Canada. IBA Member 50093
Oddometer: 371
Winter is starting to settle in. Nice to read about some place warm. Stay safe. I love the pictures so far.
BTL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2013, 11:27 AM   #345
d_mob
Gnarly Adventurer
 
d_mob's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Denver, CO
Oddometer: 141
Stahlratte posted a pic on their FB page just after your departure...



"after a week here relaxing (and reparing generator No1) we are back on tour with 11 motorcycles and 24 souls on board. the BBQ on the beach is over and the bonfire is on and the first bottles of rum are going around...
cheers"


According to your tracker you are almost in Cartagena. I hope you enjoyed your trip, and hope that you enjoy Cartagena.

I'll be on board the Stahlratte March 3rd and can't wait!

San Blas is incredible, but so is Colombia. Enjoy it all... ;)

~ D
d_mob is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 04:53 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014