Hello, my name is Sam and this is my story of an 8 week motorcycle trip through South America, starting and ending in Santiago, Chile. I hope you enjoy it!

The trip covered 5 countries, 10 border crossings, and around 18,000km. The idea for our trip was hatched about 4 years ago, but the serious planning didn’t start until the summer of 2011. My dad and uncle were quickly on board and we spent a large part of the fall of 2011 getting our bikes ready. We rode a shake-down trip around Lake Huron in October. We crated the three bikes at our house in Michigan in December and delivered them to a trucking service that shipped them to Miami. From there they flew Centurion Air Cargo to Santiago International Airport.


I rode a 2008 BMW G 650 X-Country with the following hardware and modifications:
• Evaporation canister removal
• Leo Vince Exhaust
• Alaska Leathers Sheep Skin seat cover
• Rubber throttle palm rest
• Xpel Vinyl Headlight Protector
• 6000k H4 Headlight Bulb
• UNI Foam Air Filter
• Shorai LFX Lithium Battery
• SW-Motech Luggage rack with Hepco & Becker Top-plate
• Hepco & Becker Side luggage racks
• Wolfman Expedition Dry Bags
• BMW Tank Bag
• Hepco & Becker 42L Top Case
• R&G Racing Tail Tidy
• Stephan Scheffelmeier Skid Plate
• Hot Rod welding 7L X-tank
• Highway Dirtbikes Hand Gaurds
• Wunderlich Windscreen
• Wunderlich Windscreen Extender
• Wunderlich Front Fender Extender
• Garmin Zumo 550 GPS
• Chatterbox X1 communicator
• Continental Rear Air Shock from BMW X-Challenge
• Touratech Chain Guide
• SW-Motech X-Challenge Center Stand (Shortened for X-Country)
• Metzler Tourance Tires with Slime in tubes

My dad rode a 2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796 with the following hardware and modifications:
Easily removable trip items
• Maier Cyclone windshield
• Wunderlich wind deflector
• Givi tank bag
• Homemade aluminum saddle bag support rack
• Wolfman Expedition dry bags
• Ducati luggage rack
• Sea-Line wide mouth dry duffle top bag
• Garmin Zumo 550 GPS
• Chatterbox X1 communicator
• Alaska Leather sheepskin seat cover

• Evaporation canister removal - 1
• Side stand switch removal - .2
• Motowheels Aluminum rear subframe - 8
• Spark dual carbon fiber mufflers - 7
• Ducati front pipes/cat eliminator - 5
• Ducati racing ECM 0
• Evotech tail tidy - 1.8
• Partplaza LED rear light w/ integrated turn signals - .3
• Bikemaster cushion hand grips - .2
• Supersprox 45 tooth rear sprocket (ratio goes from 2.73/1 to 3/1) - .5
• Shorai lithium/iron battery - 3
• Zeta hand guards w/ integral LED turn signals 0
• MCMotoparts bar end mirrors - .2
-27.2 lbs

What I consider permanent additions
• California cycle works 22.6L fuel tank +1.5
• Home made aluminum skid pan + .8
• EVOTech oil cooler protector + .2
• Pyramid front fender extender + .2
• Home made PVC inner rear fender + .2
• Sargent aftermarket seat 0
• Xpel vinyl headlight protector 0
• Dunlop D616 Tires 0
• Rubber throttle palm rest 0
• Tire Slime + 1

Original dry weight 368 lbs
New dry weight 345 lbs

My uncle Bill rode a 2009 Aprillia SL 750 Shiver that was basically stock with the exception of hand guards, windscreen, oil cooler cover, and a homemade skid pan and rear fender.


The journey to South America started out dubiously enough, with all three of our flights being delayed. Luckily, since they were all delayed, we made our connections without trouble. The flight from MIA to SCL was only half full which meant we got plenty of room to spread out. The flight attendant was a fan of military personnel, past and present, and she kept a steady stream of spirits coming my way. I only had one bottle of wine before going to sleep, but the other 10 bottles became our “camping wine”. After arriving in Chile and paying our $140 USD reciprocity fee, immigrations and customs were a breeze. We took a taxi to the Airport Hilton and found out our bikes weren’t getting in until tonight or tomorrow, so we had some dinner at a nearby mall and relaxed at the pool while we eagerly awaited our bikes.


We woke up around 0800 still eager to get the bikes. Unfortunately after checking the status of the shipment online, it appears we won’t be able to get them until after the weekend, on Monday. We took this news with disappointment, but were determined to make the best out of the next two days. We took a taxi to the bus station and got a ticket to Vina del Mar.

This is a nice beach city I remembered from my last visit to Chile on 2005.

We explored the city by foot for about 4 hours, then took the bus back to Santiago and a cab to our next hotel downtown. After breaking into our stash of camping wine, we headed to Pio Nono Street to enjoy some Saturday night festivities. The bars in Chile are open all night and the bands usually don’t come on until around midnight. As it was only around 2100, we enjoyed our Pisco Sours while others around us were still working on dinner.

On the way back, Bill stopped to ask for directions.

DAY 3 – 1/15/12 SANTIAGO

This morning we slept in until about 0930 and awoke to the happy news that our bikes were waiting for us at the airport, but being a Sunday, we couldn’t retrieve them until the next morning. We used our last bikeless day to explore Downtown Santiago. Our hotel was just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas.

We took an open top bus tour of the city with a stop at the mall for lunch.

At the end of the day we made our way back to the Hilton near the airport in anticipation of collecting our bikes first thing in the morning.

DAY 4 – 1/16/12 SANTIAGO --> CHILLAN

415 km / 88.6 kph ave / 129 kph max / 78,44 mpg
6:53 hrs tot / 4:40 mov

This morning came with plenty of excitement, and a little bit of nervousness on my part. I just hoped everything went smoothly. The hotel shuttle driver took us to the cargo company’s office to pick up the Airway Bill that came with the bikes. This package of stamped papers also included our original titles. After about 10 min and $70USD each we had our paperwork and were on our way to the airport. It was good we were there early, as the customs office at the airport was open from 0900-1345 and 1500-1630. It would be our first of many examples of the all important Siesta! The paperwork here took about an hour. After everything was signed and stamped in quadruplicate, we were finally reunited with our babies!

The warehouse workers were very nice and allowed us to reassemble our bikes there and took care of our used bike crates for us.

The only catch was the $80 USD fee per bike. Still not sure what that was for, but who cares…we have our bikes!

Back at the hotel we did our final packing with the luggage we had left there this morning.

Once ready to go, we hit Hwy 5 and pointed south. We were excited to finally be riding and looking to make up for lost time. After about 10 miles of stop and go construction traffic, we were able to make good time, just stopping at the fuel oases along the way.

We arrived at Chillan at 2200 but were still riding high on adrenaline, so we took a walk through the sleepy town and had a cervaza to celebrate the successful day.

By the end of the day we enjoyed a well deserved comfortable hotel with secure parking for $60 USD.


Google maps doesn’t recognize Hwy 5 for some reason, so our actual route was much straighter.

618 km / 97.3 kph ave / 130 kph max / 44,48 mpg
9:30 hrs tot / 6:20 hrs mov

Today we slept in, had a nice breakfast, and packed up for the road at around 1000.

Meeting some travelling Brazillians on Hwy 5.

The road south was more of the same super highway until we reached our turnoff, Hwy 215 at Osorno. Hwy 215 was a nice 2 lane road with thinning traffic the further east we went. The last hour we were pretty much the only ones on the road and got to enjoy nice smooth sweepers and no traffic. Awesome!

Just before we entered Puyehue N.P. we stopped at a roadside stand for some cheese and fruit for dinner later.

Peanut butter, jelly, and cheese sandwiches! Delicious!

We found camping at the N.P. for $6 USD per person. Everything in the park was covered in a layer of ash from the eruption in June 2011.

Once we were set up dad made Bill a homemade vinyl rear fender to keep his mufflers clean.

The end of a great day comes with a campfire!