I am planning on taking a year off after I graduate college and seeing the world. I was thinking about maybe biking around South and Central America for about half the time, and spending the other half doing the same in Asia. Basically, what I am wondering is if this plan is feasible and/or safe, and if you all have any suggestions as to where I should go see / what I should do?
Thanks a lot,
This guy did it and had a helluva time-BTW cycling is hugely popular in South America especially Colombia.
Sweet, thanks. I can't wait for my trip.
Oh, and can anyone recommend a daily budget? I'll have a tent and sleeping bag and stuff. I plan to start in Red Wing Minnesota (like 50 miles south of the twin cities (minneapolis/St. Paul)) and bike down to the Mexican border, from there I will bike around central and south america. I'm not sure if/how I'll get to Asia, but I've got awhile to figure that out lol
Here is the website of Heinz Stucke -- http://heinzstucke.com/
He has been cycling around the world since 1962. I met him in 1967 in Turbo, Columbia -- I was looking for a boat to Panama and he had already found one. Travelled with him (by two boats) from Turbo to Colon. My trip was mostly by bus and train however.
For many years I was a commuting cyclist and I've cycled the Pacific coast (had to give it up after prostate treatment). Be very careful in Latin America. Pavement is narrow, with heavy truck traffic in many areas. Don't expect anything resembling a shoulder. In some of the drier areas the distances between places where you can get some water may be extreme.
As to time, I think a year would not be enough for Latin America alone, certainly not enough for Asia as well. And, depending on your route there are some places without roads. You will still need to get from Panama to Columbia by boat (or plane) as there is still no road through the Darien Gap. There is an interesting route from Venezuela into Brazil that involves some riverboat travel -- roads (all paved, I'm told) from Caracas to Manaus. Then a boat to either Belem or Porto Velho connects you the main Brazilian road network.
Travel will be slower than you plan. You will likely find many people in smaller towns in Latin America inviting you to stay with them. And you may find some pleasant little places where you just want to park yourself for a while. As you will be off the "beaten track" you will need at least the rudiments of the local languages. People -- especially the kids -- in smaller towns will be very curiious about a gringo cycling through their area. I don't know your language abilities, but I wouldn't even attempt a non-Western language, however if you stay in Latin America there is just Spanish and Portuguese.
Travel will be slower than you plan. You will likely find many people in smaller towns in Latin America inviting you to stay with them. And you may find some pleasant little places where you just want to park yourself for a while.
So do you think that I should just do south or central america. If so, should I just fly down and buy a bike there, or should I bring mine (it wasn't very expensive at all as far as road bikes go).
Thanks for all the great advice,
I think you could survive on a $5 to $20 budget per day, depending on your own spending habits.
It's virtually impossible to bike from Central to South America. don't try it (search "darien gap" in this forum...there's lots of discussion about it). Plus, there's enough to do in each that in my opinion, it's best just to choose one. save the other for another journey!
it's easy to find cheap bikes, but not necessarily of a quality that you'd want to bike around on for 6 months as your primary means of transportation. there are some pretty hilly spots that you will encounter. price, etc. for buying a bike will depend on what city you're in. i don't know enough to make any recommendations.
Awesome thanks for all the great advice!! After reading all of this, I think I will end up flying down to South America, and biking around there.
Thanks a ton,
It would be useful to have a bike you are familiar with -- even if you have to pay extra baggage fees to fly one down with you. You would want to know what is likely to break or wear out and have some extras with you. Extra spokes, certainly. And tires that allow you to handle unpaved roads. Lots of spares. Amazingly when I cycled the coast from Seattle to San Diego I didn't have a single flat, yet I've managed to have as many as three flats in a 13 mile commute ride.
And carefully check all the visa requirements for any country you might be going into. Some can be difficult. Some won't require a visa at all. Just to pick the two countries I'm going to be in this summer, Venezuela has no visa requirement for US citizens, but Brazil has a hefty visa fee (retaliation for the visa fees the US slaps on Brazilians) and requires you get the visa from the Brazilian consulate which covers your home state (San Francisco for me) and requires that you enter Brazil within 90 days of the visa being issued. And there are limits on how long you can stay on a tourist visa plus rules for requesting an extension. Visa and entry rules might be a factor in your initial route plans. Plus most -- if not all -- South American countries will require you to have a return ticket, although it is not usually a problem if the return ticket is from a different South American country.