GRAND FINALE. Our trip video. Cheers to Vadim for putting together this video of our 6 month trip together through North America, Africa, and South America. It was an incredible journey with an incredible documentary to match!
I want to thank Red Bull, The North Face, KEEN, Zacuto and LensProToGo.com for their generous product donations. And a big thanks to all the friends we made along the way. We hope you enjoy!
2:54 pm |
June 25 2013
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SOUTH AMERICA. Motorcycling through Peru. We entered Peru under gorgeous conditions alongside Lake Titicaca and headed north through the Peruvian countryside. We took a couple days rest in Cusco to drift through alleys, stop in squares, and rest on stone stairs to take in the beautiful sights the city has to offer. And after paying a visit to Macchu Picchu, we made our way into the Andes.
We quickly learned after buying our bikes that it’s easy to draw a route on a map, not so easy to put into practice. This is especially true in Peru, where a 400km stretch in the Andes could take days to wind through. This sometimes meant we’d ride through rain at midnight, stopping to hug our engines for warmth every few minutes until we found a place to sleep. In another, more terrifying case we’d get shot at as we set up camp at 2am with our headlamps on — it turns out a warning shot is the preferred method to get someone off your property near Ayacucho.
All along the way though we’d stop to marvel at the sites and surroundings of Peru, whether they were untouched Inca ruins in the flatlands, sheer cliffs in the Cordillera Blanca, or just awe-inspiring vantage points given the elevation. And once we reached the mountaintops, Andean pueblos were a sobering and welcome glimpse into a life unchanged by the modern coastal cities.
For those interested, here’s our route through Peru: Copacabana - Puno - Juliaca - Marangani - Cusco - Curahuasi - Abancay - Ayacucho - Huancayo - Cerro de Pasco - La Union - Huascaran National Park - Huaraz - Chacas - Yanama - Cordillera Blanca - Yungay - Cañon del Pato - Santa - Pacasmayo - Sullana (8300km total)
7:42 am |
June 16 2013
SOUTH AMERICA. Motorcycling through Chile. Hardly. No sooner had we entered the country did they kick us out for not having permanent plates. Our temporary plates didn’t work as well as planned. It was nice to get some quality food in our system the two days it lasted though.
Also lesson learned, it’s hard to bend the rules in Chile. Bribes won’t get you anywhere.
12:29 am |
May 5 2013
SOUTH AMERICA. Motorcycling through Bolivia (part 2). All of Bolivia warrants attention. From the low-elevation rainforest to the high-elevation altiplano, it has everything. And once we entered the altiplano (high plains) in the southwest, we were in a world of extremes - altitudes, colors, temperature, and wildlife. It’s stunning.
It’s also the riskiest place to ride given it’s mostly off the grid. Often times towns are spread out by hundreds of kilometers and gas/food can only be found in homes. The roads are in a constant state of repair, there are no traffic police, and a road’s direction would often change without notice (it’s terrifying). And in pueblos we were told the right of way goes to the person with the “larger car or larger balls.”
We needed a cavalier attitude to get through this part of the country given we’d encounter deep sand pits, roadless terrain, and river crossings. It was almost a blessing we had disposable bikes.
For those interested, here’s our route through the second half of Bolivia: Santa Cruz de la Sierra - Samaipata - Vallegrande - Sucre - Potosi - Uyuni - Salar de Uyuni - Villa Mar - Eduardo Avaroa - San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) - Eduardo Avaroa - Oruro - La Paz - Copacabana (5000km total)
12:29 am |
May 3 2013
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SOUTH AMERICA. Motorcycling through Bolivia (part 1). If all the roads in and out of La Paz are blocked and the country is at a standstill, it usually means the miners have gone on strike. As luck would have it, we landed in Bolivia the day these strikes began.
Fortunately we could still enjoy La Paz, a high elevation city surrounded by 22,000-foot peaks. After a couple days we set off to buy dirt bikes. Here’s the rub though: we would only pay $1500 for a Chinese knockoff bike that had a much shorter life expectancy than a Honda but came at a fraction of the cost. It took a few days of questioning in broken spanish and paying off the right officials, but we finally bought two knockoff 250cc dirt bikes with license plates on the way. South America was now our playground.
Not having to rely on plane or bus schedules and planning our own route was the fun part. In cities we’d sleep in hostels, in pueblos we’d usually end up with locals, and in between we’d find camp when nobody was watching.
For those interested, here’s our route through the first half of Bolivia: La Paz - Coroico - Caranavi - Yucomo - Rurrenabaque - Yucomo - San Ignacio - Trinidad - Santa Cruz de la Sierra (2500km total)
12:53 am |
April 5 2013
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Last stop, South America!
Robert Pirsig said it best in that “You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other…You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” Can’t argue with that.
We were looking for an immersive travel experience in South America and our ticket to that was to buy motorbikes. We’d heard Bolivia was the place to buy dirt bikes on the cheap and after finding a few maps online we traced our course, from Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, to Colombia. And since we’d never ridden dirt bikes before, we took to YouTube to learn. Easy, right? Wrong. Short distances between countries, right? Wrong, maaaybe as the crow flies. And surely if we got by speaking English in Africa the same would be true in South America, right? Nope, no chance.
1:56 am |
March 28 2013
AFRICA. Staying at the lake house in Malawi (unexpected detour). Our last week in Africa came by surprise. It began with a simple proposition from our hostel owner in Malawi, something to the tune of “I’m heading to a friend’s lake house for the weekend, you two wanna join?” Shit, we had a flight out to Capetown in 12 hours. Then again, Capetown wasn’t going anywhere.
So we left for the lake house the next morning. Four hours of driving later we arrived and were floored. Picture this: a home accessible only by 4x4 and situated on its own corner of Lake Malawi, between a fishing village and a national park. The yard was filled with baobab and bamboo trees and an array of wild animals to match including baboons, bats, and the occasional hippo. The front yard was the lake itself, and on the horizon the water was only interrupted by distant islands or fishermen in dug-out canoes.
It’s the closest I’ve been to paradise on every front. And after day two at the house, every day we stayed was an extension and we soon became family for the week. Conversations around the coffee or dinner table lasted for hours, and sleep eventually felt like wasted opportunity.
The week served as a good reminder of the reasons I travel…to catch fragments of conversation amongst locals, have dinner at a stranger’s home, or in our case, spend seven days at a couple’s home on Lake Malawi. Thanks Kimma, Reza, and Carlos for sharing your slice of paradise, your hospitality knows no bounds. We’ll never forget our stay there.
9:48 pm |
March 5 2013
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AFRICA. Backpacking through Malawi. Compared to the other countries we visited in Africa, Malawi lived up to a couple new superlatives: poorest, smallest, dirtiest, and by far the most densely populated. Despite these conditions, it’s a culture which faces its setbacks with plenty of humor and an emotional expressiveness that was hard to find elsewhere in Africa. Smiles abound, we’d see people break out in dance on the street to music or kids run up and grab your hand, just because.
There’s a lot to observe about the people in Malawi, the most obvious being that they were probably as interested in our culture as we were in theirs. Sometimes locals preferred our possessions over money (my favorite - buying a fresh fish dinner for a pair of Max’s sneakers) and you’d see this throughout the country in the clothes they wore (my favorite - the Japanese schoolboy uniform).
I love this country, not only for the people we encountered and the places we visited, but also for the good friends we made right before we left the country, who made us an offer we couldn’t refuse
4:20 am |
January 12 2013
AFRICA. Backpacking through Zambia. After dropping off our 4x4 at the border of Botswana we made our way into Zambia, which meant making a sobering transition to public buses. Oddly enough, one of the more memorable experiences in the country was the bus station itself. Arriving at the Lusaka bus station at 2am and eager for the safety of a bus, we tiptoed over people asleep on the floor and blindly followed a man claiming our bus would be leaving in two hours sharp with the reputable Johabie Transit. Turns out we boarded a no-name bus that didn’t leave for twelve hours until full (read: packed to the brim, kids passed around like luggage). We cursed ourselves for the amateur mistake, though things came full circle a few days later after hearing that the actual Johabie bus ran off the road that day on the same route to Chipata. The twelve hours we’d waited suddenly didn’t seem so long.
Though a bit shaken, the country offered plenty and we ended up spending most of our time at both ends of the country, around Victoria Falls and South Luangwa National Park, and were sure to grip our armrests a little tighter as we headed into Malawi.
4:35 pm |
November 23 2012
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AFRICA. Self-drive through Botswana. The majority of our time in Botswana was spent in Chobe National Park and was less characterized by human interaction, more characterized by wildlife interaction. And lots of it.
By day we’d explore a network of dirt/washboard roads, yielding to herds of elephants or families of giraffe while looking for big game. There’s a high concentration of wildlife in the park so takes little effort to spot most animals, but the prized ones (lions, leopards) take some time.
By night we’d camp by the Chobe River, the watering hole for most wildlife in the park. We’d cook knowing that we were safe as long as the fire was alight, but shine your flashlight as close as fifty feet out to see hundreds of impala, zebra, elephant, or hyena eyes staring right back.
11:48 am |
October 15 2012
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AFRICA. Self-drive through Namibia. I may be wrong when I say Namibia has more land per capita than any other African country but I’m probably close. Either way, the country’s boundlessness makes it a great place to explore by 4x4.
Our trip started with picking up a truck in Windhoek, a basic city by most standards. Once we passed city limits though, the country took on a dramatic change. As roads turned to dirt and concrete buildings turned to thatched huts, traditional African life unfolded in the bush. The villages themselves seemed to blend in to their surroundings, ornamented only by bright colors on the clothesline.
And in between are surreal landscapes and wild animals. The tallest dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, the infamous Skeleton Coast, the salt pans of Etosha National Park, and the lush Caprivi Strip in the country’s panhandle, all en route to Botswana.
1:50 pm |
October 1 2012
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Next stop, Southern & Central Africa
From Alaska to Africa. Rolls off the tongue well and also provides a shock to what we’ve grown accustomed to—culture shock, nature shock, and the unavoidable sticker shock of getting to Africa.
We’ll have a month and a half for the trip, the first half will be touring Namibia and Botswana in a truck, the second half tbd when we get there.
1:27 pm |
October 1 2012
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NORTH AMERICA. Road tripping through the United States. The beauty, of course, didn’t stop in Canada. Once crossing into the States we made our way through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. It’s almost like each state has its own unique variety of landscapes, fauna, flora, and best of all, outdoor specialty. So we made sure to bring along our backpacks (MT, WY, ID), inflatable kayaks (WY), mountain bikes (CO, UT), and canyoneering equipment (UT, NV) to take advantage.
There’s also no shortage of national parks to visit along the way. Our circuit included Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Arches, Canyonlands, Escalante, Bryce, and Zion. They’re incredible.
7:31 pm |
September 30 2012
NORTH AMERICA. Road tripping through Canada. After Glacier Bay, we continued our road trip through the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, and Alberta. Along the way we took some pretty pictures.
3:41 pm |
September 12 2012
NORTH AMERICA. Sea kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska). I suspected we made a good choice when we changed our plan last minute from kayaking in Katmai to Glacier Bay. That wisdom was confirmed soon after - turns out the place is incredible.
After two charter plane flights, we hopped on a ferry with an 18-ft double kayak to drop us off into the great unknown of Glacier Bay. Actually, here’s what we did know. We were being dropped off in an area a thousand-ish square miles in Alaska’s Inside Passage that, 200 years ago, didn’t exist as it was entirely covered by a glacier. We were free to go and stop anywhere we liked in the bay, but that came with a few warnings. Don’t fall out of your kayak. Waterproof the hell out of your gear. Keep bear spray handy on land. Watch tide charts closely. And don’t get within 500 meters of a glacier unless you want to make the trip a game of Russian Roulette.
No problem. Even though it drizzled about half the time we were there (rainforest), there are plenty of highlights. For starters, the area is a living laboratory given it’s only 200 years old and gives researchers a glimpse into our last ice age (Nat Geo). You also get the best of Alaska’s both worlds - land and sea. All this backdropped by massive peaks, glaciers, and floating icebergs.
It’s not often you can sleep across a life-list phenomenon like a glacier calving into the ocean or have humpbacks breaching right beside your kayak and it’s the surprises that kept us motivated even though we probably didn’t see the sun for days at a time.
9:21 am |
September 2 2012