Solo Journey To South America And TOP 3 Tips For long-distance travel by motorbike
Our famous photographer Tomas Adomavicius’ story. Get his TOP 3 tips for long-distance travel by motorbike and some other good advice. “Confront the travel fear of the unknown”.
Which countries did you visit during your bike trip?
My journey kicked off in Peru, after which I travelled through Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. I made it all the way to Ushuaia and back again. Racked up over 20 000 kilometers in total.
Where did the idea for the trip come from? What was your original inspiration?
I’d felt something pulling me towards South America for years before – the culture, the landscapes, the people. It was something I knew I needed to experience for myself, seeing as the media only ever casts the continent in a negative light. Coverage like that makes the whole world assume the place is dangerous and ridden with drug cartels. I wanted to come to my own conclusion, and guess what? The media really is full of nonsense!
What was your biggest fear when planning the trip?
…The fear of the unknown. For me, that’s the worst kind of fear.
In retrospect, has this fear evolved?
Absolutely. Have you heard the saying, “fear eats the soul”? I decided to embrace that which I feared 100% – the best way to overcome any fear in my opinion. Once you get to the place you were so scared of, you’ll realize there was nothing to fear at all. In that moment, fear doesn’t exist.
Did you encounter any…surprises?
Sure, there were plenty…but there’s one that still sticks out in particular. It was pouring with rain in Peru back in February. Most rivers were flooded from all the water streaming down the mountainsides. Some of the rivers even blocked the roads, meaning there was nothing to do but wait. So, here I was, waiting for one of these rivers to chill out. I asked a nearby guard how long he reckoned it would take to calm down, and with a big smile on his face, he announced: “Ah, well, maybe 5 to 8 hours.” He then took another lick of his ice cream and moved on. What was I supposed to do for up to 8 hours? I decided to just accept the situation, like the guard, and grab myself a cone too. After a while, I saw some people, clearly even more impatient than me, crossing the river using a homemade raft built from massive wheel tubes. Unable to believe my eyes, I moved closer, and they told me to bring my bike. According to the 7-man crew, they were going to lift me to the other side. And guess what? They did – with my bike on their shoulders and me in the makeshift raft.
What a story! Speaking of your bike, what did you ride?
It was a small bike made in China. I got it in Peru – the Cross Triton 250cc.
Did you ride solo or in a group?
While my intention was always to ride alone, which I did for most of the trip, my plans changed slightly after meeting a guy seated next to me on the plane to Peru. I told him how I bought a little Chinese bike and was going to travel for the next four months. Clearly taken aback, he told me: “Really? Well, I don’t want to scare you, but I’m doing the same thing.” Blown away by the crazy coincidence, we agreed to travel together for the first three weeks, and then go our separate, pre-planned ways. The craziest part? After 3.5 months, we arrived back on the exact same day – without either knowing the other’s plans. Fate, perhaps?
It sounds like you met some incredible people. Can you tell us more about that?
I met so many like-minded spirits during my trip, from fellow soloists to couples, families, and friends on short motorbike trips. Everyone I met was traveling differently – some by bike, others by mobile homes, bus, train, or even just foot. When I was in Ushuaia in Argentina, I even met a guy who’d been traveling the world for over two years…on a skateboard…with everything, he owned in a pram. I also met a man on a mission to beat the Guinness World Record for being the fastest to travel from Ushuaia to Bogota (Colombia) by bicycle. He was traveling 250km daily. People are just so darn awesome.
Can you tell us more about the places you visited?
I visited a bunch of cities, villages, and places in nature, but the one that still stands out the most has to be Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It’s a massive dry salt lake, which was extra-dry when I was there. During the day, it’s white and blue. It’s incredible to go full throttle on your bike there. The freedom, it’s exhilarating. We camped on one of the local islands. If you haven’t heard of the place, I strongly recommend you Google it. It was my birthday present – probably the best I ever got.
What kind of gear did you use, like helmets, jackets, pants, boots, and gloves? What did you like/dislike?
I wore a Klim Krios helmet. It’s super lightweight and fits like a dream, with great ventilation, a huge windscreen, good soundproofing, and really decent wind ergonomics. My jacket was the Revit Sand Urban – super stylish with great airflow. I wore Pando Moto Karl Devil Kevlar jeans – definitely one of my favorite items. They look so good, gave me additional protection and were super flexible. Did I mention how good they look? J From riding to hiking, they’re pretty much all I wore. Oh, and for gloves, I chose Revit Sand 3. They’re soft, easy to put on and pull off, and felt super-safe. They also complemented my jacket really well. Finally, I used a Mosko Moto Reckless v80 system for luggage. It fits any bike and is spacious, waterproof, and durable.
Do you have any words of advice for people considering taking the same trip you did?
Firstly, pack light. Leave space for spare bike parts, especially those that break easily like clutches, throttle cables, bearings, and wheel tubes. Secondly, pack tools. Finally, stop waiting for “the right time.” It’s never going to arrive – you need to CREATE the right time, right now.
What would you say are your top #3 tips for long-distance travel by motorbike?
1. Wear protective gear. 2. Don’t over-plan. 3. Enjoy every second as it comes.
Would you say the trip has changed you in any way?
Well, I’ll put it this way. Before the trip, I accepted that it would be a challenge. I saw it as an “initiation ritual” for men, something found in both ancient tribes and even modern-day cultures. As challenges emerged on the road, I turned them into opportunities to grow as a man and a human being. I’d say this made me more “Zen” as a person, something I still carry with me today.
Last question…what’s next?
A good friend and rider once said, “there’s nowhere to go but everywhere.” What’s next? I guess that’s up to fate.