Riding Through Latin America

Tip #212 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

adventure, riding through latin america

Latin America (from Mexico all the way down to the bottom of South America) is one of the great under-appreciated travel destinations for motorcyclists. One language (Spanish) will get you through almost all of it (and while not ideal, you can manage most of Brazil with it, too). The area encompasses more than 7 million square miles (18 million square km) and about 15 percent of the world’s landmass, so there’s plenty to explore. It’s affordable, there are vast areas of nature to experience, and most regions are bike friendly and bike savvy. There’s just enough infrastructure to provide support, and in general the governments are reasonable to deal with.

Riding in Latin America is tremendously rewarding, and for the most part the people are extraordinarily friendly. But the countries vary widely, and can change from year to year. Some can be war zones between drug cartels, local governments, leftist guerrillas, and rightist paramilitaries. Others (notably Costa Rica) are so peaceful the country doesn’t even have an army.

As for motorcycles, a solid adventure-touring bike is a great choice, although most streetbikes will make the trip. You can camp, but accommodations in Latin America are generally affordable and let you lock your bike up safely at night—theft is an unfortunate but real issue.