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Do you still believe that only men have what it takes to conquer the Himalayas on motorbikes?

Do you still believe that only men have what it takes to conquer the Himalayas on motorbikes?

Do you still believe that only men have what it takes to conquer the Himalayas on motorbikes?

After two years of forced “covid” break, we finally return to the Himalayan tracks. We were tempted to write about emotions, stubbornness and this amazing feeling you get when you achieve the seemingly impossible.  We then remembered the movie… Today, instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed, check out our short movie: It shows what women can do when they dare to take up a challenge.

The objective of the Himalayan motorcycle expedition

We already feel the surge in emotion in the plane. After all, we are flying to the Himalayas – the highest mountain range on Earth.  There are as many as 10 summits exceeding 8,000 meters, out of the 14 in the world. We have an ambitious goals. Part of the plan  is to conquer the Khardung La pass in India. It is the second highest pass in the world, open to traffic.

Spoiler alert! You will see this mountain pass in the video.

 

Guess what we gained from our expedition to the Himalayas?

Imagine a place rarely visited by tourists, the locals live far from the drumming noise of civilization, and the food… you just have to experience it! And these are the experiences, among many others, that are sure to stay in your heart forever. Giving riders those memories is why we love traveling so much. 

The part of India where we take our lady-bikers is raw, rough and intense. But at the same time, it is full of colors and fragrances. You take it in with all your senses. It is a priceless experience. It’s hard to describe all this without being on location, however the camera operator did a pretty good job at sharing some of what makes the Himalayas so special.

 

It’s great to be a woman!

Motorcycles give you freedom of course. The group, on the other hand, provides support and security. It’s amazing how women are able to support each other. At every stage of our trip, we felt that we had a common goal to achieve. Is it true that you can also feel it in the movie?

Typically, women are also better organized. In difficult riding conditions, when unpredictable situations result in lost time, these organization skills are very important. The ladies on this motorcycle adventure do not need to oversleep, or waste half a day chasing for beer in the most remote places. This is one of the strengths of women, who don’t feel like they have to let go of their feminine side. 

Enough of writing about a movie, which you can see right away. It’s really worth it, especially if you are wondering if such a motorcycle tour is something for you. We bet you’re curious to know more, and we’re keen to share these beautiful moments with you!

 

WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS?!

 

Did you like the movie? We will immodestly add that it won an award that is important to us, as you can see in the short video below.

And if after watching you feel unsatisfied, you can also read about a trip to the Himalayas in another article on the blog Women-only, Motorbikes and Himalayas – how it all began…

WOMEN-ONLY, MOTORBIKES AND HIMALAYAS – HOW IT ALL BEGAN…

WOMEN-ONLY, MOTORBIKES AND HIMALAYAS – HOW IT ALL BEGAN…

WOMEN-ONLY, MOTORBIKES AND HIMALAYAS – HOW IT ALL BEGAN…

“This is way too hard.” “Nothing will come of it.” “You won’t be able to put a team together.” “You can’t do it.” Such were some of the reactions to the idea of organizing a women-only motorcycle expedition to the Himalayas. Aleksandra Trzaskowska, the originator of the project of women’s motorcycle expeditions “Tylko dla Orlic” did not let herself be discouraged: “It will all work out,” she kept saying with conviction; “You have no idea what girls can do.” Aleksandra threw a few feelers among her motorcyclist friends: the interest was overwhelming: a team of female bikers was quickly assembled. Interestingly, the concept even proved to be so popular that the need arose to even make two groups, instead of the one originally planned!

TO REACH TO THE SKY, YOU MUST BELIEVE FIRST!

 

After a few weeks, the plan of the expedition “Only for Eagles” (Tylko dla Orlic in Polish) crystallised. There would be two teams, albeit following two different routes. For an entire month, the ladies would visit the most interesting and remote areas of the Indian Himalayas: Spiti, Lahaul and Ladakh, among them. They would have to face the difficult Himalayan altitude, the highest passes and unforgiving road conditions. On the route there would even be a pass over 5000 meters, but also sand, streams and plenty of unknown challenges awaiting!  It was not going to be a cake walk; however, the 17 passionate lady-riders were undaunted and ready to take on that motorcycling adventure head-on.

In August 2022, after two years of an imposed “covid break” made of travel restrictions, border closures and endlessly changing arcane testing requirements, we’re finally returning to the Himalayan trails!

Why the Himalayas? Because it is one of our favourite riding regions, because adventure riding in these mountains guarantees stunning views, because it is also a spiritual journey to go so far from our usual every day life, because it allows a return to nature – a world we partially lost track of.

Kobieca wyprawa motocyklowa w Himalaje

But, let’s get back to our main topic. Today’s write-up is about how it all started, about the project to lead a women-only motorcycle expedition to the Himalayas. On August 17, 2016 our gravel heroines set off to conquer the highest mountains in the world on classic Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles.  For us, organizers, we initially had some misgivings about the motorbike choice, being they were so different to what most are used to riding in Europe. The entire experience turned out to be one of most transformative motorcycle adventures in the history of MotoBirds & Tylko Dla Orlic…

Aleksandra Trzaskowska, recalls this memorable first Himalayan expedition…

BETWEEN US EAGLES – YOGA FOR GOOD MORNING

 

We typically started our day with a yoga cession. Sometimes at 6 am, sometimes 8:00am, depending on how difficult the route ahead was going to be and how many hours in the saddle that would mean. Some days though, we had to start at dawn to make sure we had ample time to overcome the more challenging road sections, five-thousand meter passes or washed-out road sections. 

yoga w Himalajach

Each day, when we saddled-up, I asked myself what surprises would be ahead, how many rivers we would have to ford today, would the road be passable, are would we reach our destination before dark…

Osuwisko ziemi w Himalajach podczas wyjazdu motocyklowego
landlajd w Himalajach

My anxiety was compounded by a recent major landslide which reportedly totally blocked our route. I decided there was no point to continue and we stayed over a second day in the same pension – hoping things would get resolved. But how would we make up for this lost time?

Yes, landslides happen all the time in the Himalayas, but it’s difficult to convey to the group that some oriental patience will help make the most of the circumstances. Sometimes, the landslides are small and cleared in a matter of hours. Other times, it may take days. The Indian army’s BRO arm thankfully has heavy equipment at the ready for such events –  most times.

On the main road from Manali to the capital of Ladakh – Leh, in the summer months, there is constant traffic. However, along smaller roads, traffic can be rare and these roads are strategically less critical. Getting stuck there could be for days.

Thankfully, our motorcycle adventure had departed under a lucky star. We were stopped by one large landslide for 8 hours, which we eventually manage to overcome, as soon as the road was somewhat cleared of rubble. Other landslides were smaller or did not require heavy equipment to clear them.

HIMALAYAN ROADS – A LITTLE CHAOS WON’T HURT

 

On Himalayan roads, traffic is insignificant compared to what you’ll find in crowded Indian cities. However, the face of the cliff is never far, and you must keep your eyes peeled for speeding trucks. In particular, military convoys seem to take no prisoners on the road! Indian government statistics will tell you that on an average day, the equivalent of a jumbo jet of people die on Indian roads.  However, thankfully, the Himalayas are largely spared from this. When they happen, accidents can be dramatic though…

I recall an especially difficult day. It was our last day in Spiti and Lahaul. We started at dawn.  It all started with an argument with the guesthouse staff: they were unhappy with our breakfast time – and they did let us know! Other days are different; not only are we now used to our Royal Enfield motorbikes, but the left-hand traffic is now second nature to all of us. Then, there are the monasteries…

Ruch uliczny w Himalajach
Ruch uliczny w Himalajach

The Monastery of Key is one of the most stunning of the Himalayas. Its white walls dominate the grey-brown valleys underneath.  Colourful flags with the Mantra “Om Has Ni Pad Me Hum” are everywhere. The same mantras are hung between the mirrors of our motorbikes. When we ride, they flap in the wind like the wings of colorful birds, hopefully protecting us and bringing us luck in our journey.

OM MA NI PAD ME HUM

 

Getting close to Buddhist culture was for me inseparable of that first expedition. The culmination was an impromptu visit to a nun temple in a small town monastery in the vicinity of Keylong. The nuns were pretty easy going, if I compare them to some of those of my native Poland. That monastery is located at the end of a narrow road. We had to leave our bikes in the village nearby, and continue on foot along that narrow path. Our visit surprised them enormously. They typically had little contact with the outside world.  We had brought with us a few bags of flour, dal, rice and other necessities. Despite the language and cultural barriers, we quickly manage to find ways to communicate. Not only did we share lunch with them, they also gave us our first-ever lesson of Indian cuisine!

Mniszki w Himalajach

PASSES IN THE SKY

 

We continued our ride along long snaking valleys. The red skirts the lad bikers are wearing on top of their riding gear were flapping in the wind, catching the warm orange rays of the morning sun. Temperatures were ideal.

We felt on top of the world. Everywhere people wanted to take pictures of our team. While the endless opportunities for photographs are killing our average speed. We constantly pass herds of goats and cows, countless bridges (some still standing fortunately). The landscape around us is gradually changing as we climb higher and higher. Do we take it slow or give ourselves more time to take in the landscapes? The “go-slow” option thankfully won. Did we really fly to the end of the world to stick to a strict schedule and constantly hurry?

Our next challenge came in the shape of a police station. In India, bureaucracy (maybe it was inherited from the British Empire) revolves around papers, signatures, stamps and permits. As our route takes us to the border areas, we are no exception: permits are required. These permits can be a test of endurance, as travelers are given the opportunity to get acquainted with the various offices. Along this journey, a precious stamp or authorization always seems to be missing. All this takes time, but is never stressful or unfriendly. These are just rules, which happen to be wrapped around various layers of bureaucracy. After a few hours of fun & games between various desks, counters and even more officers, we have our precious permits in hand!

After the permit checkpoint, starts the long climb to Kunzum La. Until now, the highest passes we rode were “only” in the 4,000 range. Incredible as it may seem, none of the challenges on that road dent the enthusiasm of our team. Be it river crossings, sandy sections, small falls. None of this is a problem for the “eagles” team! When obstacles presented themselves, they were overcome as a team. This is fortunate, because Kunzum La pass is not only high, but the road conditions can be unpredictable. A few of us had headaches and experienced some dizziness. Thankfully it did not snow or rain that day!

kobiety w Himalajch

Kunzum La is not only a serious altitude test. The other difficulties can be brought along by the weather. Of course, there was a headache or sleep problems, but nothing to write home about. No one was hurt, and a few of the girls even managed to pull off athletic feats of strength, on top of the pass: pushups, squats and dances! If you’ve ever been at such altitude, you’ll know how hard it can be to catch your breath! Nothing seemed to be too difficult for the Eagles anymore!

motocyklem przez Himalaje

EMERALD LAKE

 

Crossing the Kunzum La pass among the colourful flags of the summit warranted a small celebration. However, an even more interesting highlight was just ahead. The emerald waters of the sacred Chander Tal lake.

wyprawa motocyklem w Himalaje i dolinę Spiti

Several kilometers of narrow road later, in several places crossed by fast rivers we have to ford are only a foretaste of what awaits us. The second part of our journey was going to be where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Which ones of us were real dirt stars? 

 

Working as a team, we reached the lake!  You could only hear silence, as each and every one of us was lost in their thoughts, admiring the deep emerald-colored waters of Chander Tal lake.

 

The girls don’t know it yet, but Pangon Tso lake is still in front of us. That lake separates China and India, and was made famous by the Indian classical movie “Three idiots”. Afterwards, for a few years, the lake became a magnet for Indian tourists, wanting their pictures taken there. Fortunately for us, most of the touristic traffic ends in Spangmik, a village located a few kilometers away from the shores of the lake. We’re relieved to leave the touristic areas behind us.

WE ARE GOING TO HELP

 

We’re also on a mission: bring some school supplies and toys to kids at isolated schools. Some are in difficult situations: far from most outside help – and with very limited resources. There isn’t enough money around to give all these kids an equal chance, despite the efforts of the government, local authorities or NGOs.   

I explained earlier that there were two groups of bikers on this expedition. The first group moved towards Merak, which is the last village allowed for foreigners. During the first hours, we did not see a soul on our road. But it turned out to be a blessing: this stretch of road happened to be one of the most stunning of this expedition. The track snaked between lakes, rivers, colorful rock formations… All this at altitudes of 4,400m in glorious sunshine. What more would anyone wish for? In preparation for the sand dunes of the Nubra valley, we managed to ride our bikes on sandy beaches by one the lakes we cross. It was an exceptional day.

sierociniec w Himalajach
sierociniec w Himalajach

In Merak, we manage to locate the school. It was already the end of classes, and the kids had gone home for the day.  Fortunately, we stumbled across a teacher.  He called on the kids to come back. It was not too difficult though. The village only had a few houses – if anybody had an argument, no villager could possibly miss it. The kids eagerly grabbed their gifts, while the girls intuitively cuddle by those riders which were mothers in our team.  

The second school was located on the way to Marsimek La. This village is at the opposite end of the lake. We went there with the second rider team. That school was much bigger. We could see that kids from several valleys were coming there. When we arrived, everyone was already waiting for us. The meeting was initially a bit official, but the ice quickly broke. I don’t know who was more excited about this visit: the kids or us!

 

CULINARY ATTRACTIONS

 

After returning from Chander Tal to the main road, we stopped for lunch. As every day, it is a local “dhaba”, i.e. a roadside pub in a mud hut or tent. Only local dishes are available, but invariably delicious.

I was a bit afraid of the food limitations before leaving: would girls like Indian cuisine, in a poorer Himalayan version? Won’t they get bored? Those fears were completely unfounded. Already on the third day I heard “the only thing I do not like here is the delicious food”. It is simply impossible to have any kind of diet here.

Every day, after a few hours in the saddle, we enjoyed a solid meal, consisting of at least three dishes. Breakfast was probably the weakest point of the daily diet, but everybody managed. Nobody lost weight on this adventure!

 

preparation of a motorcycle for shipment

RIVERS, STORMS AND STREAMS…

przejazd motocyklem przez s
motocyklem przez Himalaje przejazd przez rzekę

Full of hope and confidence, little did we know that the most challenging part of the route was still ahead of us… One of our riders lost a foot peg – probably it had been bent before. We managed to get a local fix somehow, but we’re not sure how long that fix will last.

We did not have to wait long for our first river crossing of the day. Then, a few kilometers further, the track was partially washed away and covered in water for several hundred meters. At least, the road base was still intact, and the water was neither too deep or too fast.  We cautiously crossed, one by one. However, one of our riders hit a large rock and fell in the icy waters.  The saying goes that in every river there’s somewhere a rock with your name on it. She found hers that day! So how many of these streams – and rocks with our names on them – still awaited us?

A few kilometers passed, then a small congestion appeared on the road. Traffic was practically stopped, but nevertheless several cars a day somehow managed to pass. We discovered they had been stopped by a landslide of mud and sand covering the entire road for several hundred meters. Thankfully an excavator was already at work: I communicated with the operator to lift his bucket and attempt to make some room for us to pass. He accepted and moved the machine to the side, so we could try to squeeze through. We almost got stuck in the mud, but eventually managed to move. After a good half-hour of pushing, we finally made it to the other side. The days went on like this, with obstacles to overcome – some minor, some more significant.

I remember that on the way to Pangong Tso, water flooded most of the valley, including most roads. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that most of the valley is very sandy. When wet, it all turns to mud, covered by about 50cm of water. Trucks were backed up everywhere and we had to snake through them, to slowly make our way.

Overhead, dark clouds were announcing yet more rain. We had no option but to continue the best we could. Some of us were struggling more than others. Some ladies are not tall, or not as skilled, making this section even more difficult. The local drivers we pass could not help but admire our determined group of riders!

After a few river crossings, we stopped to count them, and were all totally frozen and soaked to the bone. Those fateful 40 kilometers took us most of the day. Just as we thought we are clear and almost at our next stop, there are but a few kilometers to the main road. The entire road is cut by a waterfall! I somehow managed to pass it, but there’s no way to do this alone. We have to push the bikes across one by one, holding them from each side, so they don’t get pushed by the strong current down the cliff on the other side of what’s left of the road.

preparation of a motorcycle for shipment
preparation of a motorcycle for shipment

Fortunately, the team’s overcome so many challenges thus far: everyone’s quickly in position. We pushed, pulled and held the bikes so everyone can cross safely. The remaining few kilometers were blissfully uneventful and we made it to our hotel just in time for nightfall. Everybody was exhausted and could only think of a warm shower!

WHAT MATTERS MOST

 

Most days our accommodation was in tents. There are often no better option – and they are mostly more comfortable than guesthouses as well. The tents are prepared with normal beds, and even have a bathroom extension attached to them. This setup works actually very well in those high mountain conditions. Each biking day brought its lots of challenges, beautiful moments, companionship. Overcoming some high altitude passes (5602m) had taken a toll on everyone, in different ways. Each of us on this expedition had different motives for going on such women-only adventure ride. We all found something different, no doubt.

przełęcz La Chungla w Himalajach
przelecz Khardungla w Himalajach

WAS IT WORTH IT?

 

The first expeditions “Only for Orlice” in the Himalayas was probably the most unpredictable project I ever completed. I had a lot of expectations, but the project was also accompanied by many unknowns. A few years later, as I reflected on that expedition, I knew that somehow it had all been worth it:  It was a beautiful, life-changing expedition. None of the dire warnings I had been given had turned out to be true. The team had surpassed itself, and each lady came out changed when they reached the other side. 

The “Tylko dla Orlic” Eagles later went to Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica. In 2022, we’re finally headed back to the Himalayas and… we are also headed for the very first time to Africa!

 

 

We invite you to the Himalayas in August, both ladies for a women’s expedition, as well as men or couples who would love to get to know this beautiful part of the world.
And we are going to Tanzania in October: an expedition only for ladies or in the composition for mixed participants.

Motorcycle Adventure Tours in Covid Times

Motorcycle Adventure Tours in Covid Times

Motorcycle Adventure Tours in Covid Times

Our passion is to share our love for adventure motorcycling with other riders. We live for and love to organize bike tours in some of the most beautiful locations worldwide and like anyone else we’d never thought we’d see the day when we could not even leave our homes! So what could we have done to stay safe, but still be able to offer a motorcycle adventures?!

Airport departures haul

Probably like you, we’d never thought we’d see the day when we could not even leave our homes! It felt like the sky had fallen on us, an unreal nightmarish mix of the “Pandemia” movie and G. Orwell’s 1984 novel suddenly became our common reality. Instead of talking horsepower, engine oil or tire choices, all we could hear about was travel bans, new variants, stranded travelers, and face masks…

But things have gradually calmed down, and have become more predictable, somewhat. Fingers crossed: the worst of these dark days are hopefully behind all of us; although we are still living in COVID times.

If, like us, you’ve not given up on your dreams of epic motorcycle adventures in faraway countries, if you miss the vibration of your engine taking you to places never seen before or if you want to know how it can be done in these COVID times… this is exactly what we’ll present here.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the practical steps we have taken to allow you to travel with confidence. We remember the day when all our trips suddenly were cancelled. Once burned, twice shy as they say – people rightly keep asking us, “what if…”.

Here is what we’ve done to overcome this.

 

 

YOUR MONEY IS SAFE WITH MOTOBIRDS

 

One of the first questions we’re being regularly asked is: “will I lose my money if there are restrictions and the trip can’t take place”.

The answer is no! We have a very flexible COVID policy. If a trip has to be canceled due to newly implemented travel restrictions, your money is totally safe. The way it works is you can either request a full refund, or direct your payment to any other trip or service offered by MotoBirds. No questions asked. If the trip has to be cancelled because of new travel restrictions, you decide if you want your cash back or use it for something else offered by MotoBirds. It’s your choice, and your choice only.

Another frequent question is: “Will I lose money if I am affected by COVID, and am unable to join the tour I paid for?”.

Here again, no, if you only want to be on the safe side! There are optional insurance solutions available, which cover the risk of a cancelled participation due to COVID. Getting such insurance protection won’t set you back an arm and a leg either. It provides another layer of comfort and peace of mind as you book your motorcycle adventure with MotoBirds. We’ve got you covered!

The bottom line is: we have everything in place to make sure you can look forward to your next motorcycle adventure with confidence, even in COVID times. You can book with MotoBirds, without fear of losing your hard-earned money due to such exceptional circumstances.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE DESTINATIONS?

 

There’s a lot more clarity around travel rules, despite some of the agitation one can sometimes read in the news. More countries are reopening every week, provided certain conditions are met.

As we’re in the front line, we know how tricky these changing COVID times requirements can be. We track those changes and keep ourselves informed, so you don’t have to.

When you enroll in one of our tours, we provide you with up-to-date information in regards to the latest travel requirements: vaccination, tests, registration, border openings, etc. This way you know what you have to do to be able to travel! If you happen to need help to fill in forms in a foreign language, we’re also happy to do this with you. 

Requirements sometimes change, but so far, we’ve not had to cancel any trip due to new restrictions.

Things are not like “before” obviously, but we already knew this. Now, how can we make the best of the current situation – to still enjoy our passion for motorcycle travel? MotoBirds has found ways to do just that!

 

 

VACCINATED OR NOT?

The COVID vaccination topic is sometimes hotly debated. We won’t get into discussions in regards to COVID vaccinations. We’re bikers – not politicians, medical researchers or tarot card readers (the latter might have been more useful than the two other professions, judging by the way things were managed globally…).  

Our tour portfolio has some destinations that require vaccinations, other destinations don’t.  We’ll leave it at that!

At the time of writing this post, Tanzania and Costa Rica do not require COVID vaccination. 

Our other tour destinations have COVID vaccinations requirements, for the moment.

If our organized tours are not exactly what you wish for, we’re always eager to hear about your own travel dreams.

NEW DESTINATIONS

 

We’re that confident in better tomorrow that we’re working flat out to develop new exciting motorcycling destinations, even though we’re living in COVID times! At the end 2021, we launched Tanzania.

We’ll soon have another study tour, to be able to add a totally new adventurous destination to our tour offer. Stay tuned for more on this and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated as to what’s coming!

Voila! We hope this has shed some light on the very concrete measures MotoBirds has implemented to allow you to travel with confidence!

 

 

Safe travels!

 

Zachód słońca w Kostaryce
Wyprawa motocyklowa na Kostaryke z MotoBirds
Jazda motocyklem przez step w Tanzanii
Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii
Przejazd przez błoto motocyklem w Kostaryce
Przejazd motocyklem przez rzeke na Kostaryce
Motocykliści z Kilimandzaro w tle
Wyprawa motocyklowa po Tanzanii z MotoBirds

How to choose a motorcycle tour – MotoBirds classification

How to choose a motorcycle tour – MotoBirds classification

How to choose a motorcycle tour – MotoBirds classification

How to choose a motorcycle trip that meets our expectations? How to do it so that we do not feel unsatisfied with the amount of riding by the end of it, so that we can enjoy it and be able to fully enjoy the charms of the visited region, while maintaining the appropriate proportions of driving time to the time spent relaxing? Each of us who has ever decided or considered taking part in an organized motorcycle expedition asked oneself these types of questions. At MotoBirds we know well your free time has been hard-earned. We promise we won’t waste any of it. Our number one goal is to ensure you go home satisfied, with undying memories of your time on a MotoBirds expedition. Choosing a tour appropriately tailored to your needs and dreams is the basis. So read this article and find out what we at MotoBirds have done to make your task easier and help you choose the perfect solution.

WHAT TRIP IS RIGHT FOR YOU? CLASSIFICATION AND TYPES OF MOTOBIRDS TOURS.

 

Have we already mentioned how much we want everyone who decides to go on a tour with MotoBirds to come back fully satisfied? Yes … we will repeat it more than once! Choosing the right trip is the key to spending your vacation, so that you do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of experiences or unsatisfied at the end of it. Unless we’re talking about an emerging need to take part in the next tour … haha! It is impossible to put together a “one-size-fits-all” motorbike adventure ride and we want everyone to find something for themselves in our offer. Therefore, to make it possible, in MotoBirds we have introduced a special, more detailed classification not only in terms of the scale of difficulty, but also the type of expedition.

Each possition in our offer is first assessed based on the difficulty of the route. We classify it on a scale of 1 to 10. What does this actually mean in practice? Our rating system is designed to help participants decide whether a given trip is right for them in terms of their level of advancement and skill. We asked about the scale of difficulty many riders who traveled with us, and we listened carefully to their comments. Some wanted less riding and more time off the bike, with a distinctly higher level of comfort. Others were satisfied with what MotoBirds was typically offering. Finally, some would have wished for more hard-core off-road on their expedition.

The second criterion was to create trips that would meet the diverse expectations of customers in terms of the nature of the trip. That is why we have created three categories of trips we offer, which are correlated with the level of difficulty, but also give the opportunity to make a choice based on time spent riding, time off the motorcycle and the category of accommodation offered.

 

STARTING FROM 2022, WE OFFER THE FOLLOWING TRIP CATEGORIES:

Mixed groups

Luxe

Explorer

Gravel Heroes

Women-Only groups (Orlice)

ORLICE – Moto Damas

ORLICE – Explorer

ORLICE – Gravel Heroines

Difficulty Level

1 – 3

4 – 7

8 – 10

01

The “Luxe” & “Orlice – Moto Damas” trips.

Difficulty level of this category is from 1 to 3. The tours are suitable for all riders, including newer riders. The focus is more on making the most of a certain region, with more days centered on off-bike activities. The riding days are shorter and at a slower pace. This does not mean the route is any less beautiful though! The second area of focus is very comfortable or even exclusive accommodation. As we stick to more beaten paths, we only go to high-standing, very comfortable or even exclusive hotels. Such high-class hotels and resorts are typically not available along the itineraries of our other trips categories.

 

Selection of 2022 trips in Luxe / Moto Damas category:

Central America

From the 3rd to the 16th of December we invite you to Costa Rica.

Wyprawa motocyklowa na Kostaryke z MotoBirds
Motocyklisci na Kostaryce z MotoBirds
Przejazd motocyklem przez rzeke na Kostaryce

Asia

Between the 2nd and 13th of October we invite to Bhutan.

Mnich na motocyklu w Bhutanie
Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii
Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii

02

The “Explorer” tours (mixed groups and women-only).

These are our “traditional” MotoBirds expeditions. The difficulty level ranges between 4 to 7. Some of those tours are mostly on unpaved roads, while others offer a mix of paved and unpaved roads. The primary focus is on the exploration of a region or a country, via backroads. There will be riding challenges along our route, be it because of the route, climate or general conditions. We provide accommodation whenever possible, in lodges, comfortable pensions or boutique hotels (3-star or equivalent). Riders should be prepared to put up with temporary discomfort related to climate, distance, road condition, etc.

 

A selection of MotoBirds tours from the Explorer category for 2022:

Africa

From the 5th to the 19th of March we can take you to Tanzania.

We’ll visit Tanzania also between the 1st and the 15th of October.

Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii
Wyprawa motocyklowa po Tanzanii z MotoBirds
Motocykliści z Kilimandzaro w tle

Asia

In August from the 21st to the 31st, we invite you to Ladakh, Himalayas.

In September between 3rd and 14th we will discover new off-road roads in Hiamalaya.

Orlice are invited to a classic women-only tour to the Himalayas on August 20th to 30th (the women-only project had its beginnings there).

Wyprawa motocyklowa w Himalaje z MotoBirds
Motocyklem przez Himalaje

South America

Between January 6th and January 25th, 2023, we invite you to the end of the world to the iconic Patagonia.

Wyprawa motocyklowa do Ushuaia
Jazda motocyklem przez Patagonie
Wyprawa adventure do Patagonii na motocyklach BMW

Central America

At the turn of November and December, from November 19th to December 2nd, we invite you to Costa Rica.

Zachód słońca w Kostaryce
Przejazd motocyklem przez rzeke na Kostaryce
Przejazd przez błoto motocyklem w Kostaryce

03

The “Gravel Heroes/Heroines” expeditions (mixed group and Orlice).

As the name indicates, the tours in this category are for those riders which are looking for exceptional off-road adventures. The difficulty level will be between 8 and 10. These are our most demanding rides. It could be because of the distances, altitude, climate, track conditions, remoteness, etc. These tours are for those riders looking for that special ride they want to tick off their bucket list – and don’t shy away from dust, grime and more demanding riding. These are expeditions that would be challenging to undertake on your own. While we’re not into hard-enduro bootcamps, some days will certainly require endurance, effort and skill. We never camp, but some accommodation could be basic for a couple of nights – because there are no better options around. The other nights, we provide accommodation in comfortable pensions, boutique hotels or 3-star hotels.

 

A selection of MotoBirds tours from the Gravel Heroes/Heroines category for 2022:

Africa

We invite all off-road fans to Tanzania from March 20th to April 3rd.

Ladies, off-road Orlice, we invite to Tanzania in October from 15th to the 29th.

Jazda motocyklem przez step w Tanzanii
Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii
Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii

You’ll notice from our tour catalog that not all trips are available in all three categories. The reason is that there are logistical limitations in certain countries. It may also happen that the website states that all places are sold out. However, it is always worth writing to us in case of someone’s resignation.

04

BELOW IS A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF WHAT OUR RATING LEVELS MEAN.

 

od 1 do 2:

The whole route is on paved roads.  No special riding endurance or riding skills are needed.  This trip can be done on pretty much any bike, as long as it has enough power to keep pace with the group.  These trips are accessible to all riders, including new riders.

od 3 do 4:

Most of the route is paved. There may be a couple of short sections on well-maintained gravel sections. The riding days are longer than in the previous category. There may be one or two riding days with distances over 250km. These rides can be done on any motorcycle, provided it has enough power to keep pace with the group. Newer riders will also feel comfortable on such trips.

od 5 do 6:

Most of the route is paved, but not every day. There could be some longer sections on variably maintained gravel roads. The riding days are typically over 200km. There may be some days over 350km. These rides are best enjoyed with motorcycles of at least 600cc. In some cases, climate and/or altitude can also play a role. These rides are better suited for riders with an experience of longer days in the saddle. When those trips are not on rented bikes provided by Motobirds, tire choice is important. Local driving customs may be challenging, compared to what we’re used to back home.

od 7 do 8:

Most of the route is unpaved. There could be long stretches with deep sand. There could also be some technical sections. Some of the tracks we follow will not be maintained. Climate and/or altitude can also play a role. Some riding days may be over 400km. A good riding endurance level is required, as well as some off-road experience. When those trips are not on rented bikes provided by Motobirds, tire choice is essential. Local driving customs may be challenging, compared to what we’re used to back home.

od 9 do 10:

These are the most demanding expeditions. The distances are long, and most of the route is unpaved. There may be all kinds of riding conditions along the route. Climate and very high altitude may also often play a role. Some riding days will be over 450km or 10 hours. A good riding experience in a variety of terrains and conditions will help enjoy these adventures. These trips are not designed for big trail bikes. Local driving customs may be challenging, compared to what we’re used to back home.

 

 

We hope that the combination of our trip categories and the difficulty level will enable you to make better informed decisions on the trip which is right for you. If that weren’t enough, we’re only an email or call away to answer any questions!

Adventure Motorcycle Tours – How MotoBirds does it

Adventure Motorcycle Tours – How MotoBirds does it

Adventure Motorcycle Tours – How MotoBirds does it

If you’ve ever wondered how we prepare the adventure motorcycle tours we offer, here are the answers to your questions! We invite you to read the full article in which, on the example of one of the latest motorcycle expeditions – around Tanzania, we reveal some of our organizational secrets and show how we approach to make your experiences during joint trips as good as possible. It’s not a matter of simply picking a destination, booking a couple of hotels and taking reservations before setting-off into the sunset (unfortunately)!

Wyprawy motocyklowe MotoBirds są jak góra lodowa

Before we take anyone on a tour, there’s a lot of preparation work that takes place. The best analogy we could find is the iceberg: The preparation work we do is the immersed part of the iceberg, with about 90% of its mass – invisible under water.

What you experience on tour: 10%

The preparation work: 90%

What we’ll do in this post is talk about that 90% that is invisible and why this is important for you, when you come with MotoBirds on an adventure motorcycle tour!

 

We happen to be in the final stages of putting the finishing touches to the Tanzania expeditions, which will take place in March and October 2022So, it’s a great opportunity to share how we go about this. And what it means for you as a rider – if you happen to join one of our tours. 

So, let’s dive a bit deeper to take a look at the preparation work that’s involved.

 

 

HOW WE PICK THE DESTINATION

 

In the case of Tanzania, this was not such an easy choice as it may seem! We’ve had been badly hurt by the successive unpredictable COVID-related travel restrictions. The previous year had been an unmitigated disaster as a result of this.

Wyprawy motocyklowe MotoBirds na całym świecie

The pandemia related restrictions stopped us dead in our track….

We first had to find new destinations that allowed travel. Secondly, destinations that promised adventure riding, both on and off-road, a number of attractions and be accessible… Switzerland (for instance) would not come on top of the list of destinations allowing off-road adventure riding…

Thankfully, some countries remained more open to tourism than others. From our side, we needed to have some reasonable level of comfort that the rules would not change overnight, rendering all our efforts and investments worthless. We also needed the travel restrictions to ease, to allow us to reach those countries!

Żyrafy w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej po Tanzanii

WHY TANZANIA?

 

As it turns out. MotoBirds never had Africa on its list of destinations. We had focused on Asia, South and Central America. But we were also in luck, as one of us had lived a number of years in Africa. That gave us some precious insider knowledge as to which country would offer the kind of amazing adventure riding and stunning attractions we were looking for. That country was Tanzania!

Tanzania ticked all the boxes for us: offering outstanding opportunities for motorbike adventure tours, great landscapes, superb wildlife parks and good to great accommodation choices.

We badly wanted to offer travelers a complete offer, with the possibility to also enjoy terrific MotoBirds trips on the African continent.

 

 

Adventure motorcycle tours – The Theme of The Expedition

 

The very first thing we must decide upon is what concept, or theme, we will pick for a new tour. Will it be a paved tour, mostly off-road, etc. In other words, what tour category (Luxe, Explorer or Gravel Heroes – read more about this below), what highlights, etc. A tour can’t be all things to everyone. It must also fit in with the spirit of MotoBirds trips: safe but adventurous riding, a selection of unique attractions, a good choice of quality hotels, unforgettable landscapes and of course the availability of a support vehicle.

 

For Tanzania, our objective from the onset was to put an adventure motorcycle tour together that would combine the following elements:

Terrific riding experience, with everything from river crossings, single tracks, 4×4 tracks and of course outstanding scenery.

No long-distance asphalt riding.

Good to excellent hotels.

Go to the world-famous main attractions of Northern Tanzania.

Variety: in this case, from the Massai steppes to the Indian Ocean.

Rental bikes (it is too expensive to ship to Tanzania) & a support car.

The price that would be great value for money.

The possibility to have on the same tours people in 4×4 as well as motorcycle riders – while ensuring both 4×4 and bikes have special itineraries.

Having a clearly defined tour concept is essential for riders. It is what defines the spirit of the adventure motorcycle tour. When you pick a tour that has a given concept, you then know what to expect in terms of route type and accommodation. You then already have a good feel of what to expect from your motorbike adventure, even before you book!

 

THE ITINERARY PREPARATION

As we mentioned that one of our team had lived and worked in that part of the world, the initial itinerary preparation was therefore rather easy. We knew what really was worth seeing, and had a good idea of what would make our Tanzania motorcycle adventure truly exceptional. Great safaris, unique discoveries, fantastic riding, a good mix of riding and off-bike activities, it was all there!

All we now had to do was to find ways to connect the dots on the map with a great itinerary.

Wyprawa motocyklowa w Tanzanii

THE STUDY TOUR

 

The itinerary is in fact what makes a tour. It is for instance possible to barrel down the highway from A to B. The discovery experience may be more limited than, say, doing the same route along secondary paved roads. On the other hand, the same trip could then possibly also be done following the TET, for instance – offering yet another riding experience.

We’ve ridden so much in some other areas, such as the Argentina, Chile & Bolivia corner that we pretty much know every track or hotel there is. We then already know what it means to ride such or such track and how much time might be required to link A to B. We also know the accommodation options. There is no need for us to invest time and money in a study tour over there. 

However, Tanzania was a new destination for MotoBirds. We must know the exact route we will take riders on. One of the key differentiators of MotoBirds, is that we never offer packaged trips prepared by others, or sit down in front of Google Maps to draft a route anyone could do from the comfort of their home. We want to know the route. We also want to be sure it fits with the theme of the expedition. The only way to achieve this is to go and ride it from start to finish. We also check out the accommodation options available. You don’t want nasty surprises – nor do we!

THE RIDE

It is a significant investment in time and money on our part, but we feel it’s worth it. What it means is that riders who come with us can rest assured they will get an adventure ride that has been thoroughly researched. We mark the attractions, the best picture opportunities, make notes along the way, etc.

It all translates into:

More safety for all riders.

More riding pleasure.

More comfort for participants.

No time wasted or experimentations during the tour.

Motocyklem przez Afrykę

We’ve been there before; we know what to expect and will be able to handle problems – if they arise. Our aim is to give riders the best possible riding experience while on tour with MotoBirds.

 

We take care of the heavy-lifting with comprehensive preparatory work, so riders can make the most of their precious vacation time. An Adventure Motorcycle Tour means fun, adrenaline and challenge, but also comfort and safety. 

After having ridden every meter of the tracks we had envisioned, we consider all options, and have the insider knowledge to make sound judgment calls.

During those rides, we get to know if some parts need to be reworked: maybe some sections offer too little to see, or maybe the riding challenges are not in line with the difficulty level of the tour we had envisioned.

We rode over 3,000km off-road during 10 days to map out the track we really wanted for our Tanzania adventure motorcycle tour. We love motorcycling, but it was also very intensive.

Afrykańskie dzieci z MotoBirds w Tanzanii

But the most important is the result: the assurance that you, as a rider, will thoroughly enjoy your tour with MotoBirds. Isn’t this why you come on tour with us in the first place?

 

CHOOSING ACCOMMODATION

 

Accommodation is always a hard choice… Another element that makes MotoBirds trips stand out is always the accommodation. We don’t go to hotel chains. Rather, we do our best to pick places which have that special flair and touch. What we want to find are places that make you feel both at home and also feel like a local.

Exkluzywny nocleg w Tanzanii podczas wyprawy motocyklowej z MotoBirds

We stayed at the hotels we had initially selected. We also visited the alternatives we had identified. Our objective was to get a first-hand feel of the accommodation ourselves. We did not rely on reviews. We always looked for those places that have that special look and feel. 

Some countries are fairly inexpensive, but Tanzania is definitely not one of those! The published prices of some hotels might require you to auction a kidney – or two. Tanzanians have understood they can cash-in on the natural beauty of their country and its rich wildlife. It is not a cheap destination, by far!

VALUE FOR MONEY

 

We want our adventure motorcycle tours to be exceptional but also remain affordable, offering great value for money. All this without cutting corners on hotels, route safety and sights. We know well that riders that come with us have worked hard for their vacation.  We want those riders to go home starry-eyed and ready to book their next adventure with us!

Some have therefore asked us why we did not go to Kenya instead? Indeed, Kenya’s cheaper than Tanzania – and it probably invented the concept of safaris…  

We gave it some thought, but in our view, Kenya’s pretty much oversold to mass-tourism. Secondly, we feel, Kenya does not offer the same overall landscape experience as Tanzania: the Kilimanjaro, Mt Neru, the NgoroNgoro to name but a few, are all in Tanzania. The ability to ride in lush mountains in the morning and in the Maasai steppe 2 hours later is the kind of diversity we are looking for.

MotoBirds is not selling safaris. We’re offering a unique motorcycle adventure in amazing and varied landscapes – a terrific motorcycle expedition, with some of the very best safari experience of East Africa – and all this with great hotels.

You only have to Google “safari Ngorongoro” to discover that a 3-day stay can set you back a cool $800 – without food. There’s no way for us to add the bike rental cost, the hotels, support car, etc. to such prices – and remain affordable.

MotoBirds w Afryce i Bawoly w Tanzanii

We’re not a luxury safari tour organizer, we are bikers who want to take bikers on unique adventures they will remember for years to come. We had to find solutions to fit that all in.

When you join one of our motorcycle tours, you’ll not only get to see the very best there is in a certain country or region, on truly enjoyable roads and tracks but also at a price that won’t force you to remortgage the house. This is also what makes MotoBirds adventure rides stand out!

 

THE INFORMATION PACKAGE

 

If you’ve been on a MotoBirds trip before, you know we take great care to prepare a comprehensive information package. Our aim is to help riders prepare for their forthcoming expedition. We put many hours of work into this, to make sure riders are prepared in the best possible way.

This information package includes:

A general program outline that gives an overview of what the trip is about, and what attractions there will be.

A country & expedition factsheet: providing detailed information about what to expect while on tour. From power outlet models all the way to packing tips. All of what you need to know to be prepared.

A day-by-day program explaining the program for each day of the expedition.

A hotel list with GPS coordinates, tel numbers, addresses, etc. and of all locations.

On some tours: a GPS package with detailed turn-by-tun GPX tracks for those that want to use it.

A teleconference with participants to wrap-up any remaining questions prior to the departure.

There you have it!  We’ve now lifted the veil on the work that takes place behind the scene to make our adventure motorcycle tours possible. Also, these are some of the ingredients that really differentiate the MotoBirds expeditions. We’re passionate riders, but we know that there is no shortcut to thorough preparation to ensure you make the most of your time on tour with us.

Adventure motorcycle tour in Tanzania a rider with a masai-2
Safari in Tanzania with a Rhino
Visit to the Masai village in Tanania
Visit to the Masai village in Tanania

ONE MORE THING ABOUT MOTOBIRDS ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLE TOURS

 

Our tours are not hard-enduro bootcamps, although we like those! Rather, our expeditions are aimed at riders seeking beautiful motorcycle adventures, looking to discover the best landscapes a region has to offer, wanting to go home with lifelong memories and also wanting to get to know more of a certain region. As we never camp, our trips allow everyone to enjoy the adventure ride of their lifetime in comfortable conditions.  

Mind you, our adventure motorcycle tours will always have some degree of challenge. Be it in terms of endurance, off-road ability, distances, climate, etc. Nevertheless, we know it is important for riders to have the best possible information to make good choices in regards to the kind of ride they are signing up for. We felt that introducing this classification would help in making decisions beyond the continent or country and difficulty level. This is where our trip rating (1 to 10) and trip categories (Luxe, Explorer, Gravel Heroes) come in…

If you haven’t been on a MotoBirds expedition yet, we hope you’ll have the opportunity to do so soon. We’d sure love to hear what you think of the immersed part of that iceberg!

 

If you still have doubts which trip is right for you, write an e-mail or call us. We are at your disposal and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the trips we organize!

 

A full list of currently offered trips can be found in the tours – all riders tab.

And if you are a female motorcyclist and would like to go to conquer the world in a group of other bad-ass women, check out the offer of our women-only motorcycle tours.

 

Safe riding!

MotoBirds Team

 

Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

If, like us, you regularly go on motorcycle trips, this entry should interest you! 

Probably at least once you had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. And if not, sooner or later it’ll happen… You probably also cringe at the idea to lubricate the chain at the end of a long day in the saddle. If you do not have a central stand on your motorcycle, these topics sometimes grow to become real problems. We know what it’s like to have to pull the wheel off the bike when you have nothing to support it on, and there is absolutely nothing around you that can help. In such situations, one item helps us enormously. Maybe you will find it useful as well?

If you travel on a motorcycle that does not have a central stand, every puncture or chain lubrication comes as a new problem… We know from experience that if the motorcycle is loaded, the problem gets even bigger. 

portable motorcycle stanless steel side-stand MotoBirds

You might need to remove all or almost all the luggage from the motorcycle – to start with. In such situations, there is usually no suitable flat rock or tree stump nearby, that could be used as a support. There’s never enough time for everything, and we are tired when this happens. As the French saying goes, a misfortune never happens alone… So, what to do in such situations?

 

Initially, we purchased a portable side-stand from one of the leading online motorcycle stores. Unfortunately, it cracked on the first use in the field. Although the concept was something we liked very much, the product turned out to be rubbish :-/

 

It was then that we began to think about our own, improved solution that would make our lives easier in emergency situations. Our secret travel “silver bullet” is a portable stand – the MotoBirds portable side stand! Granted, it will not prevent punctures, but we guarantee that it will make their repair much easier.

 

MOTOBIRDS PORTABLE MOTORCYCLE SIDE STAND

A few years ago, we designed and built our first portable side-stand. Since then, it has been with us on every motorcycle trip. We’ve seen what works well and what needs improvement. After a few seasons, we came up with an improved design. It is adjustable enough to be suitable for every motorcycle on the market. It is easier to pack, much lighter than before (400g), with fewer parts, and is indestructible. We made it of medical grade stainless steel, so it never corrodes. It is hand-built by a medical manufacturer, using the latest laser cutting and welding tools. Look at the weld finish – our manufacturer really knows how to weld stainless steel!

DESIGN & USAGE

The design of the portable motorcycle side stand foot prevents it from sinking into soft ground. It won’t even sink in soft sand! You wouldn’t want the motorcycle you’re trying to fix land on your head…

The side-stand can be used to lift both the rear and front of the motorcycle.

If you have just punctured the front, just hook it under the front of the engine cover. In this case, just remember that the motorcycle must be in gear!

If you want to lift the rear wheel (puncture or chain lubrication), you place the leg under the rear swing-arm on the right side. In this case, put a strap on the handle of the front brake to lock it. Any strap you use to attach luggage works very well 🙂

In our new design, the pin that locks the side-stand at the right height is also made of stainless steel. At the same time, it is flexible enough not to “pinch” your fingers when you try to install or remove it. This was a recurrent problem with our first design and we always used gloves to install the pin…

portable motorcycle side-stand MotoBirds
stainless steel motorcycle portable side-stand by MotoBirds
stainless steel motorcycle side-stand by MotoBirds
portable motorcycle side-stand by MotoBirds

CHAIN LUBRICATION

Chain lubrication becomes child’s play thanks to the side stand. Se can now properly lubricate the chain in less than a minute. When traveling on a long-distance motorcycle trip, we’re often dead tired at the end of the day. The last thing most of us want to do, is spend too much time looking after technical topics related to servicing a motorcycle.

Thanks to the portable side stand, you will have no problem lifting the rear wheel of the motorcycle and quickly lubricating the chain. You can then be off to that cold beer waiting for you!

 

REPLACEMENT OR REPAIR OF TYRES

If, like us, you had the “pleasure” of patching tubes several times a day and removing the wheel from the motorcycle, a portable side should solve your problems! With this, you can easily keep your motorcycle in an upright position and quickly remove or re-install the wheel. Repairing a tire is still a pain, but at least its assembly and disassembly goes quickly!

 

WHERE TO BUY THE MOTOBIRDS PORTABLE MOTORCYCLE SIDE STAND

We know well that a portable motorcycle side stand is an item that every biker needs when traveling, that is, if the bike does not have a central stand 😉

You can order the portable side stand from us at MotoBirds – we have just started their production!

Send us a message on info@motobirds.com

💰 Price: 250 PLN + shipping

 

Safe riding!

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

The MotoBirds crew rode the entire length of the TET Poland. We were curious, had a couple of weeks in front of us and it sounded like a nice challenge. So off we went for our local motorcycle adventure! We set off full of enthusiasm and determination to camp more or less the whole route. With that in mind, we packed our stuff, geared up and away we went. We started from Warsaw and first drove East, along a route we designed ourselves. We connected with the TET track in Mielnik and started riding the TET counter-clockwise.

What Navigation Tools did we Use?

 

We built that first stretch of road using Gaia and Basecamp (loaded with OpenStreetMaps of Poland). Apart from one incident where a short track no longer existed, it was a great ride to join the Polish TET.

 

Along the TET Poland we used Garmin GPS and Gaia to navigate. Bear in mind that the standard Garmin GPS maps won’t be of much help, unless you have the topo maps. So better get OpenStreetMaps loaded on your GPS before leaving!

TET Poland on KTM 690

As a side note: there have been some recent problems in downloading OpenStreetMaps from one of most popular sites: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl

If you need help to find your dream map, let us know!

 

 

What you can expect from this ride report

 

What we’re not going to do here is give you a kilometer-by-kilometer trip report. There are tons of blogs dealing with this on the Web, if this is what you are looking for.

We’ll rather give you an overview of what to expect and give you our opinion about such a trip. If you have more specific questions, feel free to reach out to us.

 

Can TET be ridden on big bikes?

 

There are a couple of very sandy stretches, but they are few and far between. Bear in mind that if it rains, the roads snaking between fields can be seriously slippery! Wet grass mixed with clay is slippery on any bike. At times, even on foot we were struggling not to fall…

Verdict – with suitable tires, big bikes would not have a problem on the TET Poland, provided you have some prior off-road experience. We rode it on BMW 1200 GS, KTM 690 Enduro & KTM 790.

TET Poland KTM 690 offroad
Polish TET offroad woods route

 

How long does it take?

 

This entirely depends on you. Some hard-core riding heroes have closed the circle in 7 days.

Realistically, we think about 2 weeks is a good duration for the entire loop. This gives enough time to enjoy the scenery, visit some places along the way, take some rest now and again – and not end each day with a seriously sore butt 😉

Our view is that such a trip is really ideal to discover a region or a country. Racing through the countryside in a cloud of dust won’t let you achieve this. It takes time on and out of the saddle to see and experience things. Poland is such a beautiful country that we are convinced it would be a shame to race through it.

One more thing… Poland is a large country: this ride is a good 3,000km 🙂

 

 

How much of it is unpaved?

 

We estimate that 60% of the Polish TET is unpaved and gravel roads. The remainder is mostly on smaller roads through the countryside. Compared to a number of countries in Western Europe where all roads are paved or unpaved sections are closed to motorized traffic, Poland is a dirt road paradise!

Polish TET route fields KTM 690 KTM 790

 

Is it possible to camp the entire route?

 

Absolutely yes! However, every few days we stayed at hotels or pensions, either to avoid storms or simply to relax in a real bed and take a warm shower. Yes, we might have felt slightly guilty behaving like soft French poodles (the first time only), but a real bed was well worth it, each and every time! Not smelling like wet goats was an added bonus 😉

Staying at pensions and hotels once in a while gave us the opportunity to get to see new towns and villages we would never have seen otherwise. So, it was well worth it.

Don’t forget to pack mosquito repellant, there can be lots of bugs in some places close to water!

 

Is it worth doing this trip?

 

TET Poland was prepared thanks to the effort and dedication of a few people. TET Poland is a great adventure, period. We’ve traveled to many countries before, but riding the TET Poland is by no means a lesser adventure. Granted you won’t be crossing deserts in Poland, but it is a great motorcycle ride by any measure.

Our view is that some parts of the TET provide a more interesting riding experience, especially off-road. But this is only our own biased opinion, based on our expectations.  For example, some parts of South are more densely populated, with more industry. If we had to do this again, we’d probably skip some of these areas.

This being said, If you are willing to invest a little of your time, it is perfectly possible to use the TET as a base – as we have done. Then the route can be customised to something that matches your expectations. Poland offers countless riding possibilities both on and off-road. In many places it is possible to adapt the track to your riding experience, or to the region you are looking at, without breaking the law.

We did not always religiously followed TET. At times, after big storms, it was too muddy to ride on field roads and we stuck to asphalt. Other times we chose some of our own detours to have more unpaved roads. We also did some significant detours to get to those perfect camping spots we wanted.

 

What we loved most

 

We camped on the shores of lakes almost the entire route. Swimming, eating by a campfire and the gorgeous night skies were unforgettable. It took a bit of planning each day to identify suitable camping places, but between Gaia and Google Earth, we never failed to find great locations each and every time. When we were tired, we were also able to find atmospheric guesthouses without any problems. Each had “that something” in them. Off-road, but not too difficult driving, beautiful views and still wild nature – you will definitely find it all on the Polish TET.

 

Polish lakes

 

 

How to get to Poland?

 

Those that don’t live in Poland could certainly come over on wheels. Another option is to give your bike to MotoBirds for a transport within Europe: We’ll pick it from your doorstep and deliver it at the starting point of your TET adventure.  It’s in many cases cheaper than coming on wheels.

 

Is it expensive?

 

As we mostly wild-camped, these nights were free. The biggest expense was fuel: for 2 bikes we burned through 280L of fuel. Away from larger cities accommodation is cheaper for those that want a hot shower and a bed.

 

Conclusion…

 

Riding the TET gives motorbike riders a unique opportunity to discover Poland. The diversity in landscapes and regions is especially striking. Some Europeans may think Poland is essentially a big, flat boring country. Anyone having had the chance to ride here will know this is far from reality!

TET Poland fields poppy seeds KTM 690

This motorcycle adventure offers riders also the opportunity to touch some of the history that has made Poland what it is today. It is a trip through beautiful landscapes of course, but also to some extent, a time travel experience. Ashes of previous empires are scattered in Poland, as silent witnesses of history. Soviet nuclear missile silos, 11th century castle ruins, nazi bunkers, Molotov line remains, former german settlements, century-old cobblestone roads, Tatar mosques, orthodox churches farming villages with lovely wooden houses untouched by time, pristine nature… it is all accessible in one beautiful motorcycling adventure.

 

Have done both, this ride is accessible to hard-core camping fanatics as well as softer “poodeling” riders preferring the comfort of pensions or hotels – even if only once in a while.

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

MotoBirds is going to give you a selection of some of the most incredible motorcycle adventure roads in Chile. Some routes may be known by some riders, others are hidden jewels. We have already written about the green south and the famous Ruta 7 – Carretera Austral. Our second story covers the moonlike altiplano route of North Chile.

Going to the moon on a Motorcycle…

 

MotoBirds will guide you through some of the most exceptional tracks covering North Chile. This is a true adventure track that will take you from Santiago, all the way to Arica. This ride is for determined adventure riders willing to camp. Although it is possible, it is better not to undertake this journey as a solo rider. We rode this route several times, and it is without a doubt one of our all-time favourite!

Trasy motocyklowe w polnocnym Chile

 

What to choose?

 

A big trail bike, such a R1200GS is not the first choice. We did this route on a GS once, but believe us, it was way more fun on a KTM690! Everything is doable but it’s hard work through the sand and the more technical parts or the route.  

Your best bet is a ride like a modified KTM 690 Enduro R, 710 Long Range, DR650, etc.   

You must be able to fix a tire on your own, and know your bike well enough to resolve small problems along the way. We recommend soft luggage for this trip, your ankles will thank you if you get stuck under your bike in a fall. MotoBirds did a long-term soft luggage test if you’re wondering about options.

First we want to share some practical details before we get into the meat of things.

 

 

Key information to help plan your trip

 

Fuel:

You need a fuel autonomy of 650km to undertake this ride. If you are looking for a light, flexible solution to carry extra fuel, a Giant Loop Fuel bag is a great solution. Way lighter than a Rotopax, and certainly easier to pack than a solid container.

In Chile, most fuel stations are called Copec. Google maps or MapsMe will guide you to them.

 

Wyprawa motocyklowa do Chile

Water:

You should consider a backpack with a 2L water bladder, and a minimum spare water capacity of 4L. Ortlieb makes some good water bags, which are easy to pack and durable.

 

Food:

Food is available in every village. However, as you will be camping, you should have the equipment to prepare some food along the way. Think as well of some reserve food.

Tooling & small repairs:

As you’ll be pretty far from any place with a GSM signal during part of this trip, you must bring along some basic parts and tools. Clutch lever, brake lever, brake pads, spare engine oil, chain lube, fuses, etc.

A portable side stand is a good thing to bring along. If you have a puncture, you’ll thank us. You won’t have an excuse for not greasing your chain as well…  If you are looking for a field-tested portable side-stand, it soon will be available on the MotoBirds webshop.

 

In the meantime, if you are interested in such a solution – let us know! We can provide you with it.

centralna stopka motocyklowa

Parts & Service:

In most areas this route will take you through, it is very difficult to get parts or support. You must know your bike, and your bike must be in good condition for this expedition.  

We got stuck once for 10 days waiting for a slave cylinder in San Pedro de Atacama; one of the biggest towns of North Chile. Had it been in the boonies, it would have taken even longer…

 

Tires & tubes:

Anything like a Michelin Desert Race or Michelin Anakee Wild type tire. We’re not sponsored by Michelin, but they make tires we like.

Yes, we know they are heavy and take up a lot of space… you must bring along at least one front and one rear spare tube (unless you have tubeless). We recommend the Ultra Heavy-Duty tubes (4mm thick). Michelin and some others make them. You must also have patches and something that allows you to pump your tire enough to pop the bead in place.

 

Accommodation:

Tent, hotels and pensions. We’ll talk more about this… Your sleeping bag must keep you warm till -5C.

 

Money:

Change your money in Santiago or Valparaiso when you arrive in Chile. There are ATM’s in all bigger cities and fuel stations accept cards. In small villages, you will have to pay for whatever you buy in cash. If you take money for exchange, make sure your dollar bills are not torn or damaged. They must also be of newer design.

 

Prices:

Chile is not the cheapest destination.  However, on this trip you’ll be camping some of the way.  This brings the cost down.  Be prepared for European level prices in bigger cities.

 

Do phones work?

Around medium and larger cities and all along the coast, the mobile network is working. Away from these areas, there is not network. It is a good idea to consider investing in an InReach device. 

 

The route:

This itinerary is for advanced motorcycle riders. You must be comfortable riding off-road for several days. There are many long, deep sandy sections. Long technical passages are also on this route. You will for sure drop your bike more than once. If you would like to discuss training opportunities before going on this expedition just get in touch with us. If you need training before the trip – let us know. We work with several schools and we can organize such training for you.

This motorcycle adventure requires a good level of endurance, both on and off road. It does not look like this on the map, but Chile is a seriously big country! Some days will see you ride over 500 km. Scheduling rest days on a regular basis is a good idea. The temperatures, long hours on the bike, the altitude, all take a toll.

 

Navigation:

You must be familiar with the use of your GPS. Think Garmin Zumo XT or equivalent. You must load OpentreetMaps on your device. It is also advisable to have a backup solution on your smartphone. Gaia GPS is great, as is MapsMe.

The route we show here are screenshots from Google Maps and Basecamp with the Chile OpenStreetMaps.

 

Your Gear:

We recommend hard-shell motocross boots such as Tech 10 or equivalent. From experience, only motocross boots will truly help reduce the risk of fracture in case of fall.  Thermal layers should keep you comfortable between -5 and +30C.

Motocyklem przez Chile

 

Weather:

In the altiplano, the weather can change fast. The storms can be deadly. You must be prepared for sudden weather changes, including rain, snow or hail. It happened to us more than once. Being stuck in a storm is a scary experience.

At altitude, the sun is fierce. Remember to pack a hat, sun blocker, sun glasses and a hat. Long sleeves are also better.

Altitude:

A significant portion of this ride is at altitudes of 3,500m above sea level or higher. You must plan time to acclimatize. From experience we know we need more or less one day acclimatisation per 1,000m. You will still feel it, but for us it is manageable.

 

How can I get my bike to Chile?

MotoBirds has scheduled shipping from Europe to Chile. Assuming the borders open (we are hoping this will happen before end of the year 2021). You can also read the blog section of our website – it has a ton of information that deals with shipping and packing.

You can read about how we pack and how we care for your motorcycle during transport on our website. We also recorded LIVE of unpacking one of the containers, where we tell and show the whole process of packing motorcycles.

 

How long does it take?

Shipment of a bike from Europe to Chile takes around 6 weeks.

You need a minimum of three weeks to do the whole route we share with you in this article.

 

What are my options to get the bike back from Arica?

  1. Ride back to San Antonio.
  2. Hire a transporter to take your bike down, while you fly back – we can do that for you!
  3. Ship your bike back to Europe from Arica. MotoBirds offers this option for those interested.

 

Can I rent a bike locally?

Yes, but it’ll be more expensive than shipping your own bike. Secondly, you won’t find a bike suitable for this type of ride. Or the renters will not allow you to go on this type of expedition with their motorcycle.

 

More questions?

Reach out to the MotoBirds crew!

Wyprawa motocyklowa Polnocne Chile

 

 

The Motorcycle Adventure Begins…

 

Your motorcycle adventure will start in San Antonio. This is where we deliver the motorcycles to riders. From San Antonio, you will head North to reach San Pedro de Atacama. It is approximately 2,300km away. 

There are a couple options to get there. The first option is to follow the ocean road (number 5) which follows the ocean. Drive till Antofagasta and follow the signs to San Pedro De Atacama. You don’t need our help for this: simply follow Google Maps indications.

Wyprawa motocyklowa polnocne Chile

An alternative route takes you through the Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces.  It transforms a good portion of that first ride North into much more of an adventure.  

 

From San Antonio, head towards Casablanca. Then follow the roads on this screenshot to reach Illapel. From there, head towards Ovalle. Depending on what time you leave San Antonio, you could reach either Illapel or Combarbala or Ovalle on the first day.

 

This routing option is a lot more scenic than staying on the Pan-American highway (number 5). You can find locations to camp along the way.

 

Then, from Vicuna, there aren’t that many exciting choices. We get back on the Pan-American Highway until Copiapo.

serwis motocyklowy w Chile

 

 

First Test Altiplano Ride!

 

Although the town is ugly, it is a good idea to go to the supermarkets in Copiapo, before the next stage of our expedition. That next stage will take us to the Parque National Nevado Tres Cruces, and back to Copiapo. This loop could be done in one day, driving hard.  

 

However, it is a terrific chance to test all the camping equipment by staying overnight at altitude. There are camping opportunities most of the way. Bear in mind that there is no fresh water in the Altiplano!

 

Tipcheck your tire pressure in the morning when your tires are cold, at altitude.You will see that a 2,200m elevation increase results in about 0.2bar increase in tire pressure, everything else being equal. It is best to always measure tire pressure in a similar condition to have apple-to-apple comparison.  

 

You will cross a mining area close to Markunga and will have to register and be escorted to the other side. It is no big deal, but may need some patience. There are some pretty sandy areas in some parts of the track, due to truck traffic.

Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

It can be windy during the day, but at night, it is usually quieter. Temperatures at night could be around zero. You will climb to over 3,000 today before returning to sea level the next day.

 

Coming back into Copiapo, after this loop: you’ll have been at higher altitude, tested the equipment & bike off-road, and spent a first amazing night camping in the Altiplano. Any issues that you have to take care of, can be handled on Copiapo.

 

 

Off to San Pedro de Atacama!

 

Now that you’ve tested your bike and all your gear, we’ll set off for San Pedro de Atacama!

As we said before, you can either go via the Ruta 5, and then branch off to Ruta 1, by the Ocean. The ocean road is not bad: the sea breeze is cooler and the scenery is pretty.

If you’ve come to do desert rides, we’ve got something special for you…

 

At Baquedano, branch off onto B-385 and climb all the way up in the direction of Socaire. There you can turn left on B-355 to reach San Pedro de Atacama. This is a non-paved option that will take you across the Salar. There’s a nice Flamingo Reserve you can visit.

serwis motocyklowy w Chile

 

San Pedro de Atacama is quite a crowded place in the season. It is the heart of the Atacama Desert, where everyone who wants to see the desert, local lagoons, hot springs and volcanoes meet. The town is small and can be crowded at times. However, it has its own unique atmosphere.

We strongly advise reserving your accommodation for San Pedro de Atacama in advance, if you intend to sleep in a hotel or B&B. There are plenty of options, but prices tend to be high. The lowest prices are around 25 EUR per day, but that is only for a bed.

 

Around San Pedro de Atacama

 

Go have a ride to Valle de La Luna and Valle de La Muerte (sandy). Both are local must see attractions, but definitely worth it. It’s best to go there for sunrise or sunset – the views and the light are beautiful. We’re not going to repeat what’s already in plenty of guides. Google will tell you all about it.

Wyprawa motocyklowa po polnocnym Chile

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants to have fun at in San Pedro de Atacama. Do try the Pisco Sour and tell us about it 😉 if you’re not addicted to it, you’ll be soon.

Also have a tour of the local church, it is very pretty!  San Pedro De Atacama was founded as a city by a Belgian Jesuit priest. He was later accused of stealing gold and escaping back to Belgium. We’re not sure the story’s true, but you can learn more about it in the local museum.

 

 

Tatio Geysers

 

In San Pedro de Atacama, there are many local travel agencies that organize excursions to the Tatio Geysers for sunrise. We prefer to be there later, alone and without the crowds of tourists. It is true that we lose the view of geysers and water vapor in the rays of the rising sun, but we gain perspective without the crowds. Something for something. We leave the decision to you.

 

Here’s a MotoBirds tip for you: leave early in the afternoon. Before arriving at the Tatio Geysers, keep your eyes open. On the right side of the track, you’ll see some water vapour coming from some rocks. These geysers are accessible after some little acrobatics. They’ll be your very own personal geysers…

 

Afterwards, go visit the Tatio Geysers, they are worth it. Explain to the guard that you will not go back the same way: rather you will continue! You can swim there. So, it is a good idea to bring something to drink for yourself.

You can camp behind some big rocks, right after getting on the track that departs from the Geysers. Get some sleep and wake up early. You’ll be there before anyone arrives and will have seen the geysers in the evening and in the morning hours!

Gejzery Tatio Chile

 

 

Get ready for more serious stuff…

Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

 

After that, you will be getting on your way on the track B-145. This is going to be pretty hard work… It is very sandy and the track has completely disappeared in places. It only exists on the map! 

 

When you arrive at the abandoned Yuma train station (like in the western classic), your suffering is behind you. Count about 4 to 6h to cover these 100km that will connect you Ruta 21.   

 

A word of warning: Do not attempt this section if you are alone and on a big bike. You will not make it – unless you’re Chris Birch. There is a passage that requires some pushing alongside the bike to get out of some very sandy dried-out small creek.

 

We need to talk about fuel and food

You will be going to remote places. You must absolutely take along enough water and food to last for a couple of days longer than what you need. Your bike may break down, or may have to stop because of a bad storm, for example. For fuel, you must ensure to have an extra 100km range at a minimum. This is a safety margin that you should factor in, on top of what you have to reach your next fuel stop. If the track is very sandy, or get lost, you will need that fuel. If you fall, and your bike spills fuel, you will also need this. As there is very little traffic in some areas, you will not be able to get help easily.

 

 

Ollague

 

From there, you’ll be on your way to Ollague. There is no fuel station in Ollague. But you will need to buy fuel. So what to do?

Ride towards Bolivia. Take one of the last streets on the right side of the pavement. Then turn left and continue towards Bolivia. Get past a destroyed chicken wire fence and look for ladies with wheelbarrows. They sell fuel. The prices vary depending on your perceived desperation level.

After you’re all fueled up, you can proceed to the next stage of this adventure…

 

 

You like it Hard – or Easier?

 

The Hard Way. 

This one shown below will take you up to 5,100m altitude to the top of a volcano. It used to be an old mine. The start of the track is pretty hard and technical due to the erosion. Afterwards it becomes easier. Once you reach the top, the views will reward your courage and determination guaranteed! Same here as earlier, don’t try this if you’re alone and on a big bike. If you get stuck, there’s nobody around to help you out.

 

 

The Easy(ier) Way.

This one presents no major challenges. It is doable on a big bike as well. The track is nice and rideable the whole way.

Carretera Austral

 

 

Off to Pica: Sand Dunes & Thermal Baths

 

Assuming we passed the hard (or easy sections) described in the previous point, we’re headed for Pica. There are some stunning sand dunes on the way. Don’t miss them.  The track is really beautiful as well. Pica is an oasis and has thermal baths. Don’t miss them. Our guess is you’ll want to spend a day or two there to rest & relax.

There are a couple of nice restaurants, shops and a general laid-back feel about the place. If you need some small hardware for your bike or want to wash it & inspect it, Pica is a good place for it. 

 

 

 

Off to Colchane…

 

After this welcome rest, back on the bike.  We’ll go to Colchane, as shown on this map.

This is a gorgeous ride, most of it on gravel and sandy tracks. You’ll never forget this portion of the adventure. Make sure to camp along the way!

 

You have to get fuel in Colchane. It takes some cleverness, but it’s also an interesting experience. There is no station in the town. Drive towards the border with Bolivia. Turn right onto the last street of the town, then left left and continue towards Bolivia. Avoid the barbed wire fence and look for traditionally dressed Bolivian women with … wheelbarrows.


It is the Bolivian women that sell fuel in this “non-standard” way. Prices are unpredictable. But there is no alternative place to shop.

Puerto Montt do Hornopiren

 

 

Keep going North!

 

From Colchane, it gets wilder and more remote (even). In Colchane the best place to stay is a hotel called Camino del Inka. If that one is full, across the square, is another place. But believe us, give first a try to Camino del Inka… 😉

From Colchane, you have two options, both are equally nice.

  • Go back to Umina and take the track A465 then A487.
  • Take the track A385 (also called A95) from just before Colchane. Don’t miss Isluga church on the way!

 

You will then stay on that track which changes into A93, all the way to the very North of Chile.

This is an absolutely unforgettable desertic moon-like landscape. Don’t stress out if the track branches off several time. What matters is to keep the general direction correct, and try to pick the track that seems to be in the best condition. When a portion gets too destroyed, locals just ride next to it and make a new track.

You will see some abandoned villages with dirt houses and churches on the way. It is all extremely remote and beautiful.

Sendero los Alceres i Sendero Cascadas Escondidas

 

 

Thermas

 

Here’s another tip from MotoBirds: Don’t miss the Termas de Churiguaya on the way. You will be there all alone in all likelihood. It is an amazing feeling to bathe all alone on the Altiplano, under the starry sky. Almost nobody ever bothers to go there. It is an incredible place to camp!

 

In the Surire Park, you must absolutely also stop over at the Termas de Polloquere. Camping is possible there: there are a couple of dry walls that will protect you from the wind. If you happen to get stuck in really bad weather, there’s a village nearby. You could ask for shelter of stop-over in one of the abandoned houses.

 

 

Visviri

 

The last village in our northern adventure is Visviri. To reach there, you will follow the A-93 along the Bolivian border. At one point, the track even takes you into Bolivia for about 5km. If it has rained heavily, it is hard work on a loaded bike. But it is all rideable even on a big bike.

 

 

Back to Arica

 

From Visviri, you will take the A-23 / A-109, that will take you back to the coast. The track will gradually turn into broken asphalt and finally into better pavement. That portion of the road is very scenic, along a canyon. There is almost no traffic. This is the end of what is probably the one of the very best adventure motorcycle routes of North Chile.

In Arica, there are many hotel options to choose from.  It all depends on your budget. A little outside the city is cheaper.  

If you have decided to ship your motorbike back with MotoBirds from Arica, this is where we will collect your motorcycle to ship it back to Europe.  

If you have decided to ride back to Santiago, your best bet is to get on the Pan-American highway and make you way South. Depending on your bike and your endurance, it will take you at least 3 days.

 

 

Interested to Go?

 

Now that we seem to be getting closer to Chile opening borders again, we will soon announce trips and transports. Stay tuned for exciting offers from MotoBirds!

 

If you want to keep up to date with transport or tour opportunities in South America, including Chile in particular, let us know. We will certainly inform you about our plans!