Recommended Reading

Inspiration – Motorcycling Books

Jupiters Travels – Ted Simon
The Bible for Motorcycle Touring. Probably the most influential book in our lives.

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook – Chris Scott
Excellent practical ‘manual’ for preparing the bike, the rider & the journey.

Odyssey to Ushuaia – Andres Carlstein
New York to Ushuaia by a misfit novice traveller, on his KLR 650 with two Internet travelling companions on BM’s. A good honest account of their journey.

10 Years on 2 Wheels – Helge Pedersen
Excellent photo journal of RTW travels on a bike.

Chasing Che – Patrick Symmes
American journalist follows Che Guevara’s route on a BM through Argentina, Chile, Bolivia & Peru. Good mix of travel / history writing.

Lonesome Rhodes – Ashley Rhodes
Solo journey from Ushuaia to Alaska on a BMW R100GS. Loved Colombia so much he actually moved there from the UK after the trip to teach English.

Inspiration – Other Travel & History Books

The Conquest of the Incas – John Hemming
An excellent & highly readable book – probably the definitive account of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. A must read before you go.

The Full Montezuma – Peter Moore
Amusing well -written account of an Aussie bloke’s travels around Central America with the GND.

Chile: Travels in a Thin Country – Sara Wheeler
Well above average travel book relating Sara’s 6 month travels in Chile. We read this just before leaving & it really wet our appetite for going to Chile!

Almost Heaven – Martin Fletcher
Another highly readable travel book relating a car journey across the USA avoiding all the big National Parks & major cities to search for the real America and its sometimes strange inhabitants.

Liberators – Robert Harvey
A good readable account of seven men who shaped the history of South America, as we know it.

The White Rock – Hugh Thomson
Excellent book, part travelogue / part history of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Hugh Thomson travelled around the various sites of the Empire from Ecuador right down through Peru and into Bolivia.

Klondike Fever – Pierre Berton
This book really brought Alaska and Northern Canada to life for us & is another must-read. It is an utterly enthralling account of the 1898 Gold rush to the Klondike that gripped a post depression world and sent hundreds of thousands of folk on a wild goose chase for the yellow metal only to hit untold adversity and hardship on the Yukon trails.

Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
In 1992 a young American called Chris McCandless turned his back on society and walked off into the wilds of Alaska. 4 months later his body was found after he had succumbed to starvation. This awesome book looks at the darker side of the wilderness experience and offers some fascinating insights into why we travel.

Rivers of Gold – Hugh Thomas
The story of the Spanish arrival in the Americas from Columbus through Amerigo Vespucci, Balboa, Cortes & Magellan. Mainly centres on the colonisation of the Caribbean (this is where the colonists first arrived). Heavy going in places (lots of characters) but an excellent insight into this fascinating period of history.

Guide Books

Selecting guidebooks involved a lot of compromise. To begin with, we compiled individual books for all of the major countries to be visited. We would have needed a trailer to carry them all so we had to go for compilations for South and Central America.

Lonely Planet, South America on a Shoestring – 9th Edition 2002
We normally use Rough Guides when we travel but as they didn’t have one that covered all of South America we settled for Lonely Planet. It was OK, the format is a bit cluttered and confusing in places – we’d rather have a Rough Guide any day.

Let’s Go – Central America 2002 Edition
Bought for 2 quid in a bargain book shop as the format looked similar to a Rough Guide. Big mistake! One of the worst guide books ever. Sketchy information, few maps. Not recommended.

Lonely Planet, Mexico on a Shoestring – 6th Edition 1998
Very good but this edition was about to be republished and had some out of date info.


Finding decent maps for each of the countries was difficult beforehand / most were picked up along the way. Car rental agencies can be a good pick up for a basic freebie (especially useful in smaller countries of if you are just passing through and only need to see the major routes).

We started with a freebie Map book picked up from an Esso station. Not bad but only showed main roads / poor info on condition. Later in Pucon we picked up better maps of Patagonia / Chiloe regions from a hostel there.

Used the Chilean Patagonian map (covers the whole tipof the continent). Picked up a Mapa des Rutas for the whole of Argentina (again principal roads only), which was adequate. YPF, the main petrol station chain, do a lovely road atlas but it costs around $15 and has a hard cover making it unusable in a bike tankbag.

We picked up a beautiful plastic coated map (1 of 3) by Berndtson, a German company in Stanfords specialist travel bookshop in London’s West End. It was crap! Had towns that weren’t on the road, towns that were on the road weren’t on the map leading us to wonder if we were in the right place at all at times.

Second of the 3 plastic coated maps by Berndtson from Stanfords. Better than the Bolivia map. You can also pick up a reasonable freebie from any ‘Info Peru’ tourist information office in any of the big cities.

Last of the 3 plastic coated maps by Berndtson from Stanfords. Better than the Bolivia map.

We bought a good map of Panama from the Exedra bookshop in Panama City (see guide books for directions). Has the city on one side and the country on the other.

Costa Rica
We picked up a really good freebie from the Tourist Information at the border with Panama. Had to ask at the border as it wasn’t obvious where the TI office was.

We bought a map for 20 Cordobas ($1) from the Tourist Information in Granada. Friend Martin bought same map at the border for $5! Beware of rip-offs!

Went to the very helpful Tourist Information in the capital Tegucigalpa (it’s near the US embassy). Free road map and excellent guidebook (also free!).

Guatemala & Belize
We picked up a lovely ‘Rough Guide’ Map (1 of 2) printed on indestructible plastic paper in an outdoor shop in London. Don’t seem to be as widely available as the guide books? Very good map that served us well. Good info also available from local Tourist Information offices.

The second Rough Guide Map in a larger scale to the Guatemala & Belize Map. Was OK. Good info also available from local Tourist Information offices.

USA, Canada & Alaska
We had a Michelin map of Western USA for plotting main ‘big picture’ routes. We supplemented this with a host of freebie maps and guide pamphlets from individual State Visitor Information Centres.