Longing for Patagonia | Michael Schröder

Longing for Patagonia | Michael Schröder

I had to go back again. To Patagonia. It was the images in my head from back then that had long since left me no peace: As a student in 1989, I spent six months travelling through the wild south of Chile and Argentina on a BMW R 80 G/S, 20,000 kilometres of pure adventure. The vastness and, above all, the beauty of this stormy tip of South America had exceeded all expectations, happiness was suddenly more than just a word for me, it had become tangible - and is still inextricably linked to this journey today.

Trip number two through South America followed in 1993, also lasting six months and again on an R 80 G/S. This time, in addition to Chile and Argentina, my agenda also included Peru and Bolivia. In 2001, I embarked on my third six-month trip from Chile across the Andes to Ecuador. For this adventure, I had previously purchased a BMW R 1100 GS Desierto built up by Touratech with a mighty 41 litre tank and fine Öhlins shock absorbers. Yes, this GS was big and heavy. But it completed this 20,000-kilometre journey through desert, rainforest and over Andean passes up to 4900 metres high without any problems. That's probably why it's still parked in my garage today.

In the Chilean Conguillío national park, the GS could roll over gravel and sand for the first time. In the background: the Llaima Volcano.

But now back to Patagonia in 2023, this time I have at least three months, sitting in the saddle of a BMW R 1250 GS, which at first glance is hardly recognisable as a real adventure bike made by Touratech. In addition to the classic protective measures for the radiator, handlebars, fittings and headlights as well as a ZEGA Evo case system, this GS already has the latest generation of the company's own Plug & Travel EVO suspension. Pretty expensive, no question about it. But after 16,000 kilometres, around a quarter of which were on sand, gravel and corrugated iron tracks, it was clear that this suspension is in a league of its own.

The highlights of this trip, which starts and finishes in the Chilean capital Santiago? The Carretera Austral, of course, which leads deep into the otherwise inaccessible south of Chile. Or the legendary Ruta 40 in Argentina, which you follow through this always stormy Patagonia until you are standing in front of the Fitz Roy, the mountain of mountains in this part of the world, completely windswept. And the wonders continue, although the beauty of the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier or the Torres del Paine mountains can only be partially described in words and pictures. Finally, Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The feeling of dismounting your motorbike there and looking towards Cape Horn? Also hard to put into words.

Back to Santiago. However, not the direct way, but via Buenos Aires and over the 4725 metre high San Francisco Pass in the north of Argentina and Chile - another route that leaves you completely speechless. In the end, we covered exactly 15,805 kilometres in 90 days. Breakdowns? One flat tyre, that was it. But the homesickness for Patagonia is already back.

Personal Information

Michael Schröder, born in 1962, is the editor of Motor Klassik magazine, published by Motor Presse Verlag in Stuttgart. He was previously editor of MOTORRAD magazine from 1995 to 2007. A book about the current trip was published in late 2023, entitled “Sehnsucht nach Patagonien” (Longing for Patagonia, ISBN 978-3613045941).

More pictures from his recent journey can be found on Instagram @back_to_patagonia.

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