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Pueblos Mágicos Tour

Riding Mexico has been on my bucket list ever since 2013 but I was uncertain about safety. Talking to riders over the years just made me more confused. One person might say don’t ride this area but other places were safe. The next will tell me no never go to the area the last rider told me was safe. Mexico is likely a victim of bad press and not as dangerous as portrayed however that is also what I thought about South Africa where I discovered the hard way it completely deserves it’s reputation and is basically lawless.

I prefer independent travel but was waiting to ride Mexico in a group and seeing the cost of group moto tours is high thought it would be one of the last places I ride. However I did a bit of a reality check this New Years eve. My cancer is only in remission and statistically it’s more likely to return than not. I have a chance now so I better try do as much as I can as soon as I can.

I saw there was a vacancy with a tour run by a Canadian company Adventure Pacific Co that travels a reasonable distance (the Mexican tours I have found previously on Google were limited in their range). Then the clincher for me was the dates are a perfect match to combine this ride with one immediately following it in South America to get better value out of the long and expensive airfare.

It is indeed a long journey. I flew to Brisbane on a red eye flight after only few hours sleep then with United Airlines on to San Francisco in their premium economy class and then down to Mexico City. About 30 hours. A few days prior a cyclone made landfall where I live in the tropics and I was concerned the airport may be flooded but fortunately it tracked slightly away last minute so my flight was not affected.

Even with nicer than standard airline seating and lounge access I got no rest in route and was exhausted upon reaching Mexico. However I was delighted that immigration took no more than 1 minute after the same at San Francisco took 1 hour. And why does the USA persist with making people transferring enter the USA and recheck baggage? I can think of no other country that does this for people transferring on same airline. There was no meet provided by the tour at Mexico City airport but it is very easy to use the regulated airport taxi’s.

You think taxi drivers in Thailand drive fast, haha those guys are rookies. My driver was doing 120 in 40k zones on verge of rolling our car in bends. Obviously there is no speeding enforced here. Met some of the crew for this ride at the hotel and grabbed an hour sleep before we went out for dinner and paid far too much for a glass of wine which I will put down to lost in translation.

Next day I basically just dozed on and off all day then met the rest of the riders in the evening.

The tour proper started the day after. We all did the hop on hop off bus thing. There are 3 other guys, one from US, 2 from Ireland then 5 girls from Canada. One guide is from Mexico city and one from Canada. I’m only casually interested in historical sightseeing and as luck would have it so were the lads from Ireland so when I suggested we go for a beer instead they eagerly agreed.

I knew I was going to get along fine with these chaps right away

The afternoon became a blur on the bus stuck forever in traffic jams.

For this ride I chose the BMW 1250 GS. It’s been a long time since I rode a boxer. Previously their air cooled 1200 on my first USA tour and older 1150cc boxers in Japan and Malaysia. I never really liked those older boxer engines much but I am looking forward to try the water cooled shift cam engine and with some high milage days it’s a tour I want a bigger bike.

The ride begins

Mexico City to Oaxaca. That is an ambitious distance (for a new mixed group imo). A 7.30 am departure is announced. It is a brisk 8 degrees but that temperature will rise sharply as we drop off the high plain that sprawling Mexico City is positioned on. Some of the group and the chase rider get separated. The guides at lead and chase do not have comms. We have a delay and hit some peak traffic but the Mexico city drivers are not aggressive towards bikes.

I am already impressed with the 1250 and glad I chose it on todays all highway ride. The GS offers decent protection from wind, I can ride with my outer visor up (as I prefer) if the adjustable screen is fully raised. The bike is well balanced and doesn’t feel big once underway except the bars are touch too far forward for me. The new engine is much improved over the older air cooled ones. It is surprisingly smooth and has a strong power delivery. The bike is comfortable for about 1 1/2 hours seat time for me.

We stop mid morning at a very pretty little town Tlaxcala full of colonial style buildings and a beautiful main square. It is very clean with coffee shops and street market stalls. The people all smile and say hello. I was delighted. It is exactly what I had hoped to experience in Mexico.

Our lead guide or road captain as they say in Asia, Francisco has the group doing longish stints in the saddle which I know is needed to get a group across this sort of distance however by 1.30pm with no sign of a lunch break I ride up to the front and motion I need to stop. I hate to be a drama queen but it’s been 6 1/2 hours since we had breakfast and I need some food and hydration.

The afternoons pace is frustratingly slow. Beautiful highway with 110kph posted and the road captain has us doing 80 kph holding up string of cars. I don’t want to sound too negative, I know this is first day of a pilot tour of a new company and the guides are lovely people still learning but I will always write honest experiences because this is my personal travel diary.

Matt and I bored at the rear and huge queue of angry car drivers backed up.
Beautiful road, 83kph…

We did not reach the destination till after 7.00pm and everyone is exhausted. Then we are riding around and round in the dark looking for the parking place for the hotel that should have been checked prior to arrival. It was inevitable that one of the group faded and had a small accident. MJ was ok just some bruising. I righted her bike and saw it had only small damage but felt annoyed 12 hours of riding was forced upon her to cause this.

We had a nice dinner that night but did not get to see anything of this famously beautiful town we rode all day to reach and there is no plan to see it tomorrow either so I was left wondering what thought went into today’s route.

Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. A meeting was held at 8.00 am and it was suggested that if there were no objections we would ride the highway to tonight’s destination of Puerto Escondido instead of the twisty mountain route. Everyone agreed except me. I pointed out the road being skipped is one of the more famous riding roads in Mexico and missing this to ride a highway was not what I came all the way from Australia for. The group then was split with initially just me and Francisco riding the twisty route but that grew to four with Kate and Carolyn opting to join me.

Considerable time was wasted getting the rest of the people loaded on their bikes when that could have been done by the other guide. Then more time was wasted sitting around fueling the entire group when we four were going our separate ways and could have fueled in route. In total 1 hour and 30min was lost sitting around. Regular readers know from my Georgia ride I have a lot of patience and that was being tested this morning.

Occasional signs of Mexico’s security issues – machine gun armed guards at this mornings gas station.

At least we got a clean run out of town then Francisco upped the pace to 120kph on wide flowing roads. Next was some bumpy back roads then we reached a short mountain climb and the twisties began and never let up. Very old school surveying constant change of direction stuff. The 1250 GS is a easy bike to ride on these roads. I am starting to see why it is so popular. It offers decent wind protection on the fast roads and handles very nicely in the tight stuff as well deals with the many speed bumps which are on every road in Mexico (their way to control speed).

We stop for a photo shoot and the group elects to have a bite to eat at the little roadside shop which made very tasty calzone’s.

Todays lunch stop

After this we got very lucky arriving at an accident scene the tow truck trying to bring a wreck up an embankment took a break and we were let by. Little did we know the other group were unable to take the highway and became stuck at this crash site later.

Sorry for the image tearing

From here I found myself as the lead rider. I expected Francisco to catch up and take over but he left me up front. I tried to make a smooth flowing pace that was neither fast nor slow and moved to pass cars as quickly as I could to maintain that flow. This proved to be a good thing giving us a higher average speed and our ETA improved. When stopped for a toilet and drink break the girls and Francisco asked me to continue.

Todays route is called road of 1,000 turns by bikers however it probably has five times that many corners (no exaggeration). It’s like packing all the corners of the entire MHS loop in northern Thailand into 150km. The final 50km is perfectly surveyed all new hotmix through a tropical forest. Of course a tight twisty road like this enclosed with trees cannot be photographed so you will have to trust me.

Rest day in Puerto Escondido. It was decided we stay here an extra night as the other group did not reach the hotel until 8.00pm and were totally drained and little worse for wear with two riders having minor accidents.

It is a lovely seaside town and nothing like I imagined. It could be the Philippines except the prices are much higher. Actually food so far is not much cheaper than Australia but I presume this is because we are eating in tourist restaurants and the Aussie dollar currently has a very poor exchange rate.

I got my first dose of Montezuma’s Revenge (which is the Mexican version of travelers diarrhea) and had to rest this afternoon. Mexico is infamous for poor food hygiene as I was going to discover this trip.

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido-Salina Cruz. We ride along the coast today and stop at the pretty seaside town of Mazunte. Again it reminds me of places I have been in the Philippines like Palawan with the exception the waves here are big but Philippines has very calm shallow water more swimmer friendly.


Leaving the coast and riding the main road towards Guatemala there was 1000’s of refugees that have fled their country and crossed into Mexico. Most had nothing other than the soiled clothes they wore and maybe a plastic bag or a water bottle. Many mothers with babies and seemingly nothing to eat. Very sad situation.

Today we are split again in two groups which are roughly the faster and slower riders. The guides swapped lead positions today and then seemed to get confused which group they are leading. Our guide was riding at 10-20km below the speed limit and sitting behind slow moving vehicles whilst the slow group were already ahead of us.

However the roads themselves were nice, plenty of curves, well surfaced with good surveying. The guys from Ireland said they had enough going slow in the heat and rode ahead to todays hotel by themselves. The girls asked the guide to go a little faster but she declined so I took the lead for a little while. I actually don’t mind a slower pace if it is cool and scenic however today in the scorching hot conditions we all wanted to get to the hotel asap and escape the intense afternoon heat.

I got a nice bottle of wine from the mall next to tonight’s hotel we had a small party with the Ireland lads (actually Matt is originally from Poland) which was many laughs.

Hamming it up for the camera in my Mexican shorts.

Salina Cruz to San Cristobal. An ambitious route today to make up for the unscheduled day off in Puerto Escondido. However it is mostly four lane highway and toll road expressways so it should be not be too difficult if a decent speed is maintained.

A little bit of a scare mid morning when one of the girls was run off the road by a reckless truck at a junction. She disappeared from my mirrors and I stopped to wait then other truckers were motioning something happened and my heart was in my mouth so I ran to my bike and found a track across to other side of highway then went back and was relieved to see she was ok just stuck in a gutter.

Nothing much to photograph when on expressways but we did get stopped by police once for missing number plates which Francisco quickly sorted out and I introduced him to instant noodles at a gas station stop which he had never eaten in his life (both these photos might be out of order).

Like this?

We have been going to nice restaurants each night but personally I have found Mexican food to be slightly underwhelming and little expensive (not covered in tour). However I have been enjoying the company each night very much and it is a nice change from my solo rides where I often get some salad and fruits from the supermarket or choose simple dining options.

Rest day in San Cristobal. The plan was to join a walking tour but the Mexican food was not sitting well with me and I had another visit by Montezuma’s revenge thus had to go back to the hotel. I ventured out for a late non Mexican lunch then back to room for an afternoon nap.

Tonight I was recovered but then foolishly joined the other four amigos eating taco’s but somehow got away with it (for now).

San Cristobal-Palenque. Today I think the pace seemed to be right. The group was again divided and the guides swapped but today mostly we rode at the speed limit or little over, passed slow cars quickly and lane split where needed and go around slow trucks at check points or at the 1000’s of speed bumps that fill Mexican roads.

A proper lunch stop today made me happy
Alas my little Casio camera stopped saving images after this for reasons not yet known

In the afternoon it is scorching hot. We visit a waterfall and a few of the group strip down for a dip or even wade in wearing their riding gear. I must say it was so hot I was tempted to soak my rider gear and then get evaporative cooling when riding but I settled for fresh coconut juice trying to stay hydrated.

We arrive the hotel mid afternoon before the worst of the heat and enjoy cold beers at the pool. Everyone is happy.

The night took a turn to the wild side when a few of us went for a drink after dinner which Matt (above) turned into numerous mezcal shots.

Palenque-Villahermosa. This morning we visit the Palenque Mayan ruins. This is one of the major ancient Mayan cities. So far only 2% has been salvaged from the jungle with thousands of buildings like below still completely hidden which makes my mind boggle as to how big the site is.

A relatively short ride then into Villahermosa which is in the Tabasco province and I noted the drivers here are more aggressive. One in particular refused to let me pass to join the other riders ahead swerving from side to side and brake checking me then stopping completely on a flyover ramp before trying to run into me. Your life must really be miserable mister VW SUV driver.

It was nice to arrive in a town with time to explore. I did some people watching in the town walking street with a soft serve from Burger King and came upon the Villahermosa carnival which was colourful.

Villahermosa-Tlacotalpan. Today was mostly highway but still it seemed a long and tiring ride due to the high heat and running into many sugar cane road trains on the final section of the route which were being hauled to the mill by tractors.

We arrived at Tlacotalpan to discover they had a running of the bulls festival today – which we had just missed by an hour. I really wished the tour had been planned to allow us to see this. Oh well.

I had to have a early night as I once again was hit by Montezuma’s revenge.

Tlacotalpan-Coatepec. After so many fine hot days this morning I woke to overcast skies. Riding along the gulf of Mexico we encountered very strong cross winds until lunch. I was unwell today and felt rather weak. Lunch was coffee and cake in Veracruz where the group was interviewed by local tv crew while visiting the seaside. I tried to see if I was on tv or their social media but not sure if it has aired.

In the afternoon rain was looming ahead so I donned my wet gear thinking it probably will not be needed however that was not the case and we had a couple hours of light rain before reaching our hotel. Carolyn did not put her rain gear on and got soaked and chilled to the bone.

I did not get to see much of Coatepec as the town was enshrouded in a heavy fog and I was not well enough to go far. I got more medicine at the pharmacy and grabbed a burger then walked back to my room.

It was a shame but I already have a weak stomach after my chemotherapy so I am just grateful to have made it to here. Mat and the girls checked in on me which was sweet.

Coatepec-Mexico City. Fortunately the new medicine really helped and next day I was ready for the ride back into Mexico city. A long breakfast was had but I was not game to eat much yet then some group photos in our tour shirts.

Terrific bunch of people

The late start had me concerned about hitting peak traffic in Mexico city so at the fuel stop when Matt and Sean said they were going ahead I knew they would be setting a cracking pace to arrive before the crush and decided to join them, then Kate and Carolyn who rode with me for much of this tour said they would also.

Todays ride to the outskirts of the city was the best of the tour. We bombed along at 150kph+ on the four lane highway something I have not done since I rode a Kawasaki ZXR750 in the 90’s on the then less policed roads in Australia. We climbed to the tablelands where Mexico city is positioned and the highway became a fast wide sweeping mountain pass (think Burringbah range for aussies or route 12 in Thailand for expats) where we enjoyed many long radius sweeping banked high speed curves riding at 100-120 kph with long corner hang time. Sheer motorcycling joy and more proof the 1250GS is indeed a excellent allrounder.

Stop at road works

Matt is a multi talented person including a natural road captain, he next guided us expertly into congested Mexico city to our hotel.

The five amigos. Matt, Sean, Kate, Carolyn and myself. Funny and interesting people with a zest for life I found magnetic. I immediately was drawn to and clicked with these people and miss them already. They made this tour a wonderful experience for me and changed my opinion on riding in a group.

Mexico – it’s not like they said. You can ride this route solo no problem at all. Everyone I interacted with spoke some English. You need know nothing more than a few words of Spanish just to be polite. This region is not dangerous unless you are naive or act like an idiot. Mexican people are very friendly. Nothing is very difficult here. Alternatively if you remain unsure then I recommend you look at future tours here run but the company I went with as I am sure they will build strongly on this trip and provide you with a very enjoyable experience.

Thanks for reading. In a few days I will ride Colombia.

Update and Warning – I feel I need give a warning about the company that supplied the BMW’s in Mexico City called Bike Adventure (bikeadventure.com). When doing the paperwork for the bikes the rental documentation was very confusing but as far as I could tell stated the rider was liable for any and all damage including full replacement cost. The tour operator Sue (Adventure Pacific Co) and the provider Francisco (Bike Adventure) assured everyone this was not the case and there was only a excess payable which we all would have as a hold on our credit cards and cleared at end of tour. What happened since the tour is a large amount well beyond that excess has been debited to (at least) one rider for minor repairs. It seems my suspicions were correct and there was no insurance. One of the riders called their bank and put a freeze on their card (that Bike Adventure had the hold on for excess) and then switched to using a second credit card which is really a smart move blocking all charges by Bike Adventure – keep that trick in mind on your travels.


  1. Wallace Bradley, Blackstock Ontario CANADA

    Hello Warren,
    Thanks for reporting on your interesting journey in Mexico. I’ve been reading your reports for several years and feel compelled to write and send my gratitude to you. Your insight for motorbike travels and compassion for your fellow man lift you above the fray of moto journalists. You are an inspiration to wannabe moto adventurers around the world.

    I wish you continued success in your adventures and good health to sustain you on your way. Many riders are watching for your next report with anticipation. Be well and ride safely.

  2. Carolyn Parr

    Warren, thanks so much for this wonderful and in my opinion accurate recap of our trip. I want to say what an absolute pleasure it was meeting, hanging out and riding with you. Thanks also for being our “unofficial” lead from time to time, you set a great pace and are an exceptional rider. Your positive outlook in the face of adversity is an inspiration, one that I am sure will see you riding for many years to come. Here’s to Sicily in 2025.. Stay well (hope all the tummy meds hold out). Look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures.
    Carolyn (and Kate, your Rockettes)

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Glad to hear I am not too far off the mark on this ride report. It was hard to write it up honestly and find a balance. Obviously I have left out many dumb or frustrating things because for one, nobody really wants to read all that and two, because despite all that it turned out to be a ride I enjoyed very much which was thanks to you and Kate and that madman Matt and his sidekick Sean.

      Roll on 2025 🙂

  3. I’d also heard bad things about Mexico, but glad to see that you’ve travelled through quite safely and reporting that the people are also very friendly.
    Sounds like you had a good trip, albeit the tour guides maybe need to read people better. Not everyone rides a fat Harley at 80kmh and at least sitting on the speed limit in the heat to get there sooner is more about safety.
    It’s not much fun being sick when on tour either, glad it was still manageable for you.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    • Hi Steve,

      Mexico cops a bad rap but I am sure there are places in the country where it is not as safe.

      For us Aussies it is so far away that likely we might only visit once. That certainly is the case for me.

      But the people were so friendly and helpful, I am glad I went and enjoyed the tour very much despite the challenges.

  4. Sean Flanagan

    Hi Warren
    I hope you are doing well and enjoying your current trip
    I enjoyed reading your post and your company on the tour
    Hopefully we can meet again

  5. Not sure Mexico is for me but perhaps I don’t need to go now after you usual in depth ride report. 😉 Looking forward to the next leg of the trip and hoping your stomach plays the game.

    • Thanks Dave. Mexico did not have lot’s of great motorcycle roads. Some were very good and the people and towns were nice and I have always wanted to visit Mexico so doing that on a motorcycle tour with a great bunch of people was a success for me.

  6. Hi Warren
    Really enjoyed the recap of your Mexico trip. Another great adventure and another one for my bucket list.

    • Thanks Gerry, when I was flying home I noticed to the North of Mexico City lies many mountains and I think that region would be the more interesting for motorcycling but not sure about safety.

  7. Hi Warren. You make me like vino again🤭🤣. You are great companion and quite good event commentator, many of Your stories got welded in my memory👌🤣
    I wish You all the best brother and hopefully up to the next one🕺🏼

  8. Hi Warren. It’s your Canadian friend James. I remember you talking about wanting to do a Mexican ride one evening when we were riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam a couple years ago. Not sure if you remember, but since I’d seen both I suggested this area rather than Puerto Vallarta/Pacific Coast. Glad you could make it. It’s the most scenic in all of Mexico IMO. And thanks for the tips on rides and lodging in north Thailand. I’m planning on heading back up to the Yukon this summer. Ride safe, fly low and stay healthy.

    • Hi James,

      Nice to hear from you!

      I remembered your advice and chose to avoid the Pacific coast region. I really enjoyed visiting Mexico despite the food not agreeing with me, I think it is a must see country.

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