published at 24.08.2012, 10:57

East to west and everywhere in between

BMW adventure riders from Europe and the US may think they have the monopoly on epic ‘round the world’ trips – but Japanese Tsuyoshi Yoshihara would disagree. The Japanese native has been in the saddle since July 2010 and doesn’t plan on stopping until the end of 2013. He is pushing the boundaries even by the standards of the most rugged GS devotee – and his BMW R 1200 GS is up to the challenge.

The bike is named Esperanza, which is Spanish for ‘hope’. Tsuyoshi’s experiences over the past two years have proved he named his steed well. Countries the two have traversed include: Canada, America, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Argentina. He is currently in Europe, but still wants to fulfil dreams of travelling in the Middle East and Africa.

Tsuyoshi says: “I started my round the world trip on 26 July 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. I went up to Whitehorse, Yucon and then rode south into the Canadian Rockies, to the States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica to Panama. Then I took a boat across the Caribbean, from Puerto Belo, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia. From there I rode down to Ushuaia, in Argentina. Now, I’m travelling through Europe, but there are still places I haven’t yet been to which I want to see: the Middle East, central Asia, Mongolia and Siberia, as well as Africa.

“I don’t have any plans to visit those places on this trip, but I’m planning to go travelling again, five years after I finish this trip, and visit friends all around the world.”

When Tsuyoshi came to plan his trip, he was as careful in planning which vehicle to use as he was with his itinerary. He explains: “There were several candidates for this trip: the BMW R 1200 GS and F 800 GS, as well as a Yamaha XT660Z Tenere, and a Suzuki DR650SE. As my trip would cover long distance and different terrains, I was looking for a motorcycle with high-speed cruising capability, as well as off-road capability. The BMW R 1200 GS has it all with more comfort. Although, I must admit, it was more a case of wanting somewhere to ride the GS and coming up with the idea of taking it round the world!”

Tsuyoshi’s trip has meant a significant period of time away from home. He has not returned to Japan since setting out – however, he may need to make a brief visit in order to obtain a visa for Russia, which he will travel to next year.

“Planning for a trip this size takes a long time, and some careful saving. I gave up my career to do this, which was a hard decision, but it was the right thing to do. I did a lot of online research and was then very careful with my money for five years – I rarely ate out, and shared a house with friends!”

Of course, any long-distance journey comes with its difficulties. But while fatigue and the bad driving of other road users are expected, Tsuyoshi has also faced some more unlikely dilemmas.

“There was a time when I had just crossed the border from Ecuador to Peru – I’d only been there about five minutes and a motorcycle came out from the bush. There were two men aboard, and the pillion had a pistol in his hand – which he pointed at me! I accelerated hard and got away – I was glad of my GS that time!

“Another difficulty was when I met a girlfriend in Mexico City. She wanted to travel with me but her parents would not allow me to take her without marrying her! So we had to give up the plan and I broke up with her and continued my trip down to Panama alone. However, when I reached Cartagena I received an email from her saying she wanted to join me.

“I left Esperanza at a hostel in Medellin, Colombia and flew back to Mexico, where her parents gave her permission to go with me. However, a week after she came to Colombia, we broke up!

“I also had a minor crash, where I slipped in the rain on a paved road in Brazil and fractured my right elbow. Luckily, I had a Brazilian friend living 200km away. He came to pick me up with a big truck and let me stay at his place until my arm got better, which took around three weeks. All of his family members and friends treated me so well, and he even got me on a TV show and in two local newspapers!”

Tsuyoshi may not have finished his journey yet, but he is sure he has already learned many important lessons: “I learnt there are many ways of enjoying our lives and having happiness. What’s important is to understand differences and to respect others.”

Follow his journey online at: