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Central America and Mexico Topics specific to Central America and Mexico only.
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Central America in April/May/June?

I am starting my trip sometime around next April or May, leaving from the USA (Colorado). I am debating heading directly south, but wanted to get advice on weather and what problems I might run into with traveling in the wet season in Central America. I will be traveling on a KLR650. My dirt skills are moderate but will improve once I'm on the road as I'm not interested in sticking to pavement all the time.

The generic route I am debating for the start of the trip:

Leave the USA (Colorado) in mid-April, go immediately to Mexico.
Spend a bit of time in Mexico learning Spanish.
Travel south to Panama, then over to Columbia.
Reach Ecuador sometime in June (to meet a friend who will be there a month).
Bolivia and Brazil starting about July (give or take a month).

Comments? Suggestions? How much problem with the wet season will I have in Mexico and Central America in April-June? Am I planning too much time? Not enough time?

The alternative route I am considering is up to Alaska first, then south through Mexico starting in late September. That would delay Bolivia/Brazil until the following year.
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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In April and May it's usually still dry but can be very HOT! In the more southerly coastal sub tropical zones you could have rain in May but usually the rainly season truly begins in earnest in late July or August and can go right through until October. But everything is now a bit weird and unpredictable. CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL.

To avoid heat (if it is too hot) I would stay in the Central Highlands in Mexico, visiting the Colonial cities as you proceed South. A bit touristy but really interesting and beautiful. With changing weather patterns its impossible to predict how things will be, but the highlands can get LESS rain and be cooler overall. Keep a close eye on weather reports for conditions ahead of you and proceed accordingly. Expect anything including massive flooding and road closures.

The rainy season can be beautiful in the sub tropical regions. But serious flooding can happen, which could impede your progress. Check out the below thread by evermore, start on Page 4 to see some good pics of the incredible lushness found in Coastal sub tropical zones in Mexico. This is how I remember it ... I've traveled through this area several times. You find the very best Fruit and vegs this time of year, fewer tourists and cheaper prices
in resort/tourist areas. Bargain for Off Season rates!

San Francisco to South America, eventually - ADVrider

Once into the Andes everything kind of reverses ... but not exactly. Bit hard to predict here too. Actually, even harder! Will it be a dry year? Cold year? Wet year?

In typical rainy season travel I would start VERY early in the morning. After about Noon, things typically cloud up and you can have rain anytime after that .... or not At times big tropical storms come through, usually a few days at most. Hunker down someplace comfortable.

But daily rain is common .... usually after Noon. So get your miles done in the AM. Riding in serious tropical rain is pretty tough ... at least for me. Light rain, no problem but it can really come down in buckets.

The rainy season is a fascinating time. I like it, but most do not.

Happy planning!
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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I can't help you with South America but I spent April and most of May in Central America and Mexico.

Heading down the West Coast of Mexico in early April, it was sweltering hot (40 degrees at times) with no wind and no cooling rains. Locals told me that this was the hottest time of the year down there. But the mornings weren't too bad.

Into Guatemala I experienced mostly overcast and a fair amount of drizzle with pleasant temperartures in the Western Highlands, which changed to humid, sunny, and hot through the south of Guatemala, into El Salvador, Honduras and through all of Nicaragua.

The first real rain I encountered was in Costa Rica in late April. From there to Yaviza, Panama and back I had almost daily downpours. Some were the well behaved ones in the afternoon but there were also days of constant downpours. I was told that the rainy season had arrived early.

Panama also had regular downpours, with low clouds and drizzle in the northern highlands.

On the way back (mid May) there was definitely a change in the amount of rain through parts of Mexico. Mostly in the central highlands surrounding Mexico City. Northern Nicaragua was quite wet but the south was still bone dry even though I experienced daily drenching downpours in northern Costa Rica only several hundred km's away.

But overall, there were plenty of good days as well.

Through the various conversations I had with locals my understanding is.

April: Hottest time in southwestern Mexico
May: wet season begins (hit and miss)
June: Getting wetter and wetter


So my best guess would be:
April: hot and humid
May: mixed bag
June: more and more rain

Lowlands = hot
Highlands = cooler

Check out "www.lonelyplanet.com". They have a "when to go section" for all the countries down there.


...Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Thanks for the suggestion to look at Lonely Planet "when to go" pages, exactly the type of resource I have been hunting for, though I could wish for a few more specifics in temperature for some countries....

Sounds like I cold do this route through I may spend more time in the highlands than along the coast. Riding in the rain ... I'll just have to adapt as best I can.

I'm coming to realize that route planning is somewhat of a lost cause given my only constraint is my bank account, which should last several years of RTW travel. No deadlines means there is nothing to determine if I will spend a month flying through Central America ... or a year exploring it in detail.

I'm beginning to think that when I leave next May I might simply flip a coin: Heads I go to Alaska first, Tails I go to Mexico.
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by othalan View Post
I could wish for a few more specifics in temperature for some countries....
Try "www.weather.com" and type in some of the major cities down south. There is a way of getting averages for temperatures and rainfall for some of those cities. But keep in mind that weather can vary quite widely from one area to the next, even in some small country.


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Old 20 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by othalan View Post
Thanks for the suggestion to look at Lonely Planet "when to go" pages, exactly the type of resource I have been hunting for, though I could wish for a few more specifics in temperature for some countries....
While useful for a general overview, you may find weather graphs and trends may not have reliable relevance now. Climate Change is affecting these regions in a major way.

Don't forget to figure in Humidity. Humidity in low lying areas is very high. 80% to 90% typically. Temps typically from the 80's up to 100F in lowlands. Highlands from 60's to 80's typically. Don't quote me on all these as things are now swinging wildly in both directions. Rainy season temps are typically lower with humidity higher. (cloud cover keeps temps down)

As a rule I'd be more inclined to trust flesh and blood real motorcyclists over Lonely Planet, since I've used their books in the past. Quite a bit of "real world" knowledge right here on HUBB specific to riders.

I lived, traveled and worked in Latin America for 7 years. Lots of time in Mexico too ... from age 12 and probably 20 motorcycle trips since 1964.
Lived in Guatemala, El Salvador and Argentina. Rode bikes there part of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by othalan View Post
I'm coming to realize that route planning is somewhat of a lost cause given my only constraint is my bank account, which should last several years of RTW travel. No deadlines means there is nothing to determine if I will spend a month flying through Central America ... or a year exploring it in detail.
I've found setting specific goals within reasonable time frames really makes traveling more meaningful and keeps you going when things aren't going so well. Keeps you focused and busy. Sounds crazy but it really works! Don't take it TOO EASY, tempting as it is. Have a plan and a schedule ... but be flexible enough to improvise. Having goals works for some. 3 years is a long time on the road. Sounds like a life changing epic trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by othalan View Post
I'm beginning to think that when I leave next May I might simply flip a coin: Heads I go to Alaska first, Tails I go to Mexico.
Why not? Follow your passion.
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Old 20 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey D View Post
I've found setting specific goals within reasonable time frames really makes traveling more meaningful and keeps you going when things aren't going so well. Keeps you focused and busy. Sounds crazy but it really works! Don't take it TOO EASY, tempting as it is. Have a plan and a schedule ... but be flexible enough to improvise. Having goals works for some. 3 years is a long time on the road. Sounds like a life changing epic trip!
Don't get me wrong, I will have goals and I will have a schedule. The problem is planning ahead of time what that schedule will be and which of my many goals I will actually reach. There are too many questions about myself I just don't have a way of answering because I've never done a trip even remotely close to this one.

It will be a life changing epic trip. Its the reason I have been pursuing it for the past few years.
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